Written by Q. Jackson, USA
I was really happy to find an animated GIF of a dropping jaw on Instagram this morning, because really and truly, that’s the best representation of my current state. Why? Because . . . Taylor Swift just announced she’s releasing a brand new, surprise album. Tonight!!
In case you’re not up to speed on what pre-album hype is normally like for this global pop star, let’s look back at her 6th studio album. She dramatically deleted all her pictures and social media feed, effectively blacking out her accounts. Then, she started teasing us with mysterious, cryptic videos we eventually discovered were of a snake–the unofficial mascot of her album, “Reputation.” The hype varies, but there’s always hype, hidden messages, and a lot of them. This time though, nothing crazy. Just a simple (but surprisingly profound) Facebook post—a totally unexpected announcement that’s left us reeling as we await her newest album, “folklore.”
As surprising as a new album is, it is actually very Taylor of her to throw surprises at us—but I would’ve only expected maybe one new song. Instead, she’s dropping sixteen new tracks—the outpouring of her most recent whims, dreams, fears, and musings. And, it’s surely no coincidence that she’s giving us only 16 hours to prepare before we can start listening.
Like with anything Taylor-related, even this album announcement was done with intention. I had to read through her announcement four or five times before I could get past my initial shock, but as a result, I’ve realized there’s a lot packed in it. She talks about failed plans, surprises, the process of developing the album, and of course, a little background on why she decided to do things the way she’s doing them. As I’ve reflected, I found that along with a surprise album, Taylor Swift dropped us a few insightful life lessons as well.
Life Lesson #1: Let go of your plans
Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer traveling the world and hosting massive music festivals in celebration of her 7th studio album, “Lover.” In her announcement for “folklore,” she mentions that even though most of the things she planned did not happen, because of that, something she didn’t expect (this album) was able to happen.
I can relate! I spent the majority of last year saving vacation time and money for a big trip my husband and I planned to take to Nepal this fall. I was finally going to be able to visit the country he spent two years serving as a missionary in, and he would be able to show me all of the meaningful, beautiful mountainous places that hold such significance to him. Now, that’s not going to happen.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).
I don’t know what good thing will happen because this big trip to Nepal can’t happen, and maybe I’ll never really understand why things didn’t work out for us to go. But it’s a timely reminder that though my plans (for Nepal, and the rest of my life) are many, what will ultimately prevail is the LORD’s purpose. And the LORD’s purpose is always good. With eagerness, we can trust Him to carry us through whatever it is He has in store.
Life Lesson #2: Stop overthinking things
Taylor shared that prior to this year, she likely would have overthought when the “perfect time” would be to release this new music (along with a painstaking process of planting hidden messages, I’m sure). But since this year has reminded her that nothing is guaranteed, she decided to just go for it.
I’ll never be able to offer the world a creative, musical gift like she can. Actually, I often struggle with whether I have any real “gift” to offer at all. But the truth is, I only circle that drain when overthinking leads me there. I know how to bake and cook—food is totally a way I can be hospitable to others. I write. Even though that doesn’t feel unique, I can share that gift with my church body by volunteering to write my church’s weekly newsletter. And, no matter how empty my “talent drawer” is, one gift I’ll have for as long as I’m alive is time—and of that, I can give freely for the benefit of others.
I want to stop overthinking whether my gifts are “good enough,” or whether I’ve figured out the perfect timing and situation to put them to use. Instead, I’ll pray that with whatever I have in any given moment, the Holy Spirit shows me how to faithfully steward it and use it to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).
Life Lesson #3: Share what you love with the world
Taylor Swift’s announcement for “folklore” wraps up with this reflection, “My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with.”
At this point in her career, Taylor Swift sharing music isn’t strictly about her making sales (she’s made plenty). She says that it’s about making something she’s super excited about, and letting it be a good thing not just to her, but to anyone who wants to be a part of it.
What if we had that approach to sharing the gospel? The hope and life that the gospel offers is the best thing I’ve known in this life. But sometimes, when it comes to sharing it with others, I forget that it’s not about arguing a point, or even defending my beliefs. Sharing the good news with others is about doing just that—testifying to the goodness of life with Jesus, and letting others know they have a standing invitation to the same. We can remind people that even though they’ll face difficulties and make mistakes, they can still begin to experience a full, abundant, eternal life even now, as they get to know Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We can share what we love most with the world.
I’ve already ordered my copy of “folklore,” and I’m eager to receive my digital download at midnight so I can start diving in. Even as my fan-gushing wins some eyerolls, I know from experience that what I’ll find is a creative album that has a way of putting music and words to relatable feelings and experiences. Taylor Swift’s new album, “folklore,” will invite us into something exciting that (most of us, at least) can’t create on our own. And I can’t wait!
For more on what’s trending, visit us here.