*The following originally appeared in Christian Leader and was used with the permission of the author.
Buying the 2009 Mumford and Sons album Sigh No More was an incredibly foolish decision. It was an impulsebuy in the intoxicating halls of Amoeba Music, a purchase based on small snippets of these British folks rock songs I had just vaguely heard. It was a fantastic decision.
My experience of romantic love has not been altogether perfect. It seems this is a common burden, hoping for people to love us perfectly and then coming to the harsh realization that they are merely people. (Go figure.)
Turning on the radio, one finds romance everywhere—confessions of head-over-heels infatuation, frustration and sorrow at love gone wrong, blame toward that two-timin’ woman or that man who can’t be trusted. But from Mumford, I heard something entirely different that took me by surprise: an apology.
But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really f*ed it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?
This raw confession comes from Little Lion Man, with the popular edited version never quite capturing the intensity of what it means to blunder so badly. For whatever the reason, these men singing are passionately apologetic, recognizing the damage caused and begging for forgiveness. In the album’s title song, there is an equally passionate and mournful cry of the simple, “I’m sorry.”
I wish I could hear the people who’ve hurt my heart sing out these lyrics, cursing and all. God knows the times I need to sing them out as well, cursing and all. There is something about owning the pain, crying out in repentance and hope for reconciliation that restores my faith in that reconciliation. It reminds me to forgive, even when nobody may come serenading me with the words of Mumford.
Mumford has pushed me to forgive those I thought I might never forgive. And Mumford has given me hope that others can forgive me when I do not deserve it in the least. This is redemption in action.
What sustains my hope for redemption is this vision of love that Mumford offers, a vision of love that is nothing short of the beautiful kingdom of God.
Love, it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment
A cry of my heart to see
The beauty of love as it was made to be
In the same breath in which the men of Mumford take ownership of humanity’s shortcomings, they proclaim a love boundless and fulfilling—the love we were meant to encounter in relationship with God. They call us to pursue this love, as they sing, “Awake my soul, for you were made to meet your maker.”
What motivates me to forgive is not assurance that humanity will drastically change, that the love I receive from people will somehow become perfect, that romance will suddenly turn easy. What motivates me to forgive is knowing that there is something bigger and better than human romance in store. From the album’s closing track After the Storm, the music of Mumford articulates a hope that I cannot resist, a hope that echoes this kingdom we seek.
But there will come a time, you’ll see
With no more tears
And love will not break your heart
But dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair
Mumford reminds me that this love—the love that will not break my heart—is real, and is worth hoping for.
Jessica Mast, Fresno, Calif., works with the youth at Mennonite Community Church, loves her inner-city neighborhood and is always excited about good music. She has also attended Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. Mast shares thoughts on the journey of spirituality at jessicaleighmast.wordpress.com.