This past summer I became a huge fan of Ashley Monroe. I feel she is the most overlooked artist in Nashville. Her album The Blade is perfection.
I recently downloaded her older album Like a Rose and was listening to it last night, when this song caught my attention:
Used like an old piano played for generations slowly fading out of tune,
Used like the soles on the bottom of my favorite pair of dancing shoes
I know I’m not some bright and shiny polished up car that’s sparkling new right off the salesroom floor
Yeah I’ve got some dents and bruises I’ve been dropped
and there’s a scar where my heart has been broke before,
but in the end I’ll be worth a whole lot more
I started thinking about my friend Annmarie who resigned from our school district yesterday. This is an educator with all the right stuff. But she was pushed to the limit — used for her compassion for children and loyalty to them — and she finally had to push back. She finally had to say enough! Her heart has been broken too many times by the demands to advance agendas of billionaires and hedge fund managers, and those that will do their bidding.
Used, like a book read so many times front to back it starts to split in two,
Used like a house where a family lived till they died and there’s a soul in every room
I know I’m not some brand new new dress hanging there perfectly pressed,
that never has been worn
I’ve got some button’s missing and there a couple stains
and places where the fabric has been torn,
but in the end I’ll be worth a whole lot more,
Teachers are given impossible tasks — tasks that are ACKNOWLEDGED as impossible, and told to do it anyway. “Figure it out.”
Teachers are asked to give tests to youngsters that are developmentally inappropriate.
A woman I know in Ohio is seeing her 4th grader suffer by the demands of the curriculum that forces her 9-year-old to do homework well into the night because there wasn’t enough time in class. Got to keep on schedule. Got to bribe with a pizza party only for those who will comply. That teacher has been given a mandate that is trickling into family life.
This is all so wrong.
Every week I ask myself, “How long can I keep doing this?” And if I’m not asking, a friend is texting me asking the same thing. “What else can I do?”
This fragile heart has been passed around been ignored and been let down,
been learning since the day that I was born
But everything it’s been through has lead me down to this road to
and I can give like I couldn’t give before,
but in the end I can love a whole lot more
Ashley’s point is well-taken. We know at the end of the day that we have to watch the signs and signals in our life. The fact that we have become burned out, fried, and used up is one of those signals. But it can lead to better days. It can lead to a new kind of freedom. One that would never have been possible if we hadn’t been “used.”
I once had to make the same kind of decision as Annmarie did. I am not going to tell my story here, but the reason I bring it up is because when I resigned my safe salary office job for a commission-only sales position, I felt that sweet freedom. In fact, there was a song on the radio that spoke directly to this: “Sweet Freedom” by Michael MacDonald.
These songs are dedicated to Annmarie. Girlfriend, you have been through a lot. You have come a very long way. I am grateful you are my friend. I share “Used” because I know it will make you cry. I share “Sweet Freedom” because you are heading into some unknown territory –the glorious unknowing of stepping away from the known. There is no other kind of freedom like that. It will all be unexpected and improbable and miraculous. Trust that.
God bless you on your journey.