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Dear Evan Hansen — “For Forever”

End of May or early June
This picture-perfect afternoon we shared
Drive the winding country road
Grab a scoop at À La Mode
And then we’re there

An open field that’s framed with trees
We pick a spot and shoot the breeze
Like buddies do
Quoting songs by our favorite bands
Telling jokes no one understands
Except us two
And we talk and take in the view

All we see is sky for forever
We let the world pass by for forever
Feels like we could go on for forever this way
Two friends on a perfect day

We walk a while and talk about
The things we’ll do when we get out of school
Bike the Appalachian trail or
Write a book or learn to sail
Wouldn’t that be cool?

There’s nothing that we can’t discuss
Like girls we wish would notice us but never do
He looks around and says to me
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be”
And I say, “me too”
And we talk and take in the view
We just talk and take in the view

All we see is sky for forever
We let the world pass by for forever
Feels like we could go on for forever this way, this way
All we see is light for forever
‘Cause the sun shines bright for forever
Like we’ll be alright for forever this way
Two friends on a perfect day

And there he goes
Racing toward the tallest tree
From far across the yellow field I hear him calling, “follow me” there we go
Wondering how the world might look from up so high
One foot after the other
One branch then to another
I climb higher and higher
I climb ’til the entire
Sun shines on my face

And I suddenly feel the branch give way
I’m on the ground
My arm goes numb
I look around
And I see him come to get me
He’s come to get me
And everything’s okay

All we see is sky for forever
We let the world pass by for forever
Buddy, you and I for forever this way, this way
All we see is light
‘Cause the sun burns bright
We could be alright for forever this way
Two friends
True friends
On a perfect day

Dear God, this song is an interesting follow-up to “Waving Through A Window.” It’s almost like “Waving Through A Window” is his admission to how he feels and this song is a description of what he longs for. If someone sees him waving through a window. If someone accepts him then this is his fantasy of what that looks like. He even creates a new story of Conner coming to his rescue after he fell out of the tree when the truth is that he waited for someone to see him, but they never did. He had to go an find someone after he fell out of a tree (jumped?). So what’s in this fantasy that might speak to what we all look for?

First, it’s important to note to whom he is lying. He is lying to the parents of a young man who just took his own life after being extremely troubled. In “Requiem,” we will see how the loss is hitting them (mother, father, sister) differently, but in this case, Evan is just flat out lying to them. His desire to comfort them is getting mixed up his loneliness. And let’s not forget that this started because he is trying to obscure the fact that the letter they found on Conner wasn’t written by Conner at all, but by Evan and mentioned the feelings he had for Conner’s sister (one of the people listening to his current lie).

In the dialogue that precedes this song, the parents give him the intelligence that the ice cream parlor and the apple orchard were once special places to their family, so he works them into his tale.

I guess the thing that hits me about this song is my favorite memory from high school. My best friend and I would sit in the back of my truck my senior year and just talk. It would be out in my driveway. We’d just hang out and connect. Though we literally live a world apart, this friend is still one of the most treasured people in my heart. I feel bad about it now when I think about the fictitious characters in this musical because I had exactly what Evan reveals he is longing for in this song. Before I had a girlfriend, fiancé or wife, I had this friend. In a time that can be confusing and full of insecurity, there really is no replacing that kind of friend. And I don’t think I took it for granted. I knew what I had at the time, and I was grateful. I’m also grateful to you because this was the year I really started to devote myself to you and he was going through the same thing. We were both discovering you in a new way together, sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron. Maybe I have taken it for granted because I don’t know that I’ve ever really thanked you for him.

As I sit and think about that friendship now, we were good friends before that senior year, but neither of us was pursuing you. You weren’t a connection between us. I think our friendship took on a whole new dynamic when we each found you and committed to loving you with all of our heart, mind, and strength.

Hmm. Maybe that’s the whole song for me. No need to break down verse by verse. Except to maybe ask if I have that now. I kind of do in a friend in another city with whom I speak every Friday morning, but it’s not the same as having someone–another guy–that I connect with. Yes, I connect with my wife. We make a point to spend time talking every day and I feel very close to her. Is there a need in me that is beyond my relationship with her? Am I missing something? Is there someone that you have out there with whom you would like me to sharpen myself against? Probably. Yeah, probably.

Father, thank you for having shown me what a great male friend can look like. Thank you for the current friend you’ve put in my life every Friday morning. Thank you for a wife with whom I can really bond. There is so much for which I need to thank you. But if there is more you need me to do, make it clear to me. Show me. I will give you all of me. Use it how you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2020 in Dear Evan Hansen

 

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Dear Evan Hansen — “Waving Through a Window”

“Waving Through a Window”

I’ve learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me
Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn’t rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
Waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
Waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving?

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
Did I even make a sound?
Did I even make a sound?
It’s like I never made a sound
Will I ever make a sound?

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
Waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
Waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me? (oh)
Is anybody waving?
Waving, waving, whoa-oh, whoa-oh

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Benj Pasek / Justin Paul

Dear God, you know that this musical really hit me. Of course, it doesn’t have a spiritual angle to it, but in so many ways you are the answer to the questions people are asking and the loneliness they are facing. One thing I like about this musical is that it doesn’t just look at the story from the students’ views. And it doesn’t just look at it from the parents’ views. While everyone comes into the story touching just one part of the elephant, the audience has the unique perspective of getting to see, while maybe not the entire elephant, multiple parts.

This song is sung by the main character, Evan Hansen, but it coupled be sung by any of them. Conner, Conner’s sister, his parents, Evan’s mom (and even his dad), his friends, etc. Every person in that audience, no matter how popular they were in high school, could identify with this song. I know I could.

So let’s begin looking at it verse by verse, the chorus, and then the bridge.

I’ve learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me
Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say

My first thought is the quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.” In this case, so many of us just don’t want to stand out in the crowd and be thought a fool. That’s why only a few will answer group questions. Just keep your head down and stay off the radar of others–especially bullies.

Also, the part about just not participating because of fear. I’ll confess that I’ve needed people in my lie to push me out of my comfort zone. From parents getting me to do things when I was little to my wife getting me to do things as an adult, I’d rather stay in the relative safety of my own little carefully constructed world. And I had to play that role for my children when they were younger and I need to play it for my wife now. I remember getting pressure from my dad to get a job. The application process alone was intimidating. But it had to be done and I needed that push. That skill served me well later in life when I needed to find a job. Then came my turn to pressure my children to get jobs. They didn’t like it and there was conflict, but they learned.

Last Wednesday, I was at my mentoring session with the sixth grader I mentor when I saw another mentor who is a friend. He mentioned that his mentee is an awkward boy who gets bullied a lot. They normally meet together on a different day, but when I saw them that day I remembered the boy from last year. I saw him each week. He’s a sweet boy, but he is certainly developmentally delayed in some way. I’m glad he has my friend, but I’ve thought about him all week. Seeing him and knowing what he went through took me back to those feelings with my son. . Oh, it hurts to remember. Is there anything I can do to help this boy? I’ve even though about getting my mentee to look out for him, but I’ve also wondered if my boy is one of the bullies. Give me wisdom when we meet next week to know if there is anything I can do to help this situation.

We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn’t rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is send your kids to school that first time. Really, to send them anywhere. Even Sunday school. You’ve had them in a controlled environment that has hopefully been nurturing and loving. Then they go into the world thinking that the rest of the world will treat them the same way, but you know there is pain ahead. You just hope that they will learn to deal with that pain and that it will make them stronger. That would be one of the arguments against homeschooling–that children need to experience the positives and negatives of socialization. Of course, one argument for home school is that it will keep them from being exposed to too much too soon. Both arguments have their good points. Oh, how we just hope it turns out okay.

For my part, I’m still not sure what the final results of my children’s childhoods will be as they become adults. I feel like I am still watching them bake in the oven. I suppose they’ll never stop. I’m still baking too. But this verse starting with the description of Evan’s self confidence eroding into self-doubt through rejection is powerful imagery.

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

There’s an interesting juxtaposition between getting out of the sun and presumably going in and then being on the outside, always looking in. I supposed that a lot of us do get conditioned to just stop trying. We’ve been burned too many times. But when we stop, we are left with this sense of loneliness and longing.

One of the things that spoke to me in this musical is the barriers that all of the characters feel. The parents feel like they can’t get to their children (the first song, “Does Anybody Have a Map?“). The children, for their part, feel like they can’t get, really I suppose, to themselves. Evan cannot be comfortable with himself and who he is with others. He feels alone. He feels like who he is as a person is keeping him from others. It’s a barrier he doesn’t know how to overcome. I suppose at some point in these prayer journals I will need to get into the irony of social media connecting and isolating us at the same time, but that will be for another song. For now, I can just feel Evan’s loneliness.

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s [slight chuckle] nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you [slight chuckle] ever really crash, or even make a sound?
[emotion builds] When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
[emotion builds more] When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
Did I even make a sound?
Did I even make a sound?
It’s like I never made a sound
Will I ever make a sound?

I added some tone-of-voice descriptions to this section. It’s interesting that he kind of chuckles at a couple of points in the first two lines. If you haven’t seen the musical you won’t get the forest reference, but he’s recalling how he broke his arm by falling out of a tree in the forest. He describes at the beginning how he kept waiting for a ranger or someone to find him, but no one ever came so he had to go and find someone.

His life feels so insignificant, he is taking that metaphor (and the famous existential question about a branch falling in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound) and applying it to his entire life. Is anything that I do consequential?

At the end of the bridge, the last four lines overtly personalize it. Did I make a sound? I have no evidence that I have made a difference in anyone’s life. Will my life ever matter?

Of course, It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us how our lives ripple through history. And teenagers are famous for wondering about their meaning in life while simultaneously wanting everything done for them. We’ve all been there. As an adult now, I’ve learned through you that the meaning in my life is found in giving of myself. In fact, in November, I was listening to an interview Charlie Rose did with Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers gave this quote that I wrote down: “Have you ever know anybody who was really satisfied or happy who had never made a difference in somebody else’s life?” The answer to this question really does wash away a ton of emptiness.

Father, I am here to worship you and give your love to others. If I am not about doing those two things then my life will be empty. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) That’s what Jesus said. It’s really that simple. Oh, Holy Spirit, help me to do these two things for the glory of the Father, the Son, and your glory as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in Dear Evan Hansen, Hymns and Songs

 

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Dear Evan Hansen — “Does Anybody Have A Map?”

https://youtu.be/–F-nTJM4kQ
Mom: Have you been writing those letters to yourself? “Dear Evan Hansen, this is going to be a good day and here’s why…”
Evan: I started one.
Mom: Those letters are important honey. They’re going to help you build your confidence
Evan: I guess
Mom: Can we try to have an optimistic outlook? Huh? Can we buck just enough to see the world won’t fall apart? Maybe this year we decide we’re not giving up before we’ve tried. This year, we’ll make a new start. I know you can go around today and ask the other kids to sign your cast. How about that?
Evan: Perfect (sarcasm implied)
Mom: I’m proud of you already.
Evan: Oh…Good…
Mom (by herself): Another stellar conversation for the scrapbook. Another stumble as I’m reaching for the right thing to say. I’m kind of coming up empty, can’t find my way to you…Does anybody have map, anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this? I don’t know if you can tell but this is me just pretending to know. So where’s the map? I need a clue ‘cuz the scary truth is I’m flying blind and I’m making this up as I go.
—-
Mom: It’s your senior year, Conner. You are not missing the first day.
Conner: I already said I’d go tomorrow.
Dad: He doesn’t listen. Look at him. He’s probably high.
Sister: He’s definitely high.
Mom: I don’t want you going to school high, Conner
Conner: Perfect, so then I won’t go. Thanks, Mom!
Mom: Another masterful attempt ends with disaster.
Dad: Interstate is already jammed.
Mom: Pour another cup of coffee and watch it all crash and burn.
Sister: Conner finished the milk
Mom: It’s a puzzle, it’s a maze. I try to steer through it a million ways, but each day’s another wrong turn.
Dad: I’d better head out.
Sister: If Conner’s not ready I’m leaving without him.
Both Moms: Does anybody have a map, anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this? I don’t know if you can tell, but this is me just pretending to know. So where’s the map? I need a clue ‘cuz the scary truth is I’m flying blind, I’m flying blind, I’m flying blind, and I’m making this up as I go…as I go

Dear God, I actually prayed to you about this song earlier, but it was all lost in a saving error, and I just couldn’t bare to lose it so I thought I just look at this song one more time. Maybe it will be better a second time–kind of like watching a movie a second time and catching things you missed the first time.

The first thing is that this song is obviously all about the two moms. Both living in different worlds, and both desperate to break through the walls all around them, especially with their boys.

The musical actually opens up before this song with Evan talking to his friend on the computer. His mom walks in the room and he slams the laptop lid shut. It exhibits instant distrust. The Evan doesn’t trust him mom to be part of that world, and his mom must wonder what Evan is hiding. As a parent, those walls can be so difficult. You move from a time of being part of your child’s world and being trusted to being excluded. And while the children are kind of ready for that break, in a way they aren’t. Oh, the teen years just seem like such a cruel process for both the children and the parents. As a dad who went through it with two children, I can say that I knew it would be hard, but I still underestimated. When I saw the musical, it was painful to watch a lot of this from the parents’ perspective.

In the Evan’s mom’s little speech about bucking up and having a positive attitude, you can almost feel how she wishes she could do this for him. It’s almost like she’s saying, “Honey, I’ve been in this hole before and I know the way out.”

Shift to Conner’s family. Instant battling, and I can’t help but notice that the dad already seems to have surrendered. While the mom is trying to pull the fat out of the fire the father’s words are:

He doesn’t listen. Look at him. He’s probably high.

Interstate is already jammed.

I’d better head out.

You can tell he’s already charged hell with his water pistol too many times and he’s done. This battle is his wife’s to fight if she still wants to.

The sister is done with Conner too.

He’s definitely high.

Conner finished the milk.

If Conner’s not ready I’m leaving without him.

One of the setups is that Conner doesn’t have any friends. I find this puzzling on the part of the writers. It seems like kids like Conner would always have plenty of like-minded people to see at school and get high with outside of school.

But back to the moms. After all, it is there song. The feel so alone. Even Conner’s mom is alone in her quest to help her son. They are looking for ways into their sons’ lives.

One thing I used to wonder when my children were that age was, “What does it look like to turn your children over to God?” They were still children. They were under my roof. I had a responsibility. Sure, now that they are grown I can turn them over to you and be in the background to support them, but while they were still in school I could never find that place of peace with them. I never found a good answer to my question, and I still don’t know.

Father, I pray for my adult children. I pray for my wife as we try to find our way in still being their parents now that they are adults. I pray for my sisters and brothers-in-law as they raise their children. I pray for my nieces and nephews. It’s so hard. Show my wife and me how to be there for all of them as well. Whatever I can do in any life around me, including the sixth-grade boy I am mentoring, please let me know what you would have me do. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear. And for every time I have grieved you as you have tried to be my father, I am truly sorry.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Dear Evan Hansen, Hymns and Songs

 

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Mothers of the Bible — Eve

Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!” The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Adam had sexual relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to another son. She named him Seth, for she said, “God has granted me another son in place of Abel, whom Cain killed.” When Seth grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people first began to worship the Lord by name.
Genesis 4:1-16,25-26

Dear God, as I watched the musical Dear Evan Hansen a few days ago, I found myself focusing on the parents. They felt such despair and confusion. The very first song is called, “Anybody Have a Map?”

It made me think about parenting and how few people in the Bible are good role models for us. The I wondered if you don’t have something to teach me by looking at the mothers and fathers of the Bible. Obviously, I can’t look at every single one, but there are certainly some highlights. And it starts with Eve.

I wish we got more about Eve here–or Adam, for that matter. Talk about not having a map! There were no Growing Kids God’s Way or Sacred Parenting books for her to get off of Amazon.com. There weren’t any support groups or Sunday school classes to help teach her. To quote the song, “Anybody Have a Map” that I mentioned above: “I’m flying blind, and I’m making this up as I go.”

I wonder what it was like for he to see her two sons grow up into such different people. And I wonder how old Cain and Abel were when this story happened. Were they teenagers? Did it grieve her to see that Cain held back the best of his crops from God while Abel brought his best? Did she and Adam pray about the boys and talk to you about them? Did she learn some lessons from raising Cain that she applied to Abel? I’ve heard it said that no two children are born to the same parents, and I’m sure that is true for Cain and Abel.

And then one day Cain did it. His jealousy pushed him to kill his own brother. They had possibly never experienced death before. Did Cain understand what would happen? Did he understand that Abel would be gone forever. Did he know that was possible?

As for Eve, how devastated was she? How much a failure did she feel like? Was she inconsolable for a while? The only insight we are given into this is her joy in Seth’s birth and then, presumably, her grandchild’s birth. Cain had children, but we don’t know if Eve ever knew them. Did she ever speak to Cain again? One thing that is interesting to point out is that, according to verse 26, this is when people began to worship you by name. Was this a lesson that Eve learned from her experience? Did she do something different with Seth that taught him to worship you by name?

Father, I suspect that the ultimate theme in this series of mothers (and fathers) of the Bible is that all of them will have made a lot of mistakes, and most will experience tragedy. How foolish are we, then, to think that our mistakes will be small and our tragedies minimal? How foolish am I? So I give all of this to you and ask that you take my best attempts and my worst mistakes and redeem them beyond what they deserve.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2019 in Genesis, Mothers of the Bible

 

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