If you are a millennial, you know Lecrae: Rebel was my coming-of-age jam, and something that – at the time - I hadn’t really heard before in the mainstream: a hip-hop artist who talked openly about his faith, but his songs were introspective, willing to explore the gritty side of faith, unapologetic in its pursuit of truth. That album and Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis were mind-blowing parts of my young adult journey.
Also, the Lecrae’s songs, production, sheer talent is just...
Lecrae’s new book, I Am Restored, is an authentic extension of Lecrae’s entire artistic body of work: it’s unflinchingly honest, showcases his journey of faith, all while tackling big topic issues. You think I’m exaggerating? OK, here’s topics discussed in I Am Restored: childhood trauma, race and religion, abuse, broken families, and even more. But Lecrae’s tackles each of these with grace and humility, laying bare for everyone to see his struggles and being honest about how he has been able to start working on these things in his life. Again, I’m finding that this is an important book for me as I get further in my life (if you’re looking for other books that explore this in different ways, please see The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy, Jen Hatmaker’s Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, and Rachel Held Evans’s Searching for Sunday). The search is still the same, but the questions are different, things like “how have my parents affected the parent I’ll be some day?” or “how much has that past hurt influenced how I treat the important people in my life today?”
I Am Restored asks these kind of big questions, and I’m grateful it does. Here’s some nuggets of wisdom explored in the book that are really, really important:
Trauma affects your physical health as much as your mental health
Have you ever truly felt the end of a big day? Or the sense of relief after you found out some good news, and you didn’t even know you were tense beforehand? Lecrae’s talks about how his own body has learned to compartmentalize a lot of the wounds from his past, and recognizing that has helped him to start to address them:
The emotional wounds I experienced as a kid are easily rationalized away. Well, that was a long time ago. It doesn’t bother me. But I’m learning that my body doesn’t have a timer. There’s no timeline that it can place abuse into. My body doesn’t have categories to handle it. That trauma happened, and now it’s stored in places I can’t hide from.
We don’t talk about the connection between body and mind enough, and Lecrae doesn’t shy in sharing how we need to pay attention to both for our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being
The people of your past are a part of you, but they don’t define you.
I Am Restored is about moving from your past, and a big part of ALL our past experiences is the people who were (or still are) a part of our lives. I know I have people that I actively realize affected me so much for the better… and some for the worse. But Lecrae really emphasizes that self-awareness about their influence is important, but we should become bogged down with past hurts and wrongs done to us. Lecrae writes about his father:
I sat across from my father recently. It was the first conversation we’d had in decades. I looked into his eyes, examined what was in his soul, and felt his pain. I did look like my father, but I was no longer trapped as he was. The man who wasn’t present for most of my childhood was imprisoned by his own fears, bound by his own mistakes. He was plagued with addictions he couldn’t beat, expectations he couldn’t fulfill. In that moment, I felt overwhelming sorrow for the hatred I had directed at him for so many years.
Confronting your trauma sometimes means confronting your other beliefs and thoughts (and that’s okay)
While LeCrae was examining his own past, he realized that some of the things that he had been taught were a part of his faith and belief system seemed contrary to what he felt was right and wrong. It’s a part of adulting to reevaluate some of our childhood beliefs and practices, and it is okay to disagree with them. It’s a part of growth, it’s a part of becoming a more whole person.
Getting professional help isn’t a sign of weakness
If you’re like me and were told to “tough it out” when traumatic things happened, you have probably built a nice and horrible bundle of compartmentalized trauma somewhere in your brain that you think is just fine.
But the fact of the matter is that we’ll all be a lot healthier if we started unpacking some of that trauma, and with the help of professionals who can help you navigate this. Put it this way: you’d go to the doctor if something was bothering you physically, and you should assume the same for your mental health. Lecrae puts it this way in I Am Restored:
The goal is always health. What does it take for me to be healthy? Is it medicine? Great, that’s what we need to do. Is it mindfulness and meditation? These aren’t practices to be ashamed of or afraid to try.