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Learning to Go Deeper from Lorde’s “Liability”

Learning to Go Deeper from Lorde’s “Liability”

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  • How to have conversations with God about insecurity

Music is useful in helping us understand and express parts of ourselves we may not otherwise be able to put into words. This article is meant to dig deeper into analyzing a song by applying spiritual concepts to it. We understand that music, like other forms of art, is open to interpretation and may impact each listener differently.  This article is coming from the writer’s interpretation of the song and what they got out of it.

Introduction

There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things.

1 John 3:19-20 Voice

When I’m insecure, I constantly doubt myself and believe that the negative thoughts I have about myself are true. The voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, no one likes me, and I’m unimportant ends up being louder than anything else.

The Bible says that God is greater than any voice of insecurity. If we want to overcome insecurity, we need to be willing to have honest conversations with God where we reveal our insecurities and the parts of ourselves that we are afraid to show. Lorde’s song “Liability” and its follow up “Liability (Reprise)” help me understand what it looks like to start these deeper conversations with God. 

The Lies We Believe

In her debut album, Pure Heroine, Lorde gives off a persona that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks and does whatever she wants. But in her sophomore album, Melodrama, she expresses a deeper vulnerability and raw honesty, indicating that she isn’t as confident as she wants to lead people to believe. This vulnerability is best illustrated in the song “Liability.” Lorde addresses what she feels other people think of her, and isolates herself as a result. 

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, GOD, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

Jeremiah 17:9 MSG

The Bible calls our hearts hopelessly dark and deceitful. Sometimes they lie to us and tell us that our emotions about ourselves are true, when they aren’t.

Because Lorde internalizes and keeps all of her emotions silent, she now believes as fact the insecurities that have plagued her. Let’s identify some of the lies that she has begun to believe. 

Lie 1: I am not worth loving

They say, “You’re a little much for me, You’re a liability, You’re a little much for me”

So they pull back, make other plans, I understand, I’m a liability

Lorde, “Liability”

A liability is  “a person or thing whose presence or behavior is likely to cause embarrassment or put one at a disadvantage.” In these lyrics, Lorde expresses how she feels like people avoid her and see her as a liability. She thinks she’s too much to handle, she’s just going to hold people back, she’s not worth spending time with, she feels like she is an embarrassment. These insecurities plague her mind so much that to her, they’re not insecurities – they’re facts. She starts to believe she really is a liability. 

When I feel unlovable and inadequate, I often pull back from relationships, thinking they don’t need me anyway. But when I do that, not only do I miss out on friendships, but people miss out on what I’m capable of bringing into the relationship. 

[14] Then the Lord turned to him and said, “I will make you strong! Go and save Israel from the Midianites! I am sending you!” [15] But Gideon replied, “Sir, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least thought of in the entire family!”

Judges 6:14-15 TLB

God chose Gideon for a special purpose, but Gideon’s insecurity that he was too weak and unimportant nearly stopped him from being the hero God knew him to be. His insecurity led him to selfishness, holding himself back from helping and loving other people.

  • What insecurities make you pull back from your relationships with other people?
  • How have you let insecurity make you not love other people?

Lie 2: I am better off alone

The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy, ‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore

And then they are bored of me…Better on my own

Lorde, “Liability”

Like Lorde, when I feel insecure, I think I’m better off alone. But the more I isolate myself, the more I am left to my thoughts and doubts, and the more I believe my insecurities to be true. When we are afraid of hurt and rejection, it is easy to isolate ourselves and believe that hiddenness and darkness is better than light and being known.

If I say, “Let the darkness hide me and let the light around me turn into night,” [12] even the darkness is not too dark for you. Night is as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:11-12 GW

The psalmist expresses similar feelings as we see in Lorde’s song, wanting to hide in the darkness instead putting himself out there in the light and being known. But as the scripture says, God can still see us in our darkest, most insecure moments. 

  • Can you relate to isolating yourself and feeling you are “better off alone” when you get insecure?
  • How do you think isolating affects the way you view yourself?

Disappear into the Sun

They’re gonna watch me disappear into the sun, You’re all gonna watch me disappear into the sun

Lorde, “Liability”

At the end of the song, Lorde changes her tone. She is resolute, deciding that she’s not going to be overtaken by the voices that tell her she’s not good enough. She’s going to disappear into the sun. I take this to mean choosing light over darkness

Jesus told us that God is light and doesn’t have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you. [7] But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.

1 John 1:5,7 CEV

Even when we feel deep in darkness as described in Psalm 139, God is light. So the more time we spend with God, the more we see, appreciate, and ultimately enjoy the light. 

When we put the hidden parts of ourselves into the light, the Bible says we “share in life with one another.” We no longer have to go at it alone, and can see what real, deep, and secure relationships really feel like.

  • What do you need to bring to light?
  • What one or two friends can you talk to today?

A Conversation with God

I like to think of “Liability” and “Liability (Reprise)” as a conversation. The person in “Liability” expresses all the emotions and insecurities she had kept hidden, and “Liability (Reprise)” is the other person’s response. I think of this as how God responds to us.

Whatcha gonna do?, All of the dreams that get harder, All of the things that I offer you

And… and all of the things that we harbour make all of the kids in the choirs sing woo-hoo-hoo

Lorde, “Liability (Reprise)”

I like that the response to all our insecurities isn’t condescension, insisting that we get over it, nor is it piteous, feeling sorry for us. It’s simply a question – “Watcha gonna do?” It is meant to engage us and push us to understand ourselves on a deeper level. 

Then, there is a new perspective introduced. All of the things that we thought would make us unlovable, all of the things that we wanted to hide (“all of the things that we harbour”), are actually the very things that impact the people around us.

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14 MSG

God doesn’t want us to be in the light just for the sake of it, but rather because he knows how much we are capable of shining. When we open our hearts and lives up to other people, it prompts other people to open up to God (“makes all of the kids in the choir sing woo..”). 

  • What perspective is God trying to show you about your insecurities?
  • Who needs you to shine for them?

You’re Not What You Thought You Were

But you’re not what you thought you were

But you’re not what you thought you were(liability)

But you’re not what you thought you were(make you…)

But you’re not what you thought you were(…leave)

Lorde, “Liability (Reprise)

This may be my favorite part of “Liability (Reprise).” It’s the conversation at its best and deepest. While one voice is still saying all of the insecurities – that she’s a liability, that she’s eventually going to make everyone leave her – the louder voice is assuring her that she’s not what she thought she was. She is stronger, more capable, and more powerful than she initially believed. It’s up to her to choose which voice she is going to listen to more.

I think these are the kinds of conversations God wants to have with us. He believes in us, and pushes us to look deeper into ourselves so we can find out who we really are and what we’re truly meant for, not just “what we thought we were.” He had a similar conversation with the prophet Elijah at one of the lowest points of his life. 

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain; it was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. [13] When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his scarf and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:11-13 TLB

If you read the rest of 1 Kings 19, Elijah was at a point of deep insecurity and doubt. He felt like he was all alone. God showed him that his response to these fears and doubts was not anger or even disappointment. He was gentle, whispering to Elijah – “why are you here?” The question wasn’t for God to know the answer, but for them to have an engaging conversation that would lead to closeness and help Elijah understand his purpose. 

  • Have you ever had this kind of conversation with God?
  • Have a “why are you here” prayer – find scriptures about how God really feels about you, and pray to go deeper into your understanding of his purpose for you.

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