Ryan: I started listening to K-Love again while doing local campaigning for community service hours to earn a scholarship to college. Many of the songs, such as “Same Power” by Jeremy Camp and “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli and “Flawless” by MercyMe, resonated deep within me, and I started listening on a regular basis. I eventually worked enough hours to earn a scholarship to college as a biochemistry major. During that time, I dug into the Christian music on K-Love (my song list was never empty), and I incorporated the themes and messages into the plots and themes of the Christian-fiction fantasy saga I’m writing.
Towards the end of my sophomore year in June 2019, I went to sleep around eleven on a Saturday night and woke up groggily on the couch, surrounded by my parents, some cops, and a paramedic, trying desperately to stay awake. I figured out later I had suffered from a seizure (I was not doing drugs, however, just a random medical event) shortly into my REM state, which left my body weak and dumped my memories into a hazy vault.
During that summer, I was enrolled in an upper level chemistry course, and I remember crying in frustration because the notes no longer made sense. God worked wonders in allowing me to see a neurologist the very next day, but until I could get an MRI and be placed on medication, I would continue to suffer another seizure every time I fell asleep (which happened three more times). I couldn’t coordinate my fingers on the piano anymore, memories were painful to try to unearth, and my brain struggled to interact with other people. Before my seizures, I had been so certain God was leading me into chemical research that my severe memory loss left me bitter, frustrated, and emotionally-drained. I remember crying out to God, “Lord, why did you do this? I thought this is where You were leading me.”
As the days passed by and my medication worked immediately, I began to dig into the Scriptures, fervently praying and listening to K-Love, desperately trying to find answers and hope. It was three songs that ultimately reshaped my thinking: “He Knows” by Jeremy Camp, “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle, and “Even If” by MercyMe.
“I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty Hand, but even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.”
“When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, when You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, when You don’t give me answers as I cry out to You, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”
“Every time that you feel forsaken, every time that you feel alone, He is near to the broken-hearted, every tear He knows.”
I listened to these lyrics over and over, weeping bitterly in my heart and out loud. And slowly, my question was reshaped to, “Lord, what are You doing in this situation? How can this situation be used by You for Your glory?” Despite finishing out the summer course with an A, I faced a once-intriguing semester packed with five chemistry courses focused in heavy calculus derivations, biochemical mechanisms and processes, and 3D quantum shapes of electron orbitals in solid compounds. A semester that most chemistry majors would avoid because the course combination was so difficult. On top of that, I was hired as a tutor, tutoring the lower level chemistry courses to other students when needed. So while I knew God gave me seizures for a reason, knowing that He could lead me on a different path by having me fail this semester through memory loss was extremely scary to think about.
Over the semester, I learned to deepen my dependence and trust in God no matter what happens, and since my seizures, I have taken 49 credit hours and currently enrolled in 13, and not once have I slipped below an A for a final grade (except for one A-). God graciously restored my ability to think critically, to remember calculus and organic chemistry, to think and ask questions on my own. However, I never forgot that God has a reason for my seizures. As the semesters rolled by, I remembered just how powerfully God has used music to impact my life, and knowing that I could play the piano and sing a song from the radio in its key by ear, I started really investing my talents into music. I began to feel a calling into music, and I prayed heavily (and still do) pray that I may impact the world through music. I picked up the electric guitar in August, and now some guys and I are starting the makings of a band set out to glorify God and be messengers for the world of the kingdom of God. And as further testimony of God’s grace and His ability to work miracles, I graduated with a degree in biochemistry, summa cum laude in April. I will continue to encourage people through the deep spiritual themes I incorporate into my writing, and I hope to one day share the Gospel through the melody and lyrics of music.