Stories from the journey of fatherhood & brotherhood

Why We Shouldn't Bury Things

brotherhood honesty music story Dec 06, 2019

We shouldn’t bury things. Here’s why...

Over the past year or so, I’ve shared parts of my story of writing and playing music. I wrote a lot of songs in my 20s, but then once “life happened,” playing my guitar and singing my songs got pushed aside. And after being pushed, they were forgotten. After forgotten, eventually hidden. And a part of me that lived passionately, freely and vulnerably was hidden with it. 

A few weekends ago, I found myself surprised by God’s invitation to return to one song in particular. And, I was invited by friends to share that song for the many men who were with me that weekend. As I type this story, I can still feel the tightness in my fingers and the lack of callous fingertips that are needed to depress the steel of the guitar strings into the frets. A sore throat added to the pressure of bowing out and saying… “maybe next time.” The excuses lined up waiting to be used. But, another and more powerful force was in motion that weekend, propelling me to live without fear of failure. 

And so, “Red Moon Rise” was unburied from years of neglect. Dusted off, updated a bit, and put on display for the first time in decades. And I’m so grateful. 

In the hours leading up to this unveiling, I reached out to my wife back home to help me find the original lyrics. Obviously, she found it, but she also found something else. 

Buried in the same dark corner under the bedside table as these songs was another decades-old folder. Not of music, but of letters. Letters and photos from a young woman who I had dated for about a year. 

These were initially excavated during a purge in our basement, likely found in the same box as all these songs. I remember the surprise of seeing them again, thumbing through a few to remember that youthful season of life and the stories that shaped it. Somehow it ended up in the bedroom I share with my wife. Which means, I put it there and left it. A very real, very emotional landmine waiting to be tripped.  

So here I am a few weeks ago. I came home excited to share the unfolding of this buried good story only to find that my wife had been wounded by another story equally significant. There was no easy fix. 

The good story shared became a blessing for those around me, while at the very same time, a past story discovered brought pain. In this I became very aware that my stories impact others, and that only considering how things impact me is a selfish way to live. I need to make choices that consider others before myself, because my clenched grip on those old stories betrayed me in several ways. The potential for good in sharing those songs was never realized by keeping them buried. And the potential for harm by hiding those letters was ignored. I could survive like this if I wanted to live in isolation, but that’s not the direction I want for my life. There’s too much at stake with the people I love and the people I am running with. 

It took courage to unwrap the good. And it took courage to throw away the folder of letters. And it will take more courage to walk this dusty road of music, and more courage and more intention to rebuild the intimacy and trust at home. 

I hope to be courageous. I want to be courageous. I need to be courageous. Wait… actually—and more accurately—the people around me need me to be courageous. 

Be courageous, friends. Not just for your sake. But for the women, children and brothers around you. 


Bart Lillie
Restoration Project Chief Catalyst



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