"I'm sure there are many levels on which people come into our music. You may find 16-year-olds into the phenomenon of the Edge."
Like a Song: Love Rescue Me
February 04, 2009
[Ed. note: This is the 31st in a series of personal essays by the @U2 staff about songs and/or albums that have had great meaning or impact in our lives.]
I'll admit it, I'm the praying type. I don't pray every day, although I'm told I should. I don't like to pray with long lists or with redundant requests. My prayer life is about as active as a relief pitcher in baseball who comes in on special occasion for a specific purpose. I do find myself having more conversations with my Lord more than I find myself in the formal process of praying. I guess I feel more comfortable that way.
In the late 1980s, I was going through that awkward time in life where I was in high school and trying to figure stuff out. It was in 1988 when I first really got into U2 and I was searching for acceptance. High school wasn't particularly kind to me as I had many acquaintances but no one who I'd hang out with. No one asked me out to my junior prom, so I mustered up all the courage I had to ask not one or two but three guys who I knew did not have dates. All three said they weren't going. I later found out they had asked freshman girls because they were "easy." I suppose there's nothing like hormone-inflicted high school boys trying to score early on in their manhood.
This rejection altered the way I viewed relationships. For the rest of my high school career, I focused only on my studies and on what I needed to get into college. I figured I'd never see these people again after I graduated high school, and they certainly were not going to help me get to where I wanted to be. I boycotted my senior prom because I did not want to waste my money on a social event that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Plus, I was starting to build my U2 collection and felt that the enjoyment from my issues of Propaganda and my U2-related wardrobe would far outlast five hours of bad music, bad dresses, and really bad hairdos. Looking back on it now, I was right.
I built a wall around myself to protect my fragile heart. I did not want to open myself again to the possibility of someone rejecting me for such a callous reason. In college, I became involved in various campus activities so that my social calendar would be so full that I couldn't possibly make time for a date. I did not go to college looking for a "Mrs." degree, so why waste time sampling the college scene for a boyfriend? Now that I was paying for my education, I did not want to get side tracked and see that money be wasted on emotional things like dating.
Deep down, though, I was more empty and more alone than I ever thought I could be. What made it worse was a friendship that I had developed - with a guy of course - that was never going to go anywhere. One night at a local pizza shop, he proceeded to give me a Masters Class lecture on Atheism and how my beliefs meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. The one strand of hope that I was holding onto -- my personal faith -- was now being discredited by someone who I had invested a friendship in. I suffered three weeks of insomnia as a result of this betrayal I was wrestling with. I had finally let my guard down enough to develop a friendship...with a guy...only to have the most important thing in my life be discredited so matter-of-factly.
I knew I was being challenged to discover the very core of who I am, what my life was designed for, and how to trust in something you can't physically see or hold. It was trying times, and the one thing that kept me sane through it all was U2.
Rattle and Hum will always be the most special U2 album I will ever own. It consoled me during my darkest hours after losing my grandfather, after feeling each rejection from peers, after beating myself up for "not being good enough," and all of the other negative emotions a teenager combats during those awkward stages in life. The beauty of this album is that as much as the members of U2 are perfectionists, the album and the movie were anything but. And I related to that.
"Love Rescue Me" couldn't have come at a better time in my life. As much as Bono opines about King David and the Psalmists, the roots of "Love Rescue Me" stem from that very place -- Psalm 23. It became a lamentation for me. I wanted that rescue. No, I needed that rescue. The wall I built to protect me from rejection was collapsing all around me and I had no failsafe. I had no person to turn to for support who would understand the deep hurt and confusion that was running through my veins.
As I dug deeper into the song, I realized that Bono was being his typical self with his writing -- there's the personal, the political and the spiritual. His "holy trinity" if you will. Love didn't have to be about a human emotion. Love could be the alternative name for my Lord. If God is Love, then the song could really be "God Rescue Me." Once I took that spin on the song, then it turned into a prayer of hope rather than a lamentation of loss.
I was able to pull myself up out of the quicksand I found myself in emotionally and began to hold onto the last verse of the song:
I've conquered my past The future is here at last I stand at the entrance To a new world I can see The ruins to the right of me Will soon have lost sight of me Love rescue me
I was finally "ready for whatever comes."
It took another two years after graduating college before I let that guard down again. This time, there was no rejection. And, in all places, a U2 chat room on IRC (Internet Relay Chat...in the days before instant messaging). I am happy to say that my Lord answered my prayer...I was rescued. I was even blessed with a husband who is also a U2 fan and understands the importance of my U2 collection and my fandom. We're lucky to be raising a son -- and soon a daughter -- who will hopefully find the same solace and joy in Rattle and Hum as I do. That album may not have been a critical success by the music world's standards, but it saved my life and forever changed it.
Oh -- and one other thing...I am happy to say that at least one acquaintance from high school shared my interest in U2 and we're still in touch today. If it wasn't for him, I really wouldn't be the type of U2 fan I am today. So, thanks S.B.!
© @U2/Lawrence, 2009.