On July 5, Austin Carlile (lead vocalist for Of Mice & Men) posted a photograph on Instagram stating:
“This past Sunday I was finally baptized, after taking 28 years to realize God’s work playing out in my life and that I had to get out of the middle of the road and fully follow Him. Trying to do things my own way completely left me stranded. Relying on my own perseverance and strength was not enough. His grace has been overwhelming, and with every obstacle I’ve faced I’m proud to say my hope through HIM is what pushed me to continue on, and to keep fighting. Through His grace I AM enough, and hope my life and fight can reflect just that to others. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and life more abundantly.” John 10:10″
I have always been fascinated by Carlile because of his backstory. At 18 years old, he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome which is a disorder of the connective tissue. The effects of this disorder on the body varies from person to person. For him, it wears down his heart valves and cardiovascular system. This same disorder claimed the life of his mother when he was 17. Because of this disorder, he had to quit baseball and forever let go of his dream of playing NCAA ball. Carlile said, Marfan causes “the connective tissue (which makes up most of your body) to stretch, pull, and rip easier than the tissue of a normal person.” Trying to play a sport, or participate in any sort of vigorous activity was now out of the question in fear of tearing important tissue. 2015 was a rough year for him health wise, and he was eventually hospitalized for hip surgery, broken ribs, and a tear in his dural sac (holds your brain fluids).
Even though he had to give up on his initial dream of a sports career, he turned to music and music basically saved his life. Due to the struggles he faces because of Marfan, he is able to write relatable, genuine, and powerful lyrics that have helped fans like me make it through rough patches in this life.
I couldn’t tell you the whole backstory of Austin Carlile’s journey from and back to Christianity, but what I can tell you is that the members of Of Mice and Men, and other bands, have been in my prayers for a while.
This past school year, I took British Literature and during this class we learned about various works from Beowulf to The Charge of the Light Brigade. Little did I know, our professor had interweaved an unexpected lesson into our curriculum. While preparing for finals I discovered a pattern in the way God was viewed by individuals throughout the centuries in relation to their art forms, specifically literature. Britain went from being an extremist christian nation to, now, essentially an atheist nation. Each literary time period marks a swaying from one extreme to the next, in an attempt to completely wiggle God out of the picture. This came as a result of Christianity leading England to the beheading of their king in the 1600’s. [I will do a blog post going in depth on this in the near future]
I relate this British phenomenon to music because as I was making a mental note of all the artists, specifically from Britain, that I listen to I noticed atheist vibes. So I went digging. One of my all time favorite bands is Bring Me the Horizon so I looked for some of their interviews. I discovered Oli Sykes has been an atheist pretty much ever since he can remember. Both of his parents were. In their music though, you never hear anger towards God specifically, but towards religion. A few years ago, Sykes was suffering from major depression and his counselor suggested a higher power, after thinking about it he said no.
I used to listen to Austin Carlile when he sang for Attack Attack! and although they claimed to be a Christian Rock band, he always seemed to be unsure of claiming that title for himself. When he moved over to Of Mice and Men, I moved along with him and fell in love with their sound immediately. (Their music videos are also fantastic)
Thinking of both Carlile and Sykes, I decided to dedicate some of my prayer time each day to their walks with Christ. This was not necessarily in an effort to convert them or throw Christ upon them, I just felt the need to lift them up.
I think we often forget that these band members are also human. So I started praying, and I was consistent for about two months. Then, I fell off with my relationship with Christ altogether (sadly). I just stopped making time for Him. That’s when I saw Carlile’s instagram post. I was finally seeing the fruit of my spiritual labor. A heart was converted to Christ, not to religion but to Christ and THAT’S what’s important. I don’t cry, but I was definitely moved and took a moment to thank God.
This also woke me up to my need for Christ in my life and how necessary it is that I make time for him. It also revealed to me the importance of praying for others, no matter how “far gone” they may seem. I was an agnostic for most of my high school career and all during that time, my sister and some friends were praying for me. I claimed Christ last Spring Break (not through baptism), but I made a spiritual dedication to Him. I am happy to see him working in the lives of even people among the music scene.
I just wanted to take time to share to remind you all that these band members are humans who struggle physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Just as their music supports us they need us, their fans, to support them. However you choose to do so, it’s your choice.