“World is Cold” by UZUHAN with Promise and Tim Be Told always makes me pause when I hear it. It’s a pointed reminder that despite the complexity and conflict we feel with others and in relationships – we need each other far more than our pride, or the tension that can arise from differing points of view.

Watch UZUHAN Below:

I want you to get a piece of paper (or if you must the notes on your phone) and consider the following:

Who was instrumental in getting you where you are today?

Go ahead start that list. For most of us God obviously tops that list – He gets all caps. Next, think of family, friends, pastors, supporters of craft/ skills, educators, mentors, etc. After you’ve taken some time to think through the timeline of your growing up, career, trade, moments – look at that list. When’s the last time you thanked those names, lifted them up, encouraged them? Maybe you need to do that before we proceed. Take that time.

Notice that list isn’t just your name, you probably didn’t even list yourself. Now, that doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard, or that you aren’t part of the reason for your success – I’m not saying that. Yet, I think this distinction is important, right? It’s common in our society to say ‘I did this’ or ‘I’m the reason I got here’. Sure, if you hadn’t gotten up out of bed and made decisions you wouldn’t be in this same place, but success isn’t isolated. No matter how my pride tries to convince me I’m self-made – I’m not.

I need the people on my list. I think it’s easy to forget that, and honestly hard to admit sometimes. If God gives me more years, the list will hopefully get longer. I think God gave us people so we know we’re not alone, to keep us from worshipping ourselves, and so we understand we really are here for one another – to build the Kingdom and act like our Lord.

Let’s walk through some of the lyrics.

“…I know you don’t do it on purpose
But you make me feel worthless yea yea
Keeping my cool on the surface”

The song starts by addressing conflict. This sounds like it could be to a loved one, maybe a person of dissension, or in this realm maybe even fans/supporters who might be discouraging or giving criticism that isn’t kind/helpful. I think UZUHAN was specifically talking about family, but we get a little space to interpret, don’t we?

I admire the way it’s worded, “I know you don’t do it on purpose, but you make me feel worthless.” When other people give us negative energy it can be hard to oppose that with gentleness. Yet, UZUHAN and his producer, Sam Ock teach us a lot about how to approach dissension with patience and maturity in this song. Like the line says – sometimes people don’t realize the pain they cause and to prevent bitterness against them we have to bring it to light.

UZUHAN

Photo by @andre.shoots at Light Work Event at A3C hosted by Rapzilla.com.

“Don’t forget I’m still a person yea yea
Telling my story to the world
But it seems you want another version yea yea”

I hear this next line as addressing someone you don’t know very well. In observing artists and the weight of fame – I think this line speaks volumes. Artists are often treated like products, and evaluated with a measuring stick instead of knowing them, giving them grace, or understanding what we see – is just that what we see – not who they are. It can be easy for us as supporters or consumers to try and determine the value of someone’s art.

I hear that in the line, “Telling my story to the world, but it seems you want another version.” Whether you’ve felt the pressure to become someone different to your family, your fans, your creative peers – this statement rings true. People often try to form others into what they like.

However, we don’t get to tell people what their story is – we don’t get to tell them it isn’t of value. Sure, we can say this needs work, this sounds immature, the production is sloppy, the lyricism is basic or lazy – there’s room for improvement in these areas, etc. If someone asks for that, or if we are producers, or if we offer tangible changes along with encouragement to the soul of the content that artist has made – that’s great. But if we are listening to someone’s story, someone’s life on the page and we can’t wait to say what’s ‘bad’ about it or criticize it without first stating its value apart from its excellence or lack thereof – we miss the point. It may not be the “version” we want or identify with, but that’s okay it is still valuable.

“I’m tryna be the bigger man
I ain’t tryna be a bitter man
But you make it so, so hard
When you go so far to make yourself the victim
Tryna just speak my piece
But after all of that feel my words are twisted
You’re sounding like a Peter Pan

When you fuss about your meager plans
Hope you know I’d rather criticize
But if I do, what’s the difference in you and I?”

Further, the lyrics describe the uncomfortable tension that happens when someone is unwilling, or unable to empathize. It can be incredibly difficult to be gracious when others make no space for themselves to be wrong. I have to always consider whether I know it or not – I can cause pain, or be blind to things that hurt others. If I choose to fight this – I dismiss their hurt. I have to be willing to accept that sometimes I’m the reason there’s a problem – even if I didn’t intend it.

Rounding out this verse there’s an understanding that if I choose to criticize or choose the same actions as the person I’m in conflict with – I mirror the same things I find frustrating about them. The only alternative is to act differently.

“When the world is cold and you just can’t deny
You’re high and dry
Better – learn how to thrive
When the world is cold and you just can’t deny
Won’t make it through the night
Better – learn how to thrive
And I really cannot reach the end of my rope
And I really cannot see the end of my road
And all I got is one more thing to say ~

How can I go on if you’re not around?
How can I go on if you’re not around?
How can I go on if you’re not around?
How can I go on if you’re not around?”

Uzuhan

Photo by Barry E. Daly at A3C.

The chorus jumps into the theme which I hear saying that regardless of how people fail us, criticize us, or discourage us – we need them in the same breath. When we’re in a hard place and we need change – we can’t be in an echo chamber. We need reconciliation, we need help. It’s that feeling when you feel you can’t move, and you can’t take anymore – but you have to do something. Often our friends and family are the ones that can speak into that stagnant space and help us move again. Then it’s ultimately realizing – being supported is how we thrive.

Let’s jump into the second verse now:

“Family don’t leave each other
We need each other
Through the ups and down seasons
Whether you may cuss them now
But time will come you’ll need someone to buckle down and be a brother
Someone to muscle down at least a cousin
Who at home with the keys are coming
Sometimes you need loving when times are cold
A father to bother push your mind to grow
If you don’t understand me I’m talking about family it’s time you know…”

This verse is so good. I love how it acknowledges that it’s important to take the messiness of our relationships within stride. At the end of the day, as long as we articulate ourselves, admit when we’re wrong, and do our best to look like Christ – we’re doing alright. Sometimes that’s releasing our pride, sometimes it’s speaking up when someone’s treating you wrong, but ultimately it’s not giving up on our people. We need our family and loved ones.

I think of my own extended family and how much light they’ve poured into my life, especially within the past couple of years when I’ve started to connect with them more. As my own immediate family has changed over time – I didn’t realize how my cousins’ perspectives and care would become something that keeps me going.

“If you ain’t got a family
Know that God’s your family you ain’t gotta find your own
You can find a home in Christ alone
He will be a light when nights are cold
He can bring you right through fights or storms
And love you just like His own”

Not everyone is blessed to have a biological family that can offer love for one reason or another. Yet, God intended for everyone to have family regardless if they have the same DNA. The Church is one of the ways we have family, with God as our Father. Even if and when we have no earthly support, God is our resource and refuge.

If we as the Church are doing it right, you won’t be without a place to land, yet like every family we’ll let you down from time to time, but doesn’t mean there isn’t love for you. It just means we are people, people who fail despite even our best efforts sometimes or our lack of effort. May we always strive to work through our differences and see things through the eyes of our Church family. Then when we fail – we’re all left saying to God in our shortcomings,

“How can I go on if You’re not around?”

The difference is we never have to hear that answer from God.

I hope zooming into these lyrics offers you a pause in the chaos. I’m grateful UZUHAN articulated this so we can think through our relationships with patience and carefulness. I don’t want to risk my family or friends because I was too bitter to see that maybe I was wrong or that they are worth the struggle it is to work through differences. I pray we approach God with the same humility – even when life turns out different than how we wanted or thought it should be.

How has this song encouraged you to love well in your relationships? Who can you make space for this week?

According to Spotify, UZUHAN has an album out at the end of this week – be sure to keep an out for it and give it a listen. Check out his newest single here: