Special Guest Writer: Sophie Keye, Australian singer-songwriter
Guard My Life is a song which deals with my desire to connect with God during the darkest moments of my struggle with mental illness. I started writing Guard My Life early last year. I was in a low place after quitting my teaching job due to stress as visa issues meant my husband and I needed to relocate to Ecuador earlier than expected (during a pandemic!). Although I have been managing my mental health really well since a major depressive and psychotic episode in 2014, there are still times when my mental health symptoms get the better of me and I need to take a step back from some commitments. Despite my husband's and family’s support of my decision to take some time off work, I felt so ashamed and fearful that my mental health issues would stop me from living a normal and productive life.
During this time, I was reading Psalm 86 and the line ‘Guard my life’ stood out to me
Turn your ear, O Lord.
Answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life,
for I am favored by you.
You are my God.
Save your servant, who trusts in you.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
Psalm 86:1-4 NIV
I loved this short prayer as I think it encapsulates what we long for as humans. We might not have the energy or words to pray but we want all that is connected to our life and those we love to be protected. It was these three words that inspired my song Guard My Life.
At first I just had the melody for the chorus and then my producer Lee Bradshaw helped me with the melody and chords for the verses. Many of my other songs on my upcoming album TRINKETS allude to my struggles with mental illness, however, it is in Guard My Life where I vividly describe the pain and exhaustion of when I’m at my darkest place with my mental health. I think we can be good at acknowledging and describing physical pain but not so good when it comes to emotional/ psychological pain which can be just as painful, if not more so.
Despite the heavy content of the song, I also sing about the hope and comfort I have in knowing that God knows what we need and is interceding for us - even when we don’t have the strength, the words, or the presence of mind to pray. As it says in Romans 8:36:
'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.'
I also want you to know that if you are in a dark place right now or something just feels ‘off’, don’t ignore it. Reach out to someone, or a health professional you trust. The feelings I describe in this song are only a snapshot of the darkest moments of my mental health, however, praise God, it’s not what I experience most of the time. God has been so faithful in my life - progressively healing me through his provision of doctors, medicine, and the love and support of my family, church, and friends. With the right treatment and support things really can get better. Never forget that the truth is God loves you and is for you, even when your feelings or thoughts are telling you otherwise.
In order to create Guard my Life’s music video, I collaborated with sign language interpreter Deanna Scott (Signing for His Glory). I wanted the song to be signed in order to describe feelings and emotions that go ‘beyond the words’ as well as reach those in the deaf and hard of hearing community with my message.
Guard My Life
I don't know what I should say
haven’t got the strength to pray
stuck here talking to the wall
are you even there at all?
All these voices in my head
filling up my heart with dread
flaming arrows beat me down
I can’t even make a sound
make a sound...
Guard my life...
These are wounds that go unseen
a thousand cuts to misery
laying motionless in bed
as my chest is soaked with red
Guard my life...
But you groan with me, intercede for me
you know what I need when I can’t pray
Yes, you groan with me, intercede for me
you know what I need when all I say is...
Guard my life...
'Turn your ear, O Lord. Answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am favored by you. You are my God. Save your servant, who trusts in you. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.'
PSALM 86:1-4 (NIV)
Sophie Keye is an Australian singer-songwriter and inspirational music artist based in Ecuador with a passion to create music that brings hope and starts conversations about the big questions of life. She is currently dedicating her time to learning Spanish and releasing songs from her upcoming, debut album TRINKETS.