Singing the songs of my life

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

By Tonya S. Swindell

Different songs have impacted my life since I was a child. Lyrics taught me lessons, soothed my aching soul and connected me with family and friends in ways I never expected.

Although I don’t remember all the words, many songs remind me of places, times and events that still hold a special place in my heart.

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Aunt Rose taught me a memorable lesson about getting along with people who are different from me when we listened to “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. As I got older, lyrics by Michael Jackson inspired me to start with “the man in the mirror” by “asking him to change his ways.”

Eventually a song from the “Sister Act 2” soundtrack reminded me: “If you wanna be somebody; If you wanna go somewhere; You better wake up and pay attention.”

As a result of growing up in church, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs impacted my faith. For my first solo I sang “Going Up Yonder,” but it wasn’t until I made a personal decision to follow Christ that the lyrics really touched my heart. I boldly testified: “All of my help cometh from the Lord,” when the choir sang an inspiring song called “My Help,” which was based on Psalm 121.

Hymns like “Amazing Grace,” “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” were always uplifting, but they made a lot more sense to me after I became an adult.

My favorite gospel group, The Clark Sisters, sang songs like “Endow Me,” “The Darkest Hour is Just Before the Day” and “You Brought the Sunshine,” which made me reflect on God’s goodness.

“Total Praise” and “Order My Steps” helped me enter God’s presence through worship. A song called “On the Other Side of Through” gave me hope as I sang along with the radio:

What God has prepared for you

Is better than what you’re going through

So run this race with determination

God has prepared your destination

Don’t stop

I’m telling you

There’s a blessing on the other side of through.

Other gospel songs comforted me, like the time I heard “Let the Church Say Amen” shortly after my father passed away.

Anita Wilson described the joy I felt due to receiving God’s love in her song, “You Love Me.” As a bonus, she sang it to the tune of “Best of My Love,” which was my favorite R & B song from the 1970s. My brother and two of his lifelong friends still talk about how I bobbed my head to the beat every time I sang “Best of My Love” as a little girl.

Now that I’m older, I pay more attention to lyrics and encourage my children to do the same. By doing so, I hope they’ll realize words have power. Songs are words set to music, so they can trigger memories, uplift souls and change lives forever.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at