Happier than ever: what I heard from Billie Eilish

(Warning: explicit language)

She’s one of the most creative singer/songwriters of our time. Her mystic is the strangeness that never belongs to any genre, a feeling that things are never quite as they seem.

She’s chilled, with lyrics that can be chilling.

She’s a warm soprano, with the highs filtered out.

She’s the mellow whisper that draws us into her trance.

Complementing her voice are filtered electronic rhythms, smooth bass, edgy guitars and percussion, blended by the master-chef Finneas — the less conspicuous member of the duo. She may be a soloist, but it can take a symphony orchestra to create that sound.

That’s all part of the enigma that attracts us to her music. When things don’t quite match, we’re drawn to explore further.

Who doesn’t want to be Happier Than Ever? We listen, and it’s heartbreaking. To be happier than ever, I need to give up on you. Relationships are abusive. Joy comes from ending it:

You ruined everything good
Always said you were misunderstood
Made all my moments your own
Just fucking leave me alone
— Billie Eilish, Happier than Ever.

Don’t be shocked by the raw honesty. She’s more authentic than the fairy tales we were told about falling in love and living happily ever after.

Something inside us wants to be in love, embarking on a future worth having. That’s the puzzle of My Future. Since I’m in love with my future, you are a distraction, a hindrance to discovering who I really am and what I can become. I must push you out of my life, because I’m in love with my future:

But I, I’m in love
With my future
And you don’t know her
And I, I’m in love
But not with anybody here
I’ll see you in a couple years
— Billie Eilish, My Future.

Billie Eilish is a prophet. No, she’s not speaking for God; she’s the voice of a generation conflicted about relationships. The only solution is putting me first, ’cause I’m in love with my future.

Truth is, she’s not the only one saying this. Most of our love songs have this theme. Billie’s contribution is a creative honesty that resonates as true to life for so many.

I close my eyes, but the images remain: a Golden Gate that leads to nowhere, haunted eyes in a sinking car.

Do Christians have a message of genuine hope for people as honest as Billie? Do we know anything about a God who doesn’t give up on humans in our tragedy and anguish? Do we have a story of embodied faithfulness, a God who takes the death-weapon on his own shoulders rather than withdraw because of the pain we gave him?

We find it easier to condemn people than to embody the suffering of divine love. Condemnation destroys faith. People say, Thought you had your shit together, but damn, I was wrong. You ain’t nothin’ but a lost cause (Billie Eilish, Lost Cause).

God embodied faithfulness. Shouldering the load builds faith. Loving with words or speech isn’t enough; we need actions in real life (1 John 3:18).

The difference between God and humans left to themselves is that God is love. The person who lives in love is living in God, and God is living in us. We love because God-initiated love permeates us (1 John 4:16, 19).

Both these perspectives are worldviews. One honestly expresses what is. The other embodies what could be.

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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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