This morning on the way to work I was flipping through some songs on iTunes and landed on “You Raise Me Up,” sung by Josh Groban.
My initial reaction was to chuckle. “Oh, that old thing.” You know the kind: the tear-jerking, soaring epics that become hugely popular because they strike an exposed emotional nerve, are overplayed on purpose, and then spend the rest of their natural lives being ridiculed by the masses on “the worst songs ever” lists now propagated on the internet.

“You Raise Me Up” is joined by Celine Dion’s, “My Heart Will Go On;” Whitney Houston’s remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You;” Michael W. Smith’s “Friends Are Friends Forever;” Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie’s “We Are The World;” And Bette Midler’s version of “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

I listened right through “You Raise Me Up” this morning, and I confess—I shed a tear or five. I even sang along, wondering as I went: Why do we do that? Why do we jump all over songs and “kumbaya” our way through their season in the sun, then turn on them, Lord-of-the Flies-like, when all the emotional hoopla is over and done?

I think it’s because… yes, I’m serious… they really are great songs that touch our souls so deeply that we’re embarrassed to admit it later on.

“Hey, dude… are you cryin’?”

“No, man… something’s in my eye.”

It’s like those songs catch us being weak and emotional, and the only way to save face is to turn on the song and destroy it, muttering something out loud about how we can’t believe we liked that song. Kill the pig, bash it in.

Deep down, though, we know the truth. Those melodies touched something. They unraveled something deep, something important. So why do we work so hard to regain our composure, to keep the strong, independent image intact? Why can’t we admit, “that song does something primal to me?”

After Groban, I listened to a few tracks from Joel McNeely’s masterful collection from the epic film Last of the Mohicans. This soundtrack, though wordless, wrecks me, stirs me, digs deep and finds that part of me that isn’t spineless and longs to give myself heroically to my wife and family.

This swell of emotion, while wet and tearful, doesn’t weaken me. It strengthens me, infusing me with near superhuman vision, passion, and resolve. Simply put, when my soul embraces certain music, certain experiences, certain movies, Bible verses, stories, or conversations, I want to be a better man. And I am a better man for embracing them.

What about you? What stirs you? What song, movie, etc are you embarrassed to admit loving and leaning into?