In the Fall of 2007, I was in the process of hitting a “bottom” of sorts. Everything seemed great – my rock band, Army Of Me, had just released our first major label album on Atlantic Records. A video was in heavy rotation on MTV, our single was playing on radio stations nationwide, and we were playing concerts with artists such as Dave Matthews, Switchfoot, and Coldplay. But just three weeks before that album release, I had suffered a serious vocal cord injury that left me unable to sing or promote the new album. I had poured years of blood, sweat, and tears into my dreams of a career in music, only for the rug to be pulled out from under me at such a moment as this. The vocal cord issues lingered for over two years, as the music career that I’d built unraveled. I was left wondering… If this is somehow God’s perfect plan, what does it all mean?
Going back in time for a moment…as Providence would have it, I grew up in Gaithersburg, MD in the same neighborhood as (now well-known author and speaker) Christopher West. Back then, Christopher was the drummer of a cool local rock band, and someone I really looked up to. When I went through a particularly rough time in high school, Christopher reached out to me as the older brother I never had. We used to play and listen to music together. His friendship helped me through that time.
Fast forward many years to the Fall of 2007. Christopher and I had just reconnected, as he reached out to let me know that he loved my new album. I shared with him my vocal cord struggles, and he was once again an encouraging friend. In the midst of our conversations, he invited me to a TOB I course in Pennsylvania that coming January. At first, I declined the invitation, thinking I already knew enough about Theology of the Body (I had no idea). But at his repeated invite, I decided to go.
I actually had vocal cord surgery in December of 2007, so I was still recovering, and on vocal rest, during the TOB I course come January. It wasn’t a silent retreat for anyone there, except for me! While I sat in that classroom chair for a week of classes and prayer, I began to absorb the most amazing and beautiful ideas I’d ever encountered, for example, the idea that in a relationship with the opposite sex, love is meant to be a free gift of yourself to another. I imagined actually living that out with another person, and all the struggle and beauty it would entail.
Christopher expounded on the writings of John Paul II in his “Theology of the Body” in a way that was both relatable and relevant. It was like a reframing of Christianity, through the lens of TOB, that was both compelling and attractive. I found myself newly inspired in my faith. On top of that, I met the most beautiful people who had come to hear the same good news. The week truly felt like a snapshot of Heaven.
In the years that have followed my initial exposure to Theology of the Body, these ideas have been transformational for me. I’ve grown away from patterns of objectification in my relationships. I’ve also overcome addictions and unhealthy tendencies, as I’ve taken my hungers and desires to God to be filled. I’ve come to understand Jesus as a Savior and a model of what a real man is, and how a real man loves. I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty and freedom that comes from the Church’s teaching on sexuality. I’ve been inspired in my music by these themes of what authentic love is and how hungry we are for it. And I’ve shared that music with my fans and audiences around the world.
More recently, during a TOB II course that I attended, Christopher West gave me the opportunity to do an impromptu concert. I played some of my songs for the audience there, sharing the spiritual and TOB themes that went into the lyrics of the songs. It was really cool to see how people reacted— to see how songs and lyrics can really touch people. Art has a unique ability to touch our hearts with beauty, and I want my music to encourage, to give hope, to help make sense of our experiences in the light and the truth of our faith.
I’ve returned to the TOB Institute on several occasions as both a musician and student. Countless times, I’ve sat in the classroom and thought about all the people in my life I wished could be hearing what I was hearing. I can only be grateful for these opportunities, and recommend that others explore the Theology Of The Body by attending a course at the TOB Institute. If it took a vocal cord injury and surgery to slow me down enough to be able to take in TOB, it was so worth it.
Vince Scheuerman lives in Nashville, TN where he writes and records songs under the name Army Of Me, for the purpose of sharing a little beauty with the world. But his heart is still in Southwest Montana, where he lived and guided at a fly fishing lodge during college. He collects arrowheads, drinks black tea, and enjoys making new friends.
Vince is available to come and play for your event, church, young adult or youth group, or house concert. For more information about Army Of Me, visit http://www.