CCM: You mentioned that you’d “stopped caring in a good way.” Was there a tipping point or a memorable moment when that happened?
BM: Yeah there was a very liberating moment, so to speak, in our career. We’ve been a band for 23 years, having started in ‘94. We verbally signed in ‘99 and released the first album in ‘01, I think. We would never complain about ever having “I Can Only Imagine” be a career song and be one of our first releases—but if there was any kind of downside, it would be that you spend a lot of time afterwards trying to play catch-up. You don’t want to be the people to derail the MercyMe machine. It comes from everyone. Everyone is like, “Man, this thing was a huge success. We don’t know what to do with it, so let’s do it again.” It’s like, “Why? We already have one.” They say, “No, we want more. Let’s write more power ballads.” For a long time, we’re like, “Okay, if you say so, let’s do it.”
Then right after The Hurt And The Healer (buy), spiritually, I was just at a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. We weren’t enjoying what we were doing. We were going through a lot of difficult times in our personal lives. I thought, “There has to be something more than me just spending my whole life trying to be good more than I am bad.” I got caught up in the legalism of if I did enough good stuff, God would be okay with me and not see the bad. On a spiritual level, I couldn’t keep trying to fill out this eternal to-do list. I knew there had to be something better than this.
A good friend of mine stepped back into my life and said, “I know you’re really good at working hard at something and trying to earn someone’s approval, but there’s nothing you can do to make Christ love you any more than he already does. You just need to relax and enjoy the finished work of the cross. Enjoy the fact that you can have an off day and He’s still crazy about you. It’s not about what you do.” Nobody had ever told me to stop. Everybody always told me to do more. So I spent a couple years unpacking and understanding who I actually am in Christ.
I’d believed all my life that I was simply a bad person trying to be good. I would have moments of greatness or whatever, but ultimately I knew I’d go back to the sorry person I thought I was. He said, “Man, you have Christ in you. You used to be worthy and unrighteous, but because of the cross, you’re a brand new creation. You need to live like it. Live like you’re holy and righteous and not like you’re someone destined to fail at the first opportunity.” He allowed me to see myself differently. My expectations to fail started to go away, not that I would fail any less or more, since it was the same, but I wouldn’t beat myself up.
CLICK “4” TO ADVANCE