Hit Christian Song Reveals Cognitive Dissonance: “Never Alone”.

In 2004, the Christian music group BarlowGirl made their debut. Their song “Never Alone” was subsequently released to radio and ended up being the longest-running #1 song on both the Christian Rock and Christian Hit Radio charts, securing “Song of the Year” status for these charts. “Never Alone” was also nominated for a Dove award.

What is interesting about this is that the lyrical content of “Never Alone” is a revealing look at the cognitive dissonance that exists in the minds of believers, and how they deal with it. The popularity of the song shows that there are many believers who resonated with its message.

Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics, which were based on diary entries from one of the writers:
I waited for you today
But you didn't show, no no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You'd be there
And though I haven't seen You
Are You still there?
No wonder Christians loved this song. Addressing God, the lyrics describe the doubt, confusion and questioning that create inner turmoil in believers, when they fail to see his promised presence and activity in their life. It verbalizes the cognitive dissonance that is the inevitable byproduct of Christianity. BarlowGirl was voicing things that Christian felt, but perhaps never dared to say:

“Where are you God?”

“I’ve called but you don’t answer.”

“Why don’t you help me?”

“Are you even there?”

Next comes the chorus:
I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel You by my side
The first two chorus lines continue detailing the feeling of abandonment. God doesn’t answer and there is no sense of God’s presence. Now, we come to the coping mechanism that believers use to deal with the cognitive dissonance.
So I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I’m never alone
By a supreme effort of will, the believer rejects evidence to the contrary and chooses to believe that God is there with her. In reality, instead of holding tight to “what I know”, the lyric should perhaps be “what I’m told” since there can be no true knowing without evidence. Essentially, the song is promoting ‘whistling in the dark’ as a solution to the absence of God. Don’t feel or see God in your life? Not getting anything you can claim as an answer to prayer? Just make a bold statement of your continued trust in God, as a means of encouraging yourself in a frightening situation.

The song goes on:
And though I cannot see You
And I can't explain why
Such a deep, deep reassurance
You've placed in my life
We cannot separate
'Cause You're part of me
And though You're invisible
I'll trust the unseen
In other words, though there is no verifiable evidence of God’s existence, and no reasoned explanation for this inner belief, the believer will go right on believing things they have no proof of.

And that, my friends, is how the faith game is played. It is a form of trickery in which the player is both the deceiver and the deceived. The dissonance is always lurking in the minds of believers, and the popularity of this song proves it. Some people can play the faith game all their lives and sustain the self-deception. Others will recognize it for what it is, and grow tired of the effort required to sustain it. If we listen carefully to our religious friends, we may be able to recognize those who may be ready to be relieved of the burden of maintaining a one-sided ‘relationship’ with their Imaginary Friend.

Written by J. M. Green