‘In a world where the truth is confusing, you are more than your scars and your bruises.’ These words reflect a lesson Holly Starr has learned the hard way, through some experiences that challenged her faith and her sense of identity. ‘Bruises’, one of our favourite tracks from last year, offers hope and perspective to anyone going through hard times.
When she caught up with Alex, Holly had been recovering from surgery on her sinuses to correct structural issues in her nose. This was her third operation, after the first two had caused so much scarring that her symptoms hadn’t improved. She’d wondered whether this was a problem she would have to live with forever. ‘I don’t even know if this is going to work,’ she thought, ‘and the recovery is miserable.’
But in her moments of doubt, she took support from her husband, and from knowing God’s people were all around her. ‘I would go on Facebook, and I’d see the comments from my fans, or my friends or family members, saying ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you’.’
‘I think in those times, when you’re questioning ‘Is this ever gonna get better God? Is this something I’ll have to live with forever’? Seeing the support of those around you who love you is helpful.’
Holly was brought up in a Christian home, but it was during her tough teenage years when her faith really became her own. She remembers a transformative retreat in high school, where she heard sermons every day. ‘My eyes were opened up to how important Scripture is,’ she said. ‘It’s God’s Word, and how it’s sharper than a double-edged sword, and it’s there for you all the time, and that’s God Himself.’
He gave us worth and value
For years, she battled with her sense of body image, and worried about what other people thought of her. ‘It kind of got to this breaking point where I had to cry out before God and say “Lord, I can’t live this way”. I was not eating food properly, and just not doing life in a healthy way.’
‘So anyway, long story short, He delivered me from that bondage of feeling trapped inside my own skin, and showed me that what He created in me is beautiful. It doesn’t matter what other people think.’
She wrote Bruises partly to remind herself that she isn’t defined by her own pain, whether it comes from the emotional scars caused by cruelty, or the literal scars that refused to heal. She was also thinking about a relative who’d suffered some traumatic experiences. ‘My heart just goes out to them in a huge way,’ she said.
Ultimately, she says the song is for all of us who’ve gone through seasons of life where something we didn’t expect and couldn’t control has turned our plans upside-down. ‘I think we have this tendency to start defining our life by those times of our life that go bad,’ she said. ‘And we start to say I’m only as good as my weakest moment, when in reality, we’re not.’
‘Jesus, when He went to the cross, He died for all of us, and He gave us worth and value. So this song reflects that. It’s just saying hey, you’re more than your bruises. You’re more than what you’ve been through. You’re not defined by your struggles or circumstances that have pulled you down in life.’
Through grace, and a lot of prayer, Holly told us her scars had healed, and she was ready for the next stage of her ministry. Late last year she dropped the deluxe edition of her new album, Human, featuring production and a couple of collabs from Vision favourite Matthew Parker. We think it’s mature, honest, and danceable. We hope you love it as much as we do.
the YES necklace
Grief might be one of the toughest struggles to deal with. Realising that has inspired Holly to start a new side-project after watching her grandmother lose her husband of 54 years. She made her a necklace with the word ‘yes’ stamped on it, which she wore until the day she died. The necklaces are designed to help people make that choice, to remind us, in hard times, to simply say ‘yes God’. ⇢ theyesnecklace.com