First Baptist Church of Beltsville

Finding Peace with God on the Hilltop of Beltsville

Lithium or Life Change

Kurt Cobain and I both stumbled into the early years of Generation X with little expectations and scant hope. The decade of the 1980’s proved to be filled with nihilism and angst, as much for the Seattle rocker as it was for me. At the dawn of the 1990’s, I felt a strong affinity for the lyrics of the grunge-rock band Nirvana. While driving down the road, I would turn the volume up to play Smells Like Teen Spirit as loudly as possible to shout to the world, “I feel stupid and contagious!” For Kurt Cobain and I, it was a time of anger and confusion; purpose in meaninglessness; wandering and wondering. Something needed to change, because death was lurking in the shadows for us both.

Kurt Cobain medicated himself from pain by using heroin. He despised being thrust into the position of spokesperson for a generation, and his popularity in success made him feel awkward and depressed. He finally stopped the pain by ending his own life, leaving a shocked and confused young family and an entire generation of lost youth wondering why. In a tragic bit of irony, Cobain sang of how Lithium prevented a depressed person from committing suicide, and likened the medication to religion as an opiate for the masses. Yet Lithium was no life saver for the young rocker.

My life took a much different path. Unsatisfied with feeling hopeless, confused, “Stupid and contagious,” I began searching for truth and wisdom. While Cobain was being tormented by the pain and consequences of foolish choices, I began a months-long purging of pain, hopelessness and regret by repenting of my sin and embracing the Way of Christ. My primal screams of regret, mixed with my tears of deep sorrow for past sin filled my car with a cathartic revival of the soul, replacing the loud screams of a generation on the grunge edges of society.

There is a tragic postscript to Kurt Cobain’s life. The angst-ridden rocker was exposed to authentic Christianity in the mid 1980’s when he was living at a friend’s house. The parents of his friend were Evangelical believers, and the father supported Cobain in a very fatherly manner. Kurt even attended church with the family, and showed a genuine interest in Christianity. But, in the end, Cobain’s lyrics (from Lithium) make his beliefs clear: “I'm so happy because today, I've found my friends; They're in my head. I'm so ugly, but that's okay, 'cause so are you. We've broken our mirrors. Sunday morning is everyday for all I care, And I'm not scared. Light my candles in a daze, 'Cause I've found god, Hey, hey, hey.”