Bel Thomson is a Brisbane-based Christian singer-songwriter who uses her life experience and strong faith as the basis of her creative output, writes Julie Houghton.
What led you to embrace music as a profession?
I started writing songs when I was a teenager. As my faith grew, I realised that music was not only a gift God had given me, but was one of the most effective ways to communicate the life-changing love of God to others. This is my dream job!
Why is music so important to you as an expression of your faith?
My music and lyrics always come from the overflow of my own experiences, and I really love that songs are invitations to share my own personal journey of faith with people who probably wouldn’t listen if I just talked! Music is a powerful platform to people’s hearts.
Your path to motherhood hasn’t been smooth, has it?
I had been so excited about becoming a mum and I certainly never thought that postnatal depression would be part of my experience. We had a very difficult birth, which ended in a traumatic category one emergency caesarean. Our son Michael wasn’t breathing when he was born, so he was taken straight away for medical treatment. I wasn’t able to hold him or even see him at birth. I could only put my hand through the little window of the crib to stroke his head, and I felt totally heartbroken that I couldn’t hold him.
Everything just went black, and in the following months I felt totally overwhelmed caring for my little newborn. The only thing I could do was remind myself that God was with me, even though I really couldn’t sense him in my exhaustion. I knew I should be thankful that my son was alive and healthy, but I just felt lost in that blackness and confusion. Honestly, I felt let down by God because I had prayed for and expected a very different experience of parenthood.
Where do you think God was while you were lost in the world of postnatal depression (PND)?
I now realise that God actually holds us closer than ever in the dark times, though I really struggled to sense him through the fog of my exhaustion and depression. I clung onto his promise: “When you walk through the deep waters of difficulty I am with you, when you walk through the fire I am with you... I will never leave or forsake you” (Isaiah chapter 43, verse 2).
Looking back on my PND, I can see that God measured his love to me in so many different forms, through the love of my husband, family and church (doing practical things like making meals and cleaning my house), through the wise words of a Christian counsellor who helped me process my grief, in the guidance of my obstetrician, through the support of my mothers’ group, and when I sat down at the piano, often with tears streaming down my face, he gave me new songs that became a deep conduit for my own healing.
I see now that not only was God holding my son when I was not able to, he was holding me the whole time.
What are your proudest achievements with your music?
I love hearing that my lyrics have inspired others to have courage to step out in faith, or when a song reminds someone that God really does care for them. I’m honoured when people use my music at a wedding or funeral, or other pivotal life events. It’s such a privilege to write songs that become a soundtrack of hope over people’s lives. This is my greatest joy as a musician.
To find out more about Bel visit www.belthomson.com