(Photo by Bree Marie Fish)
The Harvest: An Instagram Journey Part 2
* Interview based on posts from @iamhollyn
By Sarah Komisky
After every planting comes a harvest. For singer-songwriter Hollyn, the season of pain, heartbreak, confusion, and brokenness has passed. Now, as she enters into a new place in life, she took some time to reflect on the seeds that sprouted a good crop when God was placed at the center of her life. The byproduct of the 21-year-old’s experiences included her newfound intimacy with God, a new perspective on life, a new relationship, new circumstances, and new music. The result is “Everything and More (featuring Aaron Cole)” and “Isaac” released in October. For Hollyn, the songs “expose two sides of the same story. While dissonant, they go together beautifully and were made to coexist.” Both songs a bold move on the artist’s behalf to be to be honest about the reality of life that is imperfect and human. A reality she wants others to know—God is okay coming into our mess and helping us through the difficult times. Although the newness in this current season has been as she candidly put it, “terrifying” at times, it’s also proved to be incredibly sweet.
In turn, this interview reflects Hollyn in full bloom. These are her raw thoughts through the journey, how she made it to the other side, how her faith has proven stronger through hard times, why she’s grateful, and what life has been like in this new season. Here is our part two of a piece documenting the “harvest portion” of the journey via Instagram.
“The air feels cleaner in my lungs when I breathe in nowadays. My emotions are beautifully messy and I’m in love with all these surprise twists in my story. I would’ve never planned this. I would’ve never even come close. Guess it’s time to put on a pretty pink dress (even if I normally hate pink, lol) and try things I didn’t think I would ever get to experience because that’s just how life goes. It’s bitter and then all of a sudden, the sweetness kicks in.” – Hollyn (9/18/18)
Sarah: I kind of added in this one because I saw the Instagram post in the pink dress and I loved it and I was like, ‘Let’s put that in there and talk about it!’ What I loved about that post was the embracing of newness because often, people when they go through something really difficult, have those fears that stop them from ever trying again. So, for you, what has it been like for you to be open to the newness of what God’s doing in your life?
Hollyn: Girl, listen! Oh man! I’m literally in it right now. So that’s a perfect question for me to answer with total honesty and 100% vulnerability—without saying too much. I, last year, was in a really, really, weird relationship. I think it hurt me a lot more than I realize. I’m still trying to process through, like, ‘What happened to me?’ This relationship came at my spirit. I had people questioning if I was even a believer. And that’s never been a question in my life at all. I’ve always known what I believe. Genuinely. Then I got to this place of like, ‘Wow, all these questions are coming at me. Man, do I really know Jesus? Like, do I know who He is?’ And in that time, it was very emotionally traumatic for me because I was in a relationship with this guy who was asking me all this stuff and feeding me a bunch of lies. And then I was being physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually tormented.
So, for me, this year, where I am right now today, I am in a beautiful place. I am in another situation, another friendship, that reminds me of the situation that happened to me last year. So, all of sudden, I’m in this beautiful place. My emotions—I’m ready. God’s like, ‘Here we go. Here are some new surprises.’ I expected for a lot of these things to happen, but I was waiting on God. Like, I didn’t even take on a tour this fall because I knew God was going to do something in my life and I knew I needed to be ready for it and take a break. And there’s a lot of things in my life that I’m walking through that look identical to what I went through last year, but now it’s the restoring of all of that. Down to, like, details of certain places I went to, people involved, emotions that I felt, everything. It’s like the complete rewiring of all those memories in my brain. God’s like, ‘That’s the counterfeit, now here’s the actual gift that I have for you.’ But as I’m walking through it. I’m like, ‘All of this is making me feel anxious again, fearful again, but I know that this is from God this time.’ So, I’m having to work through all of this mess in my head and I’m like, ‘You know what? Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is looking fear in the face and leaning in and saying, I’m not afraid of you.’ Like, I am afraid, but I also I know who I am.
So, I’m having to process with my friends, with these people that I’m walking this out with. Like, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to have to process this for a couple of days because this is terrifying.’ I’m very scared, but I’m also very at peace and I know I’m supposed to be walking this out. Right now it’s exactly like that [Instagram] post because I wrote that right before I entered into this new season of like, ‘You know what God? Even if it’s scary, I’m going to choose to just be afraid. I’m just going to let people know that I’m scared. I’m going to try new stuff because I don’t want to live my life thinking that I will be never be able to love someone again. That is terrifying. So, I’m like, ‘Alright God, even if it hurts in the beginning, I’m just going to go for it.’ So that’s where I’m at right now and I’m like, ‘It’s so petrifying to me!’ [laughs] But it’s also beautiful because it’s something I never could have written. Something I never could never come up with and I’m so grateful. God’s just been really gracious to me right now. But yeah, man, I know what it’s like to walk into a situation and you’re like, ‘Here’s all the trauma again,’ and of course the enemy would want to distract me with that.
“I’ve started asking this in many moments throughout the day: ‘Right now Holly, what is Jesus saying?’ It’s time baby girl. Let’s take every dream, every longing of your heart, and every tear you cried. Let’s turn it into an opportunity for all of my beloved children to experience TRUE freedom. Hold My hand, and let’s pick up the pace.” – Hollyn (3/18/18)
Sarah: Obviously I was really intrigued by your writing. So, a lot of your writing on your Instagram posts I appreciated. Your posts were very lyrical and poetic. They were beautiful; I loved them! So how has writing—whether it’s on Instagram, whether it’s writing songs—how has writing been a positive outlet in your recovery?
Hollyn: Yeah, that’s such a great question. For me, I think that my writing comes in waves. And writing, sometimes, I’ll take a long time to process things. But for me, I have to really let it sit so I understand how it affected me and how I can react. So, for me, I think that’s a gift as a songwriter that God programmed me that way. So then I just kind of chew on things for a while. Then, all of a sudden, I just feel like it slowly rises from my stomach to my throat. Then, I’m like, ‘OK I can feel it, now, I need to speak.’ Then I’ll just sit on it for a while and be like, ‘OK, how does it make me feel? Blah blah blah blah blah.’ Then I will just immediately feel this sense of urgency—you need to write. I’ll just start writing in my notebook, whatever is easiest for me. Then I feel like sometimes I need to post it, or sometimes I need to write a song, or whatever it is.
For me, it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. Like, when you just said [that] to me, I forgot I even wrote something like that. That’s, like, prophetic for me because I’m listening to that and that’s exactly where I’m at right now. I prayed for that! God told me He’s gonna pick up the pace! And I’m over here asking God, ‘Why are we going so fast right now? I feel like I’m in a whirlwind.’ He goes, ‘Girl I told you, we’re about to pick up the pace.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah! Sorry I forgot!’ Like ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ So, it’s so healing for me to go back, and I save all those Instagram posts, because I will go back, and I’ll think I posted about this like five months ago. And then I’ll go back and read it and I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s right God. I remember you telling me and I remember feeling that in my spirit.’
Even I’ll go back and listen to my new songs that I write. I go over them a lot (well not all the time) because I want to make sure what I’m saying, and sing, is what I actually feel and what’s going on inside me. When I go back and listen to my album, One Way Conversations—if I go back to listen to that ever—literally half of those songs and those situations didn’t even happen in my life yet. Then I wrote about them, and then they happened! And I was like, ‘God, what is going on? How do I handle this gift that you’ve given me?’ Like people ask me, ‘What’s your writing process like?’ And it’s honestly, like, by the wind. I know how to sit down and write a song; no problem, I can do that. But my most genuine, real songs come from a place of spontaneous urgency. It’s like, ‘Oh! I’m supposed to write now. Oh, yep, that’s gonna happen.’ When that happens for me, I know that it needs to be heard and I need to put it in a format that needs to put out in the quickest way possible.
When it comes to songs, I have a ton of stuff that we’re putting out that’s very strategic. Obviously. There comes the business side of things. But for me just as a writer, it’s very spontaneous and I feel like sometimes I need to sit myself down and make myself write [laughs]. That’s the main thing for me, and I have to be inspired by something that triggers an emotion in me. I’m a very emotionally invested person, but I’m also very practical. So, I have to try to find that balance and convey that the best way I know how.
Sarah: That was really good. I loved just hearing about your writing process. It’s always interesting how people write, how they go about it, and what inspires them, so I enjoyed hearing about that. Then just tying everything up, maybe you can share with me, what’s up ahead, what are you working on? That type of thing?
Hollyn: Yeah, sure. I am, right now, in place of—I’m working a little bit, but I’m not overdoing it. I feel like I need to be available for opportunities that are going to happen this fall or possibilities of dreaming about the future. So, we [Holly and team] are preparing. I’m going on a tour in the winter and the spring, so we’re [Holly and team] going to be preparing for that. I have a couple new releases that are coming out and I’ll be posting [on Instagram] about that. The month of November I’m putting out new music and it’s in a different format then I’ve ever done before. So basically, writing new music and everything. It’s going to be really exciting to see all that unfolds. And for me, I’m just really taking this time to build my personal life and be poured back into and be healed from things I didn’t even know that I was going to need healing from; obviously in this season because I’ve just been encountering so much.
So, trying to just take one day at a time, not missing today. I’m really trying to live the rest of my life in today. I don’t know what the next year is going to look like. I have no idea what the next three months are going to look like. I don’t know what kind of person I’m going to be two weeks from now, but I do know that right now I’m doing the best I can to stay alert in whatever place God has me and I’m just focusing on today. And that’s kind of where I am at right now.
Sarah: I love that. That is such a good place to be—an inspiring place to be. I just appreciate you taking time to be able to do this and just loved hearing your heart on all this. Thank you for doing this interview with me.
Hollyn: Dude, you are so welcome. Honestly, this is very life-giving to me because I don’t really get to talk about this kind of stuff with most people who do interviews with me. I’m just kind of tired of the generic Christian conversation. And I would say that to anybody. I’m just kind of getting to the point where I’m being honest with even comments like that. I’m being honest about it without being disrespectful. It’s really annoying to be an artist and to be in a place where I want to give the absolute best and raw, vulnerable, version of me that I can, but it feels like sometimes it’s not seen or appreciated by people outside my team.
The fact that we’re even talking about this kind of stuff is very encouraging to me. To have outside confirmation of like, ‘Hey girl I really appreciate this about you.’ That means a lot to me. I’m grateful for that. People, conversations like this, aren’t random, and whoever is going to read this magazine is going to be impacted by the questions that you ask and the answers that burn in me. So, thanks for being honest. I’m excited to see all of us trying to be more intentional with what He’s asking us to do. It’s not burden—it’s a passion of mine. I want to see people set free. So, thanks for helping me share my voice and I’m happy to be a part of what you guys are doing. Anytime!
For more on “Everything and More” and “Isaac,” see below: