The Essence of Change: A Look at Justin Bieber’s New Album

(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The Essence of Change: A Look at Justin Bieber’s New Album

By Sarah Komisky

Change is hard. Whoever said that made an understatement, especially when the change we are aiming for is within ourselves. For anyone who has been through changes, Justin Bieber’s title track on new record (“Changes”) hit home on a deeper level, capturing the core of metamorphosis. The essence of change.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis and quarantine, Justin Bieber was making history, releasing his much anticipated fifth studio album after a long hiatus. At the same time, he began opening up more about his life in a YouTube original series, his faith, with an exclusive interview from Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, and in recent months, on social media where he’s candidly engaged with mentors and fans alike.

The message was this – change.

Disclosing his own need to work out his faith, his past, and his struggles with God, his then girlfriend Hailey Baldwin (Bieber)––through safe people, and therapy––Bieber has let the world see the new him. The person who desires to be “better” for himself, his new bride (the inspiration for the record) and also for others as an influencer and leader who is using his platform for good.

For a long time, Bieber has endured much scrutiny for his choices, good and bad. The public overall has not given much room for privacy, as we watched the rise and fall of the pop star who grew up in the spotlight through a microscope with little room for grace or margin to be imperfect. Now a mature and wiser Bieber has emerged, courageous enough to own his mistakes and share lessons learned (while only still in his twenties, might I add). Yet we have somehow still taken time to only pick at everything from his album to the validity of his faith. Who are we to judge?

There lies the divide. If we pause, can we consider Jesus, the man who loved sinners. Who loved people exactly as they are and welcomed them to know Him as well. The exact reason Bieber himself reconciled his faith in relationship to Jesus today.

Often, we hide behind comments or reviews, feeling it is acceptable to dehumanize and forgetting that these celebrities are still people possessing real emotions behind their stardom.

To identify and classify “Changes” as simply a bunch of poppy love songs and to dismiss Bieber as too “secular” for the Christian community are both tragedies. Faith is real. It is broken and imperfect. It is about the imputed righteousness of God that has invaded our imperfect selves. Therefore, to miss the beautiful, raw and moving themes in this album is to miss the point of it.

Change is not void of pain. Change is messy and it’s human. Can we give permission for people to figure out faith as God would permit us to? In authentic ways?

During the pandemic, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Bieber’s social media lives. The lens through which I see him is someone like myself: flawed yet redeemed. I also see someone with humility, gratefulness, newness, creativity, bravery to talk about and explore real complexities we face in life that are neither black or white. Ultimately, I see someone who is using their voice to bring hope in a time where it is much needed. I’ve seen it displayed through live Q&A’s, virtual concerts, intentional giving back to fans, and even cookie baking tutorials with Hailey!

I don’t think there is discrepancy for someone whose been willing to put in the hard work with themselves and I hope it’s the picture we too can all see––Bieber and anyone who is willing to dive into change. On the contrary, I think Bieber’s changes offer us inspiration to not be afraid to own all parts of our personal story and use it as fuel to help others in need.

Thank you, Justin, for creating music that is real. Music that makes us feel. And, for offering us the boldness to step into that place of honesty with God, ourselves, and others. Here’s to changes. Here’s to the process.

Follow Justin Bieber on Instagram @justinbieber