Worshiping Through the Pain
Alisa Turner’s journey in the Christian music industry starts with her father, but her story is much more than just following in his footsteps. She learned about the world of Christian worship music from her dad. He taught her why we worship and who we worship. And it was God who clearly gave Alisa the gift of music, but her journey delves deeper than a struggling artist trying to make her way in the big music world.
To pursue her dream of becoming a Christian musician, Alisa moved to Nashville. Shortly after, her dad unexpectedly passed away. Alisa experienced a very dark period in her life. She was only 20 years old, but all the dreams she had been pursuing seemed pointless now without the presence of her father standing near. However, worshiping the Lord was the one thing that kept her going so she hit the road touring wherever she could to whomever wanted to listen to her play and sing. Once, she even drove nine hours to play music, but no one came to hear her sing. The room was entirely empty. Out of love for her dad and music, Alisa continued on her journey. “It all comes from the same place, that 13-year old sitting at the piano in the bonus room, writing 90 second songs, playing her heart out for the joy of it, for the hope of it,” says Alisa, when speaking about why she continued to play though it seemed there was little interest in her music.
After eight years on the road, Alisa turned a very weird corner. She started to have a hard time remembering her songs, or what she had just been saying. Her speech became slurred and soon, she couldn’t function anymore, all the results of Lyme Disease. Bedridden and fed through a feeding tube, Alisa had no energy and no strength. Through several years of treatment, she felt alone and devastated.
When she finally became better, Alisa began to tour again. During this season of touring, she met her husband, Jaime. A year into their marriage, they became pregnant. After all she had been through, her pregnancy was completely unexpected. Yet, here she was, expecting her first child! Finally, Alisa felt joy and peace. But, not for long. At the beginning of her second trimester, she learned that her son had a fatal birth defect. She delivered her baby over a month before the due-date and lost him a little over an hour after he was born.
During these times of desolation, which there were many, Alisa held on to the things she knew, not the things she could feel. The Gospels speak of loving the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. Alisa had to activate and rely on her mind because her heart seemed to fail her. She felt alone, and abandoned by the Lord. Her ability to connect with Him fell silent. But, she held on to the truth that He will never leave, His ways are always good and He loves continuously.
Music was always the primary way Alisa could process the difficulties of life. The emotions and struggles she experienced came to the surface through her music. “I think the Lord created me this way, drawn in by the emotion that comes with music. When I sit down at the piano, He always uses it to draw me back, to awaken the dreamer, and I always leave different than when I came. I leave different knowing He sees me, He is with me, He is my hope,” she says.
Though her music is honest and reflects the hardship she’s faced, Alisa’s music is far from dreary and down-trodden. It is uplifting, thought-provoking, inspiring, beautiful, magnificent and mystical. Much of her life’s experiences are heartbreaking, but her voice is hopeful. She’s honest, not only about her personal journey, but about the glory and power of the Lord. “I’ve always written songs about what I’m going through,” she says.
Through her arduous journey, Alisa prayed and prayed and prayed that the Lord would provide an opportunity for her. But as soon as her prayer turned away from asking the Lord to satisfy her desire and toward being open and willing to fulfill His desire, the doors flung wide open. “The last few years, my prayer has changed from ‘please open these doors’ to ‘whatever doors you open, I’ll walk through’,” explains Alisa. She switched her tune from loving music to loving the Lord. She’s always worshiped Him through music, but with her continued health struggles, her worship of the Lord has become greater than her desire to pursue music. Yet, the Lord continuously meets her at the piano where He reminds her that He is right there beside her.
Her self-titled debut album explores what it looks like to worship the Lord when you’re at the lowest possible point of your life. Alisa praises God even though she fell into what seemed like a deep, dark pit. Though she felt utterly alone, she was confident that the Lord was still comforting her. Her songs encourage listeners to continue to build their faith, especially when circumstances are difficult. They declare God’s goodness and light even in the darkest of times. He is unshakable, and when we stand firm in our faith of Him, we too are unshakable, as Alisa sets a perfect example. “My life and my story are messy… there are days when all I can do is keep lifting up my hands in desperation and in worship. I know the hard parts of life well and I can see and sense when someone else is going through it. The best way I know to lead is by example. So, I just worship. That’s all I know to do,” says Alisa.