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Story behind the song: "Can't Feel You Anymore"

Warning... this is a painful song to write about and I can imagine it will be a painful song for you to listen to or read about.  But the song is so honest and real, I feel that you need to know the whole story behind the song.  Because my greatest fear is that you will judge me without knowing the deep pain it was born in.  So listen/read with love and care as if this was your story, because we are all a family of humanity, and I believe we are all interconnected in ways we can't even possibly imagine. 


On June 14th, 2015 we had a little family birthday party for my daughter who was about to turn 2.  The only people we invited were my parents, my sister, her husband & their son, Camper.  It was a great day! We had a little backyard dance party, food, cake, nothing crazy... very normal.  And we went to sleep that night not knowing it was the last day of "normal" in all of our lives.


The next morning my sister called us and said, "I think Camper caught a stomach bug, he woke up this morning and started throwing up.  He's sleeping now, but just wanted to let you know in case your girls start feeling sick."


We didn't think anything of it. 


The day went on, and Camper (who was 2 years and 9 months old) kept waking up, throwing up, and falling back asleep.  My sister thought it was good for him to rest, so she kept putting him back to bed.  But by the evening, she was having trouble getting him to wake up. He was listless and limp. My husband (who is a pediatrician) advised her to take him to the ER. He said, "He is probably dehydrated and needs fluids."  


We were sitting at the kitchen table, eating a late dinner, when the phone rang.  It was my brother-in-law calling from the ER.  I will never forget hearing his voice say, "He has a brain tumor."


Even now, 3 years later, the tears are rolling down my cheeks as I recall this memory.  


The room started spinning and I remember falling to my knees praying, "Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God" .  That's all I could utter. 


Apparently, Camper had a undiagnosed slow-growing brain tumor that reached critical mass and had hit a blood vessel causing it to rupture.  He had a massive bleed and was basically brain-dead by the time they got him to the hospital that night.


There are no words to describe the emotions of shock, sadness, pain, fear, confusion and darkness that washed over all of us in the next few days while we slowly stepped into this new reality.  We all took shifts holding his tiny hand and telling him how much we loved him.  My brother-in-law & sister made the most beautiful (and difficult) choice to donate his organs, and now his heart is beating in another child somewhere. 


The days & months that followed are a blur.  But the grief was forced into a very expedited timeline because my sister was already 6 months pregnant with their second son when Camper died.   I remember thinking how this felt like such a blessing and a curse.  Obviously, I don't believe any child is a curse, but it was so hard to endure Campers death while knowing a new life was growing inside her.  As any mother of two children knows, you wonder how you could possibly love your second child as much as your first.  It miraculously happens, but without knowing her second yet... it felt so cruel to be loosing her first little love. 


On the other hand, it felt like such a blessing because this pregnancy, and the life growing inside her, was literally the only reason to get up out of bed most mornings.


Shortly after her second son was born, my sister announced that she wanted to try to get pregnant again.  She had always wanted to have two children, and because she was getting older, she didn't feel like she had endless amounts of time.  Of course we all supported this decision.


What you have to understand is that with BOTH her first pregnancies (Camper & his brother), she got pregnant literally the first "try".  It was like she was the definition of "fertile myrtle".  She assumed this new attempt would have the exact same outcome. 


If you have ever journeyed with someone who is trying to get pregnant, or if you yourself have been on that journey, you know it is a monthly emotional rollercoaster.  So imagine adding the grief of a lost first born child, and the heightened hormones of having a infant... For 9 agonizing months she tested negative... and then finally on September 10th, she got a positive pregnancy test. 


I remember it was September 10th because September 11th was (or would have been) Campers' 4th birthday.  We could not believe the timing!  I truly believed this was a miracle gift from God sent in divine timing to help her get through the sadness of celebrating his birthday, without him on this earth.


And then, the day after that... she had a miscarriage. 


When I got the news, I sat down at my piano and that's the day I wrote this song: "I Can't Feel You Anymore".  


You see, I have spent my whole life writing and singing songs about God, about hope, about faith, about trust... and for the first time ever, I lost all that.  I was absolutely devastated.  And to be honest, I still have not recovered and I don't know if I ever will.  It was just too much.  Too hard.  Too painful.  Too much suffering, sadness & loss.  Where was this good and faithful God I had believed in?  Because I looked around, and I could not find Him.  I had always "felt" God's presence in my life and I have always seen the angle of redemption in every circumstance... but that day (and for many days since) I felt alone, like there was no one watching out for me.  Because how could a loving God allow this to happen?  Did He turn His back for a moment?   Did He let go of 'the wheel' and accidentally drive our lives off a cliff?  Everyone's pat 'christian answers' (including my own) were not filling the void of darkness I was teetering on. And so I decided to not fake it anymore, and I dove head first into the darkness.  Of course, I didn't make this public knowledge, but those close to me have been faithful sojourners on a very rocky road for the last several years.  


I don't know where you are at in you own life and maybe me saying this stuff scares you or makes you uncomfortable but that's not my intention.  I am longing to share whats going on in my heart & head and I'm hoping that through the honesty, it will actually connect us in ways that 'faking it' never could. 


Through this deconstruction of all of my religion, I have arrived at a few core beliefs.  And for what it's worth, I feel like sharing them with you.  

I do believe in God, though I don't understand it. 

I do hope that in the end, there will be redemption for all pain & suffering & sadness we experience on earth. 

I do know there is great comfort in the eyes and embrace of other people who have also suffered.  And when they look at you, and when they embrace you, they are the eyes & arms of God in that moment, stirring a deep hope that we are not alone. 


Much love,


Comments Section

I thank you for sharing. I actually was looking to find the story behind "It's not the time". I see here you are struggling with God and his timing. God bless you and your sister's family. May you continue to seek him, as I personally recognize him in your situation. He wants you to seek him above all else...Thank you for your songs. I enjoy the album I got from you, while you were here in Rapid City for Hills Alive.
I'm so sorry for your family's loss, Kendall. Thank you for being so raw and real. Through the, I call it "be-widlerness", writing the dark thoughts out is what got me through. I stiff-armed God during that time. But, I didn't understand then that it would help me deal what I'm facing today, which is Stage IV colon cancer. But this is nothing compared to being restored from childhood abuse. Through it all, I developed a confidence in God I never had before. Whether he takes me or heals me, I'm okay with that. Anyhow, I love your writing and your music. Many of your songs helped me make the baby steps I needed to take.. I'm sending this song to a young friend who's struggling. God's best to you and yours.
I feel sorry for your pain, but thank goodness for the arts that allow a release valve. It is good to question, because you have every right to. I came to my senses 10 years ago and realized I'd been duped by a myth and stories that came to be through a generations long game of telephone, where humans who barely knew their elbow from their butt and attributed everything they didn't understand to a mythical being and relayed stories around a campfire, only to be taken up by writers who embellished and fleshed them out. I ascribe to common sense, logic and science now. Factor in the recent and current climate of "christianity" and I'm glad I jumped ship when I did. I hope you come to a conclusion that gives you peace, no matter what. You are a talented writer and gifted vocalist who deserves more attention.
Thanks for sharing the depths of your despair and the stirring of a deep hope in God. Sorry for the length, but felt very compelled to write the following... “Can’t Feel You Anymore” – A MODERN PSALM / For anyone who has ever wondered what a modern psalm might sound like – this is one. In Scripture, the Psalter is a collection of the cries of the people TO God; designed to be sung, they are prayers set to music. At times, it may be difficult for a reader today to relate to the issues and language of the over 2000-year old song-prayers of the Psalms; like the psalmists of the past, singer-songwriter, Kendall Payne, beautifully and poetically shares her heart with the Lord, but in a way that may be far more accessible to 21st century believers. Of the many types of psalms – including praise, thanksgiving and wisdom – Payne’s “Can’t Feel You Anymore” is clearly a prayer of lament as she struggles with God in the wake of profound tragedy and intimate loss. She is a woman wrestling with the Lord; caught between His promises and her realities, Payne’s tear-drenched lyrics reflect her questioning of His will and her frustration with His ways. But like any biblical psalm, the greatness and love of God is woven throughout; faith – by its very nature – persists where all logic says it cannot. Despite not being able to feel or find the Lord in her anguish, she confesses that “…I believe, oh I believe…” In her personal blog about this effort, Payne writes: “I do believe in God, though I don’t understand it.” This is the very definition of faith. Her cries from the darkness, depth and despair of a personal odyssey of devastation echo that of every believer at some point in their walks with Jesus Christ. Her “Why?” is our own. We know her angst. And, we share the range of emotions we encounter when God’s love and providence seem cruel or careless. But, like the great psalmists themselves, as Payne painfully accuses “You bend me ‘til You break me…”, her confidence in God is even more profoundly convicting, “Out of these ashes, one day, I’ll be born again…” This “honest prayer” reminds everyone who calls on the Name of Christ that in this life we will have trouble, but that Jesus lovingly and faithfully goes through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with us – even when we don’t feel Him there. It reminds us that our faith is in who God is and what He has done, and that no tragedy in our life is haphazard, nor can it be darker than the light of our eternal salvation thorough His sacrifice. And, perhaps most powerfully, Payne’s “Can’t Feel You Anymore” reminds that not only can we wrestle with God, but that He welcomes it – if we are crying out and demanding a response, it means that we believe in Him and are confident that He hears, and that He still lovingly acts, even when we “can’t fake it anymore.” This contemporary psalm voices the emotions of the people, as we all have felt “lost with no direction,” and it highlights the love of God through whom “…all things will be made right…”; and, like the psalms of the past, it lyrically evokes both of those truths at the exact same time, which is what we so often experience when…we can’t feel Him anymore.
Well, I've listened to the song about 10 times in a row the last hour. Such a beautiful touching song. Reminds me of the first time I heard "I Will Show You Love". I'm so sorry for the pain you and your family have endured. My prayers are with you. And best luck on the new album.
I'm not usually the person to comment on a blog, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I have loved and had a relationship with God my whole life, but still found myself trudging through the darkness for the last 4 years. Four years ago, my mom passed away, 9 months later my husband decided he didn't want to be married and part of a family, a year after that we divorced. Three months after that I started losing my career, so I added another job and went back to school as a single mom of 4 kids. I lost so much time with them. And I just kept losing. I bought a venue, only to lose it 5 months later when I lost my job in a work restructure. Then just a few months ago, I found out my son was suicidal. I'm happy to say that he is still with us. But I can attest to there being no greater pain than losing a child because just the thought of losing him made me wish for a way out of this world and into heaven. So my heart goes out to your sister and your families. I'm saying all of this because I, too, have been deep down in the depths of heartbreak and pain and pressure and emptiness. Somewhere in grief, when you're a believer, is an extra heavy burden of wondering how and why - wondering where God is - wondering why He hasn't stepped in - wondering IF He actually does step in. And then there's the looking for answers and realizing that 90% of what you hear in devotionals and in Christian circles that is supposed to be comforting - just isn't true. I scoured the Bible and much of the well-meaning fluff just isn't there. So, I felt more alone, more unsure. I didn't lose my belief in God, just what I thought I understood about Him. I, like you, now only know a few things in my heart. 1. I know that God loves me. and 2. I know that God is good. I can't explain all of the bad that I've been through or how God saw it or what the plan is. I'm not interested in making up something that sounds good that will make it feel better. It feels BAD. But these bad things don't just erase the miracles I've had in my life either. God has shown up for me and rescued me many times, when no one on planet earth could. So, I guess I've figured out that I know very little. But I know that I love God. And deep down in my being, I know that His nature is to love. How that plays out, and what He can and can't or does and doesn't do, I'm still learning. Anyways, I'm praying for you all, and thinking of you and yours. You're not alone.
Oh dear sweet Kendall. Your songs and words have inspired me. Have helped to grow me. Have been apart of my deepest sadnesses. When my grandfather, one of my best friends, died, I sang I will show you love to him in the hospital. He never accepted A knowledge of God sending his one and only son to live and horrible die for him.. For his some... For his evil... At least not verbally when we could be apart of it. Whether Christ struggled with his heart and won him or not, I will only know in heaven. Death is so painful.. So dark.. In so very sorry that your heart has been broken in such a deep way. Keep fighting. Keep feeling. And we will keep holding each other up when our knees can't and we buckle.
Beautiful! I have always loved your raw honesty, Kendall. "I dove head first into the darkness." I appreciate your vulnerability. I know I have certainly felt this way and I am certain others have, as well.
Pain of this level must be shared...anger and confusion at this level must be shared. We all at times feel God is too far, too big or too much to comprehend. You are never alone! You were made to connect people..and bring out the real in us's clearly your calling. Real is so important, thank you for being real...even when the real just you dearly!!

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