Hollow– (Tori Kelly)


[Rewind my life tape just a few months to April 2016]

I’m sitting next to a man inside of Unit 29 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, MS. This man (who I will not name) is serving two life sentences and will never leave from behind those walls of concrete…He murdered a member of his own family and then murdered the arresting officer…not too far away from where I grew up. The words he spoke to me I will never forget…

[Now rewind my life tape even further to 2010]

I remember sitting in the passenger seat of a car in a certain alley in Oxford, MS. It was just getting dark, we had the car running and the headlights off. I had just jumped in to pick up everything I needed to deliver to people around Oxford that night and it was more than the usual…Sitting there for a minute I just asked, “Do you ever think about this?” He said, “Think about what?” And I said, “About all of this…you ever just get tired?” I knew right away it was probably something I shouldn’t have asked at that time. It was a very dangerous question but I asked anyway because I knew I was getting caught up so quick in this world I knew was wrong and that I wanted so badly to walk away from…I remember he just took a long pull off what he was smoking and said “Nah man I don’t…if this is what fills them up and makes them feel good? Let them pay for it.”  Never forgot that… And I knew I had to get out of the car because I just wanted to get the night over with, I wanted to make my rounds and be done…I wanted to be done with it all. So I filled my pockets, got out, slammed the door shut, and made my rounds in Oxford,MS…

[Now back to April 2016]

This man, now a friend of mine, tells us his story, he tells about the chilling days of the people he murdered…he tells about the police hunting him down with orders heard over the radio of “shoot on site”…The final arresting officer decided to spare his life. He talked about the prisons he went to after his arrest, how he was nearly choked out to death on the floor by people that wanted him dead every day for who he killed. He talked about how one person very high up working in the prison even told him at one point he wished he could put a bullet in his head. He talked about how many bad things he had done inside the prison and how he didn’t change his life once he got there. And then he talked about the day his life changed forever… He said he was outside in the prison yard and a group of men had come down to talk to inmates about God…and at the end of their time the warden calls out to everyone that if anyone wants to follow these men inside and spend more time with them talking to them about God then to line up single file and follow them inside. He said what happened next he will never forget. He said for the first time in his life he could feel something inside him. He said after the line started moving and inmates started walking toward the door that somebody pushed him, like a hard shove, and he just started walking…and he didn’t stop walking until he got to the door…He said the crazy part…when he turned around to see who had almost pushed him down to start walking he said there was nobody there…not even an inmate near him…He said when he got to the door the warden grabbed him and said, “(His name)….this is the only good decision I have ever seen you make in here…keep going son.”

But what I will never forget is what he said to me later because of how much it impacted me. With his eyes looking directly at me, his head nodding slowly up and down, and with the coolest, calm, but very sincere tone he said, “Adrian…I want you to imagine yourself. Imagine this life you have and this life we all have like we are all in one big pond of water. The things you do in life…the choices we make every single day…they affect people. Now picture yourself…like a rock…and you drop that rock in that water. What’s it gonna do? It’s gonna create these ripples…that are gonna move out in every single direction…and every one of them is gonna affect the ripples of someone else. The things I done…the horrible things I have done…they affected a lot of people…wasn’t just the people that I killed, wasn’t just my family…and their family…the people in this prison…what I did affected people all around the south and even the country…and I have to live with that every day for the rest of my life….but you know who helps me and saved my life? GOD. God turned my life around inside here in one the worst places in this country. GOD did that. You see with GOD in your life Adrian you can drop a new rock, a bigger rock…and what’s gonna happen? These big ripples are gonna flow out all around you…they will wash over your past…and GOD will change the way you live. Your choices will affect everyone but with GOD’s love and in a positive way…[At this point he is looking even closer at me] Now listen to me Adrian, not everybody is gonna forgive you…a lot of people will never forgive me…but that’s ok…you can’t change that…but GOD can…He forgives you…and He loves you…so go on and drop that rock.”


How big is the rock of your life? And what is it really made of? Maybe it’s really big but doesn’t seem to have much weight to it…is it just hollow? Will it even make a splash in the world? And if it does, how will the ripples of your rock affect those of others? Will it reach the ones that need it most? And if we want to change, can we really just drop a bigger rock? Can love really wash over everything we do on a daily basis?


I don’t wanna be the last man standing. I don’t wanna be the lonely one. Picking petals when the party’s over, no, it’s not any fun. ‘Cause I’m fragile and you know this…So hold me, wrap me in love, fill up my cup. Empty and only your love can fill up my cup…‘Cause I’m hollow, yeah, I’m hollow, oh, oh, oh…‘Cause I’m hollow, yeah, I’m hollow, oh, oh, oh.

Victoria Loren “Tori” Kelly, born in Wildomar, California, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer who began her career by posting videos to YouTube at the age of 14. When she was 16 years old she auditioned for American Idol but was later eliminated…A year after the show she began her comeback. Kelly wrote, produced, and mixed her own record and within a year was signed to Capitol Records. In February of 2016, at the 58th Grammy Awards.Kelly was nominated for Best New Artist…In a Q & A session from her twitter followers, Kelly was asked if her single “Hollow” was about God and she simply replied “ABSOLUTELY. My faith is a huge part of my life. I don’t force it into my music, but it’s in my experiences so it comes through. People pick up on what they want to pick up on…but any way strangers connect to a song that I wrote is awesome.”

Psalm 62:7 | On God my salvation and my glory rest; The ROCK of my strength, my refuge is in God.

Tomorrow I get to spend my entire Saturday with these inmates…my friends…and I can’t wait to see them. I will see this man that I talked about today. This man knows he will never leave. He knows his mission in the prison is to change other people’s lives, to tell them about God. He knows more about the Bible than I ever will. You see with God nothing is impossible…I say it after every entry. Anybody can change…or I should say GOD can change anybody…no matter what you have done. So many times we wish we could just rewind the tape back…if we could only go back in time right? Man think of all the things in your life you could have done differently…I think about those things all the time. And I want you to know it is ok to do that! It doesn’t make me sad or angry anymore, do I regret certain things? Of course I do…but let me tell you God has forgiven my past and He has forgiven your past as well. I can’t write that any other way…Most people that meet me today can’t even believe my story of my past, the ways I used to live…that night getting out that car every weekend I felt like a mouse running on a wheel…like I knew nothing else and I just felt stuck running in the same wheelhouse every single day…It was just another weekend and I was tossing out my usual rock in the water…and everybody knew what my ripples looked like and felt like..I was hollow…and was chasing power in the distribution but after every night was over I was powerless…I was alone, and never never never did any of it ever make me happy. Not one night of it…

But God has changed my life, he removed that wheel from my cage. People now see the new ripples in my water…and God helps me with that because I need His help and I want His help. Not every day is gonna be perfect…Nothing about becoming a Christian means that your life is going to be perfect, it means that your life is going to change…and really change…God gives you a new life and eternal life. Your faith leads to forever…Your life and what you did whether you like it or not, whether you are still trying to accept it or even acknowledge it…was designed for you. It’s your choice to want to change it, your choice to help yourself, and your choice to help others. Maybe it’s just time for you to drop a new rock in the water…a rock that is full and that creates positive overflowing ripples of love moving in every direction. I pray that you do…trust in God, he will give you joy and peace just like the verse says below. He fills your life up and makes you complete. Go make a big splash in the water. You never know who you will affect by your new = LOVE. Nothing is impossible…

Romans 15:13

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Listen below to Hollow by Tori Kelly)

(Feature post photo by Caroline Grondin)

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