The American hard rock band Flyleaf began their journey under the moniker Passerby. For Lacey Sturm, the band's first lead singer, the original name conveyed an important message to the listeners:
"'Passerby' is the name of anyone… With my encounter with God, I understood that we all have value. Immense value. When we have rock stars it tricks us into thinking some people are bigger and better and more special than others… My idea was to show that we're just [regular people]. Everyone has a story… We're all equally important. We wanted to challenge people to stand up in their purpose and fulfill their purpose."
As it turned out, the name Passerby was trademarked and the band had to change it, but the same passion for communicating that everyone is valuable in God's eyes remained. Now Sturm has released a memoir titled The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living, and the memoir shows Sturm's continued commitment to communicating that same message in an even more personal way.
With raw vulnerability, Lacey Sturm tells her own story of physical abuse, drug use, suicide attempts, and her ultimate salvation and conversion. She asks the hard questions so many young people are asking -- Why am I here? Why am I empty? Why should I go on living? -- showing readers that beyond the temporary highs and the soul-crushing lows there is a reason they exist and a purpose for their lives.
Despite the clear goal of sharing her stories and helping listeners find their purpose, the approach that Flyleaf took towards that goal was consistently up for debate during Sturm's time with the band. Were they a "Christian band" or "Christians in a band"? While the difference may seem subtle, it was a key question for Sturm.
"If you are Christians in a band, your band can take whatever form. It can be for entertainment, it can be for a positive impact… you can have your own faith and that can flow out however it does…. If you are a Christian band, in my mind… then your purpose is to promote a Christian message."
Sturm wasn't overly interested in singing music for a Christian audience or catering to people who simply wanted to worship and grow in their faith. She isn't opposed to that form of music, but Sturm is more interested in reaching out to people who haven't heard the gospel.
"I want to sing to the girl like my own self who hated Christians… I want to sing to the one who would never step foot into a Christian audience because of her own judgment or prejudice against others."
And while the band members all had slightly different understandings of what their purpose was, as a group they were united in the idea that they wanted to love people. Having survived a suicide attempt as a young woman, Sturm's approach to loving people often comes in the form of talking openly about her experience and trying to show others that there is hope, even when the darkness feels overwhelming.
"I think it's cool that I get to talk openly… I wanted to be able to help people to not make a decision towards suicide or death."