Winner of 2017’s edition of the Noise Music Mentorship Programme, singer-songwriter Krysta Joy released her debut album, Enjoy the Process, in August 2019. We have a chat with the Burning Hearts worship leader on her five-track EP, which tells a story of hope and encouragement written from her own life experiences.
Growing up, I was no stranger to being different. Honestly, it’ll take you less than 5 minutes with me to conclude that I am not your average 21-year-old girl. I grew up with two older brothers but more often than not I was the one hurting them instead, whether on accident or on purpose.
I struggled to relate to people a lot of the time and struggled even more to express myself through mere speech. However, others didn’t seem to have a problem doing that for me. I was barraged with comments about how I stuck out like a sore thumb and people would define me in whatever ways they saw fit.
Fitting in was something I wished I could do, but it led me down a spiral of not understanding my place in the world. Why was I made this way? Did God make a mistake with me?
I was not the best at speaking up, but I found comfort in expression through music. In my very early days, you could find me shaking my tambourine along to praise songs in Sunday School and not long after, I fell in love with percussion.
I picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and wrote my first song once I’d figured out the four chords to do so. I felt writing the annual Mothers’ Day Card to my mother wasn’t quite as genuine as if I sang it to her. That was the point I discovered that I could share what I wanted to say much better through song.
By the time I was done with O-levels in November 2014, I decided that music was something I wanted to do full-time. But in the months leading up to orientation, I hit my lowest point in life. The collapse was also caused by many layers of stress points over the years.
In January 2015, I lost one of my best childhood friends to suicide. This was very confusing for me as we grew up together in church and I was left with so many questions after the occurrence. I felt everything all at once, and the loss sparked off an anger towards God I never deemed possible up till then.
At that point, I knew nothing about suicide as it wasn’t as popular a topic back then as it is now. My parents tried to journey with me through it, but I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. It was only much later that I would learn that the effect on those left behind is far greater than anyone can handle alone.
Suicide had a grip on me thereafter, and I had no idea how to deal with the trauma of what had happened. I began to experience things I had no vocabulary for, finding myself struggling to breathe and unable to function at random times of the day. I had unfamiliar voices screaming in my head day and night for months on end and even had moments of complete paralysis in the middle of the night.
My voice was stifled each time I tried to call for help ,and I began to believe the lie that there was just something wrong with me, like there always had been.
Life wasn’t all that bad, I had so much to be grateful and thankful for yet I failed to accept that within. I spent each day overcompensating the fact that I felt extremely sad by making it a point to be the clown in every social situation. Nobody suspected a thing, and that was alright with me… or so I thought.
Although my relationship with God was on the rocks at this point, I continued believing that He could miraculously fix me. I thought if I just prayed then maybe it would go away.
But every day weighed heavier on my soul than the day before and hopelessness abounded. I turned to things of the world to satisfy me and tried all I could to feel normal again, but to no avail.
Eventually, I reached my breaking point in February 2016. There came a night that was harder and darker than any other, and the thought of ending it all seemed like the only way to make everything stop.
The now-familiar voices screamed louder than ever and as I peered over my ledge, I was certain that I was as good as dead already. 14 storeys above the ground, I felt no fear whatsoever while looking down.
But I knew in my heart that there was another way out. Despite all that I was feeling, I knew deep inside that my God was real and He wouldn’t want me to do this. I looked out the window, then at my sister who was sound asleep and I prayed for what I thought would be the last time:
“God, if You’re still here and still care about me after all I’ve done, please just send me one person and help me tell them everything.”
It wasn’t long before the name “Abigail” came to mind. By then, I had already begun school at LASALLE and she was a friend I had made in my first term there. We weren’t very close, but I knew that she really loved God with all her heart. So I made this bargain with God: If Abigail was online on WhatsApp, I wouldn’t jump.
I made that deal fully knowing that she was one who slept rather early, but it didn’t really matter to me at that point because I just wanted everything to stop, whether that meant me being dead or alive.
As it was already 3am, it was no surprise that she wasn’t online and she had not been for a while now. I shrugged it off and wondered why I even bothered trying with God again. I’m a mess, I’m not worthy of a second chance, nothing is going to get better. I had made up my mind.
Just as I was about to make the worst decision of my entire life, I saw my phone light up at the corner of my eye. I glanced at my screen – Abigail had somehow come online! An unexplainable peace overwhelmed my entire being and in an instant, all the voices I had in my head 24/7 for the past months all came to a halt.
“God, You do still care.”
I fell on the ground and began weeping as I felt someone in the room with me. I knew this Presence, He was no stranger – I was in the arms of my Father again.
When your life is saved like that, you can’t help but wonder why. There must be a reason why He kept me, there must be a purpose for my life that the enemy is trying to destroy – but what was it?
Of course, change doesn’t happen overnight. The process that followed after wasn’t always easy and every day lived was a battle won. In June 2016, I attended my church’s annual family camp in hopes of that “full breakthrough moment” occurring then. But what I expected didn’t come to pass, and I felt jaded and disappointed again.
When would I be completely okay?
After returning from camp, I was reminded by Abigail that the Burning Hearts Conference had begun two days prior. God had previously highlighted this conference on three different occasions, but I wasn’t feeling up to it as I was afraid of being disappointed again.
I remember very distinctly what my mother said when I told her I didn’t feel like going: “If you don’t feel like doing it, there’s a high chance you should.”
I knew in my heart that she was right and as soon as I decided upon it, everything started to resist me. As soon as I made that decision, everything seemed to try to stop me from getting there. The bus I was on had issues, it started raining and I got completely drenched. I didn’t even have money to pay the registration fee because I only had ringgit in my wallet. Thankfully, I made it to the final session of Day 3.
Pastor Andy Byrd was preaching and he taught on the life of the Apostle Paul. I remember this very clearly as the redemption of Paul struck a chord in my heart. I wanted to be like him, one transformed into a life fully lived for God despite his past. His story gripped my heart, and although I felt too self-conscious to go forward during the altar call, I did.
As I fell on my knees sobbing like a child, I remember wanting to pray, but the only words able to come out of my mouth were “use my life”. This was the point that God revealed to me what my purpose was – to use my life for His glory. More specifically, to use my music for His glory.
After an amazing time at the conference, I was all fuelled up and ready to go change the world for Christ. But the journey out of that valley of my life wasn’t easy. One day, at a friend’s house, I witnessed a suicide that took place at her block, which triggered the pains and struggles from before.
The first thought that came to mind as I looked down at the scene of the incident was “that could have been me”. Followed by another one, not of myself, that said, “this is how easily I can take a whole generation”.
Those words really shook me.
I was distraught. I knew that thought obviously wasn’t God and I felt myself spiral back into confusion. Questions swarmed my mind. Why did I have to see this, God? I just re-dedicated my life to You, I’m trying to do things right now. Why is this happening?
The days that followed look like defeat. I felt overwhelmed with sorrow yet again, and my soul weighed heavier than it had in a while. That was until I felt a nudge from God one day and was reminded of a recurring announcement during the conference:
“Prayer room is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”
The nudge came just in time, too. It was a Tuesday evening, and I was still in bed, lethargic from the despondency I had been feeling. Unconvinced, I prayed and told God that if He would wake me up from my nap and give me a clear sign, I would head down to the prayer room.
When I woke up a while later, I opened Instagram and the first post that popped up on my screen was an announcement that the Burning Hearts Prayer Room was open. A clear-enough sign for me.
So I found myself heading to the Burning Hearts prayer room, once again hoping to receive something from God. At the end of the set, the prayer leader’s wife came up to me and asked if she could pray for me. We didn’t know each other, but her prayer was so accurate – she mentioned every single thing that I was feeling and had been going through.
I felt an amazing love from God at that moment. To think that He would send the right person my way when I really needed it! It was a beautiful reminder that God sees me and He knows what’s going on.
Fast-forward to a year later, God led me to try for the 2017 Noise Music Mentorship Programme. Initially, I was hesitant as I had been rejected the year before, but after doing a complete overhaul of my style and composing new original songs, I felt I was ready to take that step.
There was no need to doubt at all – God knows what He’s doing, even when I don’t. True enough, I not only got in, but also ended up winning the Noise Singapore Award by the National Arts Council, which opened up a lot of opportunities for me to pursue music professionally. That was my first step into the local music scene.
I know for a fact that this wasn’t by my own strength because I did nothing. It has been such a thrilling journey seeing how God has been faithful to open every single door for me and provide all that I need.
In August this year, my debut EP, Enjoy the Process, was released. In the album, I liken life to a machine – through my music you’ll be transported through the various stages of my soul over the past few years.
Through all of life’s ups and downs, defeats and disappointments, joys and victories, I hope to remind you of the importance of enjoying the process with God. Every stage will be worth it, and you will make it out stronger than before, in one way or another.
I pray that this album continues to be a message of hope and encouragement to people going through tough times that feel completely hopeless. I am a living testimony that there is always hope and that God is able to keep us from the darkest and worst snares of the enemy.
Enjoy the process with God.