I Can Only Imagine and the Courage to Take off the Mask


This article has spoilers.

The movie I Can Only Imagine is based on the true story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of the band MercyMe.  The movie vividly portrays him as a little boy who endured physical, emotional and verbal abuse from his father.  Fortunately, God showed up early in his life through a Christian camp, a girlfriend and a loving church.  Bart and others started the band MercyMe.  The movie chronicles the journey of Bart struggling to find his path as a singer. He received feedback that his singing was flat and one dimensional. At the same time, he was cut off from his former girlfriend that he was in love with and cut off from his dad. He was confronted with the fact that he was wearing a mask. His mask was keeping him from feeling the pain and anger from his past but also keeping him from the girl he loved and ultimately keeping him from connecting in a deep way from his audiences.


He was at a crossroads. Would he continue to hide and play it safe or would he confront his fear and pain?  As a counselor, I see my clients face this choice. Fortunately, many clients I meet with take the courageous path to face the darkness of their hurt and pain. I believe this is the only way to find true freedom which in turn leads people to the light.  The light exposes the darkness and in turn it has less power.

Bart had the courage to take a break from singing to face his father. He went back home and found out that his father was dying of cancer. His father was also a changed man. He had found the forgiveness of Jesus in his own life as a result of listening to sermons on the radio. Once more, Bart was faced with the decision of whether or not he would be able to forgive his father.  By God’s grace, he was able to make the difficult choice to forgive.

As a result of the forgiveness towards his father, his soul was set free. He in turn was a changed man. He was freed up to commune with God in a new way.  After his father died, Bart was freed up in his heart to wish the best for his father and delight in the fact that maybe for the first time ever his dad was living free and was in no more pain or shame.  This opened up his heart to be able to write the song, “I Can Only Imagine,” which by the way is one of my very favorite songs. It so vividly describes the hope of heaven.

This song instantly connected to the hearts of millions. God is mightly rewarding Bart’s courage to forgive his father and using it to minister to the souls of many.

As a counselor, and one who strives to help lead others down the path of redemption, I was blown away by this movie. It is a true redemption story in the best way. I am so inspired by Bart’s courage. I’m encouraged by the reminder that as we all do the hard work to face our “demons” that God is right there waiting to bless, redeem and use our stories for His glory. Go see this movie and be inspired and blessed!!! Oh and by the way…..he gets the girl 😊.

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