In a recent interview with Oprah, Adele tells the story behind her new album. After taking a personality test in a magazine, Adele answered the question, “What’s something that no one would ever know about you?” Her answer, “I’m really not happy. I’m not living.” At this moment she realized she was not in love, and she’d rather pursue her happiness. Adele and her husband, Simon, proceeded with a divorce in 2019. In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Adele further explained, “I take marriage very seriously… and it seems like I don’t now. Almost like I disrespected it by getting married and then divorced so quickly. I’m embarrassed because it was so quick.” Adele feels she has failed, and while she is also gracious with herself, she still recognizes that marriage should matter.
In addition to marriage, Adele idolized the notion of family. In her interview with Oprah she says, “I’ve been obsessed with a nuclear family my whole life because I never came from one.” Adele resented her drunken father for not being a part of her life, and she now fears her son will resent her for not “being able” to stay with his father. She goes on to explain, “From a very young age I promised myself that when I had kids that we’d stay together and we would be that united family and I tried for a really, really long time. I was so disappointed for my son. I was so disappointed for myself.” Adele seems to expect her son to feel the same resentment she felt about her parents and her family. In all of this, Adele hopes for forgiveness. She sought to forgive her own father, and expounds in the interview with Oprah about how sharing her music and reconciling with her father in his last years was a healing experience. Likewise, Adele dedicated this new album, “30,” to her son Angelo, in hopes that it can be a proactive conversation to her son so that he forgives her for divorcing his father.
While Adele recognizes the consequences of her life changes, I am not sure she recognizes what the void really is. I call it a void because her deep desires for marriage, family, and herself can never be fulfilled with things of this world. Adele’s desires for these things are good, God-given desires. However, I wonder if her dissatisfaction with marriage and family comes from turning them into idols. When things like these become idols in our life, we try to force them to fulfill us. Yet nothing — not even a spouse or a child —can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.
Why? Our holy God created the world perfect, and humans had a perfect relationship with God. But sin separated us from God, causing such brokenness and leaving us with this void in our hearts. But there’s good news: God entered this world through Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect and holy life and became our propitiation, dying the death we should have died. He rose to defeat sin and death, and he will make all things right again when he returns. Jesus came to fill the void in our hearts.
We, like Adele, will always find ourselves seeking more. We all want to be known and loved, and we often seek after anything and everything to fill the void.
All these deeply personal emotions Adele has put on display in her music reminds me that people are broken because of sin, and they need Jesus. When I think this way about people, I constantly must remind myself that I am included. I am broken and I need Jesus. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:6-7, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” We all need to preach the gospel to ourselves and to this lost and dying world. After all, the world is filled with people who have a void in their hearts, and they need to know the One who can fulfill them.
Be Known and Loved
The God of the universe knows you, whether you like it or not and know Him back. He loves you, whether you like it or not and love Him back. He desires to have a relationship with you. It is a sweet, sweet place to be known and loved (as even Adele writes in a new song), and the only pure place to be known and loved is in the arms of the one and only true God.
If I could talk to Adele, I would share that God is big enough for your doubt, fear, anxiety, baggage, and all that this life has put you through. He loves you no matter what you have done or will do, whether good or bad. His love is not conditional; you cannot earn it, and you cannot lose it. If you do not know Him, come. Receive his gift of grace. Let him fill the void in your heart that nothing else can satisfy.
Winfrey, Oprah. Adele One Night Only, CBS, Los Angeles, California, 14 Nov. 2021.