Out of grief and depression comes Caroline Tjen’s beautiful new single “Walking On Water”. She shares the journey she took with God that led to this song.
Caroline Tjen, a singer-songwriter from CityWorship, whose song “Come Holy Spirit” is a modern day classic sung all over the world, recently released her latest single, “Walking On Water (Trusting You Again)”. She tells CityRadio the story of how this declaration of faith became a song.
CITYRADIO: How did you get the idea for this song?
CAROLINE: It was on a Sunday afternoon last year—17 May 2020 to be exact—I was relaxing on my sofa when suddenly a line with a melody came into my head. “I’m not going to stay down, tired of being afraid. Now I’m gonna stand on my faith, I’m trusting You again. I know the storm is here looking straight at me. I’ll keep my eyes on You. My eyes, on You. I’m walking on water.”
I quickly went to my keyboard and figured out the chords to the melody that I had. I felt God was telling me, “This is the time you can stand again on your faith and say no to depression.” I felt that this song was to be a statement of faith that I could declare over myself.
I kept on writing and building the song for almost a year, until 13 May 2021. In the process of it, I knew that this song wasn’t just for me. I had to publish it and I hope that someone out there hearing it will be set free from depression, fear and anxiety.
CR: On CityWorship’s Instagram post, you said you were going through a period of depression without even realising it. Can you share with us what you went through and how did you get out of it?
C: When my mom passed away in 2012, I felt that it was normal for me to be grieving especially with us being very close and going through so much in the three or four years prior, journeying with her and fighting together with her.
But it was about a year later, when I was ministering in some churches in San Francisco and Los Angeles with our Indonesian service band, 3PM Band, that I realised it was more than grief that I was feeling.
On our free day, I went to Disneyland with some of the girls on our team. Here we were in Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth”, but I felt no joy in my heart. That was when I knew that it was more than just grief.
Over the next few years, I felt I lost other things, such as the Indonesian Services which took a hiatus, and other dreams that I knew would never come to pass. I even lost the joy of life—I was still doing music but I lost the joy somehow.
At that time, I felt like withdrawing. When I meet people and when I smiled, it was out of discipline and nothing else.
I then took some courses to try to understand what I was going through and kept doing things, like exercising and socialising, to help improve my condition.
But the real breakthrough came in August 2019, when I was leading worship at a retreat. It was there that God spoke to me and said, ”Caroline, you are now set free and you can now serve me from a place of more than enough.” When I was going through depression, I always felt like I had no energy and I didn’t have anything to give. I was still doing things, but I wasn’t giving. But when I heard God tell me that, it was there I knew that I had been set free.
When this song came about in 2020, I felt it was God reminding me and letting me put my experience into a song, so that if I ever go through another bout of depression, I can be reminded that I’ve gone through this, I’m smarter, I’m with God, I can experience peace and He is real.
What line in the song that speaks to you the most?
There’s a line in the song that says: “I know the storm is here looking straight at me. I’ll keep my eyes on You.” I have to know that there are “storms” still going on in the world. And it’s looking straight at me. But my eyes are fixed on God. I think God wants to remind me to keep my eyes focused on Him and He is the Prince of Peace (which is the first line of the song).
The title “Walking On Water” is taken from Matthew 14, where Peter walked on water. What is the significance of this story to you?
When God reminded me of Peter was walking on water, I felt like I was the one who was walking on water, like Peter. And when he began to sink, that was like my period of depression. But I am not going to stay down. So I managed to get up because I chose to focus on God, and not on the water or the storm.
The interesting thing about the story is, it wasn’t that Peter didn’t have faith. In fact, he jumped out of the boat when Jesus called him. He actually acted on his faith without even thinking. That’s a child-like faith and I think that was what God wanted me to come back to. Yes, I might be sinking, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay there. And the beautiful thing is, God is always there, leading us on step by step.
So what is the message that you hope to bring to the listener?
The act of walking on water represents the impossible. It’s not within our ability to walk on water. The song talks about doing something that is beyond what is natural to us. We can have difficulties in life—the storm—but we can still do the impossible with God. He is the expert when it comes to the supernatural!
Right now, we are experiencing uncertainties and difficulties everywhere in the world due to COVID. I hope that everyone who is going through these storms in their life will be reminded that it is possible to experience the impossible kind of peace in their life and to experience the supernatural.
Was there a verse that carried you through these years?
Psalms 30 : 11-12 (NLT) says: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!” It is a statement that God has taken me out of my depression and it no longer has power over me.
The whole experience, now, is beautiful to me. Had I not gone through this bout of depression, I would not have this story to share, nor would I have encountered God’s realness. I want you to know that you have to keep on walking and not give up and know that the impossible is possible. Every new step is a new miracle. Keep walking!