Editor's note: When Gungor was nominated for a couple of Grammys for their 2011 album Beautiful Things, frontman Michael Gungor went to the awards ceremony thinking about what such recognition means—and what it doesn't mean. When 2011's Ghosts Upon the Earth, was nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, Gungor posted some of those thoughts on his blog, and has given CT permission to reprint an abridged version here. Good words.

It is no secret that people worship celebrity in our culture. To be recognized as more special than others is a powerful feeling of love and acceptance. The problem is that this sort of recognition never satisfies. The feeling of worth that comes with the accolades of the crowd is shallow and fleeting. It is a counterfeit to real love and security.

Lust may have a lot of the same feelings associated with it that love does. Desire. Passion. Arousal. But lust is not love. It's a shallow and cheap counterfeit for love that never satisfies the soul; it only quiets the body for a moment. The pleasure from indulged lust is short-lived and shallow, but a life of true love is the richest and most satisfying life possible. Our true confidence and self-worth are rooted in the fact that we are the beloved of the Creator, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Michael and Lisa Gungor

Michael and Lisa Gungor

We see the difference between true love and public celebrity in how quickly the public can turn on its celebrities. How quickly the press jumps on the offensive comment or tasteless wardrobe decision or the extra 10 pounds hanging over the bathing suit of the celebrities that we claim to love and respect. How quickly the beloved pastor becomes the hated pastor when news of his affair surfaces. This demonstrates that it was not actually that pastor that we loved, but our ideas of what we thought he was. When he falls short of our expectations, we gladly feed his carcass to the wolves.

We do this because it isn't the human beings that are the actual objects of our adoration. It is the fame or importance that we believe they embody. They represent the importance, power, and love that we want for ourselves.

I'm not immune to the allure of the currency of celebrity or the praise of others. It was pretty exciting to be nominated for the Grammy Awards last year. Some of our friends and family had come with us to LA for the awards. I knew the folly of putting too much stock in people's opinions, but come on, this was the Grammys! An honor that very few musicians ever get. So we all dressed up pretty and went to the ceremony, but I tried to not get my hopes up for winning. I reminded myself that it was just people's opinions and that it shouldn't have any bearing on my contentment or happiness.

Article continues below

But then they started reading the names …

Drum roll, please

There is something about being in a room full of your heroes, the people that you are guilty of buying into the illusion of fame with yourself … and knowing that your name could be called to win the biggest honor that your heroes and peers can possibly bestow upon you.

"It's such an honor to just be nominated," I remind myself.

"Yeah, but to win would be pretty awesome," my other self replies.

"Don't get too worked up about it."

"Michael, this is the Grammys! Do you even know what you'll say if you win?"

"Well, I haven't thought too much about it because I didn't want to get my hopes up."

"Dude, what is wrong with you? Do you want to look like an idiot in front of the people that you most respect in the world? In front of your friends and family that flew out here to be with you?"

"Oh man."

I asked Lisa for a pen and paper, and started scribbling out some notes. I began to visualize myself walking up to that podium. I imagined really holding that same golden gramophone that people like Miles Davis, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson had won.

I looked at the program; they were almost to our category. My heart started beating so loud and fast that I almost certain people around me could hear it. Quest Love from the Roots was sitting right in front of me; could he hear my heartbeat, my quickened breath? Did he know that I must be in this next category just from the rustling and whispering of our group right behind him?

Here it is! I grab Lisa's hand, and we look at each other with barely containable anxiety and excitement in our eyes. To hear the announcer pronounce Gungor in the list of nominees is a surreal sound. And the winner is …

"Switchfoot, Hello Hurricane."

I don't hear the applause. I hear the disappointed sighs of the people in our row. I look at Lisa and see that polite smile that you see the losers feign on awards shows on TV, an attempt to keep their dignity and pretend that they really preferred the other person would win anyway. The smile that you use to deceive your own body, desperately trying to convince yourself that you really are not extremely disappointed. This happened twice in a row, as we had been nominated for two different categories.

I was kind of mad at myself that day, mad at how disappointed I was. I knew that things like awards or record sales are foolish things to base any sort of happiness or contentment on. Because what happens when you don't win? When your record doesn't sell well? Because that will happen. We all age. We all die. Everyone's work is temporary. Every piece of music written is like a scribble in the sand. Eventually a wave is going to come and wipe that sand as smooth and clean as it was before you got there.

Article continues below

Every book, every film, every calculation, every dollar made—it all will go back to the sea eventually. Every Grammy Award eventually will end up back in the soil from whence it came. Holding on to the fleeting glances of approval as your emotional lifeboat is a surefire way to not be happy. If you invest your soul into the hopes that everyone will like you, you have a 100 percent chance of losing.

I knew these things in my mind at the Grammys, but something in my heart still believed otherwise. I still allowed my sense of worth get tied to the opinions of others—in this case incarnated as a little gold trophy. In reality, that gramophone represented my desire to feel important, to feel safe and loved. To say such things out loud would be silly, but there we sat in our finest clothes with frowns on our faces.

So, while I am honored and grateful for another nomination this year, I do hope that I can untangle my heart from all of it a little better and just enjoy the party, regardless of who wins. But I know that it is easier said than done.

Watch the Grammy Awards on CBS this Sunday, February 12 (8/7c).