It’s hard to explain the depth of my desire to be as smooth as John Legend. Hopeless though it may be, it remains a longing in my soul.
But this is not really about John Legend… I just felt like I had to lay that on the table to own it. It’s a strange compulsion that I have sometimes.
Legend’s masterpiece of a love song, “All of Me,” brings an open-eyed integrity to a genre of music that is inherently blind. Love songs, as a general rule, are full of idealized, fairy-tale descriptions that so often betray the substance of what they express and show the shallow infatuation for what it really is.
If you’re not familiar or just need a refresher, give it a listen here.
I have a particular soft spot for artists that resist the sugarcoating and acknowledge the humanness of love.
Legend owns the confusion and mystery of a committed love and asks, “What’s going on in that beautiful mind?” He acknowledges her craziness and being out of his own mind. It’s the back and forth that paint one of the most powerful and realistic pictures of a marriage between two deeply committed but utterly broken people.
Consider this carefully woven lyric:
All of me loves all of you Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections Give your all to me I'll give my all to you You're my end and my beginning Even when I lose I'm wining 'Cause I give you all of me And you give me all of you
That’s a bold promise – to love all of someone. It’s not the infatuation-blinded drivel of a guy that can’t believe he managed to marry a supermodel. It’s the honest recognition that she has issues and he has issues and that, despite his own issues, he is committed to love her despite her issues. That’s really what it means to love someone well—not to ignore their issues but to embrace them.
That phrase though… “All your perfect imperfections.”
It rings deeply within me because it’s a description of the way I am loved, not just by my amazing wife, but much more by my Savior. He doesn’t just love the gifts and obedience in me. He loves the parts of me that give His power an opportunity to be displayed.
To be clear, I’m not saying that God loves my sin. I am saying that God loves the weaknesses in me that so often result in sin because it is in these areas that I find my greatest dependence upon Him.
But this goes deeper. He knew those weaknesses and chose to lay down His life for me anyway. He gave all for me. And He challenges me to give myself wholly to Him.
This picture is exactly what I’m called to live out in my marriage – to pour myself out for my bride as she does for me. But even that was created from the beginning to demonstrate this incredible reality of how Jesus the Son of God lay down His own life to pardon every imperfection in me and how I am called to lean into that love without reservation.
John Legend’s work of art is not about Jesus and His love for me… but it is about the open-eyed wonder of marriage—and it turns out that’s the same thing.
I’d challenge you to go and read Paul’s discourse on this in Ephesians 5 and see if this song doesn’t mean so much more when you do so.
And, if you have a perfectly imperfect spouse to share this life with, take them in your arms, maybe even dance a little, and remember the much greater picture that God brought you together to show to you. Then worship Him by celebrating His gifts with a deeply grateful heart.