James Taylor Said It Better

There are so many love songs that are special to me. A few of them come from the legendary musicianship of James Taylor. For more than 50 years he has been weaving together musical poetry and performing the same with the ease and familiarity of a lifelong friend recalling a common memory.

One of his early songs captures so much about my own relationship with my beloved wife. I wrote about it on the occasion of our 19th anniversary and we’re coming up on 31 years. But on this Valentine’s Day (in 2022 as I write this), I am more grateful than ever for the therapeutic influence of this woman upon my life.

The time we spend together is like medicine for my mind and a tonic for my nervous disposition. Time with her buoys my spirit and encourages my dreaming even while it makes me so very mindful of the anchoring points of my life. It’s inevitable that, when we’ve been too busy to spend some down time together, I’m simply not as well as I when we do.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our time together. We’ve raised and launched a bunch of people that have turned out to be pretty amazing humans. We’ve nurtured and supported a number of others in their journeys. We’ve fought for marriages beyond our own and we’ve mourned as some of them crashed on the rocks. It’s possible that we’ve been so busy taking care of others that we’ve often neglected ourselves. We’re learning more every day about living together, loving together, growing together.

But one thing that most people who know me can probably recognize is that we are so much better together. And I am so very much better when we are together.

But then, James Taylor said it better in his classic, “Something In The Way She Moves.”

Enjoy it with me here.

I Choose You

There are few artists today that can both write and perform at the level of Sara Bareilles. Her skills are on point.

The first time I heard her song, “I Choose You,” I was instantly captivated. It is melodic and catchy and just… great. Her vocals seem effortless. It’s just a great song.

You just have to give it a listen.

This song is centered upon the point of choice. She describes with infectious rhythms and elegant melodies the proclamation of a lifetime choice. The chorus rings it out so beautifully, “I choose you.”

Life is an endless progression of choices. In our earliest days we have someone to make them for us, but we’re on a journey of learning to make them for ourselves. They’re limited by circumstances and the decisions of others around us, but ultimately we choose in every moment how to respond or act in light of the situation we face.

Theologians argue at length about how much or if we ever really have any choice at all in our lives. I’m pretty convinced that every call of God is an invitation into a deeper intimacy. And part of the reason I’m so convinced is the way God has used my marriage to teach me about the perpetual choosing I committed to more than thirty years ago.

I think it’s pivotal to the vows we make when we walk into this unique relationship—that we are pledging to choose this person moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day… until death alone shall part us.

When you pledge your life to another in marriage, you are, at least in principle, proclaiming your intention and promise to choose this person above all others for life.

If you have made one of those lifetime promises (that we usually call wedding vows), go back and listen to this great song again. What does choosing your partner look like today? Get up and get after it—with an extra spring in your step from Ms. Bareilles’ catchy groove.

Take The World

Have you ever just felt like a relationship was under attack? The heartaches of life pile up and the storms of struggle and grief feel like they’re sandblasting the stones we’re trying to stand upon. Erosion is real in relationships… but especially in the unique bond that a marriage is supposed to be.

I have long held that there are three distinct postures that are crucial to standing up to the attacks and simply enduring with a relationship intact.

We need time face to face—talking about life, being honest with our feelings, dreams, heartaches, and so on. In general I think ladies tend to be more in touch with this need, but it’s crucial.

We also need to spend some time together shoulder to shoulder… like driving down the road or working on a project or serving others side by side. Men seem to have a stronger need for this kind of time together.

But there is a third that is necessary as we have to engage with the world around us—kids and extended family, coworkers, neighbors… all the others. Life comes at us with intensity. We need to face all of the other time when we’re not able to be face to face or shoulder to shoulder in a strong, sort of defensive posture. We need to live back to back. We need to live in such a way that no one can come between us. Our kids can’t play us against one another. Our careers can’t drive wedges into our relationship.

And when we get all three of these postures figured out… we build some serious endurance.

I’m enamored with the intimate stylings of Johnnyswim. In case you’re not acquainted, this is a husband and wife duo that makes some really great music together (and some absolutely beautiful children). Their song, “Take The World,” is a breath of courage to me in a season of weariness and desire to keep growing in my marriage.

You won’t regret watching this simple acoustic rendition.

These words (from the second verse) describe a sentiment that my beloved and I have been reminding each other of quite often in recent months:

Oh I can see the future
You and me we last forever
In the rising tide no fear or fight
That we can't face together
Darling you and me
We can take the world

Back in the very beginning of humanity, the designer put a man and a woman together and established the pattern that we would leave our parents and “cleave” to our spouse. The idea is one of being sort of welded together. It’s a bond that is intended to last as long as both partners are alive. It’s a bond that is supposed to be physical (yes, even sexual) and emotional and spiritual. It’s a bond that should endure whatever the world and this life throw at us.

It’s a bond designed to take a beating.

SO… that’s kind of what it means to “take the world.”

So to my very own beloved, I say again: “We’ve got this.”

We can take the world.