Confessions of a Broken Tool

Like We Do

I’ve been a fan of Harry Connick Jr. for many years—musically speaking. There are a number of his classics on my playlist of love songs. It’s a special kind of mix of smooth and quirky and funky that most always has a musical depth that comes from his deep jazz roots.

One of my more recent favorites of his is a catchy little tune called “Like We Do.” (Check it out here.)

It’s a celebration of the uniqueness of a relationship. Consider this chorus:

Nobody got a you like me
Nobody got this history
And the good times, and the hard times
And the wild time we've been through
Nobody got a me like you
And I ain't much but this much is true
No one does "I do" like we do

I think we all tend to see things in the meaningful examples in our lives, good things and bad, and try to learn from if not directly implement some of the practices of those other relationships. But I love that Harry reminds us that his intention is not to say his marriage is better than mine or anyone else’s. He is simply celebrating with his beloved that theirs is one of a kind.

I feel that very deeply. I tend to think I have one of the strongest marriages I’ve ever seen but I’m usually pretty quick to point out that I believe it’s because of God’s grace alone as He has provided so many great examples and great encouragers and great tools to help us along the way. I don’t expect anyone to pattern their marriage after mine or compare theirs with ours.

We have our ways of dealing with struggles and keeping things centered and sharing the joys and pains of life together. We have our own unique way of doing “I do” together. I’m not suggesting ours is better. I’m just saying it is ours… and it’s a work in progress, a relationship still growing, refining, reforming.

One of the biggest dangers in our social media world is the nearly inescapable trap of comparison it draws us into. We all tend to post the most flattering things about our lives… and understandably so. But then we can hardly resist comparing our difficult and less flattering moments with the shiny representations of life that our acquaintances are posting.

In our more rational moments we recognize that it’s a trap. But the feelings and the comparison reflexes are beyond our rational minds. It plays on and feeds our insecurities.

If you are married or are considering marriage on the horizon, I want to remind you that God, in His infinite wisdom has plans for unique combinations of personalities that will reflect the uniqueness of His relationship with each of His people. He is infinitely creative and has made each of us more unique than the snowflakes. Be the unique version of “I do” that God made you to be.

And this is why I borrow Mr. Connick’s fun little groove. This wonder called marriage, this special “I do” that we do, is a great gift of God to celebrate.

Higher And Higher

Some songs just make you smile, don’t they?

The name Jackie Wilson may not immediately bring a face to mind or a song, but for me those first few bars of his classic, “Higher and Higher,” strike a chord of recognition. It’s just so fun.

(You might want to take a minute and go watch this great video that syncs Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth dancing to this great song – it’ll make your day brighter.)

It’s a pretty common theme in my life that people recognize how much better I am because of the woman that chose to love me for life. I get what Mr. Wilson was putting down. He said that this love keeps on lifting him higher and higher and higher.

I know that feeling. My beloved has a way of encouraging me, helping me, motivating me to reach for more. Just like Jack Nicholson’s neurotic character blurted out in the romantic comedy, “As Good As It Gets,” I find myself thinking it time and time again:

“You make me want to be a better man.”

(You can watch that clip here if you need a refresher.)

She really does. I keep trying to incorporate better disciplines because she deserves it. I want to take better care of her and for her because she is so precious to me. Her love does indeed keep lifting me, boosting me, drawing me on to better, higher, deeper… more.

When I think about it, I have had a number of relationships—family members, friends, and such that have had an elevating impact upon my life. People have cared about me and helped me and encouraged me in such a way that I have grown through those connections. But really that is the nature of genuinely loving someone. Love does that.

One of the great wonders of the grace of God is that He loves us unconditionally just the way we are. But it is equally a wonder that He loves us so much that He is always drawing us higher, continuing to transform by His amazing grace every follower of His to be more and more and more like Jesus. THAT is truly being lifted HIGHER and HIGHER.

We used to sing a hymn pretty often that expresses that same idea, “Love Lifted Me.” It was about the way the love of God was a rescuing force to bring us life. It’s a response to the hope of the good news that Jesus, God’s Son, died to give us life that goes on beyond this world.

This whole marriage thing, of course, was God’s idea. I’m pretty convinced that it was because we learn more about our failures and shortcomings when we share life closely with someone… and at the same time we are challenged to grow. Love keeps lifting us higher and higher. Right on, Mr. Wilson. Right on indeed.

You Needed Me

So I’m going a little old-school here, but is there a more elegant and reflective love song than Anne Murray’s classic, “You Needed Me?” Go listen and tell me if I’m not spot on here.

I don’t remember not having this song in my mental library. I remember seeing her sing it on television. Her effortless vocals (despite the acrobatics in the melody) were so sincere and grateful. I loved that thought of putting the one you love up on a pedestal, to help them, care for them, pull them from their messes and help them find a better course.

Those lyrics speak volumes about the ways that we can serve the one we love.

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity

Now those are great lyrics aren’t they? But the one that I just recently began to recognize as it came up on my huge playlist full of (mostly cheesy) love songs is the very next phrase:

Somehow you needed me.

Again and again, the lyrics describe all of the ways she has been loved, but the line comes up again: “You needed me.” It’s the title of the song.

Now let’s be honest. At first glance that doesn’t even make sense. Shouldn’t it be, “I needed you?”

But it highlights one of the most powerful relational lessons I have learned. One of the most powerful ways to build connection with someone is to be humble enough to need them just as they need you. And, just to be clear, I’m convinced we need each other. As a follower of Jesus, you simply cannot fulfill the Great Commandment without loving other people—and necessarily letting them love you too.

People that are close to my life will recognize at even a slight glance that I am surely more needy of my beloved wife than she could ever be of me, right? But I suspect that, if you really dig into it, you would find that my need for her is just more obvious and visible (largely because I’m the big mouth here) than her need for me. We can’t get around the fact that we need each other.

But this is true in relationships of all kinds. I have come to see that one of the best ways to build trust with someone is to ask for their help and then ask how I can help them. And yet, I find that so many of us are so incredibly eager to help others but so slow to ask for help for ourselves.

Do we realize that our unwillingness to need someone else is really robbing us of a much stronger relationship?

Many centuries back, an extremely wise (and exorbitantly wealthy) king shared the notes on his research project to explore every option and seek meaning in all the things that we are inclined to pursue. He said we need others. Consider his words here:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4.9-12

You see, the guy who could buy and sell attendants without thought concluded… we need people to lean on. I have a hunch that, if he could listen to Anne Murray’s song, he would say, “Yeah, that makes sense.”