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.

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.”

Now More Than Ever

For 29 Valentine’s Days, she’s been my very own.

28 years of marriage, six kids birthed and raised and launched, several others by fostering and accepting and encouraging, 11 different homes, 12 vehicles, 8 church families, a few epic arguments, buckets and buckets of tears and a whole lot more laughter… and counting.

To look back at those wedding photos, it’s clear we were just kids. We were so excited to launch into this life together and had no idea what was in store. I thought I loved her then, but now more than ever.

She came across this song today and shared it and I listened… and cried.

(If you know me at all, you’re not surprised. I’m a cryer. It is what it is.)

It’s by a duo known as Out of the Dust. It says so much about where we are in life. You just need to give it a listen.

A marriage is intended by its Designer to be a place of absolute vulnerability and familiarity…

Darling, here we are
You know every strength and every scar
You’re seeing every part

It’s not a place that is found and fueled by feelings. It’s a decision to daily choose what is best for your partner…

Feelings change but that’s when love will say
Now more than ever
Write it on my heart for when it’s hard and we forget
Through joy and pain love will whisper
Now more than ever

But there’s so much more here.

This marriage thing (as I seem to be writing over and over again) is not simply a thing people decided to do. It’s not a societal construct or a cultural feature. It was the very first human relationship and it was created with a deep and powerful purpose—beyond procreation and comfort and companionship.

Marriage was made to show us our deep, deep need and God’s grand and glorious provision…

It’s still a mystery
That heaven fights through hell to help us see
There’s more than you and me
Our love is prophecy
It shows a broken world how it could be
It speaks through you and me

This indescribably precious gift that is my marriage is a vehicle through which God shows me my need for His redeeming and transforming grace, through which He shows me my need to live for someone beyond myself, through which He shows me how much He loves me.

It is my deep desire that everyone that knows us will see these truths in our marriage, that you will hear the song that we were made to sing…

Now more than ever.