My students call me "Mrs. T." up at the elementary school so, naturally, they refer to my husband as "Mr. T." (haha, I know - they have no clue how funny that really is . . . kids these days!) I've been thinking lately about the songs I've written for him. I didn't set out to write love songs. It just sort of happened. The process is interesting to me. Like any good teacher, I'm all about reflective practice!
Writing songs to God, for God, and about God has always been the most natural option for me. Notice I didn't say, "has always been natural for me." Hah. Sometimes writing isn't natural at all - no matter what the impetus happens to be.
I can remember thinking to myself 5 or 6 years ago, "I don't think I"ll ever write anything other than church music."
Well, thinking of it as "church" music changed shortly after that. I guess about the time I went through my own little "mid twenties life crisis" I realized that my "church" life wasn't in any way separate from my life. I'd always known that on some level, but it became more and more clear to me . . . especially after I got married. Marriage is as wonderful and as tough as all the cliches suggest. Life is, too.
I remember making the album "Hymns for a New World" and thinking . . . "maybe I should call it 'questions for a new world' instead!" There's nothing wrong with any of us asking tough questions or taking times to "work things out" as we grow. Hopefully we all continue to grow throughout life. When somebody tells me they have something "figured out" I always worry about them a little bit. I always wonder if they're hiding from something . . . because the truth is: God is the only one who has things "figured out." He even tells us so. Repeatedly. In the Bible.
Anyway - part of all that for me was realizing that God was actively ministering to me through the people who were intimately involved in my life. My family. My closest friends. My students. My husband.
I met my husband when I was a freshman in college. I made a lot of choices during that time. Not all of them were good. I'm sure I learned from them. It was a couple of years before my husband and I recognized each other romantically.
A couple of things stand out to me these days as precious about it all.
Firstly, I can remember the exact moment I made eye contact with him outside the college library . . . freshman year. I remember how the sun hit his eyes and how the color of his eyes matched his shirt. I can remember making eye contact for just a second too long. And then breaking eye contact and feeling the urge to run away out of embarrassment!
Secondly, when Mr. T. did finally tell me (years later) that he'd thought of me, too . . . he said that he used to love seeing me walk into class wearing a pair of paint spattered overalls. I did, in fact, wear overalls on a regular basis. He said that he used to think, "Huh! Nobody wears overalls anymore. Who is this girl?" To this day I can't get rid of those old overalls because they are part of the story.
I've written 7 or 8 songs for my husband to date. I remember how happy I was to have written the first of them and how shocked I was when, every so often, I'd have more lyrics come to mind that were most certainly meant for him. You'll get to hear one of my earliest examples professionally recorded on the "Third Day Life" EP coming out soon!
His birthday is next week (happy birthday to you, love of mine!). What can I say to him or about him? Now that we know each other so well? If I had a chance to brag about him, what would I say (taking that chance right now, BTW)?
I can say . . .
I write songs about you for the same reasons I've always written songs . . . an expression of thanksgiving or an expression of care or concern or prayerfulness.
I'm proud of you - you're coming into your 30's having done some crazy exciting work. Work you built up for yourself. I watched you do it. Wow. You're so brave. I still can't believe how brave you are.
The thought of you returning home is always the light at the end of my tunnel. Always.
The thought of you . . . is enough. Still. Even now.
I love you.
And finally . . . I can say this: Thank you, Dearest One, for bringing your umbrella to that crazy girl walking in the post-drought rainstorm on the E&H campus, by the chapel. Thank you for putting your plans on hold. Thank you for squelching your better judgement for just a moment - just long enough to be a friend. You've brought me many such proverbial umbrellas over the years. What would I do without you? Who would I be? I don't know. I know this: I wouldn't write without you . . . I wouldn't be having this adventure. It's your adventure, too. And of course - I think you're the hottest 30 year old to walk the planet earth!
I've written 2 songs about the night when we took our first walk together. In the dark. In the rain. After we were married, I remember often thinking to myself "This could have been so different. And that's a terrifying thought." - In fact, for a couple of years I would randomly have nightmares in which I'd wake up to a life without him. Or a life marked by different choices. So when I first wrote about the way it all started . . . it was melancholy . . . not because I feel melancholy about our life, but because I know how important it was that we walked together at all. That one rainstorm. That one choice? Everything changed after that. What I understood about being loved by anyone before that was inaccurate at best and destructive at worst. Dearest One, you have taught me different.
And the second time I wrote about this first walk was just a few days ago . . . we're several years into this thing called marriage . . . and headed toward two years into this thing called parenthood . . . the melancholy has fallen away from the memory of anything I understood before I understood this life. When the melancholy about past choices and experiences fades away it's more natural to be immersed in gratitude. And that's where I am. And where this song is.
I hope to spend the rest of my life writing songs about you and us, Mr. T.
Friends - who are you writing about in your heart of hearts? Who are you grateful for? We can be grateful for many people. We should always tell them. Anytime we think of it - friends and family alike. We should always say something. Go do that now.