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I have said many times that I believe the greatest gifts God has given us are our relationships. First and foremost, He gave us the gift of a right relationship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, which enables us to experience right relationships with each other. Only because of His faithfulness and His grace can we truly learn what it means to be committed to one another in love.
Nowhere have I come to realize more about my need for the grace and mercy of God than in my relationships with others, especially my precious wife. God has brilliantly designed us in such a way that we need and desire to be in relationship with others, and yet those very relationships will reveal our own selfishness and sinfulness and show us our desperate need for God if we will allow it.
Second, He has given us the most wondrous and mysterious of all human relationships through marriage. As I say "mysterious," I can almost see some of you nodding your heads in agreement, or maybe even scratching your heads. I am the president of the "want to have it all figured out" club, and this "mystery" business is one part of marriage I didn't really plan for. (I don't remember seeing it in the color brochure.) The real challenge is, the longer I'm in it, the more I realize that the mystery is not just a part of marriage, but it is the essence of marriage.
I'm learning that my wife of sixteen years, whom I think I know better than anyone on this planet, is a wonderfully mysterious woman who longs to be known. So for me, the words"I will be here" mean I not only want to keep "showing up," but I also want to embrace all that my wife is and is becoming. I want to be a "student of my wife," as my pastor says.
Mary Beth and I are very uniquely different in the way we approach and think about certain things. We process information very differently, and I can foolishly allow that to drive a wedge between us instead of seeing if as an opportunity to learn more about her. In the lyrics to the song "I Will Be Here," I reaffirm my commitment to "be here" when she feels like being quiet and when she needs to speak her mind. This line in the song, like many others, is deeply personal because of the struggles that we had early on in our marriage; when things got too quiet, I would try to get Mary Beth to tell me what she was thinking. I came from a family of externalizers who talked a lot about what they felt, but Mary Beth came from a family who didn't communicate as openly. I broke her heart and drove her away many times in my attempts to get her to talk to me and as I tried to "fix" her. I also have had to learn how to listen when she needs to speak her mind. We've all heard it said that communication is the key to marriage. The only problem is I'm one of those people who loses my keys all the time. But by the grace of God, I have an earnest desire to hear not just the words she said but what's behind the words.
Like so many other young couples in the beginning of their relationship, we were amazed at how much we had in common, and we believed that was what drew us together. As time has passed however, we have seen that we are in fact very dissimilar in many ways, and these very differences are part of God's purpose in bringing us together. Her strengths are often my areas of weakness and vice versa, and we have to choose whether to embrace or resist that part of the mystery of our relationship. I thank God that He has ordered things in such a way that until death separates us, I will still be discovering the "wife of my youth."
Mary Beth is a fearfully and wonderfully made woman created in the image of God, and my calling as her husband is to love and honor her in a way that brings glory and honor to her Maker. Unfortunately, I am a sinner who blows it often and needs the inexhaustible grace of God. If you happened by our house some days and listened at our door to the way we are speaking to each other, you would know that we both still have much to learn.
I wrote "I Will Be Here" not because I have figured it all out; I wrote it out of a deep desire to love this one who is my best friend and my wife. Thanks be to God for the merciful patience and forgiveness that my sweetheart has continued to show me in the process. I am more in love with Mary Beth now than ever before, and I feel like I'm just getting started. That's the wonder of this mystery called "marriage."
Steven Curtis Chapman
DADS WALKING FAITHFUL, STANDING STRONG J COUNTRYMAN
By Steve Farrar
Edited by Terri Gibbs
a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Farrar. All rights reserved.