I had no idea who Ben Rector was when a friend in college asked me if I'd like to go to his concert with her. I knew one of his songs from the radio, but hadn't really spent time listening to his work.
It turned out my future husband was at that concert too - only a few rows away from me.
Since that night I've gotten to know Joseph (and Ben Rector) a lot better. Joseph and I have been to a Ben Rector concert together here in Kansas City together. When we were dating, Joseph made me a mix tape of songs and Ben Rector's Dance With Me Baby was track six.
On our wedding day, Joseph danced with me to Forever Like That for our first dance together as husband and wife. Today, if you swing by our house during the week, we usually have Ben Rector's radio station on Pandora playing. In fact, just this morning, we bought tickets for his new tour this fall.
For the past 12 years, Ben Rector has been writing and producing music that stands apart from the rest of the top hits you hear on the radio. I think the one thing that draws me to his work is that his lyrics are genuine, soulful, and meaningful. His lyrics have been the soundtrack to so many beautiful moments in my life.
Here are 12 lessons on authentic love from Ben Rector's lyrics to apply to your ordinary, daily life:
1. You learn to love
"You find you're wrong and it's your problems all along, and then you love someone but not 'til then you love someone"
Joseph and I have known each other for over three years. In comparison to the rest of our lives, isn't that much time at all. It has been incredible in our marriage to continue to learn about each other. Whether it is what our favorite foods are, or how we handle stress, there is always something to find out and cherish about the other person. I can't wait to learn more about Joseph as our marriage continues for years to come, God willing.
2. We all want to be loved
"Cause we just wanna be loved, we just wanna be loved. When it's said and done there's no one above a little love"
Being seen is something that our human hearts desire - we want to be known at the heart level. We often think of love in just the romantic sense, but love is much more than just romance. Our hearts ache for authentic community, too.
Authentic love of Joseph recognizes that he can't fulfill me, and vice versa. So even though I consider Joseph my best friend, we also realize that we need time with other men and women to grow in our faith lives and live out the masculine and feminine genius in our new, married vocation.
3. Ordinary love is beautiful
"Keep those fancy things, keep your magazine. I don't even want what I'm chasing because all I know isn't ordinary love is what we're made for."
The world likes to tell us what we need to be happy - a big house, a nice car, a well funded bank account. But what I've found in my short time of marriage is that the best gift we can give each other is our time. The world can keep it's false promise that 'things' will give you happiness, but I'm going for the ordinary, daily love.
4. Authentic love frees you
"But when I'm with you I'm no longer wandering. And when I'm with you, I swear I can breathe. When I'm with you, I know who I am and who I want to be"
Although Ben Rector says it beautifully, another man who knew the reality of love was Saint Pope John Paul II. He wrote, "Freedom exists for the sake of love." God's love doesn't demand that we do what is right. Instead, He gives us free will and a choice to love Him. He invites us into an authentic, loving relationship where He allows our choice and we can choose to love Him.
5. Love and suffering go hand in hand
"I know the pain of a heartbreak. I don't have answers, and neither do you. I know the pain of a heartbreak."
I will always remember the words from a priest's homily: "The greater your capacity for love, the greater your capacity for suffering." In a relationship, you open your heart and make yourself vulnerable. But we're human, so we're going to hurt each other.
But the alternative is to lock your heart away. You'll shut yourself away from certain pain, but you'll also close yourself away from love.
6. There's going to be stormy weather
"But all I see is just this stormy weather. And all I need is the one I love. So Lord, please bless me with some time together, and I won't ask for anymore after all."
When I was single, it was easy to assume that once I had a wedding band on my finger, life would be smooth sailing. But we've been through quite a bit in our first eighteen months of marriage and I know more storms will come (thanks a lot, Adam and Eve).
There's been such a beauty of weathering storms together with Joseph. It takes courage to face hard decisions and suffering, but those storms are a lot easier to face with Joseph and the Lord beside me.
7. Love is more than a feeling
"The power of love is a curious thing. Make a one man weep, make another man sing. Change a hawk to a little white dove. More than a feeling, that's the power of love"
On our wedding day, I couldn't stop smiling when I thought about what Joseph and I were vowing to each other that day. The next morning I woke up and my face hurt from smiling so much that day. But I've learned that love isn't a feeling that just comes and goes. Instead, love is a daily choice to will each other's good.
Don't get me wrong - my heart still races when I hear Joseph's car pull into the parking lot after a long day at work. Dear readers, I love this man. But on the days where I'd rather be a selfish brat and make a decision for myself, I have to choose to love and put Joseph's needs before my own.
8. Our love should look more like His love
"It's the one thing around here that we don't have quite enough of. So I just wanna look a little more like love"
In the morning when Joseph and I pray together before leaving for work, the one thing I ask God for is the grace for our love to point others back to His divine love for us.
That's the beauty of the sacrament of marriage - it's a visible sign of an invisible reality. Our marriage here on earth mirrors the free, total, faithful, and fruitful love that the Father has for all of us. We just want to look more like His love.
9. Love takes commitment
"I've been the prince, I've been the pauper, been the star and played the fool. Been the winner and the loser, in between them too. And no matter who I might become or who I've been before I will always be, I will always be yours"
On our wedding day, Joseph and I vowed to choose to love each other despite the circumstances. We see each other on our good days and our grumpy days. It'd be easy to only love each other when the good times roll, but a true commitment embraces the best and the worst of the person.
10. Love means being part of a team
"If you wanna run, let's run together. When you go high, I will go low, I'll harmonize while you solo. Yeah, you and I, we could be our own iconic duo"
One thing that I've loved about marriage is that Joseph and I make decisions as a team. Whether it's choosing what to make for dinner, where to go on vacation, or how to tackle a tough situation, we make the decision together. Sometimes it takes us a while to decide (especially the dinner question, let's be real), but our marriage has given me many opportunities to make selfless decisions with someone else in mind.
11. Growing up doesn't mean growing older
"When's the last time we dropped our things and went? Woke up somewhere that we've both never been? Growin' up doesn't mean gettin' older."
Whole-hearted people know the importance of youthful play. Granted, it helps that Joseph and I both look like we could pass for seniors in high school. I've loved these past 18 months of our marriage and how we've grown up together, but have also enjoyed playing together.
12. Life isn't just about mountaintop moments
"Cause life is not the mountain tops, it's the walking in between. And I like you walking next to me."
There have been a lot of mountaintop moments in Joseph and I's relationship - I mean, Joseph proposed on a literal mountaintop. But the moments that I treasure the most are the little moments that Joseph and I have spent together. Whether it's cooking dinner together or sitting on the porch at the end of the night and talking about our days, I'm forever grateful for the walking in between with my husband.