A Valentine’s Song of the Day: Andy Gullahorn

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With Valentine’s Day upon us, I thought Andy Gullahorn’s song “Give it Time” would be a fitting “Song of the Day.”  This song is wise, and I think rare, because it touches on the wonder and beauty of love that is tended to over time.  Songs about love bowling you over and filling you up in a moment are not to be trusted any more than the man who tells you his box of juicy-juice is as satisfying as a well aged, vintage bottle of wine.  My own comments below are adapted from one of my recent wedding sermons—and I have taken a few cues from Andy.

Most roads good friends walk eventually diverge.  It’s not that our friendships are lost.  Usually it’s just that they’re changed by geography or circumstance.  Something.

And it’s meant to be.

This is even true of the relationships between parents and children.  Eventually, if everything works right, the road a parent and their son or daughter walks will eventually lead them in different directions in life.  This, too, is meant to be.

But there is only one human relationship we come know in life that is meant by God to defy this pattern—the marriage relationship.  This one is meant to be intimate in affection, proximity and purpose until death itself separates you.  Though the people in your lives change, in marriage you are given a gift from God of incredible worth—a sworn partner for life.  That’s what we promise at the altar, anyway.

When the Puritans used to talk of marriage, they’d say you got married in order to fall in love.  Their thinking went a little like this: how could a man and woman possibly hope to really know the wonder, joy and depth of real love—the kind where you are truly loved and truly known at the same time— without sharing in the waking and the sleeping, in the ordinary and the extraordinary, in the comedy and the tragedy? Without marriage?

The truth is the two people standing at the altar or before the justice of the peace don’t really know each other very well yet.  Of course they think they do—and probably know each other better than they know most anyone else.  But still, how well could they really know each other?

I had a seminary professor say on the occasion of his 25th anniversary that the things he loved most about his wife were things he didn’t really even know were a part of her when they were first married.  Did you catch that?

There was a time I would have rolled my eyes at a statement like this—like during those first years of my own marriage.  But now, almost 14 years in, all I can do is nod in delighted agreement and wonder what the years ahead are going to reveal about the girl I married.

We stood at the altar and we recited vows that painted us into a corner.  And before God and witnesses, we declared our intention to live within the boundaries of selfless love.  We swore to things we had never really tested—like how we’d stay together in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want and in joy and in sorrow until one of us dies.

Who makes such promises without the anticipation that such polarities will, in fact, come along?   These vows are based in reality.

And it looks so different for each couple.  For me, I’m not called simply to be a good and faithful husband.  I’m called to be a good and faithful husband to the particular woman I married.  That looks different for us from the couple across the room.

Along the way, we pray we’ll learn to argue well.  God willing, we’ll learn to be wrong and long for humility when we are.

We learn to bear with one another and forgive where there is injury.  We discover there are buttons you can push that deliver predictable reactions.   Sometimes we push them.  Sometimes we hurt each other because we’re mad and we mean to.  Most of the time though, we hurt each other because we didn’t know how not to.

Understand the reality of marriage; it is two sinners under one roof. We should expect conflict.  And since we can’t avoid it, we should pray for the grace to avoid resentment and to not use offenses against each other, forgiving as those aware of the forgiveness we’ve been shown by our God who loves us as His bride.

How can we survive?  How can we heal?  Certainly not by rushing these things.  I pray for time.  And for grace.

Russ Ramsey and his wife and four children make their home in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church and the author of Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative (Rabbit Room Press, 2011) and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2015). He is a graduate of Taylor University (1991) and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv – 2000, ThM – 2003). Follow Russ on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.


18 Comments

  1. Bill B

    You mean it is not about Thyme? WHAT? That little video of his TRICKED me. No wonder the lyrics did not make sense. Now they do. Great song! And nice post, Russ.

  2. Peter B

    Russ and Andy, thank you both. This is beautiful, the song is beautiful, and I can’t help but be more encouraged than ever to love my sweet bride of almost 12 years.

    I do so look forward to eternity, when we’ll have time and time and more time to get to know all these great folks who we see only across the wires… which of course will pale in comparison to our knowledge of the One who defined such love for us.

  3. Ruble

    Andy’s more personal songs have always greatly encouraged me…”Give it time” is one of the best..there is also “Any other way” from Jill’s new album…

    and “Wake up” from Old Hat and “More of a man” and “They were right” and “Give me grace” and “Desperate Man” and so forth and so on…

    just great stuff…

    Chris

  4. Chad

    I have this friend who tells me that you “have to read fine print before you get into a marriage relationship”, but that’s just not true. Things that are future are just not known and there really are no guarantees outside of the ones made by God. I actually love that fact that there really is no fine print. You were not tricked into anything. When the curtain is pulled back to reveal something different than what you signed up for, then it’s still what you signed up for and it is beautiful. All of the challenges that life presents us with also make life more glorious. Besides if you really knew everything up front, then where would the adventure be?

  5. Tony Heringer

    Coming up on 19 years with my bride — and loving it! 🙂

    “Not sure the song does any justice to the words you wrote. Well said my friend.” – Andy G.

    When the song writer honors the one doing the honoring in a “Song of The Day” post what else can be said?

    I’ll just say “Amen!”

  6. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Russ,

    Isn’t it just resonant how the world’s way starts with “being in love,” (really largely the craving to be loved which we think we’re fulfilling) and makes that feeling the end-all. Thus when a couple is “not in love anymore” the partnership is dissolved and they begin again with other partners.

    But real love starts with that vow. It is a unilateral covenant on both sides: “Till death do us part.” Not “unless I find someone better” or “unless we fall ‘out’ of love” or “unless you don’t make enough money.” When we hold to that principle in the face of all contrary circumstances, it pulls us through each negative situation to a deeper kind of love.

    20 years and counting.

  7. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Thanks for the good words, Russ. And for the song, Andy G. My folks came close to divorce when I was a boy of nine or ten. There was a separation, and a lot of sadness. And some nights I’d rather forget.

    But God answered the prayers of an aching little boy, a fervent little boy. And that marriage was redeemed. I learned the power of prayer at a very young age. And my mom and dad taught me the deep meaning of commitment, and giving it time.

    When my dad died ten years ago, he died the husband of the only woman that he married, my mom.

    I married my wife on Mother’s Day. On May 11th, my wife and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary. Give it time, indeed.

  8. Tony Heringer

    Wow! Curt that deserves a follow up post — perhaps on Mother’s Day? Thanks for sharing your big ole heart with us bro!

  9. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Thanks, Tony. It’s a story with a great ending, and I’ve considered sharing it and probably will some day soon. Knowing the statistics of divorce, I know I’m not alone in my experience. The heartbreak is that all stories don’t have the same happy ending that my story had. Let it be said that God was no more involved in my life because my prayers were answered in the way they were prayed. Inexplicably, sometimes God’s answer to even the most heartfelt requests is, “No.”

    Other than my wife, I’ve only shared the full story with two other people, Andy Gullahorn and Eric Peters. The only thing keeping me from sharing it publically is the concern that should my mom read it, it might make her sad, though she is really the hero of the story.

    Thanks for your affirmation, Tony. It’s the punctuation mark on a paragraph of obvious indications that it’s a story that needs to be written.

    By the way, if you are one that experienced the pain of your parents divorce, another Andy Gullahorn song may resonate with you as it does me. It’s called “Better Things” and it’s from his Old Hat record.

  10. Tony Heringer

    Curt,

    We need to hear the good news stories to encourage all of us to keep fighting the good fight. Check with mom first, but I say write it. Now, I’m thinking book, but we’ll start with a post — much, much easier to get published. 🙂

    As an elder at my church, I’ve had the humbling honor of entering into the pain and sorrow of couples in crisis marriages. Some ended well and others ended, but anyone connected with divorce knows that ending a marriage is only the beginning of the sorrow.

    My dad died of cancer when I was 11. That’s a different kind of loss. Painful, but from what I’ve seen, not nearly as painful as divorce.

    Divorce, as Pat Conroy rightly noted, is “the death of a civilization.” Divorce is a cancer on our culture that in some ways is very easy to cure and in other ways impossible apart from the grace and mercy of our loving Father.

  11. Leonard Rosmarin

    I was very impressed by what Russ Ramsey has to say about the relationship within a marriage. It’s really true that you get to understand a person in depth only by living with that person and by living through the good and the bad together. My new novel, “Getting Enough,” illustrates his observation. It is the story about a middle-aged couple, a husband and wife who are convinced they hate one another, and yet, they manage to fall in love after 26 years of a relationship filled with acrimony and recriminations. Should you be interested in finding out more, kindly access my publisher’s website: http://www.strategicbookpublishing. com/GettingEnough.html.

  12. Tony Heringer

    Curt,

    Listening to one of the other Andy’s (Osenga) and “The Man Of The House” came on. It reminded me of this thread. If you haven’t heard it, check out Osenga’s “Photographs” album.

  13. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Yes Tony, it fits, though in a bittersweet way we might say. I love the song, because it doesn’t sugarcoat. And somehow, though it’s told as a story, it addresses the complexities and dynamics of not only divorce, but also the potential for the son to repeat the mistakes of his father. Thanks for calling my attention to it, Tony.

  14. Annalee

    Hey Russ, this post has stuck with me and my (now) fiancee for a few months. Lovely. Could you recommend where to go to find some of the Puritans’ thoughts on marriage that you mentioned?

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