Sometimes I argue with the music.
Usually this happens in the car while the radio is playing. There’s this song you’ve probably heard Pink sing. It’s catchy, not in a I’m-all-about-that-bass way, but more in a You’ve-lost-that-lovin’-feeling way. So catchy that it deserves to endure as a one of the great ballads of this generation.
But as foundational logic for relationships, particularly marriage, these lyrics stink. To be sure, the emotions are relatable. In case you don’t want to watch the video, let me summarize. Pink describes a beautiful, intimate trust in her lover (husband?) that flourishes until the seeds of that trust are undermined by her bad dreams and by some vague questions about their relationship that he purportedly airs in his sleep. She begs him for reassurance:
Just give me a reason,
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again…
As an observation of human relationships, this is just brilliant. Her insecurity rings true. Like every woman I’ve ever known who has ever been a willing victim to the thief who stole her heart, she has those moments (in her sleep even) when she can’t relax in that love, when she wonders if his love is strong enough, big enough for her. It’s the dark side of archetypal womanhood. And he answers as any male archetype might:
I’m sorry I don’t understand where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine
This is where I start talking to the radio. I tell Pink, Honey, (I don’t call anyone Honey, except radio voices) nothing is going to get better as long as you keep calling this gaping distrust of love something less than what it is. As long as you say you’re just bent, merely dented out of shape, instead of broken. Admit your brokenness, I tell her. Don’t be so afraid. It’s the only way to learn to love, not again, but really learn it aright.
I understand her better than I understand him, so I am harder on her. But he’s just as bad. I thought that we were fine is such an easy way out. Fine? I ask him, Really, is that what you want for this woman whose heart you so dramatically stole? Fine?
Then I invite these two over to our house for a little counseling. I make them coffee and serve them banana bread with dark chocolate chips in it. I bring in my wiser, gentler better half, and we tell them that the only healing we have found for the brokenness of my insecurity and the brokenness of his inability to reassure me loudly or fully enough of his love is to own up to it deep at the core of our beings. To cease pretending we’re fine or bent, but to confess our utter brokenness.
Pink, I say, maybe he stole your heart, and maybe you were his willing victim. Maybe you let him see the parts of you that weren’t all that pretty. Your vulnerability is commendable and healthy. But he’s just a guy. A guy who thinks things are fine when they aren’t. So I’d rethink that part of your lyrics, too. With every touch you fixed them? Did he, now? Maybe if your unpretty parts are nothing more than a few bent chair legs. You could hammer those straight. But what if all your furniture and your house itself was broken? Totally, utterly broken. What if you were unable to be or do anything straight or right or enough to fix it? Stay with the guy long enough, go deep enough, and you’ll find this is true of you both.
My husband used to say, “Marriage will either harden you or humble you.”
Let this love humble you, Pink. Let it do what it was meant to do.
Then I ask her if she’d like to hear just one verse from the Bible. It’s in the Old Testament, but it is echoed in the New Testament when Jesus quotes it as his explanation for why he came to earth. It describes a love that is big and loud and effective enough for any middle-of-the-night insecurities and the daylight ones as well.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)
Brokenness isn’t something to hide or minimize, no, it is what people just are. It is what marriages are. And Jesus came to heal broken people (and I would add broken marriages). Jesus never, ever says things are fine when they are not. And his love, like none other, can touch our unpretty and fix it. Fix and fix and fix, over and over and over. He doesn’t hammer us straight. His love makes us new every day and gives us a new song to sing. A brand new song.
As I finish my argument, I think of another song, one about the beauty of a long, dangerous, sure marriage between two broken people. I wouldn’t dare compare these two songs musically, because I like them both a lot. But I wonder if Pink would like to hear it? I hope she says yes.