Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Songs in Season - Natasha Bedingfield "Try"

I'm not ashamed to say that the way Natasha Bedingfield wears her heart on her (album) sleeve completely resonates with me. I've heard her songs dismissed as pop-y gush, but to me they are odes to authenticity: honesty distilled into sing-along anthems.  I have several of her albums, each one with a particular song that transports me back to a really distinct season in life. 

On reflection, each phase seems characterised by some kind of longing. I listened to "Wild Horses" incessantly in my late teens when I was learning to let go of a beautiful friendship/crush and hoping for something even better from love in my future. And I listened to "Say It Again" endlessly when that love eventually caught up with me and left me speechless. It was "Love Like This" that kept me celebrating when long-distance was taking its emotional toll, and "Pirate Bones" that reinforced my principles when short-term pain threatened to eclipse long-term gain.

But the story behind "Try" is bittersweet. The first time I heard this song its lyrics inspired me to persevere and hope for the best in a situation that seemed less than ideal. Be steadfast: "if its something you love, you don't leave it / if it's something you care for you keep it". That was the message I heard on second, third, multiple listening until one day, instead of being inspirational, it started to feel like it was only highlighting the futility of holding out for the unattainable.

As much as I used to want things to be different, there are now other lines lingering in my thoughts:

"To everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3v1 

Now, instead of looking for solutions, I find myself looking for the grace to celebrate that some things are not forever. And that's okay too. The song served a great purpose in its own time, as did the situation. But maybe it's time to move on.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Modern Marriage - Red Magazine May 2013

The idea of writing to a magazine in response to something I've read
 rarely occurs to me, but I really respected the discussion Red magazine were having through Sophie Ward's article.

This was my thank you note:

To: red@redmagazine.co.uk
Subject: Modern Marriage

After reading the profiles in Sophie Ward's article, I'm writing to say thank you for such an honest and rich reflection of modern marriage. 

So much of the attention paid to marriage in the media seems to either be in celebration of the superficial, or aimed at undermining the idea altogether. It's refreshing to see the realities of marriage validated instead. It's inspiring to be reminded that there are all sorts of people in our society whose stories reflect a similarly more nuanced understanding of marriage like my own: the glories of finding true intimacy and peace with another person, the grind in the daily outworking of love through compromise, conflict and interdependence.

There's just one additional perspective I would love to have seen covered: the lifestyle I'm lucky enough to be experiencing.

At 25, I'm already approaching my third wedding anniversary - something that never fails to be an extended talking point when I meet people (particularly peers) for the first time. But my story tends to be categorised as "traditional" because our relationship is heterosexual and our decision to get married was inextricably linked to our faith.

I completely appreciate that, taken at face value, I seem to be following somewhat unthinkingly in the religious footsteps of my parents and their parents before them. But I actually consider myself privileged to live in an age where the decisions we took were made for personal reasons, completely free from the fetters of social expectation. For the first time in generations, our choices about the way we conducted our relationship in the years before we were married were made out of nothing else other than our trust towards God. Not convention, not cultural pressure, not lack of options or education. 

My husband and I are intellectual, sexual and above all - in the grand scheme of life and marriage - we're still young. We're still growing into our professional lives, our creative outlets and our place in the world. We live lives full of work and friends and appreciation for the adventures we're in a position to make the most of. Our marriage is a part of that: a big part, a bedrock. But beneath that is our understanding of the love of Jesus, the claims he makes on every aspect of our lives, and our aspiration to reflect that authentically in all the choices we make - from finances through to family-life.

And it's true - that desire to follow Jesus is as old as the hills. But there are people, like myself, learning to live and love in modern life with those values in mind.

I just wanted to give a voice to that as yet another facet of modern marriage.

Thanks again to Sophie Ward for so eloquently describing her own perspective and the views of the other couples featured. Thank you for being the kind of magazine where those kinds of thoughts can be shared. And thank you for listening as I've expressed my own.

Best wishes
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