The last song to make the cut for our first album, Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going, was the last song written. [Click the play button right above this text to listen while you read!] At the last moment, a couple months into our marriage, Eric sat down and wrote “Your Beauty”. It’s all about… well… me! Now, there is NOTHING better than someone writing you a song. Seriously, it’s got to be the most romantic gesture in the world. However, when you’re travelling around playing it in front of people all the time, it can feel somewhat intimate and embarrassing. He’s standing right next to me talking about “… the whole world at my hips.” Yikes. Especially embarrassing when playing in front of family. So, for awhile, I had a hard time putting “Your Beauty” onto our set lists. Jotting down all of the songs in my head before a show, thinking about which ones would speak to this particular audience, I selfishly resisted the idea that this particularly beautiful tune would be appropriate for… well… ANY show. It didn’t help that one time, Eric’s mom called it, “the sexy song”. Sheesh.
In the first year of marriage, it was embarrassing & oh, so intimate to stand beside my husband on stage and hear him sing about how beautiful he thinks I am. (What is wrong with me? I have a dream husband, huh?) For those of you that might know me, you might know I have a difficult time with affection. That might be putting it lightly. My best friend – an INCREDIBLY affectionate person who happy-sobbed through 99.9% of our wedding – always jokes that whenever she hugs me, I stand stiff and roll my eyes at her. (Nevertheless, she persists.) Then I went and married a French Canadian – as intimate a group of people as they come. Did you know this about French Canadians? Oh yeah. They kiss their grandparents on the lips. THE LIPS! The L’Esperances are certainly known for their outlandish affection, and my family – the English and Italian folks who tend toward the Passive over the Passionate – needless to say, we aren’t so fond of the Touchy-Feely. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about my sweet, romantic husband, but it was a tough transition for an independent only child with little experience in the Affection department. It was hard to sing the song.
Lately, though, it’s been hitting me anew. I stand next to him and listen while he sings,
Come rest in my arms,
while the world seems to crumble around us.
Let it all change, all fall away.
We’ll hold on – hold on together.
And I realize that, maybe, intimacy and closeness isn’t all about the Touchy-Feely. Sure, one day, I’ll learn to give less stony hugs. It’s probably important that I learn to share myself with those close to me without being so reserved and cold. I think that’s something I’m learning and will continue to learn in life. And when I hear those lyrics, I realize this entire song is teaching me about a bigger picture of intimacy and the problems I have with it. My tendency to not enjoy touch and affection comes from the same tendency to not let people close. To not let them journey through life with me. I’ve always felt that if I could just handle something alone, I could handle it just fine, thank you very much. Why should you be burdened with my issues? I’ll take care of it. Please don’t hug me. Please don’t help me.
I’ve found, however, the going-it-alone stance is completely contrary to healthy or successful relationships. I’ve realized more and more that in rejecting someone the chance to be there for me, I’m rejecting their love. And rejecting love is completely unloving. It shows your lack of trust and a lack of willingness to do life together. You think you’re doing someone a favor by pushing them away, but in fact, you’re saying, “I’d rather be alone.” I don’t actually think anyone would rather be alone. Not even introverts like me want to look around and see they’ve finally, truly, pushed everyone away. When the world falls apart, when things are so chaotic you feel you might break in half, you’re going to want – perhaps need – that person there who had tried for so long to get in. In fact, during the most tumultuous times in our lives – the loss of family members, changing jobs, financial difficulty, even scary things happening in the world – I’ve found that it gives me so much peace to remember that we can, in fact, hold on together.
So, I’ll play the song more. I’ll listen to Eric as he sings these words to me. I hope and pray they continue to sink in as they have in the past few years of our marriage. I hope and pray that they allow me to let him in, to let friends and loved ones in – into the uniquely beautiful experience of being me and show them I’d like them to be a part of it. And that because of his beauty, and the beauty of all of the people who love me and want to be close to me, my life will never be the same. It will be better. Fuller. Less lonely. I pray they do the same for you, too. – Ash
Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going
available on iTunes now