Going to See Paul Brandt

Last night my husband and I and my in-laws went to Paul Brandt’s Just As I Am concert. It was awesome.

For those of you who don’t know Brandt, he’s a country music singer. You’d recognize some of his songs, like Convoy or Home (my personal favourite).

What many people don’t know, though, is that Paul is also a very committed Christian. So he’s got this new album out called Just As I Am where he does his own version of old gospel hits, like I’ll Fly Away and What a Friend We Have in Jesus and How Great Thou Art. He even gives a gospel invitation. And all of the proceeds from the tour are going to help an orphanage he supports in Haiti. Really great guy.

He’s got an awesome band, and the sound was amazing. I even sat through It Is Well With My Soul, which is quite a feat for me. We played that at my son’s funeral, and for the last seventeen years, whenever that song has come on at church I’ve excused myself to go to the bathroom. It’s not that I don’t agree with the words; I just don’t particularly feel like getting emotional.

But it would have been awkward to leave last night, so I sat through it, and I did okay. I even managed to sing along a bit.

Now we live in a small town, so an event like a Paul Brandt gospel concert is a big deal. It was held in the largest church which probably seats about 1800 maybe? And before the concert I just walked around saying hi to people. It was like homecoming! Everywhere you looked was someone you knew.

Here’s the thing, though:

Earlier in the day I didn’t really want to go.

I get in this groove where I like being online. I have things to do, projects to finish, emails to answer. And when I’m finished that, I sometimes just want to veg.

I think many of us are like that. I remember one teenager that I knew well who used to go to youth group and made quite a few friends there. Every time he went he had a great time. But he stopped going because it was a hassle. He liked staying home and just playing video games. And he more or less secluded himself because it was easier. He became more and more unhappy, but his life was easier.

Getting out and doing something takes effort.

It’s so much easier to flip on the TV, or surf the web, or read a book. But those things rarely feed your soul. I’ll admit a good book is a necessity sometimes, but real memories that are shared are based in shared activities. The easy route may seem preferable, but usually leads to a mediocre life. The harder route usually brings more happiness.

I will remember that concert for years; I would not have remembered the evening if we had sat at home and watched a show and knitted a bit and answered some emails.

My husband and I shared something fun (which we shared with my in-laws, too!).

When my mother turned 70 on Monday, and I was getting ready to throw her a party, one of my biggest problems was the guest list. She simply knows so many people, and knows them well. She has a ton of friends from all different walks of life.

I talked to her about it a little while ago, and she says the reason is because she makes it a point of seeing two different people every week (and sometimes more). No matter how busy she gets, she makes it a point of seeing two friends. She’s been single for a while, and she knows she needs a wide social circle. So she makes the effort.

And her life is so much richer for it.

It got me thinking about marriage. My mom’s life is richer because she makes the effort. Yes, it would be easier to sit at home and knit (she loves knitting, too!). But it would not be as fulfilling. Her life would not be as rich. So she fights against what’s easy and she does what is actually fun.

Do we do that in our relationships?

All the problems people have in their marriages–from low libidos to a husband not helping around the house to needing forgiveness–could be solved so much more easily if people simply DID things together.

When you spend time together, doing something (like not in front of a screen), you build memories.

You build goodwill. You laugh together. And that makes it so much easier to solve the problems we do have. First, because those problems diminish in importance. And second, because with the added goodwill, it’s easier to talk about things.

So let me ask you: are you settling for the easy, or are you actually DOING things together? And what could you do? The weekend’s coming, so dream a bit. Let’s do something to build a memory and to laugh a bit. Your marriage–and your life–will be richer for it.

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