Between the Dreaming and the Coming True
About the Guest
On the broadcast today, contemporary Christian recording artist and composer, Bebo Norman, tells FamilyLife president Dennis Rainey how he met and married his beautiful wife, who, he now admits, "Isn't the type of woman I thought I'd marry, but is exactly what I need."
Bebo NormanSinger-songwriter Bebo Norman has been applauded for laying it all on the table. Lyrically transparent and musically vulnerable, Norman’s music provides a common ground for the songwriter and the listener to collaborate in a discourse on life’s curious details, and how those day-to-day unknowns play in the greater mystery of faith.
Bebo Norman tells how he met and married his beautiful wife.
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True
Bob: Singer/Songwriter Bebo Norman was thinking about getting married, but he was asking the question everyone asks – how do you know if this is the right one for you? His brother told him it's more about who you choose to love than about how you feel. Here's Bebo.
Bebo: What it comes down to is very simple in a lot of ways. It comes down to really simple things, and when I realized that and kind of recognized that, it's like my brother told me, he said, you know, love is a beautiful, rich emotion, but it is equally, without question, a beautiful, rich decision to say I'm going to decide that this is going to be the woman that I'm committing to for the rest of my life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 4th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear today from Bebo Norman and hear about some of the adjustments that have been required for his young marriage to flourish.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I was on Bebo Norman's website recently, and I was looking through the FAQ section, you know, the frequently asked questions. You know what, like, number three was? Is Bebo still single? I mean, I'm going, "This is pathetic." You know, about three years ago Bebo Norman broke the hearts of millions of American women …
Bebo: No, only the confused American women who didn't know me.
Bob: Bebo Norman is joining us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Bebo: Glad to be here, thank you.
Bob: Tell us the story of how you met your wife and how this marriage of three years came to be.
Bob: Yes, she moved to Nashville to finish school at Belmont University, and we moved to Nashville almost at the exact same time. I had been playing music for several years independently and lived in North Carolina for part of that and back down in Georgia, where I grew up, for part of that. And kind of in the mix of realizing that in my life I needed community, and I, at the time, was living in my – my family has a little river cabin in Georgia, so I was becoming this hermit of a man who would go out and be on the road with people that I didn't know very well all the time, and then I would go home and just – in complete solitude.
So I moved to Nashville for the sake of community, ironically enough, and for the sake of a church that I found there that I really loved, and in the long run met my wife. Actually, right away, I met my wife. She moved into town to work for my manager at the time and to finish school at Belmont University, and we were friends for several years before we ever started dating. In fact, she, like, Amy, she did not buy my game at all.
Bob: She wasn't into you?
Bebo: She did not buy my game.
Dennis: So how did you get over your fear of commitment? I mean, did she so sweep you off your feet that …
Bob: You know, in a lot of ways, yes. But I think the irony of that is that she is nothing – like, if you would have asked me to define or describe who I thought I'd be married to, it would not have been my wife. I probably would have picked someone based on what I thought I needed rather than what I actually needed. The beauty of who my wife is, and while she did actually sweep me off my feet, is that she told me what she thought, and she told me what she thought right away, and she didn't mix words with it. But she still did it absolutely as we began to fall in love with each other, she did it completely – I knew she was crazy about me, but she told me exactly what she thought, and if I would have had what I would have imagined, I feel like the nature of my personality being a fairly strong personality – I feel like it would have fit right into my tendency to manipulate things, to want to be in control of things, and to sort of dominate relationship, and I think the gift of most of the people who have really affected me in my life have been – they are the people that – they don't think much of me in terms of the outward whatever. They think the world of me in terms of the way they love me.
Bob: They love you enough to tell you the truth.
Bebo: Absolutely, and they tell me regularly, and that's beautiful.
Dennis: A songwriter, performer, I mean, you're the ultimate romantic kind of guy, have to be. So how did you propose? I mean, was it a pre-produced show?
Bebo: Well, it was well thought out, for sure, but the truth is my wife loves the ocean. She great up on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland – on an island on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and we were actually on a little island in South Carolina, on the coast of South Carolina, and – with my family, and I'd thought through this whole thing. First of all, I'd gotten the ring, and then it scared me to death, and I thought, "I'm not getting married," and so I decided I wasn't, and the next day I was, like, "Okay, yes, I am." So I went through my journal, and I highlighted kind of all these things – these moments in our life – our first kiss, all those kind of things, and we were sitting on the balcony at the beach, and we had been talking about the possibility of marriage, but we had decided that because of my schedule, literally, and because of a couple of our family events, we could not get married for another year.
Well, I had talked to my family and a couple of people in hers, and found out that we could get married three months later, if we wanted to, on Thanksgiving weekend. It was the only time we could get married. And so she was completely caught off guard, but I started reading through these journal entries and reading through the story of us, basically, and at the very end I'd had her read a couple of these. I said, "You need to read these, and just read the highlighted parts," or whatever, and she read through the highlighted parts, and she turned the page and read this highlighted part, and it said, "You know, the funny thing is, I think that we can get married on Thanksgiving weekend, and Roshare doesn't know that yet, so I'm thinking I'm going to ask her to marry me," and during that time I pulled the ring out and asked her to marry me right after that, and she was shocked and started crying and said "Yes," and all those good things.
So no songs, nothing like that, nothing crazy, but this is the beauty of my wife – if I would have sung a song to my wife, she probably would have said no, because she's just like, "Listen, I don't want that hopeless romantic stuff, I want real life," so it was a beautifully romantic thing for us.
Bob: When was the point that two years in when you said "This is different," and how did you know?
Bebo: I have so many good real relationships, rich and deep, accountability sort of mentor relationships even with men, with friends in my life, and there are probably three or four or five guys that if I'm in a place where I can't figure something out and really am struggling and stuck, they are the first people that I speak with, and a couple of those men actually married – they performed the ceremony for my wife – two dear friends of mine. And I talked to both of them, and they both encouraged me – my tendency is to – I will pick things apart ad nauseam, it's ridiculous. That's just the nature of my brain.
Bebo: Exactly, I mean, hyper-analytical. One friend of mine asked me these questions – he just said, "Does she love Jesus?" And I said "Absolutely," and he said, "Does she bring out the best in you?" And I said, "For sure, I'm learning things about me that I never knew existed." And he said, "Does she bring out the worst in you?" And I said, "Absolutely, I'm learning things about me that I never knew existed," and he said, "Does she love you?" And I said, "She's crazy about me." And he said, "You know all you need to know."
Bob: So if you were talking to a single guy who has been dating a girl for a couple of years, you'd look at him and say, "Does she love Jesus?" "Does she bring out the best in you?" "Does she bring out the worst in you?" And then go, man, go.
Bebo: I would say fish or cut bait right now. If you've been dating somebody for two or three years, and you're in your mid-20s, you've either got to make a decision to end it or move forward with it. Because there's – I don't know, I've had a lot of friends of mine who have dated for these long, long periods of time, and that's not necessarily bad, but when you're an adult, when you're a grown person, you've got to realize that if you're that deep into a relationship, and you're still afraid of committing to it, then there's something happening there. Either you're afraid to commit to it, or it's not right.
Dennis: And I think, Bebo, we have a generation of single people who have come out of this culture of divorce who have good reason to be afraid.
Dennis: That emotion of fear is not a bad thing, but when it controls a single person and leaves him or her in paralysis and usually it's the male species. We're the ones who are most susceptible to fear. 1 John, chapter 4, verse 19 is a great verse – "There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out all fear." And when Barbara and I started dating, I wasn't 30, but I was in my mid-20s, and I was beginning to develop my own fear list, you know, fear of commitment. But her love began the process of casting out fear. But it's still a journey of faith, and God calls us to step out of our comfort zone, and you said it well a little earlier. There is really no safety in relationships other than the covenant, the marriage covenant.
Dennis: But if a single person has seen those things shredded, as they have in this culture of divorce, then even that doesn't feel safe. But marriage is and can be a very safe relationship where two imperfect people learn how to love one another with God's perfect love.
Bebo: Absolutely. And you know what? It's interesting that you brought up fear, because if you boil down for me all those things through my 20s and the whole being good at single, being bad at relationships, pretty much what I have been driven by in my life or what I was driven by for a lot of years in my life and what probably fed the loneliness, what probably fed the struggles with depression, even, at times, it all – whatever the outward manifestation was, it came down to fear almost every single time.
And, like you said, perfect love and fear do no coexist, and as I began to understand that from a God perspective, it began to make me understand that from a human relationship perspective.
Bob: You know who Al Mohler is – the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky?
Bebo: Right. Right, right, right.
Bob: He made the statement that he thinks a lot of young men today in the culture are postponing marriage because they don't want to grow up.
Bebo: You know what? I absolutely believe that. In fact, there's a line in a song off my life CD called "Try." It's about my relationship – me falling in love with my wife, and one of the lines in the song is "I'm afraid to grow up." I was afraid to grow up because I was afraid of what that was going to mean in terms of relationship, but I was afraid of what it was going to mean in terms of what I would have to give up. All these excuses in the world, but they are all ultimately about fear.
Bob: So have you grown up?
Bebo: You know, I think I'm growing up. I don't know that I'll ever be completely grown up. I know most of the people in my life that I love dearly will always say that they're in process, you know? And the people that I respect the most are in process. Again, my father, who is my hero in a lot of ways, is a 64-year-old man who is in process and loves the Lord dearly, and I hope I'll be a 64-year-old man in process.
Dennis: Let's talk about your dad for a second.
Dennis: He's your hero?
Bebo: He is, he is.
Dennis: In what way?
Bebo: I think he's one of the best human beings I've ever known. Don't get me wrong, he is as flawed as the next man, but I think, to watch my father, who – and he would probably say this as well – he was really strict, and he was never an overbearing disciplinarian, but he could look at you a certain way, and you knew that was the discipline in a lot of ways in my father, you know? And his eyes got real big, and it was time to stop whatever it was I was doing. But I think he would probably say now, looking back, he was operating out of fear. He didn't want anything to happen to us. He was afraid of us living life because he didn't want us to be hurt by it and whatever.
Dennis: Bebo, you've written how many songs? Do you have any idea?
Bebo: No – a lot. I mean lots that I'd never play for anybody. More than I'd never play for anybody than I –
Dennis: Right, well, I know that you work well with the canvas of paper in terms of lyrics and music and sometimes the songs have come instantly …
Dennis: Right? Just flowed, right?
Bebo: Without question.
Dennis: And others have come about almost like through childbirth, labor, hard labor.
Bebo: Right, exactly.
Dennis: I have an assignment for you right here.
Bebo: What you got?
Dennis: We're going to try and see how you'll do – not writing a song but writing a tribute to your dad.
Bebo: Oh, wow.
Dennis: And what I'd like to do is seat your dad where Bob is currently seated and just let you summarize his life, a couple of memories, maybe, that stand out, and what you learned from him and give him a tribute and honor him.
Bebo: I don't know how artistic I will be with it. But, Dad, I would, without question, thank you for being a man who is not afraid to be a man but also not afraid to be transparent as a man. I would thank you for taking me outdoors as a child, for cultivating my relationship with you and with my brother, the three of us, our time together. I would thank you for the pictures that you created for me as a child playing your guitar and singing me songs about our pets and singing songs about the day that we just spent together, making them up on the spot. I want to thank you for the fact that you weren't a great guitar player or a great singer but a great lover of God and absolutely of the people that God has put in your life, whether it's through your business, sitting across the desk from someone, or sitting across a dining room table from someone. I thank you for the fact that you let me be a part of your story in a verbal and relational way and for instilling in me an ability to let life be what life is; to live life and to soak it in and store it away and draw from it. And I would thank you more than anything else, I think, for being a picture of who Jesus is to me; for serving me before you served yourself, and something that I didn't understand for a long, long time, and for serving me the best way you knew how in whatever season you happened to be in. I thank you for being the man you are right now, as a 64-year-old man who is still in process.
Dennis: As I was listening to you, I'm not a 64-year-old dad, but I'm in that season where my adult children are making those connections, I think, in our lives as a mom and a dad, and I think we underestimate how much our children watch us and how much they are transfixed upon our lives and still gather and glean and learn from us. I appreciate your ministry of music, Bebo, and really trust you'll continue to press hard into the tough lessons of life as you already have, and love that wife of yours and those close handful of friends that are in your life who will speak the truth to you, because you never know how God can use you over the long haul. It really is an adventure to see how Jesus Christ unravels this thing called life.
Bob: You know, one of the things we didn't tell you ahead of time is when you've been a guest on FamilyLife Today, if we ever hear that you're messing up in your marriage, we come kick your tail.
Bebo: Good. Come on, come on, bring it, I'm not afraid.
Bob: So I'm just telling you, we will show up at your door …
Bebo: And I will welcome it. I probably won't if that was happening …
Bob: No, but we will.
Bebo: Yeah, exactly, and the good thing is, you'll be one of about four or five other people.
Dennis: We'll have to stand in line – just take a number?
Bebo: Exactly, exactly.
Bob: Let me ask you – on your new CD, you are promoting what I would say is a somewhat heterodox view of the Sabbath. You have a …
Bebo: I'm not sure if I know what a heterodox is.
Bob: It's not unorthodox, it's just a little – heterodox. You can look that up in the dictionary.
Bebo: You know, I am a little bit, aren't I?
Dennis: I know where you're going, Bob.
Bebo: I think I do, too, actually.
Bob: Do you want to tell us what you think the Sabbath ought to be given to?
Bebo: You're talking about the song, "Sunday" aren't you?
Bebo: Yeah, yeah.
Bob: Which you decided to call "Sunday" rather than …
Bebo: "Kissin' on a Sunday."
Dennis: You're acting embarrassed.
Bebo: Well, you know, it's one of those moments where that's me and my wife's – it's a little snapshot of my wife and I, and we're talking about it right now. But I did put it on a record, so I …
Bob: Yeah, you did, you did.
Bebo: You know what? That's actually – it ends up – it's so funny, that song – I actually wrote it with a buddy of mine who is also in a beautiful marriage and has a little three-year-old kid, and the irony of that is that he and I – we may have even written it on a Sunday, I'm not sure, but it was just he and I.
Bob: Talking about kissing on a Sunday.
Bebo: Exactly, it's just a little [inaudible]. But my – we were down at my little river cabin in Georgia, and we wrote that song, and I struggled with where to put it on the record, I really did, because for people that don't know, it's just a – it's a love song, it's about love being an island, you know, period. And that song in and of itself is an island on this record, because there's no lighter moment on the record than in that song. Every song is about hope, ultimately, on the record, but it's about hope played out on this backdrop of a desperate world and a difficult world, and that song is just that moment where you have a little tinge of the fact that the world is going on outside somewhere, but that moment where you're frozen in time with someone that you love dearly on the Sabbath, even, and that's not work, is it? That's not work.
Bob: No, not for me, baby, not for me.
Bebo: Not for me, either.
Bob: We're going to play for our listeners just a portion of the song, "Sunday."
Dennis: I wanted to say something to you, Bebo, just to affirm your – not that you needed the affirmation, but your gift of music, I just did a little Scripture search on it, and music was used to celebrate victories, to consecrate the temple at the coronation of kings, to commemorate great men; it was used at dances and funeral ceremonies, at religious feasts, and there are all kinds of instruments in the Scriptures that are used – cymbals, harps, trumpets, cornets, flutes, but no guitar. What does it feel like …
Bob: Nothing about fake fingernails.
Bebo: Exactly, for sure.
Dennis: We're going to hold you to coming back and playing on FamilyLife Today.
Bebo: I will, and that's why I didn't play the guitar today because it's not part of Scripture. That's really why. There it is, exactly. Hold me to it, I'll come back and play, I promise.
Dennis: Thanks for being on FamilyLife.
Bebo: Thank you, it was a pleasure.
Bob: It may be a while before you are back. Any of our listeners who want to continue to enjoy your music, your new CD comes out on the 19th, I think, September 19th. We are taking advance orders for it here at FamilyLife. We're going to have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center and as soon as we can get it shipped to you, we'll do that. All you have to do is go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click on the "Go" button you see in the middle of the screen. That will take you right to a page where you can get more information about the new CD, which is called "Between the Dreaming and the Coming True" from Bebo Norman. You can order online, if you'd like, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.
And there's a book that we'd like to suggest to you as well, especially if you are, today, as Bebo was three years ago, if you are single. Andrew Farmer has written a great book called "The Rich Single Life," which takes a biblical look at how you can be purposeful and contented and deal with some of the challenges and yet embrace some of the joys of the single life as a Christian.
If you're interested in getting Bebo's CD and the book, "The Rich Single Life," we'll send the CD of our interview with Bebo along at no additional cost, and we'll pay for the shipping, too. So, again, go to the website, FamilyLife.com, click on the "Go" button, find the information you need there, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and even though it's a holiday here in the United States, we've still got folks who can take your call and answer any questions you have.
Again, our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY and, again, our website is always available at FamilyLife.com.
Well, tomorrow we want to introduce you to Ginger Kolbaba, who is going to be our guest. She met and fell in love with a man who was older than she was and who had been previously married. They dated for six years, and she faced a difficult decision as she thought and prayed – is this the man God would have me marry? We'll talk to her about that and about some of the surprises she experienced in remarriage. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Kenny Farris, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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