- Tuesday, May 31, 2005
This deepening dependency in Nichole’s life has already proved pivotal in reinforcing her most personal human relationship — her four-year-old marriage. As she begins to elaborate, she points out that people, “especially Christians,” are rarely vulnerable when it comes to discussing how tough marriage is — unless it’s in the past tense.
“It’s sort of like those litmus tests that if you have a strong marriage you must be a strong Christian,” says Nichole, who experienced her own parents’ divorce when she was 18 years old. “I don’t know where that started; I just know that even for the strongest Christian — strong meaning ‘deep roots, strong roots’ — it seems to be a topic people have a lot of trouble owning up to. And I include myself in that too.”
Reflecting on an intense crisis period that she and Errol went through “not too long ago,” she explains that the problems were “deep and painful” for each of them — deep and painful enough that neither of them “felt like staying.”
“We’re pretty private people,” Nichole says, “so it’s not like we were flying the banners, but we did complain to some people who are really close to us and say more than, “Just pray for us — we’re having a hard time.” We told the truth about some stuff we were dealing with, and nobody had any magic answers, really; there wasn’t any big mystery solution. It was just the act of telling the truth that really helped us, just to tell the truth to each other.
“And still, I’m so hesitant to wrap up the story with ‘God rode in on the white horse, sunset, saved the day,’ which He did, but I don’t know where we’ll be in six months. We could be dealing with the same junk or different junk. Maybe that’s why we hesitate to talk about it, too, because there’s never a period at the end in a marriage; there’s always a comma or a hyphen. There’s more to come.”
Later in the conversation she admits, “When we were going through that stuff, I made this ridiculous deal with God: ‘If you get me through this, if you fix this, I will write a really great song.’ But I felt like God was saying, “Don’t write a song about how faithful I am later … I’m still faithful; write that song right now.”
And write she did. The resulting track, “We Build,” voices profound commitment in the midst of dangerous hardship, taking her new album’s theme of bravery into yet more personal territory.
“I’m a leaver,” confesses Nichole. “I leave jobs I don’t like. I leave situations that make me uncomfortable. I do it with a lot of grace and, hopefully, not inappropriately, but I leave easily. Friendships, relationships … if it gets too hard, I want to get out of there. That’s not a character flaw you blow off easily in a marriage, so I had to confront leaving desires. Every time something would seem irreparably broken, I would want to head for the door. And the line in that song about ‘On any given day we could simply walk away and let someone else hold the pieces,’ that would be my son.”
Nichole’s eyes begin to well with emotion. “And it’s just not ever going to happen. I’m not ever going to let him hold those pieces because they’re not his. They’re my pieces; they’re Errol’s pieces.”
Tender conviction. She exudes it. And you can’t help but be struck by such a deeply genuine approach to both songwriting and the interview process. But how does Errol feel about having such a personal song of perseverance through marital hardship go public?
“I think Errol trusts me enough that I can talk all day long about that season for us and the story of being honest,” says Nichole. “But he trusts me enough to know that I’m not going to sit over coffee and tell you what we were dealing with. So there’s that trust that’s built in. And interestingly enough, he’s probably more of a private person than I am, if that’s possible. As it relates to any struggle that I’ve had as a Christian artist — whether it’s the grueling travel schedule, or the toll it takes on your relationship — he’s always been saying to me, ‘Why doesn’t anyone tell you about this? Don’t people talk about this? Are you the only one feeling this way?’ So he’s sort of been that voice of ‘People just need to tell the truth about this. I hope you tell the truth about this, Nichole.’ So I’m like, ‘Well, here’s your shot, buddy.’”
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