Today, after 18 years of marriage, the Chapmans still flirt like a pair of love-struck teenagers.  They hold hands, they hug, they kiss in public and, over lunch, they have the whole table in stitches as they tease each other.

Mary Beth says laughingly that the new record, All About Love (Sparrow), is really “all about her.”  Steven tries to explain the mystery of romance expressed in the album, the contradiction of love in the midst of conflict.

“There’s a fine print to these songs,” he says.  “I try to make it sound very eloquent. When you hear the words, ‘I will be here when you need to speak your mind,’ the fine print was, ‘When the plate comes flying across the room, and I’m ducking just in time for it to smash into the wall and fortunately not into me, I will do my best to learn to listen.’  Or, ‘When you feel like being quiet, even though it is absolutely killing me, I will learn, by the grace of God, to let you be quiet.’”  He stops and takes a breath.  “Even though that’s a really hard thing for me.”

To say that marriage is hard is a vast understatement.  The process of learning to truly love one another can be overwhelmingly painful.  For the Chapmans, it’s been worth it. “ This is a calling,” Steven insists fiercely.  “I get to love somebody at this level; I get to hurt that deeply.  If we run to God with the pain and run to Him with the suffering, we can watch Him be strong in us.  We cannot let that pain define us but shape us, shape our souls and our hearts.  And the shaping always enlarges our capacity to love.”

Steven brings it back again to the moments of broken desperation—moments that, like fire, have welded their hearts together.  “So many of those places can look like death,” he says.  “It can be so painful.  And they are a death of sorts.  Unless those things happen, life can’t spring up in its place.  I’m so thankful that God has been committed to [us].”  He grins as if he just figured out the secret to his and Mary Beth’s 18 years of marriage.  “When it’s all said and done, it’s all about God’s commitment to us.”

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