Today was a perfect example of how being married to Jimmy makes my life weird.
We showed up at Panera bread this afternoon to meet with a pastor in our area for the very first time. We had just sat down when a stranger walked up and asked, “Excuse me, but are you Jimmy Needham?” After Jimmy signed a sheet of notebook paper for her, we exchanged a few cordial introductions then returned to our conversation. I am very grateful for that girl today and her support of Jimmy and his music but again, these are the things just make our life… weird.
Most of you reading this are probably already familiar with my husband and his music. For those of you who have no idea who he is and wonder why you should, I am glad you are here! Honestly, he is just a normal guy like any other. But to most people he is Jimmy Needham. He is a Christian singer/songwriter and recording artist with Inpop records. He is played on radio stations across the country and in many other countries as well!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my husband and I am thrilled to be married to him and absolutely love supporting him in his calling as a singer/songwriter/recording artist. But the truth is, that because of what he does, our life is different.
Jimmy’s growing fame was originally a source of great insecurity and frustration for me. When we got married, all our friends and family knew me for me: my personality, my strengths and weakness, my love for Jesus. But when we were on the road, people only knew me for one thing: I was married to Jimmy.
“Ooohhh, you’re Jimmy’s wife!” “You are so lucky to be married to Jimmy Needham!” “Oh my gosh, your husband is just so cute!” Jimmy’s fans had no other way to identify me than with him. I was Mrs. Needham. Not Kelly, the Jesus-lover, the classical music listener, the competitive board game player. Just Jimmy’s wife. Unfortunately, being around all these Jimmy-centered comments caused me to begin to define myself by my husband. And thus my insecurity was birthed. Jesus was a solid place for my identity to rest. It wasn’t threatened there. But when my identity rested on my husband, it was very very shaky.
It was through these experiences that God showed me I had put my hope in the wrong place. And still, every time I am on the road with Jimmy, it causes me to check my heart. Within moments of arriving at the venue, I am immediately aware of where my hope has been. If I am filled with insecurities, I know that I have some work to do in my heart. If my confidence doesn’t waver, I know that my trust is in the right place.
Another major area affected by Jimmy’s chosen career path is my life at home. Jimmy is on the road anywhere from 2-5 days a week on average. This means that on those days he is gone, I live as a single mom for the most part. I take care of our house, our meals, our shopping, our daughter, and our dog by myself. I wake up alone and go to bed alone and often go to church alone. Even though these days are often exhausting, I am so grateful for this aspect of my life.
Why would I be grateful, you might ask? Every time Jimmy goes on the road, I sense God asking me: “Am I still enough for you?” Through all my days of singleness I often confessed that Jesus alone was all I needed and these days of aloneness remind me this is still true. And what a wonderful thing to be reminded of! Jesus is truly all I need. He is enough for me! On these days, any dependence I have put on my husband gets worked out of my heart and put back on Jesus. Consequently, I often have sweet times of prayer and worship and study in the Word on these days alone.
Another reason I am grateful for Jimmy’s travel is that I get to look forward to him coming home! Though a life of routine and him being home every night would be really nice, I think it could also become boring. On a weekly basis, I get the privilege of anticipating my husband’s arrival and finding new ways to welcome him home. This has brought a joy and a spark of freshness in our marriage that I am so glad for!
Honestly, the hardest part about Jimmy traveling is that it causes me to be alone. Not lonely. Just literally alone. And God created us for community with other people. It is good for us. So I have found that I have to be very very intentional about getting together with people. I try to find at least one friend to see each day. If that doesn’t work, I make sure that I get out of the house once a day, even if it is to just walk around Target with Lively just for fun (thought I can’t bring my wallet or I will find something that I “need.”)
Overall, I am so incredibly grateful for the life God has allowed me to have. I could complain… about the time I have to spend alone, the lack of attention I get on the road, the absence of routine. But complaining is pretty unfulfilling (not to mention a sin, phil 2:14, 1 thess 5:18). The very things that are hard about my life are what make me need Jesus more, which brings me to my main point: And anything that makes me need God more is a blessing! It is better to have a challenging life that pushes me closer to Christ, than a comfortable one that allows me to become complacent in my walk with Him. So I am incredibly grateful.
Not to mention that my husband is the only man I’ve ever found that loves to talk about Jesus as much as me! He is more God-centered and more determined to seek Him than anyone I have ever met. How grateful I am to be his wife!
PS, I thought this might be an opportune time to share a few things NOT to say to an artist’s wife. Though these comments don’t affect me quite as much as they used to, there are better ways to say what you mean than this. And yes, I have heard every one of these statements… a lot.
“You are so lucky to be married to Jimmy Needham!” What this communicates is that I don’t really have that much value in our marriage. What you mean to say is that you really value what he does and who he is. So instead say this: “I really appreciate the ministry of your husband! He is a gifted songwriter and a great performer!”
“You’re husband is so cute/hot/attractive!” First of all, I am usually shocked by this comment. This communicates that you have a physical interest in my husband which is not good on any level. It is a form of the sin of lust for you and puts me on the defense as his wife immediately. While I agree with these comments and it is ok to acknowledge someone is good looking, I am his wife! Just don’t say this at all please. Thank you. =)
“I bet he sings you songs every night and writes you poetry, etc.” This communicates that because I am married to Jimmy, our marriage must be like something out of the movies. By the nature of what Jimmy does, you have just seen him and I at our best, so it may be natural to think we live some kind of dreamy life. But we are normal people with a pretty normal life (beside what I have mentioned in this post). So a comment like this can make me feel bad for our non-dreamy marriage. If you are interested in our life at home just ask. Something like this would be better: “Does Jimmy sing a lot at home? Does he ever sing to you just for fun?” Slight change, but makes a huge difference.
A few things that people have said to me that I really appreciate:
“Thank you for your sacrifice in letting Jimmy travel and minister through his music. It has made a huge difference in my life.” I am always grateful when someone realizes the difference that was made in their life through Jimmy’s music is partly due to the fact that I am supporting/encouraging/praying for him from home. These kinds of comments give me fuel and purpose to get through the hard days.
“Tell me a little bit about you. I heard you play violin?” Any time I am asked about me for me that is wonderful. I am so used to others being interested in me because of Jimmy that it is a treat when someone is interested in me.
“How can I pray for you and Jimmy?” This is always great because we always need prayer and are always grateful when someone offers to support us in this way!
Hopefully these things can help you be a blessing to any other artist’s wives you meet or interact with on the web.
Today was a perfect example of how being married to Jimmy makes my life weird.