Tegan and Sara’s masterpiece, The Con, debuted on July 24, 2007, less than a month before I said my marriage vows. Its beauty was the soundtrack of the life I’d said yes to.
Which is ironic, when you consider that the album’s opening track and one of my favorites, “I Was Married,” specifically celebrates the life I had said no to.
This song is delicate, inviting, warm; it eases you in to the pulsing of the rest of the album. The narrator faces crowds of people telling her that her marriage is evil; as Tegan and Sara are both lesbians the implications are clear.
One line resonates to this day in my heart: “Try to control the pull of one magnet/ to another/ magnet.” They declare their love as natural, unstoppable, as magnetism, and I believed them. I had felt that pull many times myself. My attraction to other women sprang up from within me, springs up from within me. It does feel like a magnet.
The joys, the stresses, and the awkwardness of my early marriage were a spiritual journey for me. Those days existed against many backgrounds of my early adulthood, but most starkly against the questions of Tegan and Sara, and the call to trust issued to me by my God. I can’t adequately say how many lines of this album felt shockingly personal.
One track on the album, “Back in Your Head” includes some lines that haunted me. They sing, “I’m not unfaithful but I’ll stray/when I get a little scared.” What they referenced was a romantic relationship, but what primarily worried me was my faithfulness to God. Hadn’t I committed adultery before, God my husband, when I got a little scared, when I got unsettled? Indeed, I had. There had been numerous times after giving my life to Christ that I had run back to the perceived joy, safety, of other women.
Would I be able to stop it in the future, now that he had given me a human husband as well? What would preserve me from double infidelity?
“Burn Your Life Down” also felt ominous, even as I couldn’t stop playing it. How often had I felt the car crash they spoke of, “I drive around the block and I'm not looking to my right/I feel the glass against my cheek and I can't see you in the light/I break my heart around it, break my heart around it.” I had been surprised enough times by my own sins, I had lost sight of Jesus in the destruction caused by my choices. I had broken my own heart.
“Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” 1 John 3:20. I didn’t have answers to the questions. What I had was a living God. My heart was accusing me, pressing me, but again and again I returned to Jesus who loved not some future better version of me, but the me sitting in questions and fear. He knows everything, and he is great. He overcame death and sin and shame. I could trust him; he called me into marriage and he would provide day by day.
I’m listening to The Con as I write; the album is ending as she says “I’ll start/ to wonder/ if this was the thing to do.” After ten years, both The Con and my marriage have weathered well. The first because of excellent production and musicality, the second by the grace and kindness of God. I don’t wonder anymore if trusting God over myself is the thing to do, he has proven himself more beautiful than the life I would have made, and he has the power to sustain me.