(Photo courtesy of Integrity Music)
A Look in the Mirror
An Interview With Seth and Nirva Ready on Life, Love, and Lessons Learned
By Sarah Komisky
When it comes to my favorite couples, husband and wife duo Seth and Nirva Ready are at the top of my list. While both are talented, interesting, have a genuine love for one another and are just plain likeable, the thing that caught my attention was their diversity that they have clearly embraced and celebrated together. Having had successful careers as background vocalists for top Christian artists like TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, and Kirk Franklin, the two joined forces first in marriage and then in music releasing their first EP entitled, I Need You in 2014. Combining their own individual styles to create their own unique blend of gospel, r&b and pop, they released Never Alone in 2016. Embracing their differences in personality and in ethnicity, made their marriage stronger and the decision to do ministry together has made their relationship even more special.
Super excited to feature Seth and Nirva as our Showcase interview for our June Wedding Issue, we at Marked Ministry had to ask about their marriage. Getting real, the couple shared their thoughts on God, each other and life as they have looked into the mirror of each other. Here is what they had to say.
Sarah: Can you share a little bit on how you met and share that story?
Seth: We’ve done this before and we have a couple of different versions, but I’ll give you the true version which is my version [Sarah and Nirva laugh]. Basically, we met traveling on the road the first time was at a Billy Graham crusade, backstage. I was singing with the gospel artist Kirk Franklin and Nirva was singing with TobyMac. It was a quick ‘hi, my name is’ meeting. We met again at another concert at the House of Blues with TobyMac and had another quick meeting. Unfortunately, Nirva doesn’t remember meeting me during any of those times. We did meet nonetheless and it is hard not to say I made a big impression on her [laughs]. A mutual friend hired us to sing background for him and that is when we became friends, and really good friends; so much so that she didn’t want to change from being friends to anything else but I finally wore her down over time and we started dating and got engaged and married and we’re coming up now on eleven years.
Sarah: Wow. Awesome, congratulations that’s huge. I love that story. So you touched a little bit on friendship and I guess in our culture it’s so easy to bypass that whole stage of being friends and just jump into romance and all that stuff. Talking about that a little bit, how important is friendship in a relationship?
Nirva: It’s huge, and at times it is everything. I remember a mentor of mine pouring into me, just telling me that the strength you have as a single person that you take that into a marriage and a relationship. I think it takes a lot to get to know a person and for that person to drop their guard and just really know who they really are, takes time and trust. When you’re getting to know someone its takes a lot of honesty, a lot of self-control, a lot of Christ-likeness and you just take that into the relationship. So the cool thing about when Seth and I met we were working together and had really, really fun talks and really got to know one another outside the pressure of trying to put your best foot forward and showing the best side of you. That’s the thing that has made our relationship strong. We had a chance to get to know one another at a basic level with no pressure, the good, the real, honest and I think that is always a great foundation for a marriage relationship.
Sarah: Yeah that’s great, I think that is so key because it’s not really emphasized as much. Again, we kind of just bypass that in our world today and as you said it’s so important and key to having a good relationship, so I think that’s great.
Seth: I will just add that we’re getting to the age where we’re seeing our friend’s marriages who got married around the same time. It’s interesting because the ones where they did have a good friendship tend to have good marriages and the ones that don’t are either crumbling or just having a really tough time. So even though I joke, man she really put me in the friend-zone [Nirva laughs], I’m thankful for that because honestly we’ve had a really good marriage and a blessed time together and that’s definitely a big part of our relationship. We are good friends because life gets hard, romance goes up and down. I think it’s in Proverbs where it says ‘charm is deceitful and beauty can be vain,’ and not that Nirva’s beauty is fading because she gets more beautiful each year.
Seth: Sometimes in the initial attraction that can lessen in degree, it’s those times were your connection in Christ and your friendship is what makes it rich and enables you to continue to flourish in marriage.
Sarah: Thank you for adding that, because that was great. Kind of talking about your album, I got the chance to hear it, I loved it, and it’s so fun. There are danceable type of songs and others where I was just worshipping and so it was very unique and at the center of it was worship. What has the experience been like being able to worship together, serve together as a couple? Maybe you can talk a little bit about that?
Nirva: It’s a rich experience. When Christ is at the center, of a relationship and He nurtures that, you really, really pour into that and then you get to do that and travel together and do ministry together, it just really makes it rich. At the same time it definitely tests. Aside from that, we are who we are on stage as well as home and there’s no faking it. We’re like a mirror, it’s a good accountability and added accountability. Because there are times when life gets crazy and we travel a lot and there’s times where we don’t spend time with the Lord individually. So when those moments come, we know what to do. And it’s a great reminder that He is at the center and that is the part that touches me the most.
Seth: First of all thank you for your comments on the album, we really appreciate that. It does capture who we are, we do have fun. There is even a discipline called the discipline of celebration, Mr. Richard Foster’s book on the spiritual disciplines, so we like to celebrate and enjoy God and it also means that we like to recognize that there are times to celebrate, times to be pensive, times to pray, times to even mourn. And we felt like the album allowed us to capture all those powerful emotions. That was a fun process and we enjoyed it very much. And as far as getting to do that together, I think what Nirva said was good, neither one of us can get away with faking it with each other [Sarah and Seth laugh]. We know each other inside and out, were around each other all the time and there is no coming and putting anything on. It’s a good mirror to have of getting to do ministry together, we try to exhort each other and challenge on each other to walk with Christ in a deep way daily really. Even today, we’ve had a spiritual discussion with all that’s going on this week [reference to Manchester Attack] and around the world we were kind of challeng each other and build each other up in our faith. I think it is good, fun and also challenging, but I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. I think with Nirva, she’s just has a good way on calling me on stuff and pushing me towards really seeking God. Sorry, I’m rambling you can just take any piece of this that works.
Sarah: No it’s good!
Seth: I think one of our biggest fears is that it’s allowed ourselves to get to that point where we do stuff on stage that doesn’t matter in our daily lives. We have been trying to make it a point to develop our prayer lives at home together. Individually, and at times of worship when we are connecting with God outside of the platform as well, we will only ever have anything to give if we’re thrown into the spirit daily so we just want to be disciplined in our study, in our prayer, and worship time and if we have that, then we will have something to give that will hopefully splash on other people and encourage them to do the same thing.
Sarah: Amen, I think that is a key point what you just said and it kind of brings me to my next question. I love you guys, I was looking at your website and thinking, “They seem like such a cool couple that I would love to hang out with.”
Seth and Nirva: [laugh]
Sarah: I know that every marriage is not perfect, there are two human beings there that are sinners and I just want to be real with our readers and ask, what are some of the struggles that you guys want to share that you have had in your marriage and how did you overcome them?
Nirva: Ohh that’s a great question. Let’s see, as Seth was sharing, one of the things that we hit on early on in marriage, was our wiring was different. Seth is very much a thinker and I’m very much a feeler, and so that was challenging but we used to it really help each other grow. When we were dating and even when we got married, there were times when I would really, really let my feelings lead me and Seth brought into my life the importance of just knowing what to believe and being able to articulate it (the whole discipleship and apologetics and he has a passion for that). And I reminded him that it is important to have feelings and to acknowledge them and to really use those for the glory of God as well. Other challenges we’ve had in marriage have been family challenges, one big thing we did not realize that God would use in our future was the differences in our ethnic background and coming together, God using that in great ways in both of our families as well in ministry opportunities. We had no idea that eleven years down the road that would be a huge thing that we would share. But normal irritation like the temperature, he likes it really cold, I like it lukewarm, places on where to eat and dine, at basic level we give into it. Any human being can be selfish to put yourself first so we work on that and we do study together, we do read books on marriage and we really enjoy learning and growing together. Just a quote, I like to use, a gentleman named Allen Boone he was the professor at the University of Chicago said something like, “America will learn to love when she loves to learn again.” And love takes a learning growing and I think you enroll in the school of the university of your spouse, when you get married, it is a lifelong journey and process of just really understanding the wiring of the other person and how different they are from you. But you chose to try to understand as well as be understood. You have a better chance at marriage.
Sarah: That’s a great quote what you just said, the university of learning your spouse. What is your perspective Seth?
Seth: Yea I think what Nirva said that everyone comes into marriage at different backgrounds and different expectations, different values and so it’s challenging. I think even the first few years of marriage, we were on different spiritual wavelengths we enjoyed types of stuff. I more wanted to read a deep book and she would only want to sit and watch TV and we had a hard time connecting in that way at first honestly. But I think somewhere around year, three or four, God really did bring us together and we have learned from each other. Like she said, I was learning to be okay with having feelings. And she was learning more about the Christian worldview and why we have to be careful with our theology and that kind of thing. I think we both taught each other in that process and that was a beautiful coming together in that way. I think we’re still learning, Nirva hit on this a little bit, as fallen human beings we all have a tendency towards selfishness and being self-focus and that just gets expressed in different ways. Going back to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, I’m called to lay down my life for her do and I got to do that like daily in the small ways. And you focus on doing that in the small ways, like, you know I have to cultivate a spiritual purity even when with what I look on the internet, just being real careful as a guy. And we did young adult, we did 20-something ministry for three and a half years and with the young girls in ministry just being super cautious, not being along, not developing emotional attachments, all that. Like, it’s the every day, in and out discipline of that and then when you flip it in to each other and when you pray for each other and have an understanding when you cut things off at the small level, then I think the big picture stays healthy. Like with Nirva, she’s been traveling for years on the TobyMac Diverse City band where she is the only female she keeps herself above reproach in the Lord and doesn’t allow herself to develop unhealthy attachments. We’ve seen marriages be destroyed by those small things and it just get to a point where we are no longer able to love like we’re called to because they have allowed that stuff to affect their soul so much. Just to sum up, it’s just the small every day decisions to die to yourself that you f those challenges like every other couples, we are living in a world that caters to making us self obsessed and caters to making us people who are slaves to our desires, and we need to learn to die to ourselves.
Sarah: Let’s talk a little bit about that, bringing it back to the subject of purity. What would you say to our readers because again this magazine is all about that, how can we walk in purity and in our culture that is so against that. What’s a word that you would say on that subject?
Nirva: It’s definitely against the flow of culture to walk in purity today. I would say to readers that culture is becoming increasingly more and more sensual, more about the desires and less godly in an a way that will put you on guard on the offense instead of being sucked in or joined in by the culture. I would also say, that I’ve heard statistics about the decline in biblical understanding and biblical studies, I would say draw close to the Lord on that and really read into it, don’t take it for granted because its good and good wisdom there. I’d say Scripture. Taking up your cross is huge because we do have desires and if we are not careful, we become self-entitled; ‘I want what I want when I want’ and that is just not the way of Christ. I would say to all young culture and old culture that we have to be on guard, we have to watch, we have to make wise choices, we have to follow Christ if you’ve made that commitment, there are ways to do life by following Him and do it well and that takes a sacrifice. Sometimes we have to not watch certain things on TV, if that’s your weakness, to not hang out with certain crowds and it can be lonely but in your soul you will be so grateful for it because there is a way that this life can lead to destruction. We have to know the enemy and how he has flooded culture where sensuality is on the throne, so we have to be teachers of Christ.
Sarah: We’ve talked a lot about marriage, but I also want to talk to the single people out there, they are going to be reading this too. So now that you guys are in a different season, what would you say to the single people out there?
Nirva: I would say yes it’s tough. Waiting on the Lord there is a grace that comes that I think the aim and the goal is not necessarily wanting to get what you want but becoming more like Christ. I just remember those nights where when Valentine’s Day would come around I would sob into my pillow. But now that I am here, I get it. I think that I would tell single people to spend your time instead of focusing so much on it. I would say focus on how can I really impact the kingdom where I am right now and how can I spend my time and energy really using my gifts, talents, time and resources to the glory of God while I’m waiting. And just pray. Pray for strength, pray for grace, we live in a crazy time, so it doesn’t take a whole lot to know that the pressure is on right now. But God has given us everything we need right now and there are great churches, great small groups, there is community, there is alone time with the Lord, but you can really get that intimacy we desire from our Creator, He really has a good plan for you. So I pray that we really fight and press and stay strong at the same time, really try not to focus so hard solely on it because it can become an idol in your heart as well. God has good plans for all of us and if we only trust that more, than we will spend less time pining and more time really using our time for the kingdom.
Seth [adding something to the prior question] : Also, just to encourage our churches as well, especially youth groups to teach on that topic of purity and not just from a place of shame but to really give people the tools they need. We recently heard this message by Sean McDowell and he has a teaching on sexual purity and what pornography can do to you and all that type of stuff on his website that’s good for anybody to check out if they want to. Basically helping people with safeguards is a starting point and giving them stuff they can grow into and actually frame their minds differently in order for people to not objectify women but mainly to see them as the image of God. It’s mainly starting by taking stuff away and setting up stuff to keep yourself safe, but by adding a biblical perspective to see all those types of things that can help you overcome that. Because what Sean talked about with neural plasticity is that whatever you put in your mind, your brain, is going to kind of have these roots and that’s going to becomes habitual but you have to really restrain your mind and cultivate good things over and over so you get to a place where it’s not actually as much of a struggle as when you were putting that bad stuff in there. So anyways, that’s just a little bit about that.
Sarah: I think it’s great that you added that because it’s so important. I thought this was a fun question to ask. Both of you are so unique as you stated before, what do you appreciate about each other?
Nirva: Hmmm, so good. Okay, what I appreciate about Seth? Seth, I can say and this is a great miracle because I so didn’t grow up in a Christian home. We believed in God but we weren’t disciples or spreading the Word but in ten years of marriage, I can say that Seth has never raised his voice at me or used his voice to hurt or harm me, he’s truly kind. I see an honest effort to live out the Gospel and not just appear to be something on the platform. I just really, really like him as a person and that’s what I appreciate about him the most.
Sarah: That’s great!
Nirva: Okay your turn (to Seth). [laughs]
Seth: There really are a lot of things. I would say more on just her heart for the Lord, but I think in God’s province she was one of the first girls that I’ve dated that she was not Christian in name only but she really, really loved the Lord more than anything even more than me and that was awesome. She’s just really passionate about Him and His kingdom. I really love her emotions even in the little things, she gets excited about stuff and I just love seeing her get excited and come alive. She’s a really good voice teacher and she likes to work with students. And when I watch her share stuff and serve and give, she really comes alive and excited and I love that about her. And just [Seth pauses], man, there’s just a lot of stuff, but I’ll name one more. Yeah, I just love the way she’s just tough, no matter what comes her way, she goes ,“Well we’re going make this through,” she has that kind of strength within.
Sarah: That’s great! I love hearing both sides, so this question worked out.
Seth: It’s a good question!
Sarah: So maybe as were coming down to a close, you can just share with me what’s on the horizon for you guys.
Seth: Yeah, well we’re working on new music right now, were headed out to the UK to record a few songs. But we started out this January and so we’re really excited about that new music. We are also just getting ready for the fall. Our plan is to travel to different churches and lead in worship, share some of our songs and also to kind of teach and share about community, the body of Christ and how to be compassionate outside the church but still stand to biblical truth. So it’s kind of just two topics which were going to take on the road this fall and maybe next spring as we are developing new music to kind of highlight those things. But were super excited about that.
Sarah: Awesome. Well, I had so much fun talking to you guys. Thank you so much for taking out this time and sharing your heart with me. I can’t wait to share it with other people.
Nirva: Aww, thank you Sarah. Thanks for taking time for us as well. We really enjoyed it!
Nirva: Really Good questions. We appreciate you.
Sarah: Well, I hope you guys have a great day and I’ll talk to you later.
Seth and Nirva: Talk to you later!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Seth and Nirva, visit http://sethandnirva.com/ for more.