Review: Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much – The Way of Love in a World of Hurt by Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth

by Jessica Morris

The best creative projects make you feel known– the words, music, or movement crosses a medium and glides into your soul. It’s why U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name” still causes your skin to prickle during the opening chords. It’s why you carry a sense of expectation when you open The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe again. A divine exchange takes place – and we go from feeling known by the artist or author, to feeling utterly known by the Creator of all things.

If you ever needed a reminder about the divinity of this moment, or the fact it can occur in the minute details of our lives, then Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth’s Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much is like medicine.  Charlie and Andi have become household names, especially in the Nashville community. If someone doesn’t know them as friends, creatives, teachers, or an acquaintance, then they surely know their creative work.

They have written at least six books between them, produced hundreds of albums, and Charlie has recorded many of his own. Add in Grammy awards, their role as keynote speakers, time in artist development, and their time running the Art House in Nashville, not to mention decades of marriage – these two are individually, and collectively, prolific. Having never met the Ashworths, I only knew them through their works, and it was a joy to find out that Peacock was simply a stage name, and that Charlie is ‘Chuck’ at home. But I digress. In any case, I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book. Advice? Wisdom on how to ‘make it’? Some thoughts about how to become like Switchfoot (or not, if you’re not in a rock band. I’m not). These things are not what I found.

Opening Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much transports you to the front door of the Ashworths house. But you’re not there for a lesson on how to write a book or an award-winning song – you’re there for dinner. And as soon as you ring the doorbell, Charlie and Andi swing open the door with wide smiles. You’re one of many guests, with Christ at the head of the table. And as they tell us in their prologue, or joint opening letter:

“We want to be where Christ the Redeemer is – we need that that proximity always. For us, it may be said that the whole of this life is either moving in the direction of Jesus and the redemption on offer, or away from it. There is no standing still.”

Are you willing to sit down at a humble table and eat a meal with Christ and his followers? To ponder the intricacies of what life means in 2024 as one who professes to follow Christ, and to hear stories about the grand, tragic, and mundane ways the Ashworths have walked with Him for more than four decades? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the Ashworths’ table. Andi will serve you a bowl of piping hot soup and homemade bread, and you will leave on the receiving end of a divine exchange.

In many ways, this series of letters is akin to seeing Charlie and Andi pass the baton to the next generation of art-makers. The wisdom they impart – about young love and saving a marriage, work/life balance, hospitality and burnout, and yes, the nuance of being a musician and a Christian, makes it required reading for anyone in the creative sphere. But the candor and self-awareness with which they deliver the content marks it as something counter-cultural, and that will evoke you to movement.

You are moved to authenticity, as you read about the Ashworth’s journey to addiction and sobriety, encountering Jesus and having a young family.

You are moved to live with conviction, as they discuss what it means to contribute to the spiritual life of a city and your neighbors.

You are moved to sanctification, as you read about how the term Christian has been co-opted in the public space and are reminded God and calling is so much bigger than human limitations.

You are moved to quietness, as you learn about Andi’s commitment to writing, sabbatical, and remembering the small moments so she can serve her community.

You are moved to faithfulness, as you hear about God’s provision in helping them set up the Art House, sustain it, and then pass it on to the next generation.

You are moved to awareness as Charlie confronts paternalism and toxic individualism, pledging to winnow them out of his identity as part of his life’s work.

And you are moved to self-compassion, as they each talk about living with chronic illness, ageing parents, healing from childhood abuse, entering therapy, and being present.

It is one thing to say these things, and even discuss them among other peers. But how do we do them? Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much isn’t a self-help book, but Charlie and Andi’s empathy does give us the tools to figure out our next step. As creative people, the line between our public and private lives is always blurry. No one understands this better than Charlie and Andi – tangible art aside, they lived with an open-door policy for years when they opened and ran The Art House in Nashville beginning in 2001.

The Ashworths’ stories are a reminder that we are driven to create out of the fullness in (or at times lack of) our private life – our relationship with God, with each other, and with the world. Yet the tension of how much to share, how it will be received, or if this will wound us, is always at odds with our desire to be transparent. Add in the additional elements of being a Christ-follower, and for many of us what it looks like to be in an industry labeled ‘Christian,’ and the line becomes razor wire.

Charlie and Andi graciously remind us out of their own woundedness that God’s grace is sufficient for every season of life, no matter how publicly accessible, grandiose, unexpected, minute, or imperfect our circumstances may be. We don’t have to strive or push through – in fact, we shouldn’t (just read the latter chapters about Charlie’s reckoning with chronic headaches and how they stemmed from childhood trauma). Instead, we can take it moment by moment. Or, as Charlie and Andi say, “moving our imperfect selves toward the redemption He extends to all”.

There is no time to waste, friend. Charlie and Andi have set the table with this book, and their front porch light is on. Give yourself an evening to be refueled, nourished, and nurtured with their words.

Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much is published through W Publishing Group and Thomas Nelson and is out now.  [PURCHASE HERE]

Jessica Morris lives in Melbourne, Australia as a music journalist, contributor to UTR, member of the UTR Critics Panel, and host of the ‘Between You & Me’ podcast.