And really, I don't think most of my friends believe in Soul Mates either, but every time I get a "poor you" pity glance, I start to wonder if maybe they do... they just don't want to use the word, "Soul Mate." Instead, they slap around words like, "don't settle." Which, I agree with, but if I had a nickel for every time I've had to explain my thoughts on the matter, well, you know.
Soul Mates is such a funny concept. But I think, at its essence, someone who embraces the idea holds to the notion that there is someone out there who complements you better than anyone else, who will adore you the same way you adore them, and in sickness and in health, life will be roses. And I don't know... as much as I love romance and sentiment, that sounds like a bunch of hooey.
And forgive me... but I just can't find it in the Bible. Most of what I see about finding a spouse in the Bible tends to be cultural. (I'll give a few examples)
I mean: Abraham married his sister... Isaac was basically handed a wife... then Jacob worked for 14 years for a girl he thought was pretty. Ruth married Boaz because he was responsible. And then there's Mary, we really don't know overly much about what her relationship with Joseph looked like in terms of romance.
Here's what we do have:
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 18:22Gosh... I don't even know if that's very satisfying. I'd love to see this great blueprint for God's design for this whole ambiguous, "who's right for me?" question. (Besides the don't yoke yourself with unbelievers bit... that's a nonnegotiable 2 Cor. 6:14).
And that's what I'm talking about... "who's right for me?" Because the whole world keeps screaming, "don't settle." So who is the "I settled for you," guy and the "I'm glad I picked you," guy?
If only we knew.
Instead, the Bible offers a plethora of afterthoughts about how to BE a good spouse. And of course, that tells us a bit about who to look for. We hope that a dedicated follower of Christ will be working on developing those traits.
But instead of storing up all these dreams of what my husband will be like, I find myself in a much more practical place.
And you know what? There's something rather special about practicality. Because, believe me, I do want a family... and here's why I don't think settling is the means to that end. I think settling and giving up are used synonymously. When really... he who finds a wife finds a good thing. It's not about giving up - it's a victory finding someone to go through life with.
Here's why "settling" bugs me so much.
1. There's NO SUCH THING as a perfect person.
Let's face facts, every person you meet will have some quirk, some problem, some issue (Romans 3:10, 3:23). And these issues can range from extreme to minor... like a propensity to not wash dishes. But I suppose that what I've found after living with 8 other girls, is that there are some issues that bother me that DON'T bother someone else.
I really can't explain it, but a dirty bathroom drives me crazy. Whereas piles here and there really aren't a problem as long as the floor is clear and vacuumed. Still, there are bigger issues... issues of politics, home life and sin struggles that might pose a more obvious problem. These will vary from person to person and come in various degrees of severity. And trust me, every person has their closet.
2. Getting along with someone, ANYONE, requires some work
As Christians, we are called to follow Ephesians 4:1-2, "I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Because really, even your best friends aren't always fun to be around. But with your best friends, you love them even when they're a dork, because the relationship matters to you. Life isn't all roses, but we hold out for the rosey moments because it's worth it. I can only imagine that choosing to live with someone won't be any different, except maybe magnified by 10.
BUT LET ME SAVE THIS BY SAYING...
While I totally hold to the two statements above, I believe in love wholeheartedly. I believe in attraction, both of the mind and heart. There are people you gravitate towards and crave being around. And love overlooks a multitude of flaws. We call it the rose-colored glass and it's a beautiful thing. I think we would run in the opposite direction if there weren't such a thing - every human you meet would look rather ugly otherwise.
But don't let the words of people in the middle of love, or on the other side of love discourage you. People in love, still think their significant other is perfect. People out of love can be cynical and out of hope. But I'd like to think that hope and commitment are what's truly valuable when it dawns on you that no one is perfect.
No matter what comes my way, I'd like to think it's possible to embrace someone, warts and all. To care even when its hard.
Now, I would caution that since "hang-ups" come in such a large variety, not everyone's hang-ups are necessarily right for every person to walk through. But doesn't it seem beautiful when you find someone, who's just a bit messy, but their mess doesn't scare you, even when it scares others? You look at that person and think, "Well, somebody's got to love them, and I think I could." And really, you hope that someone out there looks at you and think the same thing.
You see, it's a GRACE thing.
We've all sinned and fallen short but as Christians, we're supposed to bear with one another. To love one another the way Christ first loved us (1 John 4:7)
I once heard that God didn't design marriage with your happiness in mind, but holiness. To teach and grow you in your walk. Maybe love and happiness are just the bait that ropes us in? Or a cherry on top? The thing that makes all the hardship worth while?
I don't know for certain, but long story short, these are the things that keep me awake at night.
Don't get me wrong... I'm no cynic. But I think that marriage and family are two of the most incredible things one can aspire to. At least, that's my dream.
I would like to think I'll know God's plan when I see it. That it will stick out like a sore thumb - really obvious. But in the mean time, I think we can magnify God's glory in any relationship with any person by loving one another with Christ-like, grace-giving, love and accountability. Though some make it easier than others. Maybe infatuation and love are two very different things?
Just a thought.