We all know how it goes.
Ladies, you walk into a bar, into church, the gym, on a run… When you see a guy, what do you do?
You start going through your mental checklist that you have had since you were five. “OK. He’s like 6’2″. He has a half-beard. He has a mole under his left eye. He looks Italian or German or Polish or something so that means he must be Catholic, which means he probably has a big family, which means he probably loves his mom, and puppies, and making dinner, and You’ve Got Mail… I wonder what his schedule looks like at 2:30 on a Saturday in like three months?”
“He must be the one.”
Men, we are like.
“OK. She’s breathing……………………………………. ”
“She must be the one.”
The idea of soul mate is a great thing. I, like you, wanted it to be so. Like, really badly. I thought about it more than I would like to admit, debated it with friends, I tried to live it. But as I really stepped back and looked at this world that I was being drawn into, I found something out pretty quickly. I found out there was more than one person out there for me.
To put it bluntly, you and I don’t have a soul mate.
That was the distant sound of your bubble bursting.
Again, the idea of a soul mate is a great thing. The notion that someone fits your heart so well, you are best friends, you can do everything together, and it is so hard to imagine life without them. It almost feels like your souls were meant for each other. This of course is what being in love feels like! But I think our perception is not really that harmless.
What we really mean when we say soul mate is what the movies and those crappy shows on our DVRs tell us. It is this notion that there is one person out there who is the only one we can marry, the only one our heart can love fully. It’s as if God has taken one soul, split it in two, and put each part into two human beings who now spend their whole lives longing for each other and, if not found, end up living a life of unrequited longing. H/t to every Meg Ryan movie ever made.
But here’s the thing. Humans will never, ever. Like ever. Complete you. Like ever. I know we know this intellectually, but in our hearts we still live in a Rom-Com.
Take Michael Scott for example. The Office is my jam. It’s like my TV show soul mate. It makes me whole. Throughout the nine seasons of the show, Michael gives us little glimpses into his ever-desirous heart, and in turn, ours.
“I want the house, Jan. I want the picket fence. I want the ketchup fights. And the tickling. And the giggling.”
And another one, but this time about a girlfriend that is fake…
“So, anyway, we have this great weekend, and she drives me to the airport, and we get to JFK, but I am flying out of LaGuardia. So we laugh and laugh and laugh, and then we spend the rest of the day walking around slo-mo, drinking lattes.”
We laugh, but we laugh, I think, because it is a caricature of what our hearts desire. We yearn for the all of the good things about love. We yearn like Michael Scott. We’ve all been caught day-dreaming about the days of picket fences, tickling, ketchup fights and walking slo-mo. We have all fallen into the trap of thinking that our life was not yet complete because a Colbie Caillat song wasn’t actually our reality or because the quiet girl at school didn’t walk down the steps for prom for us to finally realize she was the one.
All these are the good things of love. But all of these things are not the fullness of love. See, if we are living it rightly, we would understand with everything that we are, that soul mates are not born, they are made.
Relationship, marriage, love, it is all one thing. A choice. Really romantic, huh? It is! A beautiful, holy, self-giving choice. A choice our hearts are all longing to make.
I did not know the depths or the beauty of this call until about a year ago when I walked out of the church on one of those Saturdays at 2:30 holding the hand of my bride. Dating was not always easy for me, or for us. We had a lot of struggle near the middle of our relationship. Some was natural and needed conflict that brought us closer to each other and to our Lord. It revealed wounds that needed addressed, healing that needed to happen. But if I am being honest, some of the issue was my worry that maybe this was not the person God had in mind. That is hard for me to admit. “Was she the one?” I asked myself often. And she was not the first to be the recipient of such madness.
It was worry that was masked in discernment. I have a song about this on my debut EP :) To be fair, Kara told me she was ready to get married three weeks in and I could feel the eyes the whole town of Greensburg, IN looking at me tapping their feet – ladies, we will talk more about that in myth #3 – So I was like, if she knows, this must not be right because I am not there yet. And it was a struggle. For both of us.
But when I got over myself and my pre-suppositions about what love and marriage was, it all changed. I knew I loved this woman deeply. I loved being with her. I had never laughed harder in my life. I believed I could, with God’s grace, get her to Heaven and believed she would do the same for me. And I also thought we could make beautiful babies. ==>
So I made a choice. I chose to give Kara my life on that day and for every day God granted me on this earth. And that day I saw her walking down the aisle I knew. She as the one. It was the most beautiful day of my life. God blessed our choice. And there has been so much grace. I mean, SO MUCH GRACE. I used to think, even as a grown man, that freedom was only found in my ability to have many choices. I used to think that there was freedom in waiting for something to present itself to me. Boy was I mistaken. Freedom is loving and love is choice. A choice that I get the privilege to make every day when my giant feet hit the floor. My life has a beautiful purpose, and I am more free now than I have ever been.
So if freedom is loving and loving means choosing, then what is all that one in a million talk? Why are our hearts so drawn to this idea of a soul mate? Once more, this idea is a beautiful, romantic thing. The idea that God has taken one soul, split it in two, and put each part into two human beings who now spend their life longing for each other and, if not found, end up always having this unfulfilled longing, is so, well, romantic. And there is a reason we think that:
“Look at your heart. It tells the story of why you were made. It is not the perfect shape… like a Valentine Heart… there seems to be a piece missing. I think… when God made your human heart, He found it so good and so lovable that He kept a small sample of it in Heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy His gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to Him, but to be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with your whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love! In order to love anyone with your whole heart, in order to be really peaceful, in order to be really wholehearted, you must go back again to God to recover the piece He has been keeping for you from all eternity.” –Fulton Sheen
Our Lord, creator, father and friend, He is it. He is the answer to our deepest longings. When I said we could never be fulfilled by a person, I guess I lied. When we say, “Lord, show me my soul mate!” He says, “I became a person, gave you my life and showed you how to find yours.” Our Lord is it. I could spend the whole talk here. We are in pursuit, looking, hoping, waiting for this better half that will fill the void left in our heart. But before all of this, we need to want to be wanted by the God who created us to love and be loved. We need to open our desires to the Source of all desire. Truly, our world is not complete if we are not in love because that is how we were made. These desires to follow the promptings on our hearts are there because our Lord put them there. We are sons and daughters of God and we are created to be in relationship with Him. This is our first identity and our deepest longing.
Let the Lover of your heart love you first. Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be given to you.
I want to close with something that moves me still...
I pray specifically for the vocation of marriage… I pray to be married to you, Jesus. I want you to ask me for my hand. I want you to be the first one I talk to when I wake up and the one to hold me as I fall asleep. I want to be pleasing to your eyes with how I sound, how I look, how I think and what I do for others. Like a doting wife, I want to brag about you to my friends and make my Father proud that I fell in love with the best man possible. I want to know you… really know you… know you like you have taken the time to know me. You have studied me, cherished me, formed me loved me through the best and worst of times, saw me as beautiful when I could only see ugliness. You complete me and you are all that I need and all that my heart desires. I am nothing without you. Love, you are mine. And I am yours. I promise to always love and honor you for as long as forever is.
This was written by my wife, on our third date. Through much struggle and brokenness, through bad relationships that were idols that she tried to fashion into “the one,” the deepest prayer of her heart poured out like it had nowhere else to go. She found the one her heart loved. And then, two years later, she chose me. And I am eternally grateful that she did.
Let the Lover of your heart love you first. Seek first the Kingdom and all these things (read: your vocation, your spouse, your soul mate) will be given to you.
Keep your eyes peeled for Myth #2 and #3: We Date Well