I had the chance last week to teach at our leadership institute at Central for our interns. At one point they asked me about how I met my wife Michelle. I recounted our journey as high school sweethearts up until the present day. At one point, I nonchalantly explained that I don’t believe in the concept of a soulmate and then explained my reasoning. In my explanation I got my first quote on their chalk wall of quotes.
As you might imagine, my quote is missing a bit of context. So let me explain.
If you go off of chick flicks, Justin Bieber songs, or Hallmark cards, you’d deduce that the most romantic thing imaginable is for a person to fall madly in love with their soulmate. Of course, this means you have to actually find your soulmate (and weed out anyone who turns out NOT to be). But once you do, imagine the sparks that will fly! What could be better than finding “the one”?
A lot could be better.
Consider this, how is it possibly romantic to end up with the person you were supposed to end up with? You didn’t choose them and they didn’t choose you. You simply figured a way to make the equation work and you pushed through long enough to find them. That’s love?
Even worse are the expectations that come with this. This soulmate should complete you. They should be all you ever need. But what if you find out that you aren’t fulfilled and you still have unmet needs? The answer is simple! You guessed wrong and married the wrong person. Clearly your spouse isn’t your soulmate in that case. Time to move on and start the search anew.
I hope the flaws in this are clear. From a spiritual point of view, it also means we have to accept a predestined course for our lives in which we actually have only the illusion of free will. After all, someone else picked your soulmate for you in advance. So what else do you not get to actually decide?
I don’t believe the Bible teaches this and I refuse to live my life this way.Â Before you label me as a complete unromantic, let me offer another option.
Let me go back to my quote that made it to the intern wall. You could marry multiple people and God would bless it (not at the same time). That means that I didn’t have to marry Michelle but that I chose her instead of other women. She also chose me instead of the hoards of other men that would have gladly stepped up for her. That’s romance. Not that we robotically made the equation work but that we chose to form a bond with each other and God. Not only did we choose it in a past moment but we also choose it daily.
And since I know Michelle isn’t my soulmate I have no illusions of her meeting all my needs. No human alive has that capability and it’s a poison to expect it of her. Instead, I look for God to fill me and for Michelle to join with me on the great adventure of life as we follow God together. I don’t spend a moment second-guessing if she was the “right” one. There never is a right one, that’s the point of marriage! Mr. or Mrs. Right only show up in the movies. But in the tension of two becoming one in a real marriage, God shows up and love grows.
If you are single: stop looking for your soulmate and instead look for a person who you want beside you as you follow God for the rest of your life.
If you are married: stop looking for your spouse to complete you and instead honor the decision you made with every moment you have together.