ReThink: Soul-Mates

Where Is My Soul-Mate?

If you’re anything like me, you probably spent a lot of time as a young person asking this question, wondering when and where you’d meet “the one”. Growing up in the church and our relationally romanticized pop-culture, my entire life system guided me in the belief that if I was faithful and patient, God would one day bless me with someone He made special, just for me. This woman would possess every trait that I had ever prayed for. She would be a perfect match for me, understand me better than anyone, and of course, fulfill my sexual desires. This person would be my "other half", my “soul-mate” that God destined me to be with from the beginning.  

Anyone else out there have these kinds of expectations and desires?  How’s that working out for you so far? 

The Issues This Created For Me:

A few of things happen when we operate under this understanding of relationships. 

  1. We find a person with whom we develop affection for and a connection with, and then we superimpose our ideal image of a soul-mate on this person and try to reconcile all the reasons that this person was “made for us.” I remember going into every new scenario with a girl I was interested in, thinking, “Maybe she’s the one. Who knows? I’ll keep asking questions to see if she meets all the criteria on my soul-mate checklist for the perfect spouse.” Yeah, I literally made a list… in church… And as the relationship developed, I would try to make this person fit into the list anyway I could, because I thought she was cute. When we do stuff like this we end up “falling in love” with the person we want her to be instead of loving the person she actually is.
  2. We hold such an impossibly high standard for perfection over every person we meet that we run around wondering why we haven’t met “the one” yet. We don’t allow space for people to be real people or have areas in their lives that require growth or maturation. We expect all of the great rewards of an attractive, righteous person without the reality of their broken humanity. Chances are, no person you ever meet will ever be able to meet your impossibly high standards. It’s probably a good idea to accept that whoever you end up with (if you end up with anyone) will be an imperfect human. The only thing we need to worry about is whether or not they are genuinely endeavoring to be renewed by Jesus, because that is going matter far more than any other preferences we have.
  3. We keep looking for this person who will make us complete or be our "other half".  The only problem with this is that no person can ever make us complete apart from Jesus. Christ is the one who makes us whole. A covenant relationship with someone is not about necessity; it’s about service. That’s not to say that you won’t end up with someone who compliments you well, or encourages you to be your best self, or provides many reasons for joy, but don’t expect any person to complete you. When we go into a relationship with the expectation of finding someone to complete or fulfill us, we forget that the foundation of covenant relationship is service and submission to one another. Now, sometimes that doesn’t leave us with the warm fuzzies, but it does leave us with a greater fulfillment and joy than a girl of our unrealistic fantasies can provide. I have found in my life that when I am preoccupied with my own happiness, trying to make happiness happen, I end up being the least happy. Happiness and Joy tend to show up when I’m doing right by the people I love. 

The Power of Choice

Now, I’m not saying that God can’t orchestrate a situation where two people meet or that God doesn’t want you to be with someone who is righteous and good. I’m also not saying that there aren’t some people who are better suited for each other than others. But maybe we should begin to rethink the way we approach finding “the one”. 

At the end of the day, I know that my wife is not a solution to my finding happiness or purpose. My marriage is an opportunity for me to lay down my life in submission to Jesus. In fact, marriage can be a pretty tumultuous arena in which we grow in the character of Christ. It’s not fulfilling because of what your spouse can do for you; it’s fulfilling because of what God can do through you in the relationship.   

My marriage isn’t meaningful because I was destined to be with my wife. It isn’t meaningful because I was empty and unhappy without her. My marriage is meaningful, because every day I have an opportunity to choose to lay my life down in submission to her as we both submit to Christ. In my experience, you don’t find your soul-mate by stumbling upon destiny. You become someone’s soul-mate by choosing to serve her and Jesus. 

I hope this was helpful in rethinking your journey of navigating relationships, guys.  Keep thinking!

Lane Greenleaf-Perez

Lane grew up in Southern California and graduated from Vanguard University in 2013, where he met his wife, Jayna. They are currently living in Portland, Oregon, where they lead worship for their local church. They have a dog, Watson, and on October 12, 2016, they welcomed their first kid, William, home! Lane also works full-time for a Christian, non-profit organization called First-Image as the director of their sexual integrity program. He loves the local church and has plans to attend seminary to earn his Master's of Divinity.