It may be a chicken v. the egg thing. It may be that I feel once you have married, you have joined your hearts, bodies, minds, souls together – actually God has – and what God has put together, let no one tear apart.
But I have long believed in something along these lines. My heart fully belongs to God. My soul is cherished and blessed by Him. Would He not then have a unique, beautiful (snowflake) man in mind for me? Does He not see all my moments and all my days and did He not guide Rob Wootton to me specifically? Was it some random, chaotic life that threw us inadvertently together? By no means. God forbid.
Rob and I talked a lot about what we need when we were dating. So much so that he mentioned it in his wedding vows and it made me laugh. Oh and interrupt him. Woops. (I can’t remember if I ever apologized for that, dear.) We talked about Christ being ALL we need, our all in all. But add to that the embodiment of God’s blessing of marriage and there’s no denying that our souls do need someone else. And here’s where that gets muddy in my head.
The go-to example is Adam, being the first and all. He was alone and clearly it was not good. God said let’s do something about this aloneness. So was God saying that He, in fact, was not enough? That Adam did actually at the end of the day need Eve?
Yes. Clearly marriage is a gift ordained by God. Clearly in scripture the joining of two souls is sacred and mystical, an earthly tangible expression of spiritual truth of God’s intimate relationship with us. Clearly throughout scripture, the disregard and diminishing of the vows of marriage are condemned, making adultery a slap in the face of God and His love. Clearly God makes a big, a super big fat hairy deal, about marriage and the beauty of our glimpse into the bride waiting for her bridegroom.
I get why people want to discourage folks, particularly young adults, from having this twinkle in their eyes about meeting The One and holding their breath for some magical moment when the orchestra cues up and the fireworks go off and the little crab starts singing (hee hee hee haw haw haw). It isn’t healthy to dream up this nearly perfect person who will be everything we want and more, answering all our hopes for a better life.
Or is it? Is it ok for us to tell our little ones that one of the most beautiful moments of their lives will come when they find that great love, second only to the Jesus they know now? Maybe it’s not healthy to make it about the wedding dress and the perfect cake and the embroidered snot rags. But maybe it is actually healthy to create in them the sense that this isn’t taken lightly, there is no backing out of marriage, choose wisely, and be sure this person is first married to Jesus, in love with him fully and committed to being like him all his days. Maybe it’s ok to have such a high standard for your spouse that the only word for that person is “soul mate” and you aren’t going to settle for anything less than the one whose very soul meets yours in perfect unison. Yes, that’s a lofty goal. The only kind of goal to have really. Maybe if more people had this in mind, mixed with a clear head and no rose-colored glasses, fewer people would get divorced. Maybe.
I think the real issue is about discernment, not marriage itself. You cannot elevate marriage any higher than it is meant to be. It should be on a pedestal and it should be kept sacred and blessed. But I think what happens to make us warn against this naive optimism is we see people so desperate to find their soul mate that they will make the person they have their soul mate, instead of carefully deciding if this person really is. I never liked the term “fall in love” because it has this implication of being unavoidable or haphazard and passive. Like I was walking along and woops I fell into a hole. Couldn’t help it. It’s this mindset that gets us into so much trouble. Because people decide to fall “out of” love. Woops. I stopped.
It’s all a climb. Our choices are hikes. We decide what we want to do and do it. We decide to love a person and we can be naive about the trail, not properly prepare ourselves and not see clearly the person we are with. Have you ever been hiking with someone who is a total drag? Or maybe they thought they were up to it but really poops out in the middle? Sure you can go hiking with just about anybody and make it work. But going with someone who is about the same skill level and has the same interest as you makes it a much better time.
Marriage is the ultimate hike. You pack for it, you long for it, you prepare for it. If you haven’t exercised before it, if you haven’t been in shape already – you haven’t learned to love well, to serve others, to give freely and without reward – you are going to be huffing and puffing. And too many have all the right gear and look great starting out – maybe this is the metaphor for the wedding, when people put all their efforts into a great wedding day but no preparation for the marriage. But when the trail hits those bizillion switchbacks and you put on the worst scratchiest socks ever, you are going to get blisters. And you are tempted to call it quits and turn around.
But it’s the mate of your soul, the one who is with you, committed to you and your heart, that will be by your side, cheering you on, learning along with you and from you, and you from him. You hike together, you share the load, you share the water and the snacks, and maybe you switch socks for awhile. And when you are most weak and tired, you rest together. When you fall and break something, he knows what to do or he picks you up and carries you. Or he saws your arm off when it’s pinned by an immovable rock. I kid. The reality is it gets tough, and it’s worth it. Because the summit is worth the climb. Every time.
Clearly, I need to go hiking soon.