the trouble of denying ‘the one’

From a Christian perspective in the 21st century, admitting that there is such thing as a ‘soulmate’ is being increasingly seen as a dangerous faux-pas that can lead to complications for one’s faith: what if I never find ‘the one?’ or what if I marry someone and realize they aren’t ‘the one?’. These are not simple moral issues to navigate, but our preoccupation with concrete, practical solutions has driven us too far from the beauty and enchantment found in love and throughout all of life itself.

A recent example of this that sparked my urge to respond, was Margaret Philbrick’s “The Trouble with Finding ‘The One'” published in Relevant Magazine. My problem with this perspective is that it offers a rigid and bland image of human life. I certainly see the hope and truth that it offers, but I can’t help but feel that Margaret’s advice and general viewpoints deny the beauty, mystery, and enchantment that truly exist throughout the human experience. And this enchantment I have seen in a very familiar place—my own story.

“The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.”

Once upon a time, there was a girl roaming the halls of a quaint, private college. She had been going through a particularly lonely and soul-searching time and dated a bit along the way. Most of the relationships during this time had failed, mostly due to her inability to feel the kind of love she wanted to feel. She began to fear her future and what her love life would look like, but she found contentment with the idea of being alone.

There was this boy who always seemed to follow her around and she began to be comforted by his presence. She liked that he liked her but she was sad that she would never feel that same way about him. One day, he finally worked up the courage to ask her to coffee and she turned him down…

Well, a couple of days later they went to coffee with the intention of staying friends. As they began to talk, they found out that they grew up with the same rare family and friend dynamics. She shared how she grew up with two (much older) half-brothers, one was her mother’s son and one was her father’s and she met my best friend in first grade. He laughed and then shared that he grew up with two (much older) half-sisters, one was his mother’s daughter and one was his father’s. He had also met his best friend in kindergarten and his name was Jon Wilson. She thought he was playing some kind of joke to prove that they were perfect for each other because her best friend’s name was Jess Wilson.

It was all quite comedic and rather enchanting but she was not intending to fall in love with him. After a couple more friend dates, she was head over heels and never looked back for a second. It was the kind of love of which she had always dreamed, but the world told her it wasn’t possible. And they now live happily—and will continue to—forever after. She met her soulmate.

Maybe that made it better and easier for me: to not expect it and settle for much less. Although I can’t say it made my childhood or young adulthood easier not having believed in the power of magic and enchantment. It was not until I met him that I saw how God could work in miracles even in the ordinary parts of life that many of us have given up on. I have always believed that His will would be done no matter what, but I now believe that we have been limiting Him far too much. Just because humans are flawed doesn’t mean that magic isn’t real. Life won’t be perfect quite yet but it can be far more beautiful than you ever imagined.

“As you walk into Starbucks to meet the potential person for the first time, approach them with open-hearted faith, rather than a list of criteria you expect them to fulfill.”

Margaret is right, and her insights necessary, but if you truly feel called by faith into this life of beauty and enchantment don’t expect or accept dullness from the world just because you believe you have to. The world is a beautiful place that is filled with wonder. Please don’t stop looking for it.

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overgrowth

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Ideally, we all want to grow. We want to mature and become wiser and ideally we should do everything we can to make that happen. But it’s not that simple. Growing in incredibly difficult and takes an entire lifetime (which still isn’t enough).

Growing is a change of perspective, attitude and heart. Whatever you value in life will be your ultimate focus and that focus is what leads you either toward growth or regression. Sometimes we value justice and other times we value ourselves. Some values are intentional and others are not.

We can’t always control what we value and what we invest our energy and thoughts into. If it was as easy as it sounds than I’m sure we would all be better people, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

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the not-so-dreaded adulthood

I have come to realize that I was in an existential crisis for most of my childhood, trapped by my circumstances and completely hopeless. I dreaded nighttime when the world got dark and my fears and worries became more severe. The majority of my life was spent in confusion and disappointment which quickly turned to anger. Being a child was difficult and I couldn’t imagine how much worse it would get as I got older.

The funny thing was—as I got older—the darkness slowly lifted. The new-found freedom I gained allowed me to experience life the way I truly wanted to. I was no longer trapped.

During high school I found Jesus.

And once I got to college, I was still trying to find myself. I dated along the way and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to be happily married: God wanted me to have a different focus while on Earth and I was okay with that. As much as I always wanted that perfect fairy tale romance, it made more sense to just accept the fact that I didn’t deserve it or that it didn’t exist.

It wasn’t long after this realization I met my soul mate and best friend—he is now my husband.

I’m still awestruck by the way my life turned out.

Most people are filled with hope and wonder as children and watch it evaporate one harsh reality after the next. For me I realize things were completely different.

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when life gives you lemons

“Whichever he adopts, you main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, where Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favor of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.”

Human weakness is the main theme addressed in the above quote, (for those who have never experienced The Screwtape Letters before). We are so focused on these minute details in life and want to fight for them as if they are our religion. We establish our religious beliefs by first evaluating them against the standards of our already determined political beliefs. This is not just true of Christians or other religious believers, this concept of the “cause” as C.S. Lewis mentions, is the cause of much unnecessary hatred among all people.

We live in a world where morality is confusing and all the lines are blurred. Instead of accepting this, we try and establish a road map of our world and begin highlighting all the roads we need to avoid. We then put all of our focus on why we are avoiding these roads and traveling on the others. We love the law and find comfort in it because it gives us rules to follow, but it only traps us by giving us a false sense of security in achieving righteousness or perfection.

Living it not so much about avoiding roads as it is just driving conscientiously. Freedom comes when we recognize that only Christ can help us navigate them—our deliberate persistence and arrogance in believing we can figure it out on our own only creates more road blocks.

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