I recently read this short article written by Lysa TerKeurst and felt compelled to write a response, so please bear with my ramblings.
“One day, I shared with my unmarried friend that when I was single I thought marriage was all about finding the right partner. I thought if you find “the one,” you’ll be happy, secure, and fulfilled. I do think it’s good to have a list of standards that you look for in a spouse. However, it can never be with the expectation that if you find that special someone, he’ll (she’ll) right all your wrongs and fill up all your insecurities. The problem with this thinking is the pressure it will eventually put on your spouse.
To expect another person to make you feel happy, secure, and fulfilled will leave you disappointed at best and disillusioned at worst. Even a great husband makes a very poor God.
Only God can settle those deep heart-needs. A man (or woman) can never do this. If a husband could meet every need his wife had (and vice versa), we’d have no need for God. Therefore, instead of just focusing on finding the right partner, let God work on your heart to help you become the right partner.”
I have to say that while I agree with the essence of what this article is saying, it does gloss over some pretty important stuff. First though… I want to agree with one very important point. It’s wiser to learn how to become “the one” than it is to seek that out in someone else. Knowing who you are, what you like, dislike, value, hope to achieve and being comfortable in your life with those things will help to create a foundation for a healthy and lasting relationship, or at least, your part of it. What that means though is that we have some work to do before we even think about getting into a new relationship. Spending time with yourself and with God to learn how to accept both your strengths and weaknesses is a wise thing to do. This is where you can let God can help you become a better friend and a better life mate. Acceptance of ourselves is just as important as acceptance of the person you may eventually spend your life with and it all begins with one very important thing. Honesty. Learning how to be honest with God and ourselves about who we are will put us on a path to becoming a lot more comfortable in our own skin. I’m not talking about being narcissistic but instead, being really willing to honestly look at ourselves in a mirror and to learn to accept ourselves for who we are. This is how we can begin to learn to love ourselves in a healthy way. It’s also a great way to become aware of the not so nice stuff about us. When we become aware of our “stuff”, it’s a lot easier to know what to bring to God for help. It’s also easier to know what NOT to put on our partner to be and to know when we are doing just that!
It is very dangerous to live in the belief that if you find “the one”, all of your hopes, dreams and desires will be met. What’s even worse, if you carry an unfulfilled need or want into a relationship and place that expectation on your new partner, you’re piling a huge amount of pressure on them that will likely result in anger and regret if and when they don’t meet your expectation. You also stand a pretty good chance that they’ll become defensive, disillusioned or even betrayed in your relationship with them.
I also agree with what I believe the author was trying to say with regard to having a list of standards, but I would choose to describe it differently. Finding someone will not remove insecurities from you. It will not make life go easier and it certainly will not undo the past! It will do two things however. It will make life a much less lonely place and it will expose the very things you seek to fulfill (or avoid) through seeking “the one”. Knowing yourself intimately, your values and goals is so very important. Understanding your hopes and dreams in a healthy way is also essential and it’s very important that you are able to share them openly and honestly… with God and your new love interest! The one thing I consistently see in many relationships is a lack of acceptance. I know that may seem strange to read, but it is my factual observation. Accepting someone for who they are and have represented themselves to be is a major key to a long lasting and loving relationship. It’s also a great way to know who NOT to be with. You can’t make an apple be a potato, nor can you make yourself become something you’re not.
OK… that’s some of the healthy relationship stuff addressed, but what about the heart part? The part where we feel lonely? We already know that putting our stuff on someone is not only unfair, it’s also unwise. So… isn’t our expectation of being delivered from loneliness a part of that too? Why are we lonely? What does that look like? This is the part where singles and people in relationships (especially those in long term relationships) are very disconnected in their understanding of the state of being single. What we singles need to do however is very important. We need to learn HOW to accept our singleness and our loneliness and to bring both of those to God. God made us to be in relationship. Adam and Eve are absolute proof of that. God created the first romance between two people with Adam and Eve and so designed what would have been a perfect relationship (until they became fixated on fruit). Learning to accept that there are times where we are just going to be lonely and there ain’t nothing you can do about it will help to make things a little less frustrating. Being in relationship is how we were wired by God. Learning to accept loneliness is just as important as learning how to accept the rest of our stuff. I’m not talking about learning how to fill those voids (loneliness) with activities because that’s not acceptance… that’s avoidance and there’s a big difference. Learning how to accept being lonely is very different from trying to figure out what to do when you are. If the latter is your coping mechanism… well… maybe give what you’re doing another think. Filling our time with things that bring us pleasure is a good thing, but our motivation is what’s important here. I love photography, but I never do it when I’m feeling lonely! My work suffers for it! When I’m lonely, that’s when I choose to become contemplative and share with God (and sometimes friends if they’re willing) why I’m feeling lonely. First, I learn what the root of my loneliness is and I try to learn how to accept my loneliness. That’s not saying I’m becoming defeated, but rather that I’m learning to accept where I am at.
One very important point that this short article overlooks though is this… Our married friends! Our married friends have a hope that we’ll meet someone just as we hope to, but they see it a little bit differently. They have the wise hope that we’ll find someone who will share our values and goals, but they also expect us to be ready to wait for the right person to come along… and then they cozy up to their partner that evening on the couch while they watch their favourite show on TV (or whatever stuff they do as a couple) because that is their reality. It’s reasonable to think that they’ve become disconnected with singleness. Well folks… there are two things to consider here and both are about perspective. It’s always easier to see life from your own perspective and you’ll never fully know what the other person’s perspective truly is. It’s easy to say “be patient and wait on God… he’ll fill that void”. Well… how they make or mean that statement can be the difference between being and feeling completely misunderstood or… understanding that you need to spend some more time with God because of what I was talking about earlier. I’m going to focus on the last sentence of Lysa’s article for a moment “Therefore, instead of just focusing on finding the right partner, let God work on your heart to help you become the right partner.” If this is what your friends are saying to you, then they’re good and wise friends. If not, then they need to reconsider their perspective and think about this sentence themselves! Loneliness to me seems an unnatural thing considering how God created us. We’re going to be lonely, but here’s the kicker… that can also happen inside a relationship. That’s why it is important to learn how to be lonely in a healthy way before we get into a relationship. It will help us to learn how to sort through “stuff” and to better understand our place in any relationship. That just part of how WE can become “the one” for someone else.
If we do much of this work and self-evaluation, we may just get to meet that one very important person that God wants us to meet (other than Jesus). We may get to meet and truly know ourselves. If we’re going to be in a healthy relationship and get to know someone else… how will they get to know us if we don’t even know who we truly are.
Oh… one last thing… “The One”… what is the definition for the one? Well, for me it’s a two part answer. Finding “the one” means finding someone who’ll love and accept me for me, just as I am. They’ll accept me for me and I too will be willing to do likewise for them. The second part though I will leave to the words of a man far wiser than I…
“Love is a commitment to the development of the full potential of the other person; to help them become the very best person they are capable of becoming.” – Brian Tracy
You see… relationship is about service and sacrifice. It’s not about you at all, you’re only one part of it. It’s mostly about the other person, valuing them and respecting the incredible gift they have chosen to give you. It’s about respecting the gift of ‘them’! Your partner will be making a choice to share their life with you and as I see it, there is no greater earthly thing we as people can do! This choice can at the same time be the most and least selfish thing we’ll ever do. Knowing the difference between the two will help us to know the right choice to make when we at last find someone that makes our heart skip a beat.