By Stephen Altrogge
Aaaahhhh, your soulmate (insert romantic accordion music). That one magical person whom you connect with on every level. You both love long walks on the beach, obscure punk bands from Seattle, European poetry, French Press coffee, and movies directed by Joss Wheedon. You never argue because, frankly, there’s nothing to argue about! Every moment spent together is electric, magical, romantic, sort of like a Disney movie, except without the cartoon parts or the fairy godmothers. Some of you are single, and you’re looking for your soulmate. Some of you are married, and you’re not sure what to think, because your spouse isn’t quite the soulmate you envisioned.
The biblical truth is, there is no such thing as a soulmate. My wife Jen is not my soulmate, she is something WAY WAY better. Our culture (ala Nicholas Sparks, et. all) has created the idea of two people coming together, falling deeply in love, and living out the remainder of their days in peace and harmony. Hollywood has perpetuated this idea to no end. The end result is that many singles put off marriage until they find the “perfect” soulmate, and many married people wonder if they married the wrong person because their marriage feels hard. After all, if you find your soulmate, marriage shouldn’t be hard work, right?
Wrong. The biblical picture of marriage is of two sinful people being joined together in the most intimate relationship possible. When you put two sinners together, there will inevitably be difficulties and trials. There will be friction. As Tim Keller says in his book The Meaning of Marriage:
Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature?
In addition to being sinners, we are also frail, weak, fragile, selfish, easily worn out people. We are simply unable to give a person all that they need to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically whole. We are not God. Again, Tim Keller says:
It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live up to that.
The good news, however, is that in marriage God gives us someone far better than a soulmate. He gives us the person who is exactly right for us. He gives us the husband or wife who will help us become more like Jesus Christ. Sometimes that’s a painful process for both spouses. It doesn’t feel “soulmate-ish”. When Jen is confronted with my selfishness, it hurts her. When she corrects me, it stings. But in the midst of that process, God helps Jen grow in being patient and helps me grow in being unselfish. It’s God’s perfect design!
When I’m having a particularly bad day dealing with my chronic anxiety, that is hard on Jen. She has to pick up some slack that I normally would pick up (and she does it joyfully!). I have to rely on her to do things I normally do. In the midst of all that, God helps Jen grow in unselfishness and also deepens my love for her as I see her serve me. There’s nothing particularly romantic or soulmate-ish about it. It’s hard and it requires work. But as we seek to serve each other, the end result is that we both love God more and we both love each other more.
God led me to marry the girl who is just right for me! We don’t like all the same things (I like sci-fi, she likes Downton Abbey). We don’t have flawless communication at every level (honestly, I stink at communication and am really trying to grow in it). But by God’s grace, we both are seeking to serve the Lord and serve each other. That’s way better than having a soul mate.
Stephen Altrogge serves as pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA. Stephen is author of the books Game Day For the Glory of God: A Guide For Athletes, Fans, and Wanabes and The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. Stephen blogs at The Blazing Center.