Somewhere out there is my Mr. Right. When I find him, I will be whole and happy.
I know I bought this lie.
We have been inundated with movies and books brandishing fairytale-like love stories and insanely romantic love affairs filled with characters so in love and so “right” for each other; or preached at, by some of our churches and well-meaning Christian friends, that finding the “right Christian guy (or girl)” equals perfect happiness plus the assurance of a struggle-free marriage implying that Christians ought to have it all together. It is almost impossible not to think that we deserve the kind of love story portrayed in our modern-day media — that story with the right one — as we are skillfully bombarded with it daily. Our vision of marriage is that of a couple whose story opens with a great line and ends with an exceptional closing scene in which the length in between can be measured by the number of pages or hours.
But most of us believe we do not hold this lie in our hearts. Most of us affirm that what we see on the screen or read on the pages of books is fiction. Yet, as evidenced in the statistics of broken families and failed marriages which continue to climb at an accelerated fashion, we cannot ignore the signs that in the depths of our hearts we have bought in to the fictional existence of the right one. Contemporary culture on love and marriage has carefully maneuvered our concept of this sacred union with subtle myths masking the difficult facts that develop when two broken people vow to be bound until death do us part. In addition to this, we have become an increasingly impatient generation on many levels in our interactions with each other as the demand for products and technology that instantly gratify us exponentially grow.
We have been deceived, and cunningly so that we don’t recognize it. We are rapidly losing our ability to endure discomforts; thus we give up so easily on our marriages, on our families.
The reality is there is no Mr. or Ms. Right. We all fall short even of our own expectations for ourselves and the ones we set up for others to achieve. We don’t even live up to half of the person we think we should be. We are constantly changing and invariably modifying our ways and our thoughts at an unpredictable rate. There is no way we can be the same person that our mate met a year or two ago. So, there is no way we can be the right one from last year and still be the right one on the next. At the onset, we have already set up ourselves for a failed marriage for buying in to the fallacy that we can find the right one or have found the right one when we said, “I do.”
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to answer a couple of questions on marriage for a study she is doing on a book. My experience in marriage can be quantified by one hand, 2 years and 8 months. I am hardly an expert on the subject, but I am in it and am a product of a not-so-common one; thus, I am not without knowledge. I know there is so much more I don’t understand or even know about this profoundly mysterious, dynamic relationship.
But I do know this: It is an absolutely beautiful and uncomfortable journey all at the same time.
As I was examining my answers to my friend’s queries, I found myself fixed at a time in my life where I was caught between going to missions or not. I was at the prime of my teaching career, and I felt that I belonged in the classroom with my high school kids. I have fallen in love with the people I was working with, the students, the school, and the quiet, comfortable life in the country. But deep in my heart, I felt a tugging to change direction — to take a different path. I asked God amidst conflicting emotions to show me how He wants me to respond.
One cold January day in Windsor, North Carolina, I sat down in front of my laptop and Googled “short term missions trip to China.” Five months later, I found myself on a flight to China with a team of Christians from California. After about two days of traveling, I landed in Beijing meeting my husband-to-be for the first time. No, I did not know then that he would be my husband; but I knew without a doubt that I was where I was supposed to be at that specific time. I felt God’s approval as I was standing in the middle of that crowded airport. I felt His smile as I was hugging Micah — a Chinese, orphaned kid suffering from brittle bone disease — a few days later.
I knew, then, God was calling me to missions. Knowing this led me to a new self-discovery and to a new frame of reference. Marriage, then, became not about the man I would marry, but about what God wanted to do in my life. I saw through the lens of this fresh revelation the distorted view I had about finding the right man who can make me whole and happy, and how I was in bondage to that for a long time. Almost instantaneously, I was able to let go of the lies I held within. God enabled me.
No, I did not meet my Mr. Right. I met the man whom I know I can serve with in the work God has prepared for me. I met the man I know I can love well and grow with in Him. The love I have for my husband is not because he is right for me, but who he is in God; and the love God has given me for him.
One of the questions my friend had for me was, “What advice do you have for those who are single and desire to be married, and to those who are engaged to be married?”
My answer was the valuable counsel I received from a dear friend who took the time to speak to me about marriage when I got engaged. I believe singles and desire to be married and those who are engaged to be married should hear this admonition.
Your husband (or husband-to-be) is not only flawed; he is not God.
He will disappoint you and frustrate you. He will hurt you. He will struggle with sin. He will sin. He will not be able to fulfill all your needs. He will not satisfy you. He will not make you whole. Only God can do that. He is human, after all, just like you. You should look to God for all your needs, not to your husband. Do not elevate your husband to God. You should both individually and together draw closer to Him for in so doing you will grow closer to each other. If you can look at a triangle, that’s how your relationship should be. Below is the illustration my friend gave me (and yes, she really drew this on a table napkin at the restaurant where we met for this conversation):
As the husband and wife seek God and look to Him more, the gap between them becomes shorter and shorter. They cannot help but be drawn closer to each other and flourish in Him.
The right one who can make you whole and happy will never arrive no matter how you pray for him or her. The right one who can make you whole and happy will never be the person you are about to get married to or the person you are married to. There is only one right person who can fill you to overflowing with all that you need, who can make you whole and happy — Jesus. Do not grant society, friends, or family, even with good intentions, permission to let you think otherwise.
Find your identity in Jesus. Build your life in and around Him. Thrive in Him. As you intimately walk with the Lord, you will no doubt find the spouse you can love, grow with, and serve; and be the spouse somebody else can love, grow with, and serve seasoned with much grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
April 6, 2013
© 2013 Kezia Lewis. All Rights Reserved.