When my parents broke the news to me that Santa Claus didn’t exist, I stormed out of the room, blurting, “I don’t even want to know about the Easter Bunny!” Although the news was devastating at the time, I found solace in the fact I had obtained a more realistic grasp of how gifts arrived under our tree. Letting go of a childish notion of St. Nick also paved the way for me to obtain a mature understanding of St. Nicholas, the saintly bishop of the fourth century.
What does all of this have to do with finding “the one?” Well, many people have a notion of soulmates that’s in need of serious demythologizing. In exchange, they can discover a mature Christian concept of their future (or current) spouse.
In his ancient text, The Symposium, Plato presents the myth that men and women originally had four arms, four legs, and two faces. Unfortunately, Zeus split them in half as a punishment for their pride (which conveniently doubled his number of worshippers). Meanwhile, these incomplete individuals wandered the earth until they found their other halves. Upon discovering the other, the two would know they were made for one another, and would finally become whole.
“After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart.”
Sounds more like Hollywood than Plato.
Looking for your better half?
We should not expect another person to complete us. Let God do that. Some guys think, “Since a wife is supposed to be your better half, I guess I’m only 50 percent complete until I find her. When I find her, she will fill my emptiness and take care of all of my emotional needs.” If this guy finds a girl, it will not be a budding relationship; it will be a hostage situation.
Nevertheless, Hollywood has made a fortune perpetuating the eternal myth that there is a perfect person out there for each of us. But here’s the problem: You’re going to have to wait a lifetime before you can marry a perfect person. (For those familiar with the book of Revelation, I’m referring to the wedding feast of the Lamb.) Until then, anyone you marry is going to have his or her share of imperfections.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in this life, you’re not going to find someone with whom you are perfectly compatible. After all, the word “compatible” comes from the Latin com-pati, which means to “suffer with.” Successful marriages are not the result of finding a perfect person, but rather loving the imperfect person who you have chosen to marry. St. Francis de Sales even described marriage as “a perpetual exercise of mortification.”
Only God can complete us. When we make an idol out of a relationship, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment because all idols are meant to be broken.
Do soulmates exist?
If there’s no perfect person made only for you, should we conclude from this that there’s no heavenly plan for your love life? In a blog in which he makes many excellent points, Matt Walsh wrote, “My wife and I weren’t destined for each other. It wasn’t fate that brought us together. We are bound not by karma, but by our choice.” He goes on to say that God doesn’t destine us to end up with anyone specific. Rather, there are countless people whom we could marry and be equally content. They become our soulmates when we marry them. We don’t marry them because they are our soulmates.
While there is some merit to these ideas, the difficulty with this concept is that it doesn’t leave much room for divine providence. For those theologians out there, it sounds more deist than theist.
In the book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael declares to Tobias, regarding his future wife, “Do not be afraid, for she was destined for you from eternity. . . When Tobias heard these things, he fell in love with her and yearned deeply for her” (Tob. 6:17).
This isn’t Hollywood; it’s the Sacred Scriptures. We know Adam was made for Eve, Sarah was destined for Tobias, Joseph was created for Mary, and so on. But how, when, and why does God choose to play the role of a heavenly match-maker?
Obviously, only God knows the answer to this. But we know that divine providence intervenes in our lives to the extent that we make room for it. Those who walk with God often marvel at how he seems to intervene in the most providential ways in the tiniest details of life. Believers routinely speak of “divine appointments,” and other occasions where we can see God’s hand at work.
For example, Blessed Mother Teresa once said that a man came to her, seeking a specific medicine for his dying child. However, the drug could not be obtained in India. As she was speaking to the man, someone walked into the convent with a basket of half-used medicines. Right on top of the basket was the rare drug. She remarked:
“I just couldn’t believe because if it was inside, I would not have seen it. If he had come before or after, I would not have connected. I just stood in front of that basket and kept looking at the bottle and in my mind I was saying, ‘Millions and millions and millions of children in the world how could God be concerned with that little child in the slums of Calcutta. To send that medicine, to send that man just at that time, to put that medicine right on the top and to send the full amount that the doctor had prescribed.’ See how precious that little one was to God Himself. How concerned He was for that little one.”
If God is infinitely concerned with providing medicine to His children, you can rest assured He is also interested in providing for our vocations. I believe God the Father has a perfect plan for each of our lives, just as He had for His own Son. However, as Isaiah 55:9 tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Sometimes this “perfect” plan involves substantial suffering, but this does not make it any less perfect. Its perfection comes from the fact that it comes from the heart of a Father who loves us.
What this means is that God doesn’t promise that you’ll find the person who makes you the happiest, but if you remain open to His will, you’ll discover the person who will make you the holiest—and this will bring you more joy in the end than any plan you could have concocted without Him. Your soul will be sanctified through this mate . . . and in my opinion, that’s God’s idea of blessing you with a soulmate.
Jason Evert founded chastityproject.com has spoken on six continents to more than one million people about the virtue of chastity. He is the author of more than ten books, including How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul and Theology of the Body for Teens.