The other day as part of #AfternoonTea, we talked about relationships and the question of “Is there the one?” In other words, does God have one specific and ideal partner in mind for you who will complete you in every way.
In classic style, I responded with the good old “No and yes.” Now that might sound like a contradiction or a cop-out but let me explain why this is the right answer.
No, you are not going to meet “The One”
When people talk about meeting “The One” it often seems to have more to do with a kind of Disney princess romance where we long for “love’s true kiss.” This can be highly debilitating. We become anxious about whether someone is perfect for us or not. We begin to find minor faults and little reasons to say no to the person asking us out or break off with the one we are dating.
This leads to uncertainty in life that causes paralysis. How can I be ever sure that this I have met the right person. What if I get married to the man/woman I meet and date when in fact my perfect partner is still out there? Such a belief may well create anxiety and tension within a marriage too.
Further, I think it arises out of a wider misunderstanding of how God works and particularly around predestination. If I think that somewhere out there is “the one” and I have to be ultra-careful not to meet them then I may also be looking for the one perfect job, house, church, vocational calling in life. Again, this is likely to lead to paralysis and discontent in our decision making.
I think this links closely to a misunderstanding about God’s gifting. You will sometimes hear people talking about a gift of singleness and a gift of marriage. I remember in my late 20s worrying about this. Suppose God had given me the gift of singleness? I wasn’t sure I wanted that one. But more than that, if I had been given that gift then why didn’t it actually seem to be there? Why did I get lonely? Why did I find myself attracted to women I met and why did I still have to battle sexual temptation in my thought life? Surely having the gift of singleness meant that all of those things would disappear and I would discover a serene contentedness in my own company?
You see, I had misunderstood Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 7. Thar type of gift of singleness does not exist. If we think that’s how it works, then we will be surprised if we do get married to find that equally there is not a gift of marriage that means we lose any tendency to selfishness or impatience and so go through married life without a cross word or falling out.
Rather, the gift of singleness and the gift of marriage both simply mean that God puts us into that situation and each situation will come with different opportunities to serve him, witness for him, love the church and glorify God.
I don’t need to sit and wait, praying anxiously for God to give me the gift of singleness or marriage. If I am single I have the gift of singleness, if I am married I have the gift of marriage.
This leads me to the other side of the answer
Yes, you are going to meet “The one”
If God’s plan for you is marriage and a family, then the person you will marry will be the one. The mention of family is important here. Imagine if my parents had spent all the time worrying about whether they would get to have the perfect children, the ones intended for them? They might never have had kids. Imagine how sad my childhood would have been if having children they had continued to worry that I was not the child they were meant to have and build up an image in their mind of an idealised perfect son they hoped to have one day.
The reality is that if you have kids, then your son and daughter are the children God planned for you. They are just the right ones. That means they come with all their mess and imperfections, all the things you love about them and all the things you hate. One day they will no doubt meet someone who will love all the things you hate about them and hate all the things you love about them.
If and when you meet someone and you are attracted to them and you get on well with them, they laugh at your jokes and they get sad when you are sad then they will be the one. There are some objective criteria to look out for, these are fairly minimal i.e. a believer of the opposite gender who feels the same way about you. Beyond that don’t worry too much. Don’t worry about whether or not they are “the one” get to know them, see if you get along, consider the possibility of marriage and life together.
Oh yes, there are some other characteristics to look out for, a healthy marriage will be one where you both are growing in godliness, show the fruit of the Spirit and have a concern for the lost. Those things are important too but focus on making sure you display those qualities.
God is sovereign and he will work all things together for good. You don’t need to worry that somehow you are on a path which is second best and not his plan for your life. That’s not how it works.
Here’s the #AfternoonTea discussion to watch back.