I have heard many single people talk about finding that special someone. Married people as well encourage their single unmarried friends. "There's someone out there just for you" or "there's someone for everyone" are refrains we have all heard from Hollywood, radio, our families, and from each other. From this idea of destiny we take hope, after many years perhaps, without having found "the perfect mate".
I have also heard it said, "I don't want to settle." This sounds prudent. It would certainly be unwise to enter into a marriage with a person with whom you do not feel some excitement for making a life-long commitment to a unique relationship that no one else can join with you. Marriage, as an oath sworn to commit one's entire lifetime to only one other person, is not to be taken lightly.
When we talk about "settling" with regard to a spouse, we are talking about giving up on a dream: that "special someone", the one person in the whole world who is "perfect" for me.
But we quite easily, and even frequently acknowledge "nobody's perfect". The bright light of the sun begins to disperse the morning mist of our dream and we begin to see that we pursue a fantasy.
But this dream does not come from God. While the Bible does abundantly praise and recommend marriage, it never describes anything like a "special someone". It's that simple. It's a childhood fantasy. This is hard to admit. I am one to encourage the relentless pursuit of a dream and persistence against circumstances and nay-sayers. But perhaps I still can be.
And really, this is good news. I know so very well how desperately imperfect I am. Seriously, for whom could I possibly be a perfect match? I used to say with cynical (though light-hearted) sarcasm, "I'll never settle for a woman who will settle for me."
What does come from God? One instruction about who to marry: "do not be unequally yoked." Many instructions about how to do marriage. Might this indicate God's priorities? I suspect he cares more about our behavior in marriage than about who we have chosen to marry. In fact, in the history of the world and even in some cultures today, choice in marriage is completely irrelevant.
Yet our dream remains so appealing! It seems so right to desire beauty, joy, delight, and to receive love. But have we explored that to which we are called?
Are those who "settle" really giving up on a dream? Some of them may be, but perhaps some of them have learned what I have not. Perhaps they have learned to see beyond the fragile veneer of beauty that fades and to recognize a flawed human being when they see one. Perhaps they have even learned to give love to such a person.
I expect to find great joy in giving love to another, in part, because I know that I cannot do it alone. I must depend on Jesus to be there with me infusing me with strength, stamina, and love for someone other than myself that I do not naturally have. But also, there is pleasure to be had in enriching another person, especially one I enjoy and for whom I have care.
I think the real decision, the real commitment, of marriage isn't as much about who we choose as it is about who we choose to be.
Let us not settle for that mythical "special someone". Rather, let us worship God alone and (married or not) continue to strive for the dream of being the spouses that only the indwelling Christ can prepare and empower us to be.