I am a romantic. Y'all know that. I am a "box full of movie ticket stubs, dried rose petals, and mini-golf score cards" ESFJ who wears her heart on her sleeve as a daily fashion statement. Yet, after two decades of marriage (wow, that sounds rather formidable, doesn't it?), I have learned that there is so much more.
A lovely college student recently posed the following question/concern/perplexity to me.
"There seems to be two camps when it comes to love and relationships. One end of the spectrum is the relentless search for that one perfect person. This person will be everything, know everything, do everything right, etc. And, when you find that one perfect person, it's all moonlight and roses. Then, there's the other end of the spectrum that says relationships are hard, we are all flawed, consider yourself lucky if you happen to find someone who's willing to take a chance, blah-blah-blah. So, here's my question--which is it?"
Isn't that a great question? I thought so. Before I answered her, I immediately thought of that list that I made in college. The "he's the one" list. A list of qualities, virtues, and deal-breakers that quite possibly not even Jesus could live up to. Ladies, whether written down on paper--or just imprinted on your brain--you know of what I speak. Admit it, you're among friends. Of course, I had a mental list in high school, too, which might have contained such significant attributes as "blue eyes, blond hair, and looks good in a pair of oft-washed blue jeans". Deep, I was.
One perfect person. Let's start with the word "one". I don't believe that there was simply one person, in the wide, wide world, who would have been right for me. Realistically and geographically speaking, we live on a densely populated planet (over one billion served, or some such number). The male-female ratio is fairly even; thus, there's a pretty good chance that there is more than one person out there who would float my boat, as it were.
Furthermore, for my dear friends who find themselves "single", either through divorce or death of a spouse, if I believed (or more importantly, they believed) that one person stuff, this means that there is no hope of a loving, healthy relationship for them in the future. I simply can't buy that. If another relationship is in the Plan for them, I would want that for them.
Perfect. Oy, what a word. There is no such thing as a perfect person. We are all broken, sinful creatures who have a moment or two of wonderfulness every so often. Does that mean that one should just take whatever comes along and make the best of it? Of course not. However, if you seek absolute perfection, you will be absolutely disappointed. And, then you start sounding like an episode of Seinfeld with break-up excuses like "He's a close talker" or "she has man hands". "She eats her peas one at a time". Really? Really.
And, let me ever-so-gently remind you, dear reader, that we are not perfect. We can yearn for magnificent "soul fruits" to manifest in our lives, like those that show up in Galatians 5--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and the like. However, such things are impossible without Grace.
For that young man who is currently pitching woo, there is a "top ten" list in Paul's letter to Timothy that makes a great yardstick. "Temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable" are among the qualities for an overseer--a church statesmen. A wee bit different from my "must-have" list of a bygone "You've Got The Right Stuff, Baby" era. Oh, and you can add those Galatian Fruits into the mixing bowl. Starting with the right ingredients is always helpful, don't you agree?
As Knightley so adeptly expressed to his darling Emma, "perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one other."
So, we find ourselves in the middle of the spectrum. Relationships are messy, gorgeous, frustrating, self-sacrificial, and rewarding. Pick your favorite adjective--and then add its opposite for fun. It's not all moonlight and roses--but then again, it's not all tornadoes and cacti, either. There should be a healthy balance of impromptu Sonic Blast runs and conversations about the meaning of life. Or what that insanely intelligent Philosophy prof mentioned today in Ethics class.
In the end, relationships are work. Our strengths are magnified, our weaknesses exposed. Should you think that a romantic relationship with the opposite sex will "complete you"; then, you are in it for the wrong reasons. It's not about you, it's about other-centeredness. Such things are mysteries; but, it is a mystery worth solving.
"But to lose your life for another I've heard
Is a good place to begin..."