Have you already missed the best person for your life? Have you missed ‘the one”? Or is your soulmate still out there?
If you know me, you know I always take note when someone mentions a greater struggle taking place in their lives. I seem to have some sort of a fascination with the bigger reasons behind why people do things, and some people have learned not to mention certain things around me because I’m likely to ask a lot about it. I’m also interested in why people don’t do things. I really find it hard at times to shake certain comments people make long after I’ve finished conversing with them. I tend to feel people’s thoughts, their fears, their regrets deep within my heart.
Case and point, today I was reminded of a few people who had talked to me on the topic of whether or not they had already missed “The One”. No, not that Jet Li movie (although I still really enjoy that one) – the ever elusive soulmate. Does such a perfect person exist for each person in the world, and if so, is it possible that I may have already missed my chances with them?
I remember such a conversation where one of my friends was looking visually distraught. “What’s wrong?”, I asked. “Well”, she said, “my ex is getting married today, and I’m finding it really hard”. I was trying to be comforting and was saying how hard it is when you have to watch someone who broke things off with you enter into a new relationship. She said, “No, I was the one who broke it off with him, and now I’m sad he’s getting married to someone else”.
I wonder if you can relate to my friend here. Or a few other people I’ve had come to me talking about the feelings of regret and uncertainty they faced as a lover or potential lover long passed has since moved on. I’ve even had a few people talk to me about someone they never ever even hit it off with, who never even knew they were interested, and who is now with someone else, leaving them behind. I’ve known in my own life and the lives of others of relationships that could never start because regret for a “not quite boyfriend/girlfriend” was so pervasive, it didn’t allow for a proper chance for something new to start.
Finding a life partner is one of the largest searches and concerns that many people face in life. I’ve met very few people who truly, honest-to-God, have no care whatsoever about the realms of love. But they are very, very rare breeds in my experience. The overwhelming majority of people I’ve known have fallen into the boat of wishing for happily ever after, of finding the one who was made to finish their duet (little Disney reference for you fans out there), of being joined in unison with the person who was tailor made for them.
As I’ve heard this very deep and challenging concern raised from a few people in the last few months, taking up a large piece of the real estate of their hearts and keeping them up at night while they wrestle with this thought, I thought it would be worthwhile having a look at this question. Have you missed “the one”? Here are a few thoughts on the topic.
The concept of a soulmate
The idea of a soulmate isn’t new. Also referred to as “The One”, this is the person that you were born to meet, fall in love with, and marry. They’re usually made out to be a perfect fit for you, having perfectly balanced strengths and weaknesses to offset your own. Oh, plus they’re mega hot, a sexual god/goddess, a domestic genius, a diligent worker, a spiritual powerhouse, and really rich.
Most people’s first encounter with the concept is in a Disney movie or a fairytale or story of old. Belle finds her Adam. Eric finds his Ariel. Cinderella finds her Prince, and life is all tied up in a nice bow. Our second encounter with such a story is found in those high school sweethearts you know who found each other at a very young age, always loved each other, got together young, and have been powering through life and making every person with a single relationship status very jealous.
There is no contingency plan with a soulmate, they’re your one or none, nothing will ever go wrong, and there’s no way one of you could possibly die too early or choose someone else.
The most common and dominating type of thought is usually found amongst spiritual people who see the idea of a soulmate as an institute of God, guided by heaven, and the very fulfillment of the phrase “meant to be”. In Scripture, the first man Adam has a perfect fit for him crafted out of the side of his body, wakes up one morning, goes “WOAH MAN”, and the name sticks for the rest of eternity. The perfect fit. Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. She is the female version of me. The same but opposite.
And these concepts become a source of hope and also of crippling despair for many people. For the hopeful, it gives them something to aspire to, and for everyone else, it chokes the life out of every relationship decision they ever make – every yes or no to coffee, every first and second date, every “one year into the relationship” review, every Valentines Day, every dance, every romantic song – there is now so much pressure on any potential suitor to perform, and for every current partner to live up to. John Maxwell refers to this as “overanalysis paralysis” – unable to choose because of the weight on the choice.
We even see many times in our world today that well after someone has committed themselves to someone else, whether in a long term relationship, a marriage, or whatever else, you find that people will suddenly up and leave, believing that they’ve made the wrong decision and need to do something to set it right. And some who don’t leave still live with the question in their heart as they wake up next to someone every day who seems to becoming more of a stranger as they grow older together. It can be quite a terrifying, defeating thing.
At the mercy of choice
Of course, the thing that ultimately makes the concept of soulmate a challenge is the problem of choice. People are able to say no. Oh sure, in your heart and your head, you’re ready to commit, they’re the perfect person, they complete you Jerry, they make you feel more of a man than you ever thought you could be, all the angels of heaven are singing your names, and everyone you know thinks it’s a great idea…
…until she says no.
And in that moment, the whole world comes tumbling down. Because she didn’t think it was as perfect as you did. And he doesn’t just quite get why you think the universe says yes when there are so many red flags to him saying no.
But that’s the reality of the life we live. As perfect, as wonderful, as beautiful as your life with someone could be, even if God, heaven, the angels, Jesus, Peter, Barnabas and Saint Mary all tick off and believe you’d be perfect together, you need the other person’s yes to progress.
And a person can say yes or no at any point in a relationship, really. As soon as they don’t want to stick around, it does become very, very difficult to build something.
I think more powerful than fate, more important than destiny, more of a factor than the wishes of the external, is the power of your choice. What have you done in the past, but more importantly, what will you do now?
I think one thing I consistently run into is people believing they aren’t ready. Not ready for a relationship, not ready for love, not ready to start hanging out, not ready to continue, not ready to commit, not ready to make it wonderful, not ready to put in the work to make this better than it has become, not ready not ready not ready.
And unfortunately, people live in a state of always getting ready, but never actually going anywhere.
CS Lewis said this – “Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror”. I love how astutely he surmises the reality of life, that you become in the direction of your actions. We seem to believe that life is always out there somewhere, but instead, it’s happening right now, with what we’re doing today.
I wonder how perfect some people think they need to be before they think it’s okay to involve someone else into their lives, or to be allowed to continue with this person in their lives. I wonder how many “each days” we think are required for a relationship to start or continue.
To this end, I think it’s so important that we’re not making decisions for the wrong reasons. Tori Kelly’s mega popular song, “Should’ve Been Us”, highlights the power of regret in the area of relationship decisions, and the popularity of the song no doubt confirms its relatability.
“It should’ve been us…”
Yeah, why wasn’t it exactly? Why didn’t you end up with that dude 3 years ago? Or that girl 9 years ago? Why did you blow off the best relationship in your life?
I think the more confronting question, and the only one you can do anything about, is what you will do with the next one? Are you saying no now because you can’t get over the fact you’ve said no before?
People spend so many months, years, sometimes their whole lives, unable to accept the end of something. And that’s usually because they just can’t accept what part their own decisions had to play in it – especially if they were the person to end it. And now you see them off Happier (hello Eddy Sheeran) than they ever were, and you just can’t accept that it could have been you.
But it’s not. It’s not. Listen, seriously – it’s not.
And you have a very difficult decision to make – do you try to win them back, or do you accept that’s the way things are? How far can you go?
The truth is this – you can’t change what you did. You can be forgiven, you can be reconciled somewhat, you can be on amicable terms, but you can never change a bad decision. You can find healing and wholeness and new life, but you can’t negate the consequences of your choices.
But what you can do from here is not be so married to your past that you miss your future.
At our church at the moment we’re looking at heroes of the faith. One hero who came up quite a bit over the last few weeks was Joseph. Joseph was a young man with big dreams who was sold by his brothers to slavery, wrongly accused of sexual assault, thrown in prison, and forgotten by the people he treated well. But instead of choosing fear in his life because of how many things never really worked out in his life, he chose to continue to be faithful to who he knew he was called to be, and eventually rose to the top.
You can do the same. You don’t have to be the one who let the good one get away, because the next time a good one comes by your life, you won’t let them go. You can make the right decisions. You can take what you learned from what you’ve been through and use it to make wise choices and pursue someone with wholeness and true love.
Loving a human and building something better
Love is ultimately a choice. As many facets as it could have, the feelings, the motions, the neurons in your brain going psycho, the other parts of your body doing their thing, whatever it may be, it’s really going to come down to the choices you make with this person.
My wife is truly a remarkable person. She really is the best person I know, and so many people love her and respect her (as they should). And yet, every day, even though I’m exposed to the brilliance of who she is, it is fully within my power to only see her faults, to obsess over minor mistakes, to not forgive when forgiveness is needed, to stay quiet when I should be speaking up, to focus on destroying instead of devoting my whole life to building something wonderful.
And every day, she faces the same choice.
And every day, you face the same choice.
From a Scriptural perspective, especially as I know many people in the Christian faith who really, really struggle with the thought that they’ve missed the one somehow, or let the best choice for their life slip by, I need to remind you that it’s more important what you do with what you’re given than what you’re given. In the parable of the talents, Jesus commends two servants who double what’s entrusted to them, and condemns the one who buries his gift. To be faithful with much, you first need to be faithful with little.
What a tragedy that we often are the one who buries our gift, whether that be this guy or girl who has potential to be a great partner, or our encouragement that we have to give someone like that, or our great ability and capacity to love and be loved. Instead of being faithful in love, we live dominated by fear, kept held in the grasp of what could have been, instead of having eyes to see what could still be.
Humans aren’t perfect. Your life partner won’t be perfect. They’ll have shortcomings, they’ll have fears and questions, they’ll have uncertainties and won’t always make the right choices. Exactly the same as you. Yet, here you are, hoping and praying for someone to love you in spite of your flaws, and to bring out your best. You’re no fairytale, you’re not a perfect love song, you’re not 100% wonderful. And yet you are more than enough to be someone’s wonderful, to be their duet, to write a very real but very wonderful story of a life of love together.
And for those in the boat of questioning a current relationship, especially a committed one – have you done the best with this person? Really? Really? Or are you giving up too early because of something you just haven’t spoken about properly yet? The truth is that the way you treat this person is exactly how you’re going to treat the next one, and unless the problems you have now aren’t problems you’re also going to have later, you need to deal with it now before you bring it into another relationship and do the same thing again.
Are you ready to bring out the best in someone else? Are you able to love a person the way they need to be loved?
And so, if you’re in the boat of feeling like you’ve missed “The One”, let me encourage you that you don’t have to miss the next one. Life is short and quick, but it’s also long in a lot of ways. There aren’t limitless opportunities, but we still have the opportunity to live limitless in our next opportunity.
And I think that’s a powerful way to live – ready for what comes next, instead of mourning what was or what could have been. Don’t stand at the grave of your past and weep when you should be out finding and celebrating the joy that can be yours.
What are your thoughts on soulmates? Do you think it’s possible for someone to have missed “the one”?