On Sunday mornings this summer, Heritage is exploring different myths commonly believed within Christianity during a “Mythbusters” teaching series. The week after each topic is taught from a biblical perspective, this blog will further dive into the issue at hand. We pray that this teaching series and the blog article that accompanies it will serve to be a resource as you reach your world for Christ.
By: Kathy Johnston
Photo: Heather Michele Photo
Most little girls I know love playing dress-up, especially as a princess, bride, or even Wonder Woman! My sister and I did, my daughter did, and now I watch my granddaughters do the same; dreaming of Disney castles and Prince Charming coming to whisk us away to live happily ever after. As we mature, we begin to dream of finding that perfect guy, our “soul mate,” the one who will “complete” us and help us create a “happily ever after.”
But is a soul mate a real thing? Are the Disney princess movies right? Is it true that there is only one person that will complete you?
Well, according to these Disney princesses, the answer to that is a resounding yes!
“This is the miracle I’ve been dreaming of.” – Cinderella
“To spend a life of endless bliss, just find who you love through true love’s kiss.” – Enchanted
“My dream wouldn’t be complete without you in it.” – The Princess and the Frog
A problem arises, though, when we invest all our hopes, dreams, and happiness in another human being, our “soul mate,” our “one person.” At some point, that person is going to let us down…they are only human after all, and that’s a heavy load to place on any human being.
There is One however, who can be all that for us, no matter what’s going on around us. We can be at rest even when things around us look shaky. Jesus is that person and is in fact the only One that can fulfill every need we have. He is the one sure place, our one true soul mate.
In the first years of my marriage to Jonathan, I put a LOT of expectation on him without even being aware of it. My first husband had died a few years earlier, so I had a clear understanding of the fact that life is short. Because of that, I had a fear that it could happen again. So I held tightly to my kids and to my husband. I needed to always know where they were and what they were doing. Most of that time I wanted them with me. My happiness was all wrapped up in them. I wanted and needed my husband for myself. I expected him to be my “happily ever after.” As can be expected, it didn’t take long before the weight of that began to affect our relationship.
Thankfully, over the next years, the Lord was gracious to change my heart and open my eyes to see that I was expecting Jonathan to be the one who fulfilled me rather than Jesus. My happiness was wrapped up in how he made me feel. The truth is, I had no control over what my husband or my kids did or what could happen to them…but Jesus did, and I could trust Him.
As we navigated through those years, the Lord began to show me that I was truly complete in Christ, that my wholeness and happiness were really found only in Him. I learned how to rest and know that no matter what might happen in the future, in Christ, I was still whole and complete, and He would hold me and sustain me through whatever would come my way. And He sure has!
The Holy Spirit helped me to see that the companionship, the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs that were being met through my relationship with Jonathan, were added gifts from God. Rather than demanding and expecting them from Jonathan, they were like icing on the cake! Instead of grasping for and demanding that Jonathan be my everything, I found rest in knowing that I was already fulfilled and completed in Christ.
Unfortunately, our culture has been deceived by the myths of Hollywood and Disney. So of course, when things get hard in marriage, the natural conclusion is that maybe this person wasn’t really the one after all. And so, marriages are easily discarded as the search resumes for the perfect “soul mate.”
So what does the Bible say about all this? Courtney Reissig explains very well in her article entitled, “Help I Married the Wrong Person” (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/help-i-married-the-wrong-person/). By the way, Courtney will be speaking at our Heritage Women’s Fall Retreat in November!
“When Jesus defended marriage in the New Testament, he did so not in the name of love or compatibility, but on the basis of God’s authority over marriage (Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9). We believe in the earthly permanence of marriage because we know that God has joined this particular man with this woman. From our first parents, Adam and Eve, to our own marriages, God has given us to each other. Our modern culture makes it easy for us to think that we have made a mistake when marriage gets hard, because we do the choosing. There are few arranged marriages in Western culture. Many men and women date, shop for a ring, and pick the date all on their own. I know I did. With the exception of my husband asking my dad for permission to marry me (and the fact that we were set up by friends), we really were “in control” of our relationship. When marriage gets hard, this perceived control makes us think we have a way out—or at least deserve a way out.
But God is no less sovereign over our marriages in a Western context than he was in the Ancient Near East or in a remote village in Africa. Marriage is about God joining two people together for one uniting purpose. He is over all things (Eph. 4:6). Understanding his good purpose gives us hope when we feel the walls of conflict closing in on us.
Purpose of Marriage
Gary Thomas has said that the purpose of marriage is to make you holy, not happy. Of course, a side benefit of marriage is companionship, shared experiences, and—many times—true happiness. But that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to make us like Jesus. We don’t get to the final day on our own. Marriage is one of God’s good means to sanctify us and bring us safely home.
The belief that we have married the wrong person is far more sinister than we are led to believe. It feels good to be loved and appreciated. It feels good to know that passion is possible again. But all that love, appreciation, and passion will wither away once we get to the other side of the proverbial greener pastures. People are only people. They cannot meet the deepest needs of our souls, even if their words, actions, and Facebook profiles tell us otherwise.
A long-term view of marriage (and life for that matter), saves us from the propensity to bolt when it gets hard or is less than we expected. God has promised to get us to the final day more like Jesus than when we started (Phil. 1:6).”
I’m not there yet for sure, but He is slowly shaping me into His likeness as I learn to be more satisfied in Him.
And all the other stuff, the friendship, laughter, love, and companionship, they are beautiful gifts from the Father brought through special human beings that God has allowed me to share life with on this side of heaven. And I’m so thankful for them!
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)