There is No Such Thing as ‘The One’
August 26, 2013
Jared lives with his wife Mandy in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves on staff at Forest Baptist Church. He's a Wheaton College graduate and an M.Div student at Southern Seminary. He Read More
You’ve seen the plot: Guy meets girl. Guy likes girl. Girl likes guy. They hang out pretty frequently and text/call each other almost every day. Everything’s coming together, and their friends see the budding relationship as a complete win for both sides.
The girl is waiting for the guy to take initiative and move their relationship past the odd more-than-friends-less-than-lovers stage, but he's scared. “What if she’s not the one I’m supposed to pursue?” he asks. “I need to wait on God to tell me she’s the right one” he reconciles to himself.
The dates continue. The girl is irritated but patient as the guy dances around taking things to the next level and never does. The months go by. She sees her friends getting engaged/married/having children and can’t figure out why he’s stalling. She genuinely likes him and can imagine a fulfilling marriage with him. But he’s weak and indecisive.
The Bible certainly doesn’t talk about marriage and spouses in terms of finding only one uniquely designed match
Perhaps you’ve seen the other side of the story, too. A mature, Godly guy is interested in a girl, and he pursues her like he’s supposed to. He takes initiative. He doesn’t play with her heart. He takes her on dates and makes his intentions clear to her. They’ve been dating for months and she genuinely likes him, but when he talks about taking their relationship to a more serious level, she stalls. She tells him she needs to pray and seek more wisdom about it, even though she’s received all the Godly counsel one could want and has prayed about nothing else for months.
He’s an outstanding Christian man, and her friends, family and pastors unanimously agree they’d make for a fantastic marriage. But deep down, she’s terrified by the idea of marrying “the wrong person.” No matter how compatible they seem, she can’t stop wondering if there might be someone better suited for her.
I’ve seen this happen so many times, my stomach hurts just thinking about it: A couple finds themselves in a relationship in which all signs point to marriage, but either the guy or the girl (sometimes both) is stalling because they’re not sure if their significant other is “the one.” They’re wondering if God’s going to tell them one day, “You really messed up. I had your perfect spouse all ready and waiting for you, but you went ahead and married the wrong person. Too bad.”
Of course, this begs the question: Does God have only one specific person you’re meant to marry? My answer is a resounding “no.”
The Bible talks extensively about marriage, but it doesn’t discuss much about how Christians should go about selecting a spouse. Granted, it wouldn’t be wise to assume that just because a guy and a girl are both Christians they’ll make for a good marriage. But the Bible seems to imply a great degree of freedom for Christians when discerning whom to marry. And it certainly doesn’t talk about marriage and spouses in terms of finding only one uniquely-designed match, yet we’ve strangely adopted this notion when considering a potential spouse. We pray things like, “God, show me if he/she is the person I’m supposed to marry or not.” Hollywood has more influence on us than we realize.
So here’s the rub: What if God doesn’t have one particular person you’re supposed to marry? What if there are many different men or women with whom you could have an equally fulfilling, God-glorifying marriage?
If you’re single and looking to get married, don’t scan your groups of friends like you're a lone puzzle piece looking for a perfect match. You shouldn't be looking for your custom-fitted, perfect partner; you should be looking for a good spouse.
Instead of asking, "Who will be best for me and fit all of my criteria?" ask questions like, "Who would make for a healthy, God-glorifying marriage?" and “Who seems like they would be unselfish and willing to make adjustments with me?” Consider the possibility that in your circles there could be two or three or five people with whom you could have an equally happy, satisfying and God-glorifying marriage.
Does this all seem unromantic and impersonal? I’ve been married for a few years, so I’m not exactly a veteran at love, but I can tell you, and the love of my life, Mandy, would agree, that marriage is much more formed than it is found. You don’t find a good marriage so much as you make one. Happiness doesn’t come from a spouse fitting your every selfish expectation; it comes from you and your spouse working and adjusting to serve each other while rooted in Christ’s love.
Marriage is much more formed than it is found. You don’t find a good marriage so much as you make one.
In my opinion, there are a few necessary items you and your potential spouse have to have in common to have a rock-solid, God-glorifying marriage. Spiritual convictions (like first-tier doctrinal issues), family/finance convictions, lifestyle/calling are a few that come to mind. When it comes to these basic items, you should definitely be picky! Beyond this, however, don't be too selective.
Any marriage is built and shaped by two different, sinful people adjusting to one another. You simply will never find a human being who is pre-packaged to fit your every personality quirk, cultural preference or lifestyle particularity. Every couple will have differences and will need to make adjustments for one another. No one will ever be everything you want, but there’s probably more than one person who has the basics in common with you and would make for a great marriage. And here’s the best part: the more work you and your spouse are willing to put into your marriage, the more joyful it will be.
“So how do I know whom to pursue?” Look at your circles. Are there people you enjoy being with, who share your convictions on the things of God, who see money and family the same as you, and whose lives and lifestyles seem to be heading in a similar direction to yours? Pray about it (not too hard), pick one and move forward. If it doesn’t work, there will be others. Just don’t be too picky. Every healthy marriage will require sacrifice, adjustments and selflessness, so get used to the idea. Don’t miss out on great opportunities because you sacrificed them on the altar of selfishness.
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