I love hearing stories of how people met their significant others, and despite the fact that every story is very different and very unique to the couple, every story carries the same two threads: when you know, you know, and that timing, while we cannot always predict it, is always perfect. I’ve heard stories about people who, on an impulse, quit their job, moved to a different city on a whim, and randomly ran into their significant other in a bar shortly after. I’ve heard stories about people who, for some reason, stayed that five extra minutes at the gym, whence a strapping young fellow walked in the door. I’ve heard stories about people who got in ski accidents, and fell in love with the ski patrol who picked them up. In retrospect, timing is always perfect, but in present time, it’s never predictable.
As humans, we are each layered with a unique and individual set of experiences. Our lives move on a linear trajectory of time, so we pick up and pack on each of these experiences as we go. I can’t unsee something, unwitness something, unexperience something–once it’s happened, I’m forever changed, and I will carry that layer with me for the rest of my life (as, of course, I add on new layers). In terms of dating, we always start a little green, and with each dating experience, we learn something new, experience something different, and we carry all of that into the future projections of ourselves, that eventually leads us to what we hope is our final destination at the alter.
In church, we sing lyrics about how we must break down in order to build ourselves back up (My favorite line to belt out: “Where your love ran red/And my sin washed white”). I believe, as humans, we are born tarnished, broken, and it is through repentance, grace, and humility (some worship music and maybe a little yoga) that we peel those layers back to uncover our truest selves. I believe we are born selfish–if I look at a young tot, their motivations are strictly selfish–they want to eat when they want to eat, they want to be held when they want to be held, they want to talk when they want to talk, and it is through experience, coaching, practice that we train ourselves to be unselfish, and the value comes in the work we put in. I can’t just be born all those good traits of selfless, graceful, forgiving, because I must know what it is like to be selfish, coarse, judgemental in order to understand why I should be the other way.
I think the same is true with relationships. We all start relationships very ripe, and very human. We are selfish in our desires. We are materialistic in our choices. We are egotistical in our actions. We seek the most attractive, the richest, the tallest, most athletic, one with the best car, who buys us the nicest gifts, etc.–because we feel entitled to these things. But, the more we date, the more layers of experience we put on, the more our viewpoints change. We are all granted some kind of unique and individual obstacle, some kind of brokenness in our human nature, as a way to humble us, force us to break ourselves down, surrender, and prepare ourselves for marriage (which, if God created marriage as a union to give us a glimpse of what lies ahead, and to mimic the kind of relationship He seeks to have with us, then this makes sense).
In order to get to this ‘destination’, our paths are perfectly and individually crafted. Of the happiest, best fitting, most successful couples I have met thus far, their journey ‘ended’ once they overcame a unique and individual obstacle. For some, this was learning how to stop taking others criticisms so personally, and once they learned that lesson, and were successful in its implementation, the road began to shift. For some, it was needing to learn how to set up boundaries, and once they learned that lesson, and were put in positions that tthese their boundary-setting, their path sent them to the right person. For some, they needed to learn how to value themselves, and once they accepted their worth, and maintained that worth, they found themselves in the arms of someone worthy. But, of course, because our actual experiences in life run linearly, in the present moment, we may not know exactly what these lessons are, how many of these lessons we are meant to encounter, how long they will last, but we can always be sure that, once we have accomplished and successfully completed the ‘mission’, we will know.
I’m sure we all know, if not are ones ourselves, people who are so anxious to get married that they become deaf and ignore their given journeys. Each of these journeys is perfectly and individually crafted for each one of us, and when we cut those journeys short–due to our selfishness, our desire to have material items, our desperation and loneliness–we find ourselves in compromising positions. It’s not to say that we can’t ever find happiness, because there certainly are many couples who began their relationships in compromising positions that have made it work, and certainly for some of us, it is those compromising positions that were part of our journeys in the first place. But, I think it is when we listen, when we remain faithful, and we accept that our journeys are not ours to control that we are gifted understanding and contentment. Certainly, we still suffer, because life is about suffering, but we can better manage and understand the purpose behind that suffering.
I’ve often wondered why my own journey has lead me to this path. I’ve wondered I had to wait this long, and why I continue to wait. I’ve known several people who have gotten out of long term relationships, and shortly after, were presented with their Prince Charming, and I’ve wondered why that wasn’t me. Or, why I’m not planning a wedding, like all of my other friends so excitedly are. Or, why I’ve had to endure so many heartbreaks, when so many other people never have to experience those treacherous times. But, what I have to remember is that my journey is different from everyone else’s journey. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to meet someone else, because I was supposed to be attending grad school, writing a book, traveling to Europe. Maybe I’m not supposed to be planning a wedding, because I need to be the one single friend who has no obligations and can help cart out of town guests around. Maybe I was supposed to endure those heartbreaks, because they will prepare me for something greater in the future. I do know, however, that once the journey does end, everything will make sense. I just have to be patient.
In the words of my very wise dad, I think we all just need to ride it out. Ride it out. Don’t let societal expectations, other people’s opinions disrupt our perfectly unique and individual journeys.