As I’ve been reading Rose Sweet’s Dear God, Send me a Soul Mate (AMG publishing), I share her concern for people going through life searching high and low for a soul mate, who, only after they tire of looking, lower their standards and settle for much less than what God would have given them. They are left with unmet potential, disenchantment, disillusionment, and possibly even resentment toward love in general or their “soul mate” in particular. If they’ve married, they may stay “stuck” in a mundane marriage. Maybe these people will divorce. Maybe these two mismatched people will try to fill the void left my unmet unrealistic expectations of the other person by finding “the one” who will meet all their expectations. The problem is, most of the time, these people embark on such an adventure by themselves. Make no mistake about it; desperate people will gravitate toward any remote possibility in their search to find love. More often then not, this leads to disastrous ends.
One of the premises of the book is that we need to “plan” to find that soul mate of ours. Of course, this goes against the grain of the modern Hollywood version of “love at first sight” after a chance fateful encounter at the grocery store reaching for the same gallon of milk. But as I read, I became convinced that planning to find our soul mate made perfect sense. Planning takes away all of the silly notions of fateful encounters and causes us to be rational for a moment at a time when our irrational emotions, feelings, and hormones usually run the show. Let’s look at this example to understand the value of planning.
Suppose I wanted to sail around the world. I know enough to know that I need to put my sea worthy boat into the bay. I know that if I keep heading East, I’ll eventually run into Europe. But that will obviously impede my progress of sailing around the world. So when I hit Europe I need to take a right hand turn and go around Africa…past Asia…until I run into California…then it’s another right turn to go all the way around South America until I end up back in Narragansett Bay. The only problem is that I know nothing about sailing. I know nothing about the maritime laws. I know nothing about navigating. I know nothing. I will die at sea, lost and adrift, mere weeks after leaving port.
That’s what happens to so many lonely people. They have no clue! They know what they want…a soul mate, but they have no idea how to get one. They are lost and adrift on the sea of love drowning until another poor lost sole in a boat wants to come and “rescue” them. Now they’ve “found” each other, but guess what…now you’re lost together. You need to know a few things before sailing around the world and you need to make plans to get you to your goal. Isn’t it better to have been rational and intellectual and calculating, and get where you’re supposed to get, than to just trust that “internal compass” that may or may not be accurate, and wind up so far off course people look at you like you’re ridiculous? Here’s how to NOT be ridiculous.
STEP ONE: Pray for God’s Blessing. Centuries ago, Abraham charged his faithful and most trusted servant, Eliezer, to find his son Isaac a wife. Abraham made it very clear to Eliezer that Isaac’s wife could not come from among the people they were living, namely the Canaanites, but rather she had to be from his own kin living in another land. Eliezer pleaded with Abraham to instruct him of what to do in the event he could not find a suitable wife. The task consumed this man and he went to God in prayer. Eliezer believed God for what he could do…we don’t. We think e-harmony is a divinely inspired entity which takes all of the guess work out of finding our soul mate. Eliezer knew he had ONE chance to get it right. Today, we have “starter marriages” so the need to pray for God’s guidance is diminished in today’s world.
STEP TWO: Seek the help of others: “Iron sharpeneth iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…But his delight is in the law of the Lord…”(Psalm 1:1-2). There are those who have navigated the seas of love and have navigated them successfully. These are the people with whom we need to have heart to heart sit down chats. We need to pick their brains for the godly wisdom they have acquired and employed over the years. Listen, you want to hunt for black bear, you either take a guide with you or you read books on tracking black bear. Remember what your ultimate goal is and understand we will not reach those goals without the help of others. Abraham wanted a wife for Isaac, but needed the help of Eliezer, who in turn, no doubt, enlisted the help and suggestions and opinions of the many men he took with him on the camel caravan to Nahor. Bounce things off others and don’t go it alone.
STEP THREE: Prepare your best gifts. In Genesis 24:10, Eliezer loaded up his camel caravan with whatever Abraham had lying around his tent. Days before Eliezer left, Abraham and Eliezer would rummage through the garbage left by other Canaanite families and packed them into the camel caravan to take as a gift to the potential bride and her family. That’s NOT what they did, but that IS what we do. In Genesis 24:10, they loaded the camels with “all kinds of good things.” We don’t bring anything worth while to our relationships. We don’t seek spiritual growth from the Bible. We don’t learn from the mistakes of the past so that we don’t make our next mate our next “ex.” No, we take no thought in bringing our best into a new relationship. Instead, we bring our “baggage” and our “garbage” as our gifts for our new love.
STEP FOUR: Look for things that matter. In other words…don’t be shallow and superficial. The preferable hair color will not guarantee that your soul mate will be faithful to you. The preferred eye color does not mean your soul mate will be a hard worker. Having the preferred hobbies doesn’t mean that your soul mate will be a good spouse for you. In other words, go beneath the surface for what’s important. Do they want children the way you do? Do they want to place God in the same priority as you hold God? Is he or she spiritually and/or sexually pure? Are they of the right lineage (are they a member of God’s family)? Rose suggests in her book getting alone with God and starting two lists: “Have to Have” and “Won’t Tolerate.” Abraham told Eliezer that she had to be of the same faith and that he would not tolerate her being from among the heathen Canaanite dwellers. Your soul mate should have to have godly attributes and you should not tolerate ungodliness to be a prevailing characteristic of a potential soul mate.
STEP FIVE: Ask God for a sign. Read it…Genesis 24:12-14…Eliezer asks for a very specific sign from God. I have no doubt that God can still answer someone’s dilemma with a sign. I have heard several missionaries speak of their testimony of finding their spouse and usually it’s something unique to the two of them. For instance, imagine a couple relaying the story that the man feels called to a mission field in Africa and so he takes an elective course of study at the local community college to gain a better understanding of the culture of the country he feels called to. Unbenounced to him, there is a girl who has signed up for the same course…for the same reasons. At the divinely appointed time, the two meet and strike up a conversation and it’s crystal clear that God has the same plan for the BOTH of them. He wasn’t at the park waiting for the first girl to offer to give water to his dog, but the sign was unmistakable. Basically, BE AWARE!!!
STEP SIX: Be willing to wait. Some will say that Isaac was in his forties at this time, and still unmarried. So what if you are? Today’s society dictates that you graduate from high school at 18, then graduate college at 22, and then get married and have your family in place before you’re thirty. What?!?! Eliezer not only asked God for a sign, but he WAITED for that sign. He didn’t suggest to the first girl that came by that she water his camels. No, in Genesis 24:21 it states that Eliezer watched the girl closely to learn if God had made his journey successful. Waiting will show us things. It will show us if our hunches are correct. Time and patience will help us be less irrational and emotional. Patience will show our perspective soul mate that they were so important to us that we were willing to take the time necessary to prevent making a mistake and possibly hurting them.
STEP SEVEN: L.O.V.E. As soon as you meet anyone you may feel is your soul mate, immediately “love” them. Listen to what’s important to them. Listen to their hopes, dreams, and desires. Are they free and open with their feelings or are they reserved and private. Listening will give you clues to watch for. Observe their mannerisms and behaviors. Do they jive with what you’ve been hearing? Observe what characteristics appear the most. Are they polite? Are they respectful? Do they avoid eye contact? That’s phase two in learning someone. Phase three is to Verify what you’ve heard and seen either immediately or in subsequent meetings. Some people play a good game and it’s just an act to “land” you. At later times, revisit things discussed. Make sure the person telling you things and showing you things is legitimate and sincere. Lastly, Express yourself. Expressing yourself to others helps you to judge their character. Do they seem genuinely interested in you and what you have to say? Do your dreams and desires mesh with theirs?
STEP EIGHT: Save your best for last. Whether you’ve been married in the past, or have been involved in promiscuity at an earlier time in your life, commit now to save yourself for your eventual spouse. Eliezer had a caravan full of the finest treasures for both Rebekah and her family, but they got none of that until Eliezer knew she was “the one.” Even then, it was done at the appropriate time. More than that, Rebekah didn’t get Isaac’s best until she returned via that camel caravan back to Canaan and wedded him. Now they could share the pleasures of physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy at the highest of levels without the guilt and shame that accompanies intimacy outside of marriage. And, as I said in the last article, introducing sex into the search for a soul mate only muddies the water and your senses get all convoluted and nothing makes sense.
So there it is. An eight step plan derived from the story of one man’s desire to see his son marry the right girl. And, incidentally, while I’m on this point, might I mention that it was Isaac’s parents who took an active role in finding their son the “right” one. I’m not suggesting that we arrange marriages for our children, but how about we be incredibly involved in their social and dating lives. Abraham didn’t approve of certain types of girls for Isaac (ungodly heathen Canaanites) and we should take his lead and forbid the dating of anyone outside our circles (the family of God). We as parents have immeasurable amounts of wisdom and first-hand knowledge of the dangers of dating and the destruction that comes with making desperate choices when we’re at the loneliest of times. We won’t be popular, but we owe it to our children to help them get the absolute most out of marriage that God has allowed.