He…the love of my life.
The tingling sweetness of my insides.
One man, one amongst ten who got,
Got in me a treasure valued like gold.
He, this one, the one who holds,
Holds so tight I rest in love.
That one…his presence my smile
Him whom I never learnt to love…
The pounding of my chest,
The tightness of my tummy. But wait,
Is he my soulmate?
I always thought I believed in soulmates, well I did, until recently. Love the world’s way will have you believe that it’s an emotion that cannot be helped. In love you’re supposed to be helpless, drunk, needy of your partner, see the world through your love for your partner, no one ever says that but that’s the unspoken expectation. And it’s beautiful, absolutely something to be privileged to experience, but does it really exist?
I’ve always been something of a romantic – blame it on my love for all things romance. I love love and the idea of it, but you see, as a Christian my view on certain subjects will change, not because I force them to but because I take on a renewed view via the word of God that I take in… besides my influence is different now. I don’t claim to have gotten my view from the bible, but I’ll say that I am talking from a Christian point of view, as is my understanding.
When I used to read a lot of romance literature, I used to spend my time dreaming up my prince charming. I imagined that he was taller than me, was all muscled up, had fire in his eyes every time he looked at me, all those wonderful things like that, and I looked forward to romance. I longed for my own 6-packed hulk who was going to be my hero. I longed for this near perfect guy – because the protagonists in any romance story always fought only once. As I grew though I got to understand that there’s really more to romance than all the beautiful feeling. Most enlightening is my understanding of romance from the love chapter of the bible: I Cor 13.
In church you’ll usually hear that love is not a feeling, that to get a true understanding of love is to understand love God’s way: love is kind, love is patient, love does not boast, is not envious, etc. As a Christian it’s easy to quote this afterall we keep hearing it. But as much as I heard love to be this way, I never really was convinced that that was love, I mean love is fire, love is love and really it’s about two people in love. I had head knowledge of God’s kind of love and even practised the easy parts of it without referring to it as love. In my mind giving na giving, patience is only because I don’t want to look stupid – or I know I can’t fight the conductor. Tolerance is until I can’t take it any longer, long suffering has never really been appealing. Like that I went on, waiting on love because love was supposed to happen with a guy. I love my family and love God but the ‘love’ I was waiting on was special… the real one.
After reading through my favourite literature and noting the way the protagonist studied I Cor 13, I decided that it was time to find out what it was about that part of the scripture that everyone keeps going on about. I’ve read that portion before, in a group setting and personally, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood the gravity of real love.
The first thing that grated my nerve this time around when I read that portion is ‘love cares more for others than for self.’ I was shaking my head in disapproval when I saw ‘love puts up with anything, that spoiled it. Put up with anything? Like any-thing? Even when I’m being nice and the other party is being nasty? Like even when I’m being shoved rudely? Even when I’m without any fault? That’s tough! And that continues to be the most resounding part of that portion for me, maybe because it’s tougher to accept for me. I just can’t come to terms with the fact that I have to put up with anything.
There’s no way to explain I Cor 13 and dwell on romance, at least for me, because the focus is not on romance. The focus is on loving any and everyone like that. I concluded that having a soulmate is not God’s design simply for the fact that the idea of having a soulmate promotes selfishness and I don’t mean that in terms of self as it is that the focus of the love is just on the two parties involved. Having a soulmate connotes that our world revolves around our lover, that we see them, breathe them, etc. God’s kind of love extends beyond the two to everyone the parties come in contact with.
I’ve also concluded that having a soulmate connotes that the parties involved have attained an unreasonable standard of perfection. With a soulmate we insinuate that our lover can do no wrong, that he/she is without responsibilities, and even if, that they exist in a world without problems: sickness, financial situations, family responsibilities, etc. The whole idea of having a soulmate says one way or another that the parties involved are perfect and exist in a perfect world. If it was true, God’s love wouldn’t require us to put up with anything, wouldn’t ask us to be patient, long suffering (the dreaded word). It wouldn’t ask us to not keep score of the sins of others.
The relationship of soulmates is a relationship of exclusion. It excludes everyone apart from the parties involved, there is a horizontal expression of love that benefits only two people. Imagine if that love was actually ideal, how many people will be loveless? How many people will be denied the joy of experiencing true love. If God’s love was based on whether we deserve it or not, a lot of us will be without love. And that’s the beauty of I Cor 13, it tells us to love everyone, even when they haven’t done anything to be loved; the consistent practice of this kind of love is what even strengthens a romantic relationship because what will you do when you find that the one you’re smitten by is just as human as you and just as prone to be annoying?
The question is if soulmates truly exists and my answer is that it only exists in an ideal world made up of ideal people. Soulmates can’t exist because it’s exclusive – God doesn’t want only a few to experience love. It can’t exist because it’s idealistic – it wants something that can’t be (except of course all men were perfect). It can’t exist because people still find love (sometimes with a bigger intensity) after they’ve lost their spouse whom they were very much in love with. It can’t exist if love truly is a choice.
It’ll be too fickle if it existed because at the first sign of a challenge the parties involved will chicken out. I’m not negating the use of the word itself, I’m only against people looking for love in terms of finding their soulmate… I guess it’s whatever works for everyone but really it’ll only be disappointing. I rather prefer being married to my best friend. As friends we’ll acknowledge our humanity but as soulmates hold each other to impossible standards.