Singleness Myth #2: You Need to Find “The Right Person”
This is the second in a two-part series on “singleness myths.” Be sure to see Monday’s post about Myth 1: Marriage = Completion.
Myth #2: Find “The Right Person”
Myth 2 might as well be called the Jerry Maguire myth. It recalls that heart-touching, nausea-inducing scene when Tom Cruise says (in that Tom-Cruise-i-est of ways), “You complete me.” The idea relies on Myth 1, but with a new emphasis: since marriage is completion, the single most important task in life is to find the right person. Find her and life is perfect. Miss her and life is destined to be misery.
Despite being the theme of every single romantic comedy in the past 30 years, this is pure insanity. Let me give you a hint about how this plays out…
You’re dating, on the hunt for the rare species called “the right person.” And finally, you find them! Huzzah! You are so in love that you assume no one has ever loved like this before. You never fight. You are the two most compatible human beings in the history of human beings.
So you get married, wondering why other people have such a hard time with all this. But then it gets ugly. The little quirks that you used to love start to annoy you. It escalates, and their selfishness or their temper are more than annoying—they are really hurtful. You aren’t crazy in love anymore; you’re just going crazy.
Maybe you decide at this point to have a baby. (Yes, people think this way.) So your dysfunctional relationship now has a vulnerable little tyrant in the home. And you’re losing sleep, you’re losing your freedom, you’re losing your minds…and guess what? One day, at work, you see her—the right person. It all makes sense now: you were wrong this whole time. So you decide to correct the problem by leaving your marriage and trying over.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work. And here’s why: you always marry the wrong person. You marry the wrong person because they are a sinner—and you are, too. If you try to correct your problems by switching partners, you’re in for a rude awakening. Because you aren’t a lonely person in need of a soul-mate: you’re a sinner in need of a Savior.
This never feels true when we’re in the midst of a romantic fling, but we have to remember that lonely, insecure single people become lonely, insecure married people. Or, as Gary Thomas puts it, “Marriage doesn’t solve emptiness; it exposes it.” If marriage solved our heart’s yearning for meaning, we wouldn’t see so many people running from one marriage to the next, to the next.
What if you gave up the idea that there is a “perfect person” out there, and understood that marriage wasn’t about that at all? What if you saw God’s main purpose—in all of life—was to prepare you for himself? If you began to see life that way, you’d understand that marriage is a way God can do that. But it’s not the only way. This would revolutionize the way we view singleness…and the way we live in our marriages.
So don’t embark on the rabid, obsessive search for the right person, as if finding that “one” will be the key to a happy life. It’s a lie. Instead, put your eyes on God and focus on becoming what God wants you to be—not to become better “spouse material,” but because God is worth it. If you’re single, instead of looking for the right person, allow God to make you the right person. And do it for him, not for someone else.
So much of our language toward single people implies that the only task they have is to prepare for marriage. And that’s true, but not in the sense that most people think. Their entire life is preparation for marriage—but marriage to God, not to another person. Seen from this perspective, in fact, we’re all preparing for marriage. Some of us won’t experience marriage on this earth. But that doesn’t mean they miss marriage completely. No, they will simply skip the shadow of earthly marriage and go straight to the substance of the heavenly marriage with Jesus Christ. That is the one and only marriage that can—and will—complete us.
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.