by Emily Sledge
I used to cry myself to sleep all the time, desperately jealous of people in happy relationships. I watched friends and people on TV, and it seemed practically everyone but ME had someone. It made me a little obsessed with the movie “The Notebook,” too. Especially the rain scene – remember, when she finally finds out that he didn’t stop writing and that “it wasn’t over” for either of them?! AH. I couldn’t WAIT for the day I got my own Ryan Gosling – 6’2, blonde, chiseled perfection that would care about and fulfill my dreams, do whatever it takes to make me happy, and ALWAYS love me. Oh, and he’d love Jesus – small detail. Sure, I realized my expectations were a little high, but I just thought, here’s hoping! THAT would make me happy, and I wouldn’t need anything else. But then, no guy lived up to my expectations.
But the problem wasn’t really my ridiculous aspirations to find this nonexistent, perfect man. It was my expectation that a man, any man, could make me happy forever. Even a Jesus-lovin’ Ryan Gosling. But most of us women believe this with all of our hearts, and it’s not just Hollywood’s fault.
Let’s go back to the first story in the Bible. Most of us know it – God created a paradise and gave the first two people that He made one rule: Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. But Eve decided to believe a talking snake that there would be no consequences for disobeying, instead of believing the God she knew and loved. Adam apparently couldn’t say no to his wife, and he went along with it too. So God cursed them both, and to the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
Ever paid attention to that curse, or asked what it means? It’s a story many have heard since birth, and for that very reason we never stop to question it – but it explains the very depths of our nature. That word “desire” in Hebrew means consume, as in, we want to consume the significant other in our lives. We want to be their everything, what they live for, who they need and depend on.
Think about Twilight – why are women so obsessed with it, no matter their age? It’s doubtful that it filled some secret fantasy of hooking up with vampires and werewolves. So what is it that appeals to us all on such an emotional level? Edward completely, irreversibly, falls for a totally average and unremarkable Bella. He can’t live without her, and he loves everything about her. Isn’t that what we want? For someone to feel that way about us? We’re totally convinced that if we had someone like that, life would be perfect. It’s engrained in our very nature to crave a man who needs us, who like Jerry McGuire desperately cries out, “You complete me!”
But here’s the reality – no human being can complete you. If a person is all you need to complete you, then he’s your god. If you’ve already picked your god, then why would you need the God who created you?
I can tell you this much – I was single for the first 23 years of my life, and I mean totally single. Not a SINGLE boyfriend throughout high school or college. I was raised with the idea that I should never give my heart to someone I couldn’t see myself marrying, and 99% of guys don’t grow up until their late twenties (and some not even then). Then, finally, God brought a guy into my life that met my expectations! He was attractive, fun, smart, and LOVED Jesus as much or more than anyone I had ever met! I thought, this was it, I won’t feel lonely anymore and he’ll make everything better in my life!
Then we got married, and yes – he’s the most wonderful gift God has ever given me outside of salvation. But…if he is my source of joy, security, and comfort, and something happens to him and he dies…my happiness gets buried six feet under in a hollow, wooden box. That’s dangerous to have to such a mortal, fragile god.
Even now, he’s not enough to make me feel totally full and satisfied in this life. Every time I start feeling really frustrated or depressed because he wasn’t being romantic, or he wasn’t making me feel valued, or meeting my needs, or whatever else, I always have to remind myself that he was never enough for me from the start. It’s not because he’s not an amazing husband – he is! But he’s human, not God! He’s simply not big enough to fill what’s empty and lacking in my life because only Christ Jesus can do that!
We are constantly trying to fill that emptiness – whether that’s with the mythically perfect man, or with whatever else that makes us feel valuable, known, and loved. We try to be righteous on our own, to be “good enough” for God or others to like us, admire us, appreciate us. We try to be hot enough; rich enough; popular, educated, accomplished, unique, awesome ENOUGH so we finally feel that we have and are everything that we want – and it’s exhausting!
But neither these things, nor the perfect significant other, can give us all this. I heard someone say today that we cannot become more significant, nor can we gain more significance by just trying harder or attaining more. Significance is given to us when we accept that God totally, deeply, powerfully, intimately, immeasurably loves us as we are, and that nothing we have done or can do can add to OR take away from that love. It is because of this great love that His Son died for us when we hated Him, rose from the dead, and gave us an opportunity to have a healed relationship with Him. So that kind of love that knows all of our deepest, darkest parts and finds us so incredibly worthwhile anyways; that never leaves us wanting more; that accepts everything we have or have not done and inspires us to do so much more; the kind we think we can actually find in a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse – is only found in God.
You might not believe me, and you don’t have to. You can try chasing that man (or woman, for that matter) and try to stretch him from every side to the limit so that he fills that desperate need and desire deep in your soul. I’m just praying that every person who reads this – single, dating, or married – quickly discovers that no human being will satisfy you. I pray that you place all your bets on Him, because He will never let you down. Just chase Him with all your being. Psalms 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” – so put God’s promises to the test, and believe what He has told you! I can guarantee that He’ll make good on every word.
Can you relate? Where do you tend to find your significance (outside of God)?