I love a good romantic story where two people, who clearly were meant to be together forever, somehow find each other successfully and weather all the storms of doubt and distrust to walk off into the sunset, holding hands, their faces alight with delirious hope. Why is it that in real life, at least one of them is often walking dangerously near the spirit of dread?
No other relationship in our lives is more attractive, worrisome, pivotal, or essential as the one we have with our chosen beloved. It seems that there is always some kind of tweaking needed, as if deep veins of gold should be discovered more quickly to confirm the value of our choice.
Many times, when a relationship shatters or fails to even start, at least one of the participants discovers a disappointing lack of treasure. You dig and you dig and you look and you look, but there’s just not enough gold there. He doesn’t have enough manly stamina, she can’t maintain her attractiveness, he ultimately fails the devotion test, she isn’t grateful enough.
I always wonder what God thinks of these relationships strewn about the vast junkyard of dashed hopes and false starts. Does it matter to Him what we do with each other’s hearts when we tinker with eternal commitments and discard or devalue them?
“What is frail man that You should remember him, and the son of mortal man that You should be mindful of him?” asks Psalm 8 (Artscroll Tehillim). Why should we worry about God’s opinion when we’re just shopping, just testing the waters? I’m sure He doesn’t want us to rush into anything until we are absolutely certain, until we have prayed, inspected, evaluated, waited, and prayed through it again.
Maybe these so-called relationships “of ours” aren’t really ours at all. Maybe it’s not about what we “make” of them, whether they are long or short, whether we are loyal, committed, wandering, or unsure. What if that loser guy you ditched after three weeks of testing became a lifelong friend? What if that girl who didn’t quite measure up to your standards stood by you in a time of crisis? What if each time we give some of our heart—even just a guarded, tiny part of it—the tenderness, the yearning, the hope becomes part of each person involved?
Perhaps there is more to this relationship business than meets the eye. We’re so quick to say “it’s over” and “I’m moving on,” but perhaps each person we connect with stays with us in ways that we can’t fathom. Maybe these relationships hold much more value and depth than we realize. Some of us may not ever “have” a bashert, a soulmate. And some of us will “have” many, even though we don’t recognize them as they float in and out of our lives.
If these connections are not ours, but God’s, then ultimately it’s not about whether we have succeeded in landing the spouse or partner of our dreams. It’s about gratitude for the moments we have hoped together, shared ourselves, and learned more about love from each other.