Soulless Mate

You can stop reading if you’ve already heard this rant. You know, the one that concerns my very strong feelings on the subject of soulmates or on finding “the one.”

I can’t stand it.

I think it may be the most damaging concept to marriages and relationships. Also, it takes away the romance of what a true relationship is.

Let me explain.

The idea of a soulmate is the idea that there’s one person out there with the other half of your soul, and when you find that person, the two of you are complete. Ignoring for a moment the absurdity of the sheer numbers game you’d have to play on a planet of 7 billion people, this implies that, once you find that one special person and your soul is whole again, there could be no conflict in the relationship, that the “spark” will never fade, that huge misunderstandings could never crop up. Because you’re with the person you’re destined to be with. I mean, if it’s destiny, then you can’t help but stay in love. And if you fall out of love, then maybe it’s because the new person is your soulmate.

And where’s the romance in that?

Romance is choosing, not just once but every day, to put another person’s wants and needs ahead of your own.

It’s coming home from a long day of work and still choosing to cook supper for your spouse, or to do the dishes, or to watch the baby, just because you want to lighten the other person’s load.

Romance is choosing to love the same person day in and day out—in choosing that person again each and every time another temptation may present itself.

And every time you choose to love your partner, you make that person “the one” rather than finding him or her ready-made for you. I tell you, I much prefer the idea that Steve loves me because he chooses to, not because he has to or else his soul will be torn in two. Not only did he choose to love me when we started dating seriously, or on our wedding day, but he chooses to love me when I have supper ready for him when he gets home and when I yell at him for leaving the wet towel on the bed; when I dress up nicely just for him and when I’m sick and disgusting; when I’m fit and lean and when I’m 9 months pregnant.

And isn’t that an exciting, romantic thought?

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My Family Is Broken

Here’s me and my happy family the day Kara was born. Steve holding our beautiful new baby, and my brother to the right and sister-in-law to the left. It was such a wonderful surprise that they could come—we were worried that Jason wouldn’t be able to make it with his hectic work schedule and all.

And this was the last meaningful event we’ll share, all together, like this. That beautiful smiling face on the left of this picture? She won’t be there anymore. Not because something tragic jerked her away from us, but because of a personal decision.

She won’t be at Kara’s first birthday party or to show her how to make crafts with pretty much anything you could point to. I won’t be able to call her and brag about all the wonderful things her niece is doing or to ask for guidance when Kara reaches her terrible 2s. She’s no longer my sister.

I don’t mean to make her into a monster. I love her, love her deeply. She fit into all our lives as neatly as a puzzle piece that was made, not just for Jason, but for all of us. She’s been a wonderful, thoughtful sister, a pen pal, a pregnancy cheerleader, a loving aunt. She’s taken care of Jason through the first terrifying bouts of the affects of his diabetes. She helped us all through Dad’s funeral and did an amazing job in setting up Mom’s house after. She’s my sister, and I love her—except she’s not my sister anymore. And if she’s not my sister, what place does she have in my life anymore?

And I’m just realizing, now, what it means to be from a broken family. You see, I was blessed not to have that growing up. And now, through no action of my own, I’m losing a close and beloved family member—not to sickness or disease, but through a conscious decision for her to leave us.

And it hurts.

It just hit me yesterday how much it hurts, probably because I’ve been focusing on my brother and his beautiful baby. But it affects me too. Strongly. Because of her decisions, I have to make the tough decision that she can’t be a significant part of my daughter’s life. I have to wonder and worry what kind of effect this will have on my relationship with my niece and on Kara’s relationship with her cousin. It doesn’t just affect Jason and Beth, or even Jason and Beth and their daughter. It affects us all. Deeply. Badly.

And I hate it.

On Angels and Demons

As I’ve mentioned before, there are aspects of my faith that I don’t understand, and I understand that I’ll never understand them, and for the most part I’m okay with that. But sometimes those aspects resurface and I need to re-wrestle them. One of those often-resurfacing facets is the concept of angels, demons, and Satan.

For the moment, I will freely admit my ignorance and … well, idiocy. I’ve done no research on the subject, unless you count reading Paradise Lost. And I know there’s not a whole lot on the subject in the Bible. But here’s my contemporary understanding of what happened:

God creates angels—because if He is the Alpha and Omega, where else would they have come from? They all chant their celestial praises and do angel-y things until Satan gets uppity, grabs some minions, and tries to oust God, who casts them all into a metaphysical pit of torment which, again, God must have created, to suffer for all eternity for their sin.

Then God creates people. They all sing their earthly praises and walk with God until they get uppity, disobey God, and try to take His place—not as literally, but they still wanted to be the supreme rulers of their lives. And God casts them out into a fallen world to live and suffer and prosper and what have you for a mortal span of years, then He sends His Son to ransom them from joining Satan and his minions in their eternal torment.

When I first raised this question, it didn’t bother me. I figured, hey, the angels had God right there with them and they still rebelled? Obviously there would be no point in trying to ransom them. Then I re-read Genesis and, apparently, the first humans walked with God also. So, really, what’s the difference between people and angels and demons? Obviously the angels had to have free will or some of them wouldn’t have been able to rebel. And if they were so fundamentally flawed as to be irredeemable, then why make them suffer forever? Why not just unmake them? Not only would that have been more merciful—it’d also have kept them from doing things like possessing people, getting cast out into pigs, and running some poor farmer’s livelihood off a cliff.

Someday when I have more time, I’ll do some more research, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts?

The Nature of Faith

Everybody has faith in something. In our culture there are two general extremes: the Christian who believes in an omnipotent omniscient God who loves each person individually, and the empiricist who believes in what his senses can tell him. And in each case, a person has to be able to accept what his worldview can’t tell him.

An empiricist, for example, has to believe that although energy is neither created nor destroyed, there had to be something to cause the vaunted Big Bang. He has to accept that he can never understand how, on the quantum level, matter is both matter and energy and that somehow our observations change it. He also has to accept that some things, some substances, can alter our perceptions and he has to believe that his normal everyday experiences are true and unaltered. Among other things.

And there are countless things that I, as a Christian, can’t understand. For example, I can’t understand how a God who loves His creation would construct the world in such a way that there are earthquakes and tsunamis. I can’t understand why things like tapeworms and viruses exist, or why God spent so much time humoring someone like Gideon but doesn’t show Himself more clearly to people like Steve. Among other things. But at the end of the day, I’m more comfortable accepting those uncertainties and believing that my experiences of God are real.

In the end, that’s what faith is—choosing what you’re comfortable not knowing and allowing what you do know to fall in line with the rest.

So, what are you okay with not understanding?

Social Eater

I’m no anthropologist, but at a glance it seems as though food is an important part of pretty much every culture. In ours, it’s easy to see. Wooing a girl? What’s the first step? Take her out to dinner. Inviting friends over? What’s generally the central activity? A good meal. Or at least a snack buffet in which everyone contributes something. And now, as I’m raising a baby, I can see how that trend begins.

When we start out in life, eating has to be a social activity. A baby cannot feed itself—other people simply must be involved. And the baby learns that feeding time is also an expression of the parents’ love. Baby is cuddled close and talked to while he or she eats. Whether Mom or Dad does the feeding, it’s a time to bond as well as eat. Then we transition from breast and/or bottle to table foods. Even then, the baby cannot do the simple task of transferring food from plate to mouth and another person has to be involved in the process. Once we finally get that skill down, it’ll be years before we can actually prepare our own food. And the person doing the preparing puts a lot of work into each and every meal. The cook wants to sit with you and enjoy the fruits of his or her labor and relishes watching you do the same, and providing food continues to be an expression of love as well as simple nourishment.

And there you have my thoughts as I’m confined to a rocking chair for hours a day feeding my little one.