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Becoming, Not Finding a Soul Mate

I met my husband when I was 15 years old and we started dating the summer I turned 16. We were young, and immature, but our relationship is nearly three decades old. How did I know my husband was the right one for me? I didn't know from the moment our eyes locked across the church sanctuary. Nor was it love at first date.

I ran across a blog post recently in which the author declared that her husband is not her soul mate. The author's observations about marriage and the daily commitment it takes are precisely right. But the concept of a 'soul mate' captured my thoughts. I can't declare that I don't believe in soul mates, because that isn't true. I do. The problem arises with how the term is defined. Here is how it is often perceived:
A girl makes a list of the qualities she wants in a husband. She waits because God has this one man picked out for her and when they finally find each other they will live happily ever after. Translated, she must search until she finds that one person God chose for her. The heavens will part and her heart will flutter when she meets that man.
What's wrong with this? It sets up a fairy tale with expectations potentially too high for any human to reach. And there is no biblical support for the concept as define this way. The idea of a list of characteristics that the perfect mate will have is also flawed if we have created such a list without consulting God in any way. There is no biblical indication that God will bend his will to meet mine. Rather, it's the other way around.

But, I refuse to throw away the idea of a soul mate. The problem is with how we are misguided in our definition of the term. I believe my husband is my soul mate. Here is why:
I believe in God's sovereignty and I believe he will lead me to make decisions that are in my best interest, if I keep my heart surrendered to his leading. I believe that when two people keep their hearts in tune with God, he will lead them to the best mate who complements each. When God is in charge of a marriage, two people become soul mates because their souls are each so tied to God that they become one with each other. Rather than a mate chosen for me from the beginning of time, my husband is a godly man who crossed my path at a time when we were both open to God's leading in our lives. And the list of qualities I'd dream of in a husband? Godly and loving were the only two items that needed to remain on the list. The rest were artificial 'needs.'
God does have a plan for every person's life. For some, it is to marry. For others it isn't. For those who do marry, it is impossible to make a wise choice in a mate without involving God in the process. In this, he does lead us to the right person for us. Many might reject the idea of a soul mate based on the divorce rate in our country. Far too many people go contrary to their own conscience in marrying, having been swept away by an illusion of commitment with no real depth in the relationship. As soon as reality sets in and the relationship becomes work, they decide their spouse wasn't their soul mate after all.

In contrast, I believe my husband became my soul mate the moment he slipped a ring on my youthful finger nearly 24 years ago. I committed to love him, through the ups and downs, no matter what came our way. I pledged to hang in there, even when the infatuation wore off and I didn't feel as in love. We committed our souls to God, the the ever-present glue that binds us together. 

God did have the two of us set apart for one another. Not in some predetermined match program guided by our wish lists for a spouse, but because God knew I would need a patient man who knew how to handle me when I flip out. I would need a kind and gentle husband to soothe my rough edges. And my husband would need a wife who would pep talk him through days of raising support for full time ministry and keep a well-organized home to balance his child-like fun-loving spirit. He brought us together because He determined it, not because we dreamed it to be in a list.

The future husband I created in my mind when I was fourteen or fifteen years old was founded on foolish immaturity. God brought me a man who had a depth I couldn't have imagined at that young age.

A soul mate does not mean a perfect mate. It means our souls are both committed and dependent on God to help us get through every imperfection we bring to the union. That we work through our conflicts and stay true to the promise we made. 

We aren't like two kids in love anymore. We sit in our recliners at night, one sleeping, the other on her laptop writing blog posts. We poke each other all night long to get the other to stop snoring. We argue sometimes and act selfishly. Yet, we're more soul mates now than ever before because the grace of God has carried us through so much. 

We didn't find our soul mates. We became them.


Is College Worth It?

With college costs on the rise and job opportunities limited, many college students face a dilemma. Is college the best option? If so, which one? Ivy League? Community college? Technical school? If not, how can they gain the skills needed to be gainfully employed? So many questions with so much riding on the answers. 

As the mom of two sons in college, I know the dilemma all too well. One son is a perpetual student who doesn't mind the idea of being cooped up with a pile of books in a dim library for the next twelve years, or whatever it takes to complete several degrees. All he lacks is the funding to do so. He might be able to get through his bachelor degree without borrowing much, but what then? What are the prospects for becoming employed?

My other son is a great student, but not a fan of school in the traditional sense. Yet, he has scholarships and grants enough to cover his freshman year at a four-year state college. So, he will go, even though the thought of being indoors for any length of time freaks him out. His passion is in something of a more mechanical nature. 

What about the student who isn't fortunate enough to receive scholarships and grants, and whose parents, like me, have nothing to offer in the realm of college funding? Is college worth it.

Book Review

These are the questions that William J. Bennett and David Wilezol ask in their book Is College Worth It? This former US Secretary of Education and a liberal arts graduate tackle the questions prospective students want to know. The book is backed by a fantastic amount of research support, and an impressive knowledge base.

The authors approach every angle of the issue and provide answers that will help today's parents and their high school students decide if college is right for them. The book includes some scenarios for students to see where they fit, along with answers after each scenario about whether college would be a smart thing for them. 

The book addresses the perception in our society that a young person without a college degree will not be able to get a job. The authors debunk some of the myths around the benefit of a diploma. They also address the growing problem of debt and the return on investment for a college degree. 

The book is not against college in any way. It is just an objective look at the decision-making process. The approach is meant to keep parents and students from making blind assumptions. 

I like the bold approach the authors take with exposing some schools that have less-than-rigorous programs that lead to a degree. They talk about slipping academic standards and programs that are so tailored to students' desires that they aren't getting much more than a piece of paper. 

They also boldly go where few dare to go when it comes to what some tenured professors really do. The authors refer to "teachers who don't teach." They explain how in some schools, professors have adjuncts, teaching assistants, and grad students who teach, while they spend their time in research. From page 137, "To attract students and research
dollars, schools feel compelled to draw star professors, the schools have to compete with one another in ways previously unknown--including paying teachers not to teach. In lieu of teaching, many professors build up their professional identifies in ever specialized and arcane ares of published scholarship. But what contributions to knowledge are being made? As it turns out, most academic work is ignored."

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has children in high school. I also recommend the students read the book as well. It's time they inform themselves before making a decision about college. Perhaps the book will help some student convince his parents that college isn't for everyone. Perhaps it will help another realize her parents were right; she ought to give college a try. 

I received this book from Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program for review purposes. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not obligated to write a favorable review. 

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