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The OneA REALISTIC GUIDE TO CHOOSING YOUR SOUL MATE
By BEN YOUNG SAMUEL ADAMS
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2001 Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYour Quest for The One
Leslie stands at the back of the foyer, nervously anticipating her turn to walk down the middle aisle of her home church. The pipe organ billows Pachelbel's Canon in D throughout the jam-packed sanctuary. She looks ahead to the front of the church where the apprehensive groom is standing. A few beads of sweat start to accumulate on his forehead as the bright lights shine down from above. Finally, it is Leslie's turn to march down the aisle, flowers in hand and custom-made dress fitted perfectly around her tanning-booth-bronzed body. Leslie begins walking to the cadence of the music, passing each pew neatly punctuated by candelabras. She approaches the front of the church, locks eyes with the pastor and winks at the groom, then takes a sharp left turn to assume that all-too-familiar position next to the other bridesmaids. Underneath her happy external façade lies a yearning to be at center stage. As she gazes over the congregation, she wonders to herself, I'm attractive, I'm a fun person, and I love God. When is it going to be my turn? Will I ever find The One?
If you are anything like Leslie, perhaps you can identify with feeling so close and yet so far. Maybe you have seen many of your friends get hitched and you are wondering when it will happen to you. Perhaps you have stood as the bridesmaid or groomsman for the umpteenth time and you are ready for your turn under the bright lights. Or possibly, you have broken up with someone you thought should have been The One, only to discover the person was definitely the wrong one. Still yet, some of you may have been previously married and you don't see any prospects for the future.
This book is for all those whose quest for The One has been elusive thus far. We will help normalize the quest and give you realistic guidelines to help dramatically improve your opportunities for achieving that ultimate goal. I (Ben) also personally played the role of groomsman far too many times before I finally tied the knot more than a decade ago. As I watched my friends take the plunge, one after another, shelling out who knows how much for rent-a-clothes, plane tickets, and groomsmen's and bridesmaids' gifts, I began to feel helpless in my quest for The One. Thinking back to this situation, I realized that there was one flaming catalyst for my angstPressure.
DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE TO FIND THE ONE?
The Pressure to find that special someone hits us all sooner or later. Perhaps you can identify with The Pressure but you're not sure where it's coming from. I remember years ago in my mid- to late twenties wondering if I would ever find someone. My close friends had already found their mates and I had pictured myself also being married right out of college. What was wrong with me? At that time I felt pressure from many different angles. Let's take a look at the five different sources of pressure you may encounter: (1) your family, (2) your married friends, (3) society, (4) your body, and (5) yourself.
It all begins with a phone call from your mom and her interrogating question: "Well, have you found anyone yet?" or the more subtle: "When are you going to settle down? I want grandchildren, you know." In spite of this well-meaning inquiry, it usually feels insensitive and burdensome. One way to respond to this intrusive interrogation is with quid pro quo. For instance, you might respond, "Well, Mom, I don't know. Have you dropped those extra thirty pounds yet?" This kind of counter-questioning usually puts a halt to familial pressure for a while (not to mention your good standing in the family will). Many times family members have expectations that don't fit your reality. They may even imply that singleness is unacceptable. What mom, dad, and most of your older relatives don't understand is that people are getting married much later these days for a multiplicity of reasons. In fact, almost half of the adult population is now single, compared to only 20 percent fifty years ago. For the majority, getting married in your early twenties is a thing of the past.
2. Married Friends
Don't you just hate it when your married friends seemingly rub their bliss in your face? Or worse, they are always trying to set you up with their friend with the "great personality"? Certain friends, basking in the glow of their recent marriage, often feel compelled to bring you up to their status instead of just letting you be. Actually, married friends can be a tremendous help to you in this process (see Chapter 3), but only after you have given them the proper coaching.
Time magazine (August 2000) featured an article by Tamala Edwards titled "Flying Solo" in which she argues that more and more women are deciding that marriage is not inevitable and they can lead fulfilling lives as a single person. In spite of this trend, society and the media continue to portray the single lifestyle as a constant state of dissatisfaction. For example, many television shows, including Friends, Ally McBeal, Sex and the City, and others, are all about unhappy singles who are engaged in an endless spouse-hunt and yet can't seem to close the deal.
Likewise, the church adds fuel to the fire by making many students and singles feel like second-class citizens. Sadly, some churches have lost the ability to celebrate singleness and fail to recognize this state as a legitimate alternative within the Christian community. I received a letter not long ago from a singles pastor whose letterhead had this slogan: "Ministering to never married, divorced, and widowed singles." Wow, now that's a positive way to size things up.
4. Your Body
If you are in your mid-thirties, the ticktock of your biological clock can really turn up the heat in that search for The One. Additionally, there is the ever-present sexual "urge to merge" for those who are taking the high road by saving sex for marriage. Today, many women are adopting children or choosing pregnancy without husbands (à la Madonna) when they feel the right person is not to be found. Biological pressure to have kids or have sex is a strong, driving force in the quest for The One.
From early childhood, most of us have been driven by an expectation that we will be married someday. There has always been an unspoken assumption that adulthood and marriage go hand in hand. Many people take this assumption for granted. Yet marriage is no longer the main rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. When many of your friends are getting hitched and you feel stranded in the Dating Desert, it's easy to doubt yourself and put undue pressure upon your quest. Trust me, the other four pressure points are enough. But when you begin to compare yourself to your siblings, friends, and movie stars on the cover of People magazine who all seem to be happily married, you run the risk of catching a progressive case of self-pity. Remember, marriage doesn't automatically make you an adult nor does it necessarily make you happy. Marriage simply makes you married!
So, what do you do when The Pressure feels as if it is too much to handle? Eat ice cream? Take Prozac? Rent a Julia Roberts video? Some of those options would actually be better than the following list of desperate things we do when we let The Pressure get to us.
FIVE RECKLESS WAYS YOU RESPOND TO THE PRESSURE
1. Press the Panic Button
We see couples young and old press the proverbial red panic button when their desire to have someone becomes uncontrollable. Panic-button daters will try to speed up the process of mate selection by picking up potential prospects in a chat room, taking out a desperate-sounding personal ad, hitting the club scene, or proposing within the first three months of a relationship. If you panic in your quest for The One, you could miss your true soul mate.
Mike and Randi met during their senior year in college. They were the reincarnation of Ken and Barbiethe model couple in every way. Although things looked great on the outside, on the inside both were extremely insecure and by no means ready to get married. After a whirlwind five-month courtship, they got hitched. Once they were married, well-hidden skeletons started coming out of the closet. Randi discovered that Mike had a drinking problem and Mike discovered that Randi was $70,000 in debt. Tragically, the couple never recovered from the Skeleton Shock Therapy treatment they used on each other, and their short-lived marriage was over.
2. Settle for Mr. Right now
I was stunned to read a recent magazine article suggesting that women should lower their standards for an acceptable mate. Too many people follow such unfortunate advice and compromise their standards. You want to choose The Right One, not just Mr. or Miss Right Now.
Janet is in her mid-thirties, highly intelligent, athletic, and deeply spiritual. She's been seeing William now for about seven months and it looks as if they may take the plunge. Janet has seen most of her friends get married over the past decade and her greatest fear is that she'll wind up single for the rest of her life. In fact, she's been waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat for weeks now because her friends and family have all expressed serious concerns about the relationship. William is nowhere near her league and she knows it. On a scale of 1 to 10, she's a 9, and he's only a 4 on a really good day. But it looks as though The Pressure is going to win out this time.
No doubt, some of you are way too picky and have a list that not even the Virgin Mary or Saint Peter could live up to, but don't swing to the opposite extreme of compromise when The Pressure gets to you. How do you know when you are starting to settle? Well, when you start to receive negative feedback from all the people who really care about you or you intentionally ignore obvious red flags, then you could be a prime candidate for compromise.
3. Deny Your Heart' S Desire
Another reckless way to respond to The Pressure is to deny your heart's desire to find a mate. Perhaps you have been deeply hurt in a relationship and you are afraid to love again; or you may just feel that your burning desire is wrong, so you deny that you want to find someone. However, to deny the built-in urge we have to be with a mate can be unhealthy. Some of you feel guilty right now because you have this intense longing. You've prayed that God would take it away and He hasn't. More than likely, God will not take it away because it represents a significant and valuable part of who you are.
4. Crawl into a Cave
Jonathan has given up the relationship ghost. He wants to meet The One. He's been in love twice, but hasn't gone on a real date since Reagan was president. In the past, he tried to meet people at church, the clubs, and the gym, and he even joined a dating service, but it never panned out. Now Jonathon fills his evenings with the new release movies from Blockbuster. He's quit the quest because the journey is too tough and too long. He has withdrawn into a dark, lonely cave.
Our hearts go out to Jonathan and folks like him who have simply given up. If you are the type that responds to The Pressure by retreating, let us encourage you to get back in the quest. Life is way too short and you have far too much to offer to stay in isolation. Perhaps this book will serve as a catalyst to get you engaged in life and back into the search.
5. Spiritualize Your Quest
Many Christians take the superspiritual approach in their quest for a soul mate by expecting God to play the cosmic matchmaker or by trying to cut a deal with Him. Because some are afraid to take responsibility and make a real decision, they will look to God to confirm their quest through supernatural signs and leadings (Christianized versions of astrology and superstition). Some will use the "God told me you're the one I'm supposed to marry" line to get into a relationship and then have the nerve to turn around and use the "God told me we should break up" line to get out of the same relationship. (Now who do you suppose is confused here, God or you?) If God really does tell you who you are supposed to marry, then whatever you do, keep that to yourself and proceed as if you have heard nothing. Couples feed us this line all the time, falsely reasoning that if God tells them early in the relationship that this is The One, they can leapfrog over the normal, natural dating process.
If you're feeling The Pressure or you have become a little bit reckless in your search for the right person, take a look at the following four things you can do to depressurize your quest for a soul mate.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO DEPRESSURIZE THE QUEST
1. Face the Truth
The first step you must take is to accept the reality of where you are and what you are feeling. This will require you to be open and honest with yourself. If you are yearning to be in a relationship, or feeling sad, alone, or frustrated, then be willing to face these feelings directly. The worst thing you can do is deny or internalize them. You must find a way to get these feelings outside of yourself. For example, you can talk to God about these longings, journal and write about them, or simply spend time talking to close, trusted friends. Regardless of the method you choose, it will help you to get these feelings, literally, outside of yourself. Whenever we try to deny what's going on in our hearts, we can damage our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. Often, we walk around with fake smiles plastered on our faces, when inside we are hurting and no one knows. It's important to admit the truth about what we are feeling and to include others in the process.
That is why we love the Psalms so much. The great psalmist, David, knew the importance of being genuine and expressing his heart to God. Consider what he wrote (in his journal):
I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. (Ps. 38:811)
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? (Ps. 13:12)
The best thing you can do to respond to The Pressure is to get honest. Pour it all out to God or a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor.
2. Relax and Embrace the Process
Once you've come to grips with how you really feel and what you desire, you can take a deep breath and relax. Allow yourself to embrace and even enjoy the process along the way. In fact, there is a strong correlation between your ability to relax during this process and your chances of finding a partner. Conversely, the more desperate or uptight you are, the more likely you will sabotage any potential relationships. Even if you do not outwardly display some kind of inner desperation, you run the risk of sending out this negative vibe anyway. Now, we're not saying you need to just "Let go and let God." No, it's not that easy, and a significant part of this book will teach you to be proactive in the dating process. In the meantime, we want to encourage you to "rest" and embrace the process for these reasons:
God is more concerned about your love life than you are. If He cares about a sparrow falling from a tree, don't you think He cares about your romantic interests? We believe God is eager to join you in the quest and we want to help you discover a balanced view of His involvement.
Maybe you haven't found The One because of timing. Not everyone gets married right out of college or in the twenties. Or perhaps you are not ready to meet The One at this point in your life. God may be working in you, on you, or through you in order to accomplish His greater purposes. You could be your own worst enemy. You may not be The One just yet. Or you could be engaged in some sort of self-sabotage and not even know it!
You may be too young to be married anyway. If you are in high school or college, we're thrilled you are reading this book and we hope it will put you way ahead of the dating curve. Right now, you are learning how to relate to the opposite sex and still developing your sense of self and your identity. Your life will dramatically change between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-six, so don't be in a hurry to choose The One until you get a little farther down the road.
Excerpted from The One by BEN YOUNG SAMUEL ADAMS Copyright © 2001 by Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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