I am not trying to jump on the bandwagon of the recent plethora of “soul mate” blog posts and opinion pieces that have filled my social media newsfeeds this summer, but I have faithfully read most of them with the genuine interest of a single Catholic that feels called to marriage.
Let it first be said that I am not a romantic. I don’t particularly enjoy sappy things and I don’t believe that love is anything other than a daily choice to put another’s best interest before your own. Not that it’s all sacrifice and no fun, but I am not off on a laurel writing mushy poetry to my loves either. And love at first sight? Not my cup of tea either.
I do think the conversation of soul mates brings up some interesting questions. God has a plan for us, but what does that entail? How would free will fit into the notion of soul mates? Is there only “the one” and could we mistakenly end up with the wrong one?
Here’s the thing, I don’t like the term “soul mate.” And it’s not because I don’t think God isn’t concerned about your future spouse. Just as much as God specifically planned for his one and only son to come to earth to redeem our sins, just as much as he handpicked the Israelites as his people, and just as much as he sees the Church as the bride of Christ, I am convinced that God has plans for your marriage and mine.
One blog I read argued that God’s plan for us is ultimately for our salvation and that he is not concerned with the husband you pick – we have the choice. Despite not agreeing with the term “soul mate,” I don’t accept this argument either. But why would we use NFP and discuss discerning if we should have another child at this particular time, but we shouldn’t, as one blogger put it, discern marriage with a particular person?
If God has called us each by name, He knows us intimately and individually. He has a plan for each one of us. If He has a plan for you, then did He not have in mind that you specifically would be created? If a different mother or a different father were in the picture, you wouldn’t be you.
I don’t believe this takes away from free will or the sacrament of marriage. You have the choice always to follow God’s will or not – just because you don’t follow it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Even when we choose our own will over God’s, He constantly welcomes us back into the fold.
Once you’re married, you can always choose to start following God’s will in your marriage and with your family. And in getting married, you do make the choice to live out your vows daily.
But the point is not that God doesn’t have a plan for our marriage, it’s that God works with our choices every day. For example, God can still work with a woman called to the religious life by God but chooses to marry instead. He is not limited in his abilities by our imperfections and fallen nature.
The only conceivable “wrong” husband that you could marry is one that pulls you away from God – and even then, the husband you choose and the choices you make can always change course. In other words, just because you make a bad decision, does not make you a bad person. Good people struggle with making the right choices every day and – if you’re like me – fail frequently.
So in a sense, thinking of finding your future spouse as looking for your single soul mate is misguided, but the idea that God has a plan for us whether or not we choose to embrace it is important.