There Is No Such Thing as the One by Jefferson Bethke
So many of us spend years dreaming, planning and hoping to find “the one”. You know, the one person out there that must be perfect for us and make all our hopes and dreams come true. But what if there is no such thing as “the one”? What if we’ve watched too many Nicholas Sparks movies? (The Notebook is my favorite. No shame!) What if the Bible doesn’t talk much about God having “the one” for us?
"DON'T TRY TO FIND THE ONE, WORK ON YOURSELF TO BECOME THE ONE."
Here’s the truth of the matter, if you go to the scriptures, you’ll be hard pressed to find the concept of “the one”. But what will be obvious and much more frequent is all the admonitions for us to walk in the light and truth. In short, the Bible’s message to us on this issue is clear – don’t try to find the one, work on yourself to become the one. Because how we live today, and what we believe today, will certainly affect our tomorrow.
And there’s a couple main reasons I think looking for “the one” can actually be a damaging or hurtful concept.
- It will crush the other person. When we say there is “the one” out there for us a lot of us subtly believe that means there is one person who will make our lives easier. Someone who will take away our pain, that will meet my insufficiency. Newsflash, that person has already showed up and his name is Jesus (except for the making our lives easier part. He doesn’t promise that). Here’s what happens when we believe there is this one person out there for us – that picture and ideal actually starts to completely crush the person we are dating and married to. They feel like they are struggling under a weight of expectation that they simply can’t bear, and frankly, they weren’t meant to.
It tempts you to quit the relationship sooner. I’ve seen this one happen in marriage a lot. Someone will get divorced and say something along the lines of, “Well they just weren’t the one for me. I finally found that person in my second spouse.” It subtly allows us to think that the pursuit of the one can allow us to live in ways that we wouldn’t normally do. It justifies our decisions and makes us slaves to our feelings and emotions, not the covenant we made with that person at the altar.
It turns your focus from you to them. Like I mentioned in the beginning, the temptation when you are pursuing the one is to look for the person who will make your life easier and not expose all your junk. But instead, we are called to deal with our junk right now in Jesus and by His grace, so we don’t unhealthily bring it into our next relationship. Working on being the one instead of trying to find the one makes a world of difference.
I’ll end with one last thing, and this is usually true of most issues in scripture – there are exceptions or tensions throughout. At the end of the day, I do think God knows who you will marry. And there are folks who would be better than others. But the way Alyssa and I like to say it is, we could've married anyone. We could've made it work with anyone. Now is that unromantic? Sure, if you’re idea of romances comes from Disney instead of the Bible. But it’s true. Why? Because marriage is primarily held together by the covenant and the promise, not the feelings or concepts of “the one.” But I also still technically say Alyssa, as my wife, is “the one.” How do I know? Because her name is on the marriage certificate. She’s the one I promised my life to and that makes her the one.
PS: if there was only ‘one’ person out there for everyone, then think about what would happen if one person thousands of years ago messed up and married the wrong person. If they didn’t marry their “one” person. That alone would cause a ripple and mess it up for everyone all the way down the line, because the person they married was someone else’s one and so on and so on.
So, don't go looking for the one, try to become the one. And when that happens, and you start resting in God’s grace and understanding what the covenant of promise means, you can make it work with anyone and tell the divine drama of God and man through the lens of your relationship, and that’s good news.
This post was inspired by Jeff & Alyssa’s new book Love That Lasts. A gritty, raw, and powerful telling of their relationship story and how they found God’s better way for love, dating, marriage, and sexuality. You can get it here.