“And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Cor. 13:13

Love is in the air, according to every email blast I’ve had in my inbox from various companies this year. From Big Lots bombarding me with Valentines Day coupons, to Free People reminding  me to stock up on dresses for all of the parties I’m supposed to be at this month, the subject title has something to do with love, being in love, or looking for love. Thank you, February and St. Valentine!

And it’s got me thinking a lot about “meant to be”, “happily ever after”, and the highly controversial term “soul mates”.

When I was younger, I believed in the fairytale. There would be one prince, one adventure, one spark. There would be a story, a clear “he’s the one” from God, and then a wedding and a future. I believed it would be easy, because how could there be more than one person for you?!

But as I’ve gotten older, experienced a lot of life, and fallen in and out of love over the years, I’ve discovered a very important fact- it’s possible there is more than one person that you could be “right” for. This time last year, for example, I was in a relationship that at the time had a lot of promise for the long haul. Sitting across from him on our first date at Starbucks, I actually thought that for the first time in my life, I felt that inexplicable “meant to be” feeling all the married couples swear by. So when that relationship ended (or more like crashed and burned and went to Crazy Town before I even had time to blink…), I sat back thinking, it is possible that the much idealized concept of the “soul mate” is the  40006-Vector-clip-art-couple-Valentinefairytale. And yet, I still want to hold on to that dream; I still want to believe that somewhere out in this great big world, there is one person that I clearly haven’t met yet, who is meant to be my future, and will be that perfect match for my soul that I haven’t found.

It’s funny to me that the human concept of love is so complicated and so shallow all at the same time. We idolize finding “the one” in movies, music, and novels, but we always stop at the “happily ever after”. Or we convince ourselves that it’ll happen when we least expect it, so stop looking because it will find you. Do I ignore the feelings inside me that say it’s good and right to be with someone you love? Or do I seriously just don’t care about it?

A few years ago, I decided that I fell into the “stop looking because it will find you” category. And it was the best decision I ever made for my heart. I was tired of riding the emotional rollercoaster that came with believing in the power of the “spark”, and thinking that my emotions were telling me something different than my head was logically screaming at me. Wanting to be married, to have a family, and to build a lifetime with the right person is not a wrong desire, and quite frankly, it was God’s design for human beings to have loving, lasting relationships. But the moment I realized that you can definitely hit it off romantically with someone and they will always be an important part of your story, but that doesn’t mean there’s a future involved, I discovered a very important fact about life- attraction (even if it’s deeper than physical) doesn’t equal “the one”. As obvious as that statement is, how often have we found ourselves confused and broken over it? And God is actually protecting you, even if you feel devastated at the ending?

Maybe “soul mates” really means the deep connection of souls in a right, loving, and lasting relationship– not the glamorized, romanticized, emotion and attraction-driven version of “the one”. Perhaps you’ll marry more than once, because of the way life takes your story, and I have to believe you’d also have a soul connection with your second spouse…otherwise you’d be living in a loveless, second-best marriage, which is definitely not God’s design. But the reality is, no one can ultimately fill that need in your soul for the perfect connection and complete relationship. That’s where Jesus comes into the picture. That’s where the Creator of our souls allows us to be fulfilled and made complete through His love, which then allows us to pour into and connect with others. Until we are truly in love with Him, everything else is just a futile way of trying to satisfy a weary heart.

And a relationship rooted in the love of Christ is better than anything Hollywood can conjure up for us.