Well, better late than never, as they say. (I suppose this might have been better timed for Valentine's Day.) In a similar vein as "Closer than a Brother," I wanted to pause and offer a few short reflections on...love.
The first reflection focuses on what's often derided as a romantic cliche. It's the idea that there is one person for you, your own mister or "Mis'ess" right. A number of intelligent people have made the argument that married couples could find happiness with any number of people, and that the idea of that "perfect match" is overly romantic, betraying a naive worldview.
I'm not sure why this particular opinion rankles my brain, but perhaps it's because I believe the opinion itself to be employed as a kind of dismissive excuse. In a day and age where divorce is skyrocketing and broken families are becoming the norm, I think it's time well spent to examine the argument's reasoning.
First, the argument opposing the idea of that perfect someone relies heavily upon the hypothetical. In my mind, it's also an example of circular reasoning. That is, the argument goes that any one of us could be happy with any number of partners, so why give thought to that special someone? It's a kind of intellectual arrogance based upon an error in logic. Because, of course, the obvious error is that we cannot really ever know this supposition to be true or false; it's an opinion based upon a hypothetical existence--i.e. an existence or reality that does not in itself exist.
I suppose the counter argument could be made that a person who has lived long and survived past spouses might have some particular insight on this topic. Even there, however, we are not islands. People affect and change us. The older woman who is happily married to her second or third husband is not necessarily the same person she was when she married her first.
So, in one real sense the argument appears to be rooted in a false idea of reality vs the hypothetical, an argument that gives more weight to the unreal than the real. As mentioned before, I also sense it's a line of reasoning brought forth by people who may be struggling with guilt, infidelity, or even jealousy. In my mind, at least, it seems to open the door to a brave new way of looking at relationships. Yet, the view that tries to systematically tear away at the magic may hide something darker at its own core.
Second, I think the argument betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of God and eternity. That is, if God is eternal and outside of time, He has foreknowledge of our choices. The foreknowledge doesn't suggest influence, but it implies a single reality, what becomes with the passage of time an historical truth. If we agree that the best scenario, with regards to romantic love, is one man and woman united in marriage for life, then this suggests there is indeed a special person, set aside as it were, for us. My reasoning may not be particularly airtight, but I offer this as food for thought concerning how God shows His love of us through others.
Not to widely digress here, but the second observation concerns other ways where God can pass along His love and care of us in a unique way. I am a firm believer that animals can play a special role in ministering to us at times of great stress. When a close relative of mine passed away last year, for example, I found myself standing at a fence with a couple horses on the other side. One of these beautiful creatures came over to where I was and put its head over the fence and laid it against my chest, just leaving it there for a few moments. The friends who were with me at the time were astonished, remarking that this horse did not get along with people in general--especially strangers. It was kind of like God placing His hand on my shoulder and saying that all would be well. It meant a lot, and it still does.