How to Find Your Soul Mate: Find An Old Shoe

“What are you looking for in a man?” someone asked me once. And then someone else asked it again. And then the question came over and over again throughout my entire career as a single woman.

At first, I didn’t have the answer. But since so many people were asking, I realized I needed to figure it out. Pronto.

What did I want, exactly? Well, like most every woman, I wanted a man who was smart, funny, kind…

The list went on and on.

Until one of my guy friends in college asked me the same question. When I started rattling off the adjectives I had etched on my heart, he stopped me.

“Don’t tell a guy you want those things from him or he’ll just try to be them, even if that’s not who he is,” he advised.  “Instead, look for someone you can be yourself around, and in return, someone who can be himself around you.”

His words stuck with me. After all, I had been that girl. The one who tried to figure out what a particular guy wanted, then be that girl. But it was never true. It was never me. And therefore, it never lasted.

It was like trying to stuff myself into the wrong sized shoes. Some were too narrow, others too wide. Some pinched my toes or made my arches ache. Yet, I’d walk around in them for months hoping my feet would either break the shoe in or conform to the constraints.

But, eventually, I’d have to kick them off because the pain and discomfort were just too unbearable. They simply weren’t my size. Nor was I theirs.  And that was okay.

Because in reality, a dating relationship can only end in one of two ways: breakup or marriage. And I didn’t want to marry someone who wasn’t a good fit.

A few years later, I was talking with a good friend who had been married for decades.

“After so long of being with your husband,” she said, rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders, “he just becomes like an old, worn out pair of shoes.”

Despite her apathy and obvious dislike for broken-in kicks, I wanted that old shoe.  I longed to slip on something cozy for once. Heck, it certainly sounded better than any of the uncomfortable things I’d been trying on.

Not long later, I met my old shoe in the flesh. In all my previous relationships, I clamped shut like a bear trap, only letting my poor date get to know my steely frame. Yet this time – for the first time in recorded history – I had found someone I could be myself around, and I witnessed this man’s true heart in return.  Because of that, I actually wanted to tell him the truth about who I was — to allow him into every nitty gritty aspect of myself. I even wanted to confess all the things I felt embarrassed or ashamed of, which up until then was totally unheard of and prohibited at all times.

And I wanted to absorb all those things about him, too. Not to use it against him. Not to mock or make fun of him. Not to compare him to anyone else. Not to condescend him. But to cherish him, to protect him, and to encourage him.

Because that’s what marriage is supposed to do.  It is meant to be the epitome of God’s love. It is for two people to know everything about the other so they can pour love into every pore of the others being. Marriage is meant to be proof that our all-consuming, never-ending, unconditionally loving God truly does exist. Without Him, how else could such an all-consuming, never-ending, unconditionally loving relationship like marriage ever occur?

It’s not surprising then, that I married that old shoe. And when people see the way he treats me – the way he loves, cherishes, upholds, uplifts, and protects me – I hope they realize what they’re actually witnessing is God’s very essence and existence right in front of them.

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