YOU MAY HAVE HEARD the expression, "Love is a funny thing." I guess that's because it seems so fickle. At first glance, some people have it, others don't Some people are desperately searching for it, while others are content with their current status.
As Valentine's Day gets closer—a day which many anticipate with either romantic expectations or dread—I'm reminded of a few years ago in college, a time when I considered myself a searcher for love. In fact, I was pretty certain I would find my future wife during that time, and we'd live happily ever after. Well, four years later I had a degree, but was still single. Did I miss something?
It was sort of a disheartening time for me, and I became pretty hopeless and cynical when it came to finding love. I knew I hadn't been taking the best approach, so I started praying for a fresh way to look at relationships.
I'd grown up knowing that God was the source of all the good in my life. This was especially clear to me when playing sports. During rigorous workouts, when I would sometimes find myself fatigued and aching, I would turn to God for strength. Often I'd pray with this verse from Job: "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (33:4).
I can recall countless cases when I was completely exhausted and those words sustained me. I realized in those instances of physical exertion that strength was a quality of God that I expressed and could reflect anywhere during any circumstance. I knew strength existed as a whole, complete, spiritual concept throughout the universe because it was an attribute of God. All I needed to do was to open my eyes to this and see how it fit into my own life.
I began to think that if I'd proved, many times, the power of God's strength in my life, couldn't I also prove the quality of God's love? Well, now things were starting to make sense to me. Just as strength is a complete concept, I reasoned, love and right relationships were just as whole in God's universe. I could access them just as easily and feel their power in my life, too.
I NEEDED TO STOP EVALUATING GIRLS BASED ON MY LIST OF THINGS I THOUGHT WOULD OR WOULDN'T WORK OUT.
This uncovered a big flaw in my approach to relationships. I'd been thinking that it was up to me to find someone who possessed all the character traits that I wanted in a partner. But I realized I could broaden my perspective and see there was an infinite amount of those qualities being expressed and reflected all around me because they were actually coming from the one infinite Love.
After seeing this, I felt my heart was more open to finding someone who did express those characteristics. I figured the most productive thing for me to do was to stop checking out every girl I saw and evaluating her based on my list of things I thought would or wouldn't work out. Instead, I thought about the spiritual qualities I was after. I valued laughter, purity, affection, and companionship, just to name a few.
Not too long after I began praying along these lines, I met a girl while traveling for work. Both of us value our relationship with God—and with each other. I was, and still am, so grateful for how God puts our soul's desire into our life just at the right time.
Someone once explained companionship like this: You and your loved one are climbing two sides of a mountain. As you work through the challenges involved with climbing, you're actually growing closer to each other and, at the same time, closer to a higher view of God. Of course this analogy has its limits, but I think there's a lot of truth in it.
So maybe this Valentine's Day is another chance for me to affirm that love is a part of everyone's life. Because, no matter what our "status" is, it's so comforting to know that love and right relationships are already complete spiritual concepts, ready to be expressed in our lives in their fullest capacity.
David Bates lives in Boston, Massachusetts.