I would like to say that while grading my students' essays there is never a dull moment, but that would be an absolute lie.
Mostly grading students' essays is a boring, excruciating job. It makes me rethink my college career path, my desire to be a teacher and life in general. Essays written by 12-year-olds are life sucking.
But then there are moments, just a line or two, that flip switches. Maybe not in the students' heads -- they still don't seem to remember to indent a new paragraph or to not use abbreviations in formal writing -- but a switch, a light bulb, will go off in my head and, like dominoes, one thing leads to another and then there we are.
"It's not fair that people with disabilities get judged by how they look. Some adults don't get soul mates because of how they are looked at." -- Makenzie, 7th grader
There are about a million different ways I could go right now. Those two sentences are so full of confusion and discussion points, I could probably make those lines a series of posts, but where I'm going has to do with "soul mates."
The first thing I wanted to do was run home and tell my children -- my daughters -- that soul mates aren't real. That this isn't something to dream about, something to wish and hope for. Because it will let you down and make all your real, healthy and sometimes-disappointing relationships feel less than.
The only thing stopping me from this conversation is that my daughters are 3 and 5. They think they're going to grow up and marry their daddy. They're not sure if they'll be the husband or the wife though because those are confusing words to remember. In our house gender roles are the exact opposite of societal norms. I don't want them to know how our house works isn't "normal." I don't want them to think one way is normal, I want them to figure out what works best for their world when they finally get to make their own.
But I don't want them to long for, look for or hold out hope for their soul mate. Because they will always be let down. Chris Graham is not my soul mate. He is my husband, my best friend, my lover, my favorite person to talk to, my biggest cheerleader and my family.
But he does not complete me, fill me up or make my world.
He challenges me, encourages me and talks me down off cliffs, but he isn't the end-all-be-all of my world. That is a dangerous thing to ask of a relationship because I'm in love with and married to a flawed man. And he married a really flawed Mary. The idea that I can complete the hole he has in his heart, this want for something to fill him up, is wrong and destined to be painful. Because that hole isn't of this world. That want and need we have for someone to know us, really know us, will never be satisfied while we're here on earth.
And I think that idea, that lie we've been sold, damages so many relationships, ends marriages and leaves countless people unhappy when they'll truly never be happy.
I love my husband. I think he's pretty awesome or I wouldn't have married him and had some babies with him. He makes my life more interesting, makes me better and loves me even when I'm not very lovable (which is a lot of the time). I picked a good one, for sure. And I'm glad he's in my life.
But if I hadn't met him, I think my life would still be pretty good. I wasn't waiting for someone else to come along and rescue me from my horrible existence. I had a good existence before him. I was loved and cared for and fought for by a Father that made me whole in a way no one else could.
Soon I'm going to let my daughters in on the "soul mate" secret. That it's made up and dangerous and unrealistic. That their God loves them more than any man ever could and that no one will ever come along and complete them the way they long to be completed. Their longing isn't of this world. But that isn't to say I don't want them to find amazing husbands one day. It's something I pray about often, asking God to be molding those young men -- wherever they are--to be good mates for my girls, to be strong men of God, to have character above everything else. But that they don't look to complete a girl's life, either. That they're pretty good on their own and then they meet one of my amazing daughters and they'll want to do life together. And serve God together. Because He's their soul mate. He's their whole.