Recently, the reality show "The Bachelorette" found Trista in the arms of Russell, whom she had just met but with whom she felt "sparks fly." The fact that there were four other men vying for her attention in the adjoining room and another 20 hopefuls back at the mansion awaiting their turns for an opportunity to get to know this beautiful, vivacious, and sincere woman thickens the plot. We were right not to assume we had it figured out, because after some difficult decisions as to who should go and who should stay, the latest installment finds only Charlie and Ryan left in the spotlight. Sigh.
Having the opportunity to find Mr. Right from among 25 beautiful, hand-picked guys in perfect romantic settings might seem like a dream come true for many women. But as the mood gets a bit more serious and the camera pans in for a close-up on Trista's face, she begins to cry and tell her host - along with millions of viewers - that she's afraid because she has been so alone for such a long time. She doesn't want to make a mistake, and already she has had feelings for more than one man that she hoped could lead to a lasting relationship.
Anyone watching the show - and many are - cringes and longs for that dear woman to come through this with happiness and some self-respect intact. But it's beginning to look doubtful.
Recently I've asked myself if there is a right way to find love and companionship. Do we need to be chosen for The Bachelorette? Are we half of what would be whole if we could just meet the "right one"?
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, didn't find relationships easy. She was married three times, with one marriage ending in divorce. Her prayers and trials led her to spiritual solutions that not only blessed her but have lifted many lives to discover solid and lasting happiness.
She devoted an entire chapter in her bestseller, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," to marriage. She also does something that is remarkable in this book. She elevates marriage from a union of two people to the expression of two complete individual natures united in one, in God. Speaking of masculine and feminine qualities, she writes,"These different elements conjoin naturally with each other, and their true harmony is in spiritual oneness" (pg. 57).
Mrs. Eddy tenderly touches on many intricate elements of the human union and offers some loving thoughts about what promotes permanent happiness. It is the spiritual nature of each individual, she explains, that's the source of what is lasting and satisfying.
A nature that expresses gentleness, faithfulness, integrity, purity, and so on is a window on the source of those qualities, Spirit. A life in tune with its source bears witness to the goodness of God, who is Life itself. As individuals let go of a mercurial human nature and begin to grow in their understanding and expression of their spiritual, Godlike nature, they discover a completeness and satisfaction unattainable through human relationships alone. Such growth is a continual process of coming home to where completeness and joy are found waiting.
As this awakening takes place, relationships will naturally appear in our lives, the outward expression of our thoughts.
Each individual is a complete expression of the divine nature. God isn't divided into little incomplete bits trying to become whole.
At one time I thought that trying lots of relationships, like trying on shoes, would yield the right "fit." But it didn't work that way. How to account for individual growth, changes, and outside pressures left me feeling hopeless, and my uncertainty caused me to make some unfortunate mistakes.
The source of completeness
After reading Science and Health, I became aware that there was a spiritual source for the qualities I hoped to find in another, and that I already included, by reflection, both the male and female qualities. I didn't need to find a man to be complete. I needed to claim and love what was already mine. I studied and expanded my thought of what qualities are inherent in God's children. I began to live and love those beautiful qualities more fully.
At the right time, I met the man who embodied what I had come to love in myself and in others, and 33 years later, I cherish my marriage. My happiness and completeness are not my husband's responsibility. They come from God alone.
Trista and every woman or man hoping to find completeness can do so now and not worry about the "odds." In the completeness that we include as expressions of the one source of all good, our Father-Mother God, we have what we hope for already, and it is forever ours.