You Don’t Complete Me

Credit: Pixabay via Creative Commons

Credit: Pixabay via Creative Commons

Most of my life I’ve imagined that love is the power that makes two people into one new entity. Dreaming of melding fully into another person seemed like it would lead to a…completeness I didn’t know how to otherwise achieve. Picture two puzzle pieces clicking into perfect interlocking beauty. I wanted to be consumed in oneness with another person.

When I became a Christian I was initiated into a belief system that distilled my essential personhood into a drop of God’s personality wrapped in unique flesh. Being made in God’s image, my life should be spent uncovering that image by stripping away the sin and muck and dysfunction shrouding it. All of that negative cloaking – the sin and muck and dysfunction – were called “the flesh” or “the old man.” I was to crucify it, die to it, overcome it until all the world saw was Jesus in me.

I think there’s something true to that theology. But much of what it shoved into the category of “the flesh” was really just personality: preferences and tastes and passions. Anything that wasn’t strictly spiritual, in our definition of spiritual, was deemed “of the world.” And if there was one thing we could never be it was of the world. For a girl drowning in torrents of self-loathing and shame, this thinking was a religious spin on escapism. A kind of personality suicide. I spent years praying that I would shed the worldly parts of myself, that I would so lose myself in the worship of God that there would be nothing left but an empty vessel the Holy Spirit could fill with Jesus.

This can sound virtuous, maybe, but this way of thinking is rooted in so much wrong. I wanted to stop existing in the world, because I felt my existence was worthless. I’d rather cease to be, and let God do what He wanted with my limbs and voice and brain. The problem with all of this is that it was never what God intended.

If He just needed empty clay bodies to fill up with His Spirit, that’s what He would have made. Yet for some reason He insists that I’m supposed to be here, right now, as…me. Not as a Jesus clone, but as me. With my passions and preferences and quirks and abilities and wounds and inadequacies. He wants the world to see Him in me, not by them looking through me. He made me on purposethe limbs and voice and brain, so that as I become the woman He created me to be the world would see Him. 

Now when I imagine falling in love and sharing life with someone, the thought of us being two halves of a whole makes me nervous and a little sick. Not in a cynical, snarky way. But because I don’t think God left stuff out when He created me, and I don’t think He’d leave me half-complete all this time I’ve spent as a single person. When I love, when I share, I want it to be just that – sharing. Not melding, or entwining, or losing myself. I’ve spent far too much time trying to find myself past all the lies and rhetoric. My hope is that the one who falls in love with me will do so because of the substance and beauty and strength and passion he finds, not because in all that he discovers something he was missing on his own. I don’t want to complete someone; I just want to walk alongside him. I already get to do this every day in the lives of people I love. And for that I am grateful.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

~ Kahlil Gibran, “The Poet”

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4 Comments

  1. Jo said,

    October 29, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    “My hope is that the one who falls in love with me will do so because of the substance and beauty and strength and passion he finds, not because in all that he discovers something he was missing on his own. I don’t want to complete someone; I just want to walk alongside him.”

    Love this. I have struggled in my dating life since my divorce because of the notion that someone had to complete me, and as a result I attracted guys looking for the same thing IN ME. It was NOT a good idea.

    I do think everyone has different strengths and there is nothing wrong with finding someone whose strengths are in different areas than your own. But both definitely need to be complete and not “missing a piece.”

    Your writing is wonderful. I don’t comment often, but I read everything you post.

    • MandyK said,

      October 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! And I definitely agree that we should balance each other in relationship. I find value in the diversity of many of my friendships. Best of luck on your journey!

  2. GabrielleW said,

    October 31, 2013 at 9:20 am

    My favorite movie quote about romantic love is not Jerry Maguire’s “You complete me”, but Rocky’s fumbling attempt to explain why he and his love make each other happy. He says something like, “We got gaps. I got gaps and she got gaps and we, I dunno, we fill gaps.” There’s this sense that they were fine apart, but they complement each other together.

    As someone with what feel like huge gaps, I love this idea of love. I was fine alone, but, I dunno, I had gaps.


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