My Husband is Not my Soul Mate: A Rebuttal


(Click here to read the blog post I’m responding to in this post)

To start – she is right in some ways, but her post is so far from striking a balance between sovereignty, free will, and the role of seeking God with all your heart and making decisions out of your relationship with him (Heb 11:6). However, this is just a post, emphasizing one side, so I have no idea if this is her complete view. But, I’ll still continue …

90% of the post is about free will and about how our decisions become God’s will for us (sort of a scary perspective but she is right in some ways, but this is not biblical when it comes to decision-making).

I do think everything she says – about choosing to love her spouse today, tomorrow, and until she dies – has everything to do with being an awesome, proactive spouse who’s not self-absorbed with a marriage-is-all-about-me attitude. She is level-headed and wise; she  knows love is a choice that doesn’t always have goosebumps, butterflies, infatuation, or obsession as her impetus. But she altogether rejects the idea that God had a will for her to marry because she implies that it would be about her at that point.

The good news: the love of God is so amazing that it’s possible to confuse it with being all about you.

But we know that is it not. And Hannah’s post points us to that solid truth.

She is right when she points to how self-centered people became (me included!) about seeking a spouse, even as how we have been taught to see Jer 29:11 as about us – “God has a plan for you, to prosper you and not to harm you.” It’s a distortion, because it makes us – and our receiving certain things/happiness – as the supreme reason for God’s work when we know the ultimate reason for all things is his glory. God is most concerned about his glory.

I formerly believed in THE ONE and that isn’t because I believed marriage was about the perfect person crafted just for me – as the cheesy song says, “When God made you, he must have been thinking about me.” But after studying God’s Word for myself – and processing it with so many people, I came to the conclusion that deciding on a spouse is the second most important decision of your entire life because it impacts everything – especially who you think God has called you to be for his kingdom.

So, to reduce the choice of a spouse to “I chose to be with him, and he with me even though I lived in France for a year” makes it sound as if God is not actively involved nor has a will in who you will marry – which also implies that he is not personal. I cannot reduce the choice of a partner to “oh wherever the wind blows him, or blows me” as if a life on autopilot happens to be God’s will for my life. With God, his future for his children is so personal, but at the same time it is not about us. Like I said before – her angle is good perspective for maintaining a marriage, but not in deciding on whom you will marry. It is too impersonal.

Marriage is not just God’s means to sanctify you.

Marriage isn’t boot camp to become more like Jesus. Marriage was created before the church – and it is the ultimate display of the gospel.  It’s just as much about how you are perceived, understood, and observed as a couple in the world – you reflect something greater than yourself. We all know following the Lord has everything to do with listening. But according to the content of her post she and her husband just happened to end up together by simply choosing to be together through various stages of their relationship. Her view is too small and it reduces marriage to be too natural – and absent of God’s sovereign and personal hand in everyone’s life.

So, now, my belief is that God is leading me to one person, and he will give me peace about that one person, and that is God’s will – both his personal and his overall will to further sanctify me. And, we will bring God more glory together than we did separately. So, if x person dies, divorces me, etc does that mean it wasn’t God’s will? No, peace from God to marry that person did not come with a risk-free guarantee or a lifetime warranty (heck, I wish!). But, that person was God’s will at that point in time.

So, yes, God is leading all of us to one person for that point in time, and if that person is who God wanted (known by seeking him through prayer, having peace, godly counsel, and discernment), and even if it wasn’t (because some settle for someone they do not have peace about, and proceed anyway) – God can still do incredible things – although those who settle will never know what might have been had they waited, pressed into the Lord, and waited for his timing and peace from his Spirit.

Final Thoughts

So, does it matter if you live your life on autopilot without seeking God and asking him for wisdom and choosing to trust him with hard decisions? You bet it does. Deciding to marry someone without consulting God is taking a scary amount of control over you life. Maybe this is due to a deeply held belief in free will alone, God’s “inactivity,” or believing God’s desire to sanctify you trumps his personal, loving guidance in your life. All of which could lead someone to force the future they want.

But this is true: God is love. There is no fear in love, and his love will progressively cast fear out of your life because his will is both personal and not about us. It can be confusing in the same way as believing in sovereignty and free will.

“All of creation eagerly awaits the for revealing of the sons [and daughters] of God (Romans 8:19).” It is through yielding and through lordship, that God is bringing his kingdom to earth, not by coasting through life and calling it his will.

A life on autopilot does not honor God. Be intentional. Seek God’s wisdom, seek God’s guidance – especially in whom you decide to marry. And afterwards, take up the advice of Hannah’s post.

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On the Other Side


As of late my mind and my heart have been in overdrive.

The whole time I’ve been here I never lost that awe factor: that being, I live in this fabulous country and I get to do international human rights work. Just a few nights ago I was riding home in an autorickshaw as usual, but in an attempt to continue to drink in my last few days I just shut my eyes as I listened to The Fray’s new album let tears rolls down my face. Wanting everything about this culture to stay fresh in my memory I simply rode with my eyes closed for a few minutes — listening to the noise, the honking, the wind on my skin, feeling the jerks from the driver’s recklessness ;), noticing the smell of jasmine flowers, masala, exhaust, and foods. I can’t get enough of this place. It woos me to love it over and over again and I’m not ready to go home.

Last week I visited Calcutta and the Taj Mahal for my last trip — with Margaret and Rachel. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

You can view the rest of my pictures on Facebook.

For my last two weeks I will be working with Aftercare and the Google Replication Project. Of course this isn’t ideal (working two jobs at once), but I’m up for the challenge. My only concern is to have adequate quality time with the people whom I have grown attached to –ekk! For aftercare, I’m providing trainings on trauma-informed care that I have contextualized specifically for their casework and for the google replication project I’m creating pre and post measures to be administered at trainings, and if I have time I’ll help design a logic model/ flow chart with how to operationalize the project’s objectives and indicators. There’s an open door for me to return for a second year, but I have until the beginning of June to make this decision.

I’m nervous to go home, nervous to leave this place and am in great need of courage. An illustration was explained so well to me at the beginning of my time here and it fits just as well as I’m about to leave. In a circus, we all watch the acrobats fly in the air as they let go of one trapeze and are met in the air by a person or another trapeze.

photo

When I left for India I had let go of everything as I boarded that plane alone in Atlanta, Georgia hoping someone in India would catch me on the other side–hoping someone would be grace and truth to me–intentional to reassure me of God’s faithfulness through friendship and love; and not only did he give me one person, he has given me an entire office along with several local friends. In the same way, except to a greater degree it seems, I’m struggling with the fear of letting go again and believing, with the same confidence, that I will be met me on the other side, back in the US. My confidence is building day-by-day as I meditate on passages of Scripture, and also, this song by The Fray that has helped to center me and remind me not to worry: Be Still.

After this blog post you will hear from me at least one more time if not twice with a reflective synoptic post/s about my fellowship but for now, I feel like I’m in a whirlwind and everything is blurring together and I couldn’t possibly process everything to do that before leaving. I want to share what I have learned about justice, suffering, God, sovereignty, and this work but it will only come together in retrospect. I fly out May 2nd and I’ve extended my stopover in London by four days to debrief with a counselor to help with the transition and then I will arrive in Pensacola, Florida on May 6th. So stay tuned. You all are in my prayers! I will be in touch and I will have the same phone number I had when I left so be expecting my call!

This week marks IJM’s 15th birthday so I wanted to share a powerful  five-minute video with you thanking you for your love and support that you have extended to me to join IJM in this remarkable work. 🙂

On the Shelf


Ta-da! This is what I have to show for the majority of the work I’ve done for IJM — three folders containing the outcome forms, the statistical analyses, and the results for our ’09 clients. Maybe it’s a bit nerdy, but to me, task completion is a reward; these are my trophies.

These babies will be the first of their kind to be added to the archives of the IJM library. Last week I had the opportunity to share the power point presentation with a leader in Aftercare in DC and she was totally impressed. She asked a lot of questions and at the end she said, “This should be turned into an academic journal” — every researcher’s fantasy. The project is not without its flaws but it is what it is and hopefully I will get better with experience. These data make IJM’s work come alive and it’s my hope that IJM will eventually publish what they’re doing because, well, IT WORKS.*

An excerpt from the outcomes presentation

Out of gender, state, project area, district (similar to county), aftercare manager, case, and age, the only statistically significant IV is Case with an eta squared of 35% (which was entered into a three-way ANOVA with District and Project Area after conducting one-way ANOVAs with each IV and choosing the three IVs with the largest eta squared, not counting Aftercare Manager since it was highly correlated with Case), meaning that Case accounts for 35% of the variance in the successful outcome forms. No two cases are identical so the program cannot be adapted in that manner and unfortunately, only the name of the [bonded labor] Case was used, but the details of each case summary lead one to speculate that LIFE WITHIN THE FACILITY as well as additional post-rescue, group-oriented factors (e.g., receiving a release certificate, receiving a land patta) are responsible for the eta squared equaling 35%. The following factors could be considered as new independent variables for future research to obtain a more accurate understanding of what Case is capturing in the data, given what was found as distinctive factors in the ’09 case summaries:

The presence or absence of, the length endured, and the severity of the following factors are likely to further explain Case:

  1. Physical Abuse
  2. Verbal Abuse (degradation because of caste, intimidation, threats)
  3. Sexual Abuse
  4. Neglect (e.g., denied medical treatment, food)
  5. Elements of Bonded Labor: restriction of movement, denied minimum wage, denied freedom to pursue employment elsewhere, illegal loan/advance)
  6. Grief: loss of one or more immediate family members while living in the facility
  7. Erosion of Collective Identity (i.e., denied permission to perform daily activities as a family unit, denied permission to attend funerals, weddings)
  8. Internal Displacement (e.g., seasonal migration, trafficking among owners)

*At the completion of the two-year aftercare program, 94% of the 2009 clients had not returned to bondage.