Friday, April 27, 2007

A "Perfect Match" or a "Perfect Maths"?

Is there such a thing as a perfect match? Is it helpful to look for a life-partner, a soulmate in terms of how compatible they are?

I have heard of all kinds of statements that reflect silliness and the lack of appreciation for the other person. Things like "Engineers and Accountants make the best match", or having the horoscopic method of matching people born under different stars and months. The facts prove otherwise. Engineers and accountants who marry each other are not immune to divorce. There are both good and bad marriages in any imaginable combinations.

Others will seem to refer to special interests and 'compatible personalities.' I think this is one of the biggest tragedies in human relationships, to look for people just like shopping for groceries, buying a car or checking out a house to purchase. Truth is, people are not commodities to be matched. Neither are they easily digitized into binary bits to form a fit with the next best binary set of numbers. To do so will not only embarass one's intelligence, but dehumanize the other person. People behave differently at different times. Whatever data obtained is usually the best snapshot of the other person. The truth is, the other person is constantly rolling away millions of images of himself or herself. To try to judge a person by one camera photoshot out of possibly billions is like trying to predict the weather accurately all the time.

Still, the technological society refuses to let up their foray into human relationships. In my first year as a undergraduate, there is a computer program called CUPID operated by Computer Science faculty, and it was opened to all of the students enrolled in that university. It was a novelty at that time, and a lot of eager-beaver friends of mine, put not only their own information but also the requested features of their mate-to-be. I put mine in, with information that combines some general and some particular pieces of information. I never hear any response ever since.

Several months later, I met a friend who happened to be one of the computer programmers of that CUPID project. When I asked him about that, he said to me that he too did not get a perfect match. Instead, he did his own matching by picking and choosing from the large database that he has! Goodness me, I thought to myself. How sickening, that information can be abused in such a manner!

I think such 'perfect match' and 'compatability tests' are a waste of time. Not only do they ridicule the nature of the human person, they give people false hopes. Rather than saying "Could this be the person I should marry?", we in turn should not consider this as a primary question. It should at best be the secondary question. The primary question, for the sake of oneself and the prospective partner, is to ask the question: "Who am I?" and to answer that question well before even seeking to ask about other people. The trouble with the world nowadays is people spend more time talking about other people rather than ever knowing themselves. Is it because people are afraid to find out the terrible truths about their own selves. Is it because people generally do not have good enough self esteem? Is it also due to a wrongful thinking about being too proud or self-centeredness?

This is a paradox of human living. By focusing on other people and not ourselves is not necessarily other-centeredness. Rather, it is the WRONG focus on other people that makes the whole thing selfishness and self-centered. Consider a boy constantly say to the girl that she does not understand him, aiming an accusation at the other person, when he in the first place has not taken the trouble to listen to the girl.

The better question is actually not to focus on compatibility and not to think in terms of a perfect match. Sometimes, people say there is no such thing as a perfect match, but harbours a secret belief that there is! Rather, learn to ask questions like,
  • "How can this particular relationship with the opposite sex help bring both of us closer to a loving relationship with God?"
  • "How best can we together live out the principles of the kingdom of God?"
  • "Am I prepared not to look for the 'perfect partner' but to concentrate on becoming the BEST partner first, and let God decide on who to bring into my life?"
  • "Is our desire to get married, matched by an equal willingness to be single, as we seek to obey God in this season?"

It is a tough period of life to ponder on questions on marriage and singlehood. I have gone through that struggle and can empathize with many who are in that situation now. This morning's devotional passage for me has a lot to say about our primary perspective of life. This is not an 'escapist mechanism' but a proactive seeking after God, and trusting in God's providence for all.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

The biggest help we can do to ourselves, is to be connected to the vine, and to look to help others be connected to this lifegiving vine. Do not worry too much about dropped branches on the ground, those that refuses even to be willing to be grafted back to the vine. Remain in the vine, and in the abiding process, perhaps, in our faithfulness, God's spirit will gently blow a neighbouring branch and bind the two twigs together. Like a strong healthy tree, it takes time to grow. Lots of time yet not our time but God's time.


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