I have always been a hopeless romantic. My early years were filled with dreams of finding THE man that I was destined to be with....the one my heart yearned for.
I had this idea that someday he would enter my life and all it would take would be one glance filled with an explosion of longing, and knowing, and passion. In that moment our hearts would be immediately drawn to each other. And we would connect in a way that only he and I could.
If you asked me during the first 25+ years of my life if I believed in love at first sight and in having a soulmate, I would have emphatically answered yes.
I'll tell ya. I was certain that there was a passionate, sensitive, artistic man who was longing for me as deeply as I longed for him. It was a lonely search. And, it was a long search. I never dated in high school & only a tiny bit in college. I was a bit of a late bloomer. It's not that I didn't want to date. It was that noone asked. I was awkward & shy & lacking confidence.
Then after college, I focused more on my appearance & built a psuedo-confidence. And, my 20's became a series of really bad choices & men that were bad for me or who didn't want to commit. But even with my innocence shattered, I held on to this idealized, romanticized idea of love. If anything, I held on to it even tighter.
When I met John, the man who would become my husband, my ideas about love were turned upside down. He was nothing like the type of man I had imagined myself with. Instead of passionate, sensitive, and artistic he was practical, not particularly tuned in to heavy thoughts & emotions, and more comfortable with tools in his hands than with a paintbrush, a pen, or a guitar.
At the time I met him I had worked hard at trying to develop an image for myself as something of an artsy, alterna-chick (probably I figured I'd attract an artsy, alterna-boy). My husband cared nothing about image & was completely comfortable with himself and didn't see a need to have a 'style'.
Music was incredibly important to me. It stirred me, moved me. Yet, when I asked John how he felt about music, stirring & moving were not adjectives he applied.
And, instead of an instant connection or that feeling of love at first sight, our initial dating process was somewhat awkward as we got to know each other. While John had decided early on that I was the girl he wanted & he was going to pursue me, our relationship became a dance of me pushing him away & then pulling him back in again.
I was so conflicted. I thought falling in love was supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be something that just happened. And, I was so confused. Here was a man who was nothing I had imagined. Yet, the values I was searching for - a man who loved God & family, a hard worker, one who would understand my conservative upbringing - John possessed these.
And, I slowly started to realize that these core values, his goodness & patience & honesty, and his love & acceptance toward me far outweighed any 'image' or idealized version of romance that I had created in my mind.
And, ultimately, it was Grace that won me over. When John met me, I was a mess. But, he didn't see me as 'that' Karen. He saw me for who he knew I really was and who I could be again. He didn't count my many mistakes against me. And, during my 'pushing away' moments I filled his ear with confessions that I was sure would shock him and drive him away. But, they didn't. He loved me still.
John's love mirrored God's own love toward me. And, two things happened in my life at that point - I set out on a path of finding forgiveness & healing with God, and I found the earthly love that God had designed just for me.
So, if you ask me today...
Do I believe in love at first sight? No. I do believe there can be intense attraction at first sight, but not love.
Do I believe in soul mates? That's a tougher one. I believe that God can knit two souls together, but that does not necessarily mean they are exactly alike, have the same interests, the same passions. And, it certainly doesn't mean that they can just KNOW each other without communication & work & sometimes some pain in the process.
Each love story is different. This was my path to discovering true love. What was yours?