“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
Having read too many romance novels, I thought your true soul mate was someone who loved you exactly as you are, warts and all. I guess that was just Mr. Rogers. According to Elizabeth Gilbert, a soul mate is someone who comes into your life and rips your comfortable image of yourself apart to reveal new layers of yourself to you. Mercifully, they don't stay forever; were never meant to. By that definition, I've had several soul mates in my life, and I was always grateful to God when they left!
What reading Gilbert's work gave me, however, is a different idea of what's important to the developing soul. I have always believed that we humans need support groups around us—people we can call on when we need help. People who will listen while we whine, cry when we cry, be with us through all that messy stuff we do when life does not operate on our terms. We do need those people. We also need the ones who will smack us awake and not just lull us to sleep. Soul mates ratchet up the pain threshold, and shine bright lights into all our dark corners, so we can see clearer than we want to exactly what's hiding there. It's not pretty.
According to Gilbert, a “soul mate's purpose is to shake you up, tear apart you ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.” If this sounds at all familiar, please raise your hand. Then tell yourself how blessed you were to have that wonderful person in your life. Okay, maybe not, but they did serve their purpose, right?
The great thing about soul mates, besides the fact that they don't stick around forever, is that more often than not, they lead us to our spiritual mentor. We realize, amid all the bloodshed, that we need something deeper and more reliable than a support group to keep us firmly planted on earth. We need that soul mate who is only found within—that wiser, better informed, part of us that knows the way forward even when we don't. She never sleeps, but we can rest in her.
In the Spirit,