One of the great things about kids is that their ruthlessly honest. I had the opportunity to meet some new neighbors and a boy of about six asked me if I lived with my husband. When I explained with him that I did not, he wanted to know why. My explanation that I hadn’t found the right person was insufficient for him and he demanded that I should go out and find one. I am pretty sure his insistence had more to do with his desire to have someone to play basketball with and less to do with a concern for my happiness, but it was a stark reminder of how children as young as six already believe that completeness requires a spouse.
Another discussion, this time with a highschooler, made this assumption even more apparent. She had heard a couple that we both know describe how their life was incomplete until they met their chosen spouse and she couldn’t figure out why I would be encouraging her that she shouldn’t rely on a guy to complete her. After all, she seemed to say, didn’t I just hear someone I admire say that their life and their personhood was incomplete until they met the one they loved? Why shouldn’t I want the same thing?.
I tried to explain to the young girl that achieving completeness can never be ascertained through human relationships. Truly healthy romantic relationships are built when two people who are complete, or who are at least seeking completeness, come together to form a third entity that is greater than the sum of its parts. I fear my philosophical analogy was probably lost on the teenager, but hopefully I clearly articulated that being complete is not something easily arrived at and it is a process that one can not be expected to achieve at 16.
As Christians, we know that there is a far greater force that human relationships that is working for our completeness. We are taught that we are being molded and shaped by the great Artisan into His perfect and complete vessel. I think its easy to view this process as painful, as it often is. After all, does a lump of clay really enjoy being spun around on a potters wheel? Does sheets of metal enjoy the refining process that takes place as the metalworker creates their masterpiece? Of course these inanimate objects do not suffer a response, but as we imagine ourselves in their place, despair seems to come along with refinement. Often this is true in practice as well as theory.
Whats easy to forget while we are in this process is that the lump of clay shaped never leaves the Masters hands. The same hands that allow the laws of physics to do their work and shape the material into the final work of art, are the hands that have everything invested in the final outcome. The Master does not leave another to this toil, nor does He trust that circumstances alone will bring about the desired aim. Instead, the Master supports and guides the clay through the process so that the clay has the best chance of becoming what its intended to be. The Artisan does not merely allow the process to occur, but He is intimately involved in providing the safety and security that allows the clay to emerge stronger and more resilient.
I don’t know if anyone really achieves completeness this side of heaven. After all, who among us would state, I am finished a completed masterpiece ready to be viewed and admired by the world. But even if we must wait for our Heavenly unveiling to view the full splendor of what the Artisans created, at least we can rest knowing that the work is not for us or for anyone else to do. We merely have to trust in the Masters hands.