Building on our last time together, let’s become more familiar with the four aspects of life as identified in Mark 12:30.
All four aspects—spirit, mind, soul and body—are God-given at the moment of conception. While you were still in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Job 31:15), they began shaping you in an amazingly complex manner. They form the distinctive person you become.
As you grow and mature, your spirit, mind, soul and body are shaped and influenced by various internal and external factors.
Your individual rate and extent of development is influenced by numerous factors. Genes. Society. Culture. Personality traits and types. Standards of upbringing. Home environment. Observed parental behavior. Values. Beliefs. Life circumstances and personal choices. All these combined make you the unique individual you are.
The complexity of all the influencing factors emphasizes the need to fully develop and balance all four aspects before you start looking for a potential partner.
A successful and fulfilling relationship requires maturity, balance and interdependence within all four aspects. An imbalance, overemphasis or deficiency in any aspect creates a distortion in your life.
For example, if you place a fanatical focus on spiritual matters, you may become a stalwart person of faith, but you could rise so high into the “spiritual atmosphere” that you can’t relate to other mere earthlings. If you spend the majority of your time on intellectual matters, you may become one of the smartest people in the world, but you could miss the incredible feelings and intimate connections in the world around you. A strict pursuit of emotional highs may be thrilling for a period of time, but it typically cycles to the dreaded emotional lows, which can result in mental depression and physical exhaustion. You may enjoy physical attractions and pleasures for the moment, but life is shallow when it is void of spiritual wisdom, intellectual discoveries and emotional connections.
Giving one aspect an improper emphasis generally leads to trouble. It can even result in a strained relationship. A sense of unfulfilled longing. A “settling” for lower expectations. Or the loss of the relationship altogether.
Developing each aspect of life is important. However, all four need to be fully matured and in harmony with each other. Recognizing their interaction and interdependence encourages maturity and balance in your life.
Each aspect has varying levels of depth or intensity. Spiritual levels may vary from that of a nonchalant seeker who dabbles in spiritual matters to that of a world-renowned evangelist who daily and fervently seeks God’s throne of grace. Intellectual levels may vary from a relatively uneducated, simple person to a scholar devoted to ongoing academic achievements. Emotional levels may vary from a detached, unresponsive loner to an intimate, affectionate lover. Physical levels may vary from a realist who demonstrates little outward expression to a romantic whose mesmerizing kiss prolongs the passionate moment.
These levels are part of your individual uniqueness. They provide the opportunity for personal growth and the challenge of identifying your specific compatible mate. The goal is to find someone with a level and intensity in each aspect that is compatible with your own.
God gave you all four aspects to fully explore, experience, express and enjoy. You need all four as you pursue the abundant life He intends for you to live (John 10:10).
To measure the health of a potential relationship, answer these questions: “Will I be better off spiritually with this person in my life than I am without her? Is the relationship spiritually uplifting? Will I be better off intellectually? Is the relationship intellectually challenging? What about emotionally and physically? Is the relationship emotionally fulfilling and physically balanced? If the person you are considering as a potential partner does not improve or complement you in all four aspects, she or he is probably not your compatible mate.
If the answer to all these questions is a resounding “Yes!” for both partners, the relationship has true compatibility. Two people in a well-matched relationship are better off together than when they were apart.
Think, for a moment, about the four tires on a car. If one tire is out of balance or misaligned, you may arrive at your destination, but the ride will not be smooth. Lack of proper attention and routine maintenance on any tire will lead to damage, and you run the risk of a blowout. Now imagine the car with one tire missing. Even if the remaining three tires are well balanced, aligned properly, and contain the proper air pressure, you are still headed for a wreck.
Likewise, in a romantic relationship, the presence, maintenance and compatible balance of all four aspects are required. To achieve true fulfillment in an interdependent relationship, both people should each have their four aspects fully developed and then mutually shared at compatible levels and intensity.
In the next article, we’ll dissect the spiritual aspect to see how it affects, interacts and depends on the other three aspects from a relationship perspective.
Read the rest of the series to find the wisdom you need for a lasting relationship.
Used with permission and excerpted from Nate’s book, Matched 4 Marriage—Meant 4 Life.