You Don’t Complete Me…And I Shouldn’t Expect You To

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

I don’t like Tom Cruise.

There—i said it

Between his Scientology, the indelible image of that time he was jumping up and down like a lunatic on Oprah’s couch, and the weird ‘center tooth’ that once you see, you can never unsee—there are a myriad of things about him that bother me.

I can’t stand the Mission: Impossible movies, where he will fight a whole team of bad guys who eventually throw him out of a helicopter that’s somehow flying upside down. He’ll manage to fall through the whirring blades unscathed, plummet toward certain death, then suddenly catch with one finger on the face of a cliff, ending up with only a scratch on his arm and cut on his forehead. He then crawls dramatically to the top of the mountain, and upon reaching the summit, discovers a jetpack that his IMF team has planted there, anticipating the whole chain of events. He immediately straps it on and shoots off into the air to chase down the bad guys, who will all ultimately peel their faces off to reveal that they’re actually other people who were on his team at the beginning of the movie. (I don’t think that’s an actual scene, but it’s probably on the storyboard for the next sequel.) Jerry_Maguire_movie_poster

Anyway, back in the day, he played the title character in a movie called Jerry Maguire. Jerry is a middling agent for a high powered sports agency, who gets fired and still ends up representing Cuba Gooding Jr., a Cole Beasley sized #1 wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. They yell at each other a lot, and jackhammer the phrase “show me the money” into our collective skull until Jerry finally secures Cuba a big contract that will set him up for life, unless he starts buying Lamborghinis, cocaine and mansions, in which case he’ll be broke in three years. 

Along the way Tom breaks up with Kelly Preston and falls in love with Renee Zellweger, who is the mother of the funky looking little kid from Stuart Little. They eventually break up, and everything is falling apart until forlorn Tom shows back up, wanting to reconcile. “You…(dramatic pause while he sets his jaw, presses center tooth down on his tongue, trying to get tears to form in his sullen eyes)…complete me,” he emotes, the music swells and women all over America get real tears in their eyes, while husbands are rolling theirs.

It made a lot of money, and somehow got nominated for Best Picture, in what must’ve been a down year. If it were made today, it would be on the Hallmark Channel, where it’s always Christmas, and feature those same former child stars that are in every single one of those Hallmark movies. And don’t get me started on the fact that Cuba Gooding Jr. somehow won the best supporting actor Oscar that year over Edward Norton in Primal Fear. (Insert eye roll emoji.)

Anyway, as you can tell, the movie, and particularly that phrase bugs me. Mainly ‘cause i don’t like things that aren’t true.

Look, i adore my wife—she is a wonderful, God-fearing, hard working, beautiful woman and i can’t imagine my life without her. I look back at the sometimes painful decisions that i believe God led both of us to make before we met, and i know He alone orchestrated some pretty crazy circumstances to put us together.

But she doesn’t ‘complete me’ and i don’t certainly don’t ‘complete her.’

Complement each other? Yes. (No…not like telling her that her hair looks nice. Although i do tell her that sometimes.) Our strengths balance the other’s weaknesses and vice-versa. She does a lot of things around the house, and enjoys taking care of our property and i…go to work and…play the guitar. (Maybe i should do the other kind of complement a lot more often.)

It’s not some stupid movie’s fault, but i think a lot of the time people go into relationships with that mindset—if i find the right person, my life is gonna be whole…that this guy/girl is the missing piece to my 1000 piece puzzle and everything will be great once i find him or her.

It doesn’t work that way. If you’re looking for another person to fix your mess, and make everything rosy, you’re going to be perpetually disappointed. There’s not a human being alive that can be the knight in shining armor, or the 24/7 beauty queen that our minds say is out there waiting for us. That’s too much pressure, and relationships crumble every day under the weight of unmet expectations because of it.

As believers, we need to find our identity in Christ and Christ alone. God tells us that we are His children, and that it is in Him we find our security, that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

That says nothing about finding a soulmate, or putting some of your trust in another person to make you be the man or woman God created you to be. 

Jesus completes me. I shouldn’t expect you to. 

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, says this “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)

Single ladies, single guys…don’t miss this. You’re always going to be disappointed if you put your faith in another person to be your story arc. Life is far too complicated, and we all carry too much sin and baggage into relationships to be ‘enough’ for someone else. Christ alone is enough, and once you put your faith in him, your life’s journey should be about him and his will for your life.

He will put other people in your path to spur you on toward love and good deeds, but you can’t make them the focal point, or try to find your true happiness in the creation, instead of the creator and expect it to be something that lasts.

Those of us in relationships should always try to do the best we can, but we should also know we’re going to fall short.

And continually point each other to the one who won’t.

Washes Whiter Than

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

A few months ago, the wife and i were at one of those little shops where people sell things that you don’t really need, but buy anyway. She liked the way this big bar of soap smelled and thought it would be good to use in our shower, so she bought one.dove

Now, we’re Dove people. “Dove is ¼ cleansing cream and will never dry your skin the way soap does,” the old commercial promised, and we believe it. My knuckles don’t dry out as badly in the wintertime when i use Dove. I know it’s ‘girl soap’ and being a guy, i should be taking layers of skin off every morning with Lava or at least using Irish Spring or something, but i don’t care. I like it.

We buy the stuff by the pallet at Sam’s, since my wife has this weird, Howard Hughes-like obsession with new bars of soap. When one is like halfway gone, she deems it ‘thin enough to see through’ and opens up another, leaving me to finish up the old one over the coming weeks. So at any given time, there is one big bar and two or three partial ones in our shower, since i refuse to do that thing my parents used to do where they’d graft the old sliver of Ivory on the the nice new bar like that little guy that was that was growing out of the other dude’s stomach, leading the resistance in Total Recall. That’s just nasty.

My frustration with the shower soap is a subject for another blog post. Or another trip through re:gen.

Anyway—she tried out the big new bar from the little shop one night and didn’t like it. Like i said, we’re Dove people, and she knew this going in. It sat in the shower, unused for a couple of days, since everyone had developed the same opinion of it. But instead of throwing the thing away and saying ‘golly—i wasted a a little money,’ she went out and bought a little blue dish that matches the paint on the wall, and decided we’d all use the big bar that nobody likes by the bathroom sink instead. (No vote. It’s a dictatorship.)

Now, we have a long established pattern there, too. One of those pump dispensers from either Bed, Bath and Beyond or Bath and Body Works (i can’t tell the difference, and never know which one we’re in) has been by our sink for years. It’s nice, foamy hand soap—stuff that she spent an hour selecting in whichever one of those stores we were in at the Outlet Mall, where they make you think you’re getting a good deal, but probably just paying regular price.

You know the drill. The wife goes in, and smells 40,000 different varieties of soap and lotion, while the husband stands around, holding bags from the 5 other stores she’s bought spatulas and bras in, and his bag of $14 blue jeans from the clearance section of the Levis store, desperately wishing the bath and lotion place had one of those nice leather chairs like Dillard’s or Nordstrom. And a TV.

Occasionally she’ll ask my opinion, whether i like the Cucumber Vanilla Spice or the Chocolate Frosting Cinnamon Kumquat better and have me smell a little dab from the sample pump on her hand, but other than that, and whipping out the debit card, i’m utterly useless in that place.

Well, that little pump that we all like has disappeared into the recesses of the bathroom cabinets where the kids and i can’t find it, and been replaced by the soap dish that everybody hates, and the pump only makes a reappearance when company comes over.

Now, here’s the real problem—the big bar of soap everyone hates, but has to use, never gets any smaller. 

We are a family of obsessive hand washers, beaten down over the years by my wife’s germophobia, but somehow this thing, like the widow’s oil in the Bible, never gets used up. And believe me, i’ve tried. I stood there dumping water into the little blue tray one night, hoping to melt it and i swear the next day it was bigger. Out of spite!

She says she knows the bar soap is a virtual petri dish of germs, compared to the pump, but still can’t bring herself to throw it away, an act that would cause her children (and husband) to rise up and call her blessed.

I’m sorry to rant like this, but i do finally have a point. I think.

Our current message series has touched on the subject of things that don’t need to be in your life, but have entrenched themselves in there anyway.

What’s your bar of soap? Your secret shame that won’t leave?

You know—that thing you’d like to get rid of, but can’t seem to make go away. The habit, or hangup you wish wasn’t there, but never gets completely used up; the thoughts that your mind likes to go back to when you’re bored or lonely. The things you can’t melt away and just seem to get bigger when you try.

We’ve all got ‘em. Like the bar of soap we’re ashamed of, and hide when someone else is around, but as soon as they’re gone, it’s back out, visible to no-one else. Maybe it’s substances. Perhaps it’s worrying about what people think of you. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and it keeps you from finishing blog posts for months, obsessing over commas. It may be food, it may be alcohol or tobacco. Everybody’s got something.

The Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 7:15-20 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

The late, great Christian songwriter Keith Green paraphrased Romans 7 this way: “The very things i hate, i end up doing. The things i wanna do, i just don’t do.”

Dear reader, if Paul, who saw, and was temporarily blinded by the risen Christ, and called to preach His truth to the Gentiles, can admit this sort of thing, and go so far as to write it down for people to still read 2,000 years later, why are we hiding our junk? Why can’t we, like Adam and Eve, admit that we’re naked and ashamed, and need help from our heavenly Father, who loves us and will clothe us, eventually in righteousness itself.

On Sunday, Brandon mentioned our need for authentic community—a place where confession takes place regularly, and accountability is the norm. If you’re in a Journey Group, take time this week to split up into guys and girls, and talk about these things, pray for one another, and follow up during the week.

If you’re not in a Journey Group, e-mail us at groups@stonepointchurch.com and we will let you know when our next GroupLink is scheduled. GroupLink is where we put people and groups together. It’s great to have a group of people that you can do life with, and you’ll soon wonder why you tried to live without it.

Stonepoint also offers re:generation, a twelve step, Bible-based discipleship ministry for people with sin issues that they are struggling with, which, if we’re honest, is everyone. Re:gen can help you deal with your hurts, your shame, the things you obsess over—whatever it is that is hurting your relationship with God or with other people.

Re:gen is not easy. It forces you to take a long, hard look at yourself, and the steps you’ve made along the way that formed you into the person you are, and openly share those things with a group of people that will become your friends. Parts of that are really difficult, but worth it in the long run. In the end, it’s not about receiving a coin, it’s about restoring and deepening a relationship with Jesus, and making that relationship the top priority in our lives. One step at a time.

The blood of Jesus washes whiter than any bar of soap you can buy, and it’s the only thing that can make us truly clean.