My favorite story to tell is that of my love life. For some reason, I love to recount the story of the different guys I’ve dated and what I’ve learned. Perhaps because the greatest life lessons come from your closest relationships.
This is just a story. I’m going out on a limb even posting this, because I often get terrified of what people think of me, or how people might perceive those who are mentioned in my posts (even if no names are given). And I want to say before we jump in…these guys that I dated had tons of good qualities and it wasn’t that “they weren’t good enough”. I simply want to show you what happens to me when I allow someone so close who does not have the same worldview as me.
But if you’re a single Christian man or woman, looking for a spouse one day…please, please take heed of all this. I’m not writing to teach a lesson. I’m writing to show you my heart, and what happens to it when you give it to a human to twist and turn it, and not to a God who knows what He’s doing when he twists and turns it. This is my journey of figuring out that He comes first, because no human can ever do everything He does for me.
I had always been told to never date a non-Christian man. I had been told (and oh, I learned) that non-Christian men couldn’t love me to their or my fullest potential, that they couldn’t be a spiritual leader, and that our differing worldviews would clash and it would never work. Furthermore, I had been told (and oh, I learned) that a man would never truly change his heart and mind to follow Jesus by being with me…if he did, it would only be for me; and if it was truly for himself, he still could not be my spiritual leader. We must be at the same place spiritually in order for him to lead me. (Refer back to my last post for some links to some even better reasons that I didn’t know then.)
I have this ridiculous thing about me…I HAVE to follow rules. I have a deep-set need for structure…and guilt and shame have a particularly strong effect on my mind and heart. Until recently, I have unknowingly let them seep in and destroy my morale and understanding of my beauty and capability. But for some reason, my choice in relationships (both romantic and platonic) has been outside of this. Maybe because for a long time, I thought that it was more important for me to give everything I had to help other people rather than to take care of myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Now…before I go on with all of the good things, I have to tell you and show you all of the bad things. This is everything that could and would go wrong in a relationship with a non-Christian.
So, the first non-Christian I dated, I ignored all of that advice. I thought that I was different, and all of that couldn’t be true (in my defense, I was 15, and he was my first “real” boyfriend). He was a rather dark fellow; he was always sad and negative and obviously very hurt. I so deeply desired to help him…I thought that if I dated him, I could help him. I could show him that he is worth loving and that Jesus loved him, too. And I prayed for him desperately, and asked him to come to church with me, and talked to him about Christianity. All the while, my walk with God slowly crumbled. Not all at once, you know. It’s always so gradual that you don’t notice it’s happening. And then, when you finally do notice, the distress that comes from looking back to how “good” you used to be overwhelms you and depresses you and pushes you closer to rock bottom. Needless to say, he didn’t budge on the whole Jesus thing, and I spent 10 months in a relationship that was pretty destructive to my walk with Christ, and as a result, my sense of self and identity (which is so important in those teenage years). As much as you want to help someone, it’s impossible when you’re that close to them. Well…I shouldn’t say that.
A couple months later, I dated a Christian. It was fantastic to finally let someone in on my entire life…he just wasn’t “the one”. But despite having this great experience and knowing for myself how comforting and real a relationship is when God is involved, I still chose against it, two more times.
The second non-Christian I dated, I actually felt like God was giving me a choice between Himself and that guy. I knew that I would crash and burn spiritually, because that’s what happened before, and that’s really the only possibility when you go into a relationship without Christ involved. But I thought that this relationship could potentially last forever and so I’d be choosing between God and that guy for life. That was silly of me, of course, because it ended, and I came back to outstretched, loving arms. The Prodigal Daughter. So the difference in my attitude with this guy, was that I didn’t really pursue religion with him quite so hard. I basically gave up on it when I started the relationship (we did have a few conversations about it, to quell my rule-following guilt). But the thing that happens when my walk with God crashes…is that all of the kindness, patience, and love just…falls out of me. It’s left back at the crossroads where I made this decision. And that’s why this relationship ended. I couldn’t love him enough, because when I left Jesus, I left my security and, well, my true love. If I learned anything from all of this, it’s that I truly have nothing without my awesome God. I’m so glad that He is strong where I am so, so weak!
I can tell you what both of these relationships had in common. Throughout both of them, I felt so, so alone. I thought no one wanted to listen to my pain because they would believe it was self-inflicted (as I did). I wasn’t proud of myself because I thought people might pass me off as inferior, or hopeless, or “not trying hard enough to be a Christian”. I silently suffered as I went to church, served as a student leader in my youth group, and led worship. I didn’t let myself talk about it to anyone because I knew I was “wrong”…I just didn’t have “good enough reason” to break it off, or even not start it in the first place. I didn’t know how to say no (I’m still learning).
So…this is all of the bad stuff. “But wait,” you say, “you said you dated a non-Christian TWO more times, and you only told us about one.” And to that, I say, “Very astute observation! You’ll have to wait for the next post” (because I imagine that my audiences are like the children in movies who ask innocent, simple, interested questions). Like I said, it’s just a story for sharing–writing out all of this is almost more for myself than for others. I make sense of my life best through writing. But I do hope that someone out there can learn from all of this.
Click here to go to Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior. It’s much, much more encouraging. =)