In rare moments he’ll mention being together forever, living happily ever after. When I confessed that in my furthest future I can still picture him, the smile that lay on his lips melted my heart. To use a worn out cliché, he’s truly the most amazing guy I’ve ever dated. Genuine and sincere, he has my best interests at heart. He’s goofy and real, in a word, adorable.
Several months ago when we first started hanging out I asked him in disbelief, “Is this what dating you is like?” I just couldn’t imagine a relationship as easy going and enjoyable as our new found companionship. Reflecting now, I know the answer is yes. Being with Brian is amazing. He makes me feel good about myself, he bolsters my confidence when I’m running on low. He cheers me on to persevere and reach my goals. He points out my best features and looks at my faults through eyes of affection as mere idiosyncrasies.
For all intents and purposes, I should be the happiest girl alive. Instead I am conflicted and torn. Why? Religion.
Brian and I come from very different backgrounds. He grew up in South California, Orange County to be more specific. The city of Orange to be exact. Brian was raised Jewish, and the elements of his religion, at best, factor into his life now as a mere haze. Meanwhile in North Carolina, in the midst of the Bible belt with a church on every corner, I was raised as a Christian. No not the generic run of the mill kind you might imagineâ€¦ more like the no sex before marriage, no dating outside your religion, the Bible is the reference book of your life kind of Christian.
So here we are, years later, separated from family and faith in a way that takes religion from being an infliction to a personal choice. He wonders if he even believes that there is a God, while I find that I don’t want to imagine a world, my world, where I don’t believe he exists.
Sure, people compromise all the time. We’re adults, we can respect each other and our individual choices, right? It seems an easy thought, but it’s sad, because it’s all me. I can’t do it. I can’t let go of wanting to live in accord with my beliefs, sharing that with the person that I love. Worse yet, while we may be able to live happily ever after in this life my beliefs prohibit, even a dream, that that could happen in the next. And any dream to the contrary is one where I paint in watercolor’sâ€¦ blurring over the key factor Brian’s compromise â€“ conversion.
Some say, be together, be happy, for as long as you can. Live in this moment and leave the future until tomorrow. Why worry about three months from now? Well that would be all fine and dandy if it weren’t for me and my old fashioned up bringing. The term “making love” only applies within the confines of a marriage, remember? Intimate expressions are ones that cause the ultimate conflict for me â€“ Belief that I am disappointing my God and, in actions, revoking my dedication to him.
“â€¦the one that goes in for sensual gratification is dead though she is living.” (1 Timothy 5:6) Living my life this way, with inner conflict based on my lack of conviction or ability to live in accordance with my beliefs isn’t living at all. It is a life condemned to guilt and disillusionment. “Her feet are descending to death. Her very steps take hold on Sheol itself. The path of life she does not contemplate. Her tracks have wandered she does not know where.” (Proverbs 5:5, 6) Choosing a path contrary to that of the world I have grown up in leaves me in a position of near despair. What hope is there for meâ€¦ what life is there for me to live if I abandon all that I know?
While this amazing man stands before me, ready and willing to fall in love and live happily ever after, I stand trembling in resistance.