love & fear

I’m surprised by the fear I’m finding I have when it comes to relationships. Not surprised that I have fear (I take medicine for anxiety, okay; fear isn’t new to me), but surprised at what that fear has turned out to be. It’s not the fear I was trained into having from the time I was a kid.

I was taught that anyone who wasn’t a Christian is off limits. They might lead me away from my Christian beliefs. I used to be the #1 subscriber to that fear, and it made sense to me. I mean, it does make sense I guess for some people, especially people who like structure. But for me at least, it doesn’t get the root of the actual danger. See, I am going think for myself and make my own decisions about faith regardless of whether or not my partner comes to the same conclusion. I’m a pretty easy-going, flexible person in general, but when it comes to this I’m ridiculously stubborn and fiercely independent. The real danger for myself, I think, is being with someone who doesn’t encourage me to or who is afraid of the way I question and criticially analyze, well, everything anyone has ever told me.

I’m not scared to be in a relationship with a non-Christian. You know what I’m scared of? Being with someone that wants to control the way I look at things. Sometimes friendships with other Christians can get all strained and what-not when one of you starts questioning what you believe. It becomes this huge emergency and spiritual wafare for your soul. It’s lonely. It feels like the other person is looking at you like you’re a stranger, all uncomfortable, wondering what sort of darkness has come over you that would lead you astray. It feels like they’re too distracted by how much prayer you need, by the fact you’re no longer safely in their fence of belief that they can’t even see you as a person with real thoughts anymore, can’t even take you seriously. I know because I’ve been on both sides of that situation.

I have friends like that, and it all works out. We’re still friends. I still love them a whole dang lot. They are still some of the most beautiful, kind, sincere people I know. But I could never have any sort of romance with a guy like that. Because I basically question everything, regardless of whether or not–no especially if–it’s something a lot of Christians fuss over, which I realize can come across as probably quite irreverent. But when someone gets all weird about that fact, I either begin to feel embarrassed or I beginto feel resentful. I either shut-down out of guilt, or more likely, shut that person out because they’ve already made me feel alienated. That could never make for a healthy relationship.

My real fear in a relationship now has to do with being with someone who doesn’t let me express myself, doesn’t let me think for myself. I’m scared of being controlled, so terribly afraid of someone trying to make me color in the lines when I am such a messy person by nature. I’m scared of someone seeing me as their Christian woman instead of as Alissa. Because that’s not who I am. I mean, I don’t think Jesus could ever cease to be annoyingly fascinating and mysterious to me, could ever not be some riddle I can’t solve, the fire I can’t walk very far from without freezing to death. But I’m never going to be anyone’s Christian woman, never going to be the nice and neat church wife. That’s just not me. I say too many bad words and watch too much Family Guy. I guess what I’m getting at is I’m more than the conclusions I’ve come to about life. I’m so much more than that. And I don’t want or need anyone to be my Christian man. I know that’s not the church answer, but it’s the truth. I need someone to be my friend, my partner in crime, my muse. If they happen to be a Christian, that’s fine. But if they don’t, I won’t feel threatened.

Because at the end of the day, whether it’s a Christian or an atheist, what I’m absolutely terrified of is being with someone who feels like they aren’t allowed to love me anymore if I stop believing exactly the same way they do.

I mean, was that even love to begin with?

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2 thoughts on “love & fear

  1. I guess it all depends on your definition of love and friendship.

    It [love] does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
    1 Cor 13:6

    God’s kind of love, the kind I hope to exude and have thrust upon me by others, does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices at right and truth. If I want my friend to love me, he or she has to know what righteousness looks like or he won’t know when to rejoice at what happens in my life. Similarly, he must also have a definition of what injustice/unrighteousness is and be sure to not rejoice when he sees that in my life.

    So it seems to me that you want someone to love you who specifically doesn’t have that attachment to a definition of righteousness, and if he does that he won’t impose it on you. However, by the very definition of love that is impossible. True love should encourage you to righteousness and truth, and it should not rejoice if you decide that unrighteousness is a better reality for you.

  2. Well, I want to start off by saying I didn’t write this as a Christian. I wrote this as Alissa. So I wasn’t trying to lay out a one-size-fits-all ideology for Christian relationships. I was just writing about how I feel.

    I agree that God’s kind of love rejoices at righteousness and truth. All kind of love does that or it’s not love. But part of the truth that love rejoices in is the truth of who the recipient of that love is. I love my brother more than I love anyone in the whole world. That love doesn’t change if he is struggling with his faith. And it wouldn’t change if he became an atheist. Because I don’t love his beliefs. I love him. I love Caleb. Same with my friends and same with potential romantic partners.

    The thing is, Christians don’t have a monopoly on loving things that are good. I’m not going to fall in love with someone who doesn’t seek truth, doesn’t love justice, doesn’t try to be a person of integrity, isn’t good to people. Of course I want to be with someone who calls me out when I’m not pursuing them. Those things are intrinsically good; I don’t need a Bible verse to know that and neither should anyone else.

    You’re right. I don’t want anyone to impose anything on me. I want someone to trust me. I want to be with someone who I can have open and honest conversations with about why we think what we think so I can make my own choices. So I can be good because I chose it, not because I was pressured into it. What I don’t want is someone who nitpicks every opinion I have because it’s not identical to theirs until I feel like I can’t even express myself anymore. If I’m not free to have questions and search for answers on my own without this huge fear that someone is going to leave, then I would rather be alone.

    I totally get if you don’t want to be with someone who isn’t a Christian. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Like I said, I wasn’t try to prescribe anything for anyone. I was just being honest about how I feel about setting that sort of boundary for myself.

    But thank you for taking the time to read my post and think critically about it and comment. I hope your school year is going well and your summer plans, whatever they are, are fantastic! 🙂

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