Mental Game

Note: a not so introspective post this one but still very important to me. I like to think I’m multidimensional 😉

On Monday night, I had a plan: go for a run (~10km) from work to home, shower/nom and then meet up with my friend to check out the Fringe festival. Making sure that I have a fully active but also fully social life is something that I constantly strive for, especially during the busy racing/training season aka the ~5 months before the weather goes to the poo. However, my plan didn’t quite go as planned. As soon as I started my run, I didn’t want to be there. Things got a bit better when I found myself running on a trail amongst the trees but I couldn’t mentally focus. When it comes to athletics, I view myself as two separate but connected entities: mind and body. Usually one kind of waffles a bit but the other pushes through. It is amazing when both are like boooooyah! let’s play!! Which actually happens more often than not. But when are both like uh no; screw you, I know that I’m done. So 5km into my run, that’s exactly what happened. Not because my body couldn’t push forward; it didn’t want to and nor did my brain. So I had to ask myself: what do I have to prove? Nothing. Then why do I still feel the need to train my tired, sodden and uninterested mind and body into oblivion? I had always told my mates that as soon as you’re no longer having fun whatever activity it is that you’re doing, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of ‘suffering’ when it comes to training, racing or just pushing your limit but there’s still a strong element of having fun. After a tough whatever, I’m usually still all smiles.

Case in point (aka story time): we had our last ultimate frisbee game yesterday but man, we were down people. As in, we didn’t have the minimum number of girls and had 5 boys. Thankfully the other team was awesome and let us play a 5man-2women line but that did mean that we would be playing the entire game. But, I love it. I love playing ultimate even though half the time I feel like I’m not exactly sure what’s going on lol so I just try to make good cuts and anticipate where the disc may be going 🙂 We were so pumped that we were finally syncing and playing well. There’s a defensive strategy called ‘zone’ where there is a ‘cup’ made up of three people that follow the disc and try to prevent/channel passes to a very limited area where your mids are covering. However, being part of the cup means that as soon as the disc is initially hucked, the cup has to book it down the field. So partially because I suck at mid lol but also because I just love to run and have a decent handle on what to do in the cup, I often volunteer to be part of the cup. Despite our shortage of (wo)man power, I was only out of the cup for a couple shifts but man I loved it. I always feel like a puppy when I play ultimate, just so happy to run all out and chase this plastic disc thing. So…I’ve totally digressed but the moral of the story is that though we were soooo tired aka keeled over at the end of each point, we were having such a blast. Mind and body were like boo-friggin’-yeah; well, maybe mind a bit more than body but you know lol.

So I guess for me, this post is about checking in on yourself – both your physical and mental well-being. The mental game is arguably more important than the physical. You will hear endurance athletes often say that they’ve gotten very good at tuning out the body’s moans and groans to push forward. Granted, there’s also a limit to that too…body combustion is bad. But when you know your body is still good to go, it is all up to your mental fortitude to make it. But when you can’t figure out why it is that you want to keep pushing, going forward or if your brain and body is like eff you; we’ve hit the limit (wo)man, it may be time to, I don’t know, rest like a sane person 🙂 …I’m still struggling with it lol. I’m taking an unprecedented two whole days in a row off :O who wuhhhh. Stoked lol. But there’s a little part of me that’s like we could still go climbing indoors today since it’s cloudy/rainy outside. No self! Rest! Rest is not just for the body, but mind and soul. To be successful at anything, including our chosen play time activities, rest is that integral piece that we often seem to overlook because we think more more more! training will lead to our success. We need to know our limits and adhere to them. It’s hard, make no mistake about it. It is difficult to strike that continually moving balance point between pushing our limits but pushing past our limit. It doesn’t matter where yours is compared to the balance point of others even though it can be difficult not to compare ourselves to where others are. Last year, I did two sprint triathlons and pretty much zero climbing for 6 months. That was my max point. This year, it’s very different because I’ve built up a base and went back to climbing during the off (race) season; all the events I had chosen to be part of/compete in all pushed my limits. I’m also really happy that I spaced them out accordingly to allow for maximum training but also necessary taper and recovery time. But now, I’m done. Reached my limit. So even though that Banff triathlon would be a blast, I need to say no…even though it would  fit so nicely before my friend’s wedding in the mountains (pretty sure sane people don’t think like this!). After my body somewhat failed to hold up to a half marathon, part of me wants to see if I could do the distance better but no…There’s a part of me that still wants to test my mettle but I’m learning how to be mature (sigh) and in my case, understand where to push and where to not.

Faith Divide Aftermath

It’s been nearly nine months since M and I broke up. We had break up 2.0 near the end of March which was very difficult too. Needless to say, time hasn’t healed everything though I wish it did. Even though I’m seeing someone new, I can handle it because it’s for once, nothing very serious and I don’t see it going anywhere. Perhaps it’s easier that way because I still haven’t completely picked up the pieces from my last relationship and really do not have the capacity to try and be that close to someone yet.

My bestie sent me this article by Relevant Magazine about the difficulties/myths of interfaith marriages; in the case of this article, it was between a Christian and Muslim. The article was written by the child of these two people who are described to be great parents and truly in love with one another. But the difficulties that arise are very real and they were things that I and undoubtedly, M, thought about during our relationship which contributed towards our end. The article states and as mentioned in my previous entry, I’m not here to say that dating or even marrying a non-Christian is ‘bad’. That just seems too simple to label it as such but rather, that committing to someone who does’t share that same base as you makes a relationship even harder (because they’re obviously not hard enough). It was hard reading that article; I most definitely cried a bit because my bestie also wrote that she was proud of me for sticking to my guns, even though it cost a lot. It did. It cost so much. I’m still hurting from it. I think about the little ninja children we would’ve had: small in physical stature but probably athletic and smart, bouncing off the walls and doing crazy things. M would make a great Dad and I think between the two of us, would have made a pretty balanced set of parents. M would be there to help them with the math/technical side of things but has this amazing creative side that would encourage them to cultivate creativity and artistry. I would be the one to help them with their language arts and social studies, get them in touch with the outdoors and the community. They would have great grandparents and relatives, uncles and aunts to guide them. But then, for how long? My greatest fear was that we would eventually implode as we did in our dating relationship and get divorced but our kids would be in the mix. As a divorcee child, I know first hand the incredible impact this has on children even if the divorce is relatively amicable. How much harder would it be not to be with the man I still loved and the man that was the father of my children? To deal with the ‘logistics’ of things when going through such emotional turmoil? There’s a couple on Grey’s Anatomy that basically shared the same dynamic as M and I. And though in some crazy TV drama way they end up together married, the show does draw out the difficult discussions that come up, those crazy fights that just can’t be patched up by ‘I love you’s or shoving it under the rug. M and I talked about the exposure to faith he would want for his children and though he had initially said that he was fine with them going to church and what not, he changed his mind and said he wanted them to have minimal exposure. I, for one, want them to be fully exposed because the love of my God is amazing. Really, one of those moments of: but think of the children!

I read another article by Elite Daily about how love isn’t necessarily enough to make a relationship work. M and I are a testament to that. A sad but true testament. Love is truly one of the most beautiful things that exist and real love is so difficult to find. To just have things mesh together, to not speak a word to one another and have that mutual love and respect pour forth. I still think about M on a daily basis and we haven’t spoken to each other since break up 2.0. I actually play ultimate frisbee because of him and somehow, our teams haven’t lined up to play in the same tier OR same field at the same time which is bizarre but I would say the work of God because I don’t think I could handle seeing this gold haired guy run like crazy and get crazy vertical to catch a disc. Hot lol.

One thing that struck me in the Relevant article was that the author mentions the small grain of hope her mother holds onto that her father will one day become a Christian, a grain of hope that has been prayed for for over three decades. I know that when I was with M, I always felt that small seed of overwhelming sadness to know that M didn’t know God and that our foundations were different. No matter how much we loved each other, we couldn’t ignore that fact. For him, I think that it was pretty difficult to know that he wasn’t enough for me as he was, as awesome and so fantastically good to me and so in tune with me. Could I really hold out for three decades? Hoping? Could he hold out for three decades knowing that his wife wanted a massive change in his life? One that he couldn’t really understand the need for?

I don’t really have answers for those who may find themselves in the same situation as me. Maybe you guys will be the one in the million; I really hope so. But I guess this is my personal experience and I hope it will give you food for thought. Truly, my heart still breaks. I think that a part of me is still angry that it didn’t work out and part of that anger, fair or otherwise, is directed at God. After all, isn’t He the Almighty that can make anything happen? But then my calm side just kills that lol. For us who love/want to be loved, would we want to be loved because the other person was ‘constructed’ to do so? That they do it out of obligation of sorts rather than free will? How unsatisfying would that love be? As hard as it may be for God and sometimes for us, we were all given that gift of free choice. Still, my heart aches. Slowly, I move forward but I think a piece of me will always love M and that’s okay as long as I’m moving forward.

Here’s to hoping 🙂

Underlying Quality

There are a few things in life that get me really excited/make me super happy:

  • seeing someone, especially kids, meet their goals after enduring a crazy challenge – the image that comes to mind is a kid who is running a race and pushes through to the finish line, completely spent, potentially keeled over and taking huge gulps of air but with this massive, absolutely massive grin on his face;
  • just being outside – there is absolutely nothing like that simple beauty found in fresh air, sun in the face, wind in the hair, sunset/sunrise lighting up the sky, dense smattering of stars in a clear night sky – absolutely nothing like it;
  • movement – again, there’s a simple beauty found in movement, whether it be the pounding of feet on dirt, manoeuvring and shifting of one’s body during a climb or near-flying when you’re on a bike;
  • unmitigated, simple expressions of love – image that comes to mind: when a dad picks up his son and let’s him fly and
  • good, fresh home-style food.

I think these things are so beautiful to me because they remind me God and in a way, the simplicity that is the relationship between Him and I. There’s no guessing as to whether or not he ‘likes’ me or if he loves me still. It means a lot to me when I hear about athletes and people considered to be successful in this world when they attribute their success to their faith or simply, refer to their faith because it’s the foundation who they are. I think that when I enjoy these things full blast and just revel at their awesomeness, I would like to think that my faith comes through. Through these things, a certain dichotomy that exists: internal joy and outward expression both of which point towards one thing – God. 

Beginning of a New Year – the ‘Why’

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

So it’s the start of a new year! Happy new year, dear reader 🙂 At the beginning of the new year, we let go of the past year and ponder on what the new year will bring us, what adventures we may have and of course, possible surprises along the way. I think that I have mentioned before that I rarely outline a detailed plan beyond a six month period because God brings in things I couldn’t even imagine into my life. It’s not that I don’t have long term goals, but there’s always timing to be considered. In a way, all things are good though some are more challenging than others. Last year, I got into triathlons, dusted off my badminton shoes beyond corporate challenge and met the most wonderful man. Last year, my own mum and my best friend’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and had mastectomies, my grandmother passed away and the wonderful man I met, who remains wonderful, is no longer my team mate. I was going to write about M and our break up, but I’m still collecting my thoughts and I don’t think I’m quite ready yet; however, I can tell you that God has taught me so much through the relationship itself and even more so in the aftermath.

I started my new year off with a breakfast + spinning get together with my tri club of awesomeness. Our time together as a club is usually when we’re training together which makes sense for a tri club but I really do enjoy the times when we just hang out. Of course, we can’t just hang out like normal people. When most people are sleeping in and/or nursing hangovers, the lot of us take turns setting up our bikes on trainers and pedaling our hearts out. Three km never looked so long…nor has eight minutes. The beginning of the year also signifies as the beginning of the new training season leading up to the new racing season which means  that everyone is thinking about what races they want to enter. It’s been on my mind a bit but more so in the last couple of days. Last year, it was just being able to keep up with the team. Okay that never changes because my mates are such a dedicated group and dare I say, kind of crazy fit? Sigh. Perpetual inferiority complex lol. 2013 was a challenging year. I never thought that my mom would get cancer and honestly, you can empathize as much as you want, but the realization is inexplicable. I never thought that I would love so much that I would cry everyday for three weeks straight.

As I set myself down for my first journal entry, I couldn’t shake Matthew 6:33 from my head. I decided that this was the verse that I would really try to model 2014 on. Undoubtedly, I will be pursuing this for the rest of my life but I think by purposefully setting this as my 2014 theme, I could set a solid foundation for the rest of my life. How does this relate to setting race goals? God calls us to run and finish the race well (verses on this). To me, that means to do things for the right reason. To me, the motivation behind doing something is just as, if not more, important than the action itself. I have been thinking of the gifts that God has given me. I could just look out for myself, for my own advancement and development; it would be easier. However, that’s not what He has called me to do. I often think about my career when I think about the skills I have; only this year have I begun to realize that that I have other skills too. I’m not exactly a natural athlete as some are but I work hard. Now I wonder, why am I working so hard to ride hard, to play hard? Sure, it makes me feel good inside, it’s a way for me to deal with stress and yeah, my body looks better because of it but those are all selfish reasons. I can feel God calling me to do something more with all the abilities He has given me, including this part of me. It’s time to use whatever athletic ‘prowess’ I possess for something beyond my own self-gratification. The awesome thing is though I have been slow to realize this, so many other people were on the ball way ahead of me. There are so many races and events that have been set up to raises awareness and funds on their selected cause. I will be hashing out which races I want to do this year but one has been lingering in my mind since Christmas: The Ride to Conquer Cancer. I also would like to do a trail run race that’s <15 km but I also want to make sure that it is for something I believe in. I have also been following and have contributed towards the World Bicycle Relief . No matter where your talents lie, we are called to use them beyond our own ambitions. We are here to be the salt and the light. So the next time you sign up for a race or whatever comes your way, give a bit of a thought to what the ‘why’ behind that choice is. Here’s to a great 2014!

What is it like to date a non-Christian?

For the past six months, I’ve been a relationship with the wonderful M. I could give you the whole mushy spiel about how we connect, etc. but let’s not. I will tell you though that it’s pretty amazing to reach a point in your relationship where no words need to be spoken, just one look, a simple action (hug!) and you can feel the enormous love behind that one moment/action. But the biggest wedge in our relationship is my faith and his non-faith. Although raised in church, M has no interest in the message of Christianity. Although not raised in the church, my life line inextricably entwined with the message of Christianity. M is grounded in science and physical proof and reasoning; it’s not to say that faith and science cannot coexist in my opinion but M believes that these two things are exclusive to one another and have no overlap/opportunity to coexist. However, despite his non-belief, he understands how important my faith is to me. That faith in my life is beyond the physical motions associated with organized religion; it is a state of being, a way of life. It saved my life and molded me into the woman he loves so dearly. It molds my perspective of the past, my present and my future. He told me before that I was the happiest person he had ever met. He wasn’t talking about the happy response that comes with favorable external circumstances but an internal, underlying happiness. He knows that this foundational contentment comes from my faith. He has been supportive and sometimes, even proactive, to ensure that my faith continues to be nurtured and grows in my life. He has come to some events associated with the church to support me. However, he remains uninterested in exploring faith himself.

In our relatively short relationship, we have nearly broken up twice because of this issue. There were tears, hard blows and hearts breaking. Ultimately we decided to remain together to try and make it work, but what does that really mean? Since that time, we have learnt a bit more about each other and I think, grown to love and respect each other even more but we have been very hesitant to approach this part of our relationship because it is contentious. I sometimes wonder if I should say anything on certain topics because it is religious (though M does encourage me to speak unhindered) and I hesitate on asking him to pray with me (though he has agreed to sit with me if/when the occasion arises). Yes…I realize that these prefaces seem like justifications but they are what they are: the truth. Yet we also know that we cannot ignore it and cannot exclude it from our relationship. My faith is all encompassing. It cannot be put into a glass box and forgotten; it touches every part of my life and all the decisions I make in my life, including the decision of remaining in this relationship. Everyday, I pray that he will know God but I also know that regardless of what I want, the decision belongs to him and God and that I don’t have any control over it. All I can do is live my life as God has asked of and planned for me, to deepen my relationship with Him. I believe that God overflows the limited shells that we are and will overflow even more as we deepen in our faith. The breadth of His reach those this sodden vessel remains solely in His hands. God also calls us to know the people in the our lives better so that when the opportunities arise, you can essentially speak their language, that you know where they’re coming from. In my job, a lot of it is about word smithing, so you would like think that I would be able to apply this in my personal life (eh…difficult in practice but doable!). M has had a very blessed life. He’s smart, good looking, incredibly athletic. He’s successful in career and has a group of close friends from high school. His family loves each other and are very close as well. In many ways, he has not experienced the need that many others have. I don’t fault him for  this; how could I? But when we do not know need, if everything is provided in our lives and we are supported, how could we ever know that we actually do need God? All this I know and I trust the faithfulness of God but it doesn’t stop the ache. It doesn’t stop the questions that plague my mind. It doesn’t stop the sharp pain every time I think about this difference. Like my daily prayer for him, every day this hits me like a blow to the face. Everyday, the thought of ‘hey maybe breaking up would hurt less’ comes and stabs me in the chest.

The purpose this post isn’t to say whether or not it is right or wrong to date a non-Christian as a man/woman of faith. Rather, it is an inside look of what it’s like to be part of such a relationship. With regards to these relationships, many quote 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”. Fair enough. God provided us with His written word so that we may have a solid reference guide to the fullest life. Yet we are imperfect and it is extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, to ever achieve the perfect life outlined in the amazing book. We are fallen but by the grace of God we are saved. So in response to this particular verse, I would very much agree with it not so much along the lines of ‘that’s wrong!’ and that’s it; rather, it’s because it’s so hard, so difficult and I think part of this verse is that God wanted to spare us from heart ache. It is absolutely heart wrenching to know that someone you love so deeply and someone who loves so deeply in return has yet to experience the immeasurable love of God. And yes, it is also difficult on a relational basis that you may not pray together, read the word together, sing worship songs together, attend church together. If someone was to ask me what I thought about dating a non-Christian, I would probably warn them against it because it’s so hard. Yes, I have choice in this of course. I had not considered remaining in a relationship with a non-believer before meeting M. And yet, somehow we did come together. If M and I are to continue in our relationship, I will have to decide whether or not I can live with this sadness until he knows God. And if he doesn’t, would I be okay with it? If you find yourself encroaching upon or in a similar situation, that is a question you have to ask yourself. I think that you would also need to ponder the question of whether or not you are/would still growing in your relationship with God and if your partner is and will always be supportive of this growth. Let me tell you though, the little things, little moments between M and I, even if he just says good morning every day when he goes into the office, is inexplicable. It’s like a warmth that fills your body and takes your breathe away, a smile that never fades.

Sport and Purpose

Generally, I’ve always separated the sports I did and my purpose into two categories with little overlap. Sports were something I did because I felt that it brought me closer to God in terms of having that freedom to fly and enjoy the outdoors but it was something akin to enjoying life. My purpose on the other hand was the driving force behind what I did for work and volunteering. The two things balanced my life between enjoying life and pursuing this purpose that could be riddled with challenges and perhaps sacrifices of the more comfortable things in life. However, I’m beginning to realize that I can’t separate the two, that they bleed into one another and this is actually a great thing. The two sports I have been primarily focused on (rock climbing and triathlon) are individual sports and in a way, focused on self-fulfillment but I’m beginning to see how my commitment to them has also opened doors in my area of purpose that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Later today, I will be meeting with the YMCA about a volunteer position I applied for. The YMCA is an organization known to promote healthy living and some also run social programs; the volunteer position I applied for was to sit on a council to promote the involvement of young adults in the community. If I wasn’t active member in my triathlon club and involved in other sporting activities, I think it would be a bit odd to volunteer with an organization that prioritizes that. What’s more, being involved in sports also places me in a position to interact and build relationships with amazing friends that are committed to their sport but many of which are also interested and want to give back to the community. Sometimes, I get too narrow-minded and see ‘giving back to the community’ in ways that don’t involve activity/sports, for example building affordable housing. However, when I sit down and think a bit more, sport is probably one of the greatest avenues to meet people, opportunity to grow in ways beyond physical development and to overcome barriers that otherwise would remain.

These thoughts have been popping up into my head every now and then but really came to head  this morning. Earlier today, M sent me a public survey that had been launched by the provincial government that will allow the public to express what they believe are priorities are in sport funding. Initially, I had chosen all of them and grossly surpassed the points allotted. The first couple of sections dealt with physical education and introduction to sports, primarily with youth; one of the last ones outlined was development. Now, I knew that if I was to ever have children, that I would want them active, to dabble in a number of sports from an early age. I wanted them learn how to swim and bike because these were great life skills to have. I wanted to get them outdoors so they could not only frolic in the woods, play with leaves, branches and roll in  the mud (though I think I will delegate the hubby to cleaning them…;)) but so that they would grow up with the same appreciation that my parents instilled in me for the gorgeous outdoor playground and natural beauty of this world. For this survey, development was defined along the lines of engaging people, including children, who were severely challenged in other areas of their life and often, have no where else to turn but to other things that would further detriment their lives. Given my background and my own desired area of focus, it is no surprise that I would allocate points to this area.

However, it was not my own revelations that made me excited this morning. No, it was what M revealed. When M and I started dating, he expressed his concerns over his lack of community involvement and how he wasn’t sure what to do about it. He is extremely talented and skilled in a number of areas that seemingly have little connection but his biggest thing is sports. It is this shared passion that was one of the reasons he and I really clicked. For some reason, it never clicked with me until now that it is this area where I could see and potentially, where he could see, himself giving back to the community. Giving back isn’t always a grand gesture. When he was younger, he was competitively involved in a number of sports, all of which he has kept ties with. I can imagine him coaching kids in these sports and providing the right balance of support, motivation and challenge for the kids on his team. Time and time again, we hear stories about coaches being that role model and motivation for athletes to not just better themselves out on the field but also to pursue success in other areas of their life. What’s more, these kids grow up to be role model themselves and there we have it, the ripple effect. So that’s one revelation by M; the other revelation was how much he loved how sports brought people together. In my own head, this also means the breaking down of barriers. There is a fantastic Ted Talk that talks about organizing an annual marathon in Beirut, a city of which resides in a country torn apart by political and religious differences. Yet this marathon, this pursuit of running and running well, brought people together like nothing else; no policy, no strategy, no political action could ever have such success. I told M about this Ted Talk and it looks like it’ll be the next bed time video we’ll be watching next.

This shared excitement, this shared passion has taken the next step in my life and I think his too. Butterflies are flying in my stomach because I get to share this with him. That I get to grow but I also get to see him grow. Sports has always had an important place in each of our own lives. Yet coming together not only in playing a sport but perhaps doing something more is pretty awesome. Here’s to hoping 🙂

Rediscovering Faith

I haven’t updated in a long time with my thoughts regarding relationships and what not. If you’ve read previous blog posts, I talked a lot about finding a man who could walk with me spiritually and love God more than he could ever love me. That sentiment still remains but sometimes, things don’t go quite as you expect them to. Whenever I met a guy that I thought was interesting, the first question that came to mind was whether or not he was a Christian. If he wasn’t, I usually lost interest right away. With my dating history, I knew how difficult it would be to date a non-Christian and selfishly, I didn’t want to go through that again. It is also quite amazing to be supported by someone who shares the same foundational views and values and to know that you could always count on this person to pray with you and to rely on God and call upon Him when things were rough inside and outside of your relationship. This would be ideal. I still very much believe in this idea of a relationship even though it would seem that my own path hasn’t followed that.

It would seem that I am determined to take the harder path lol even if on one hand, I aspire to take the easier path. Sometimes I look at my Christian friends and fellows who have found someone they love and loved God from their church and get a bit jealous. Relationships are difficult regardless but at least the onset of these relationships seemed to be pretty good. In the past year or so, I had two Christian guys who became non-starters. No, I did not pine away or jump off the deep end without caution. At least from my viewpoint, I had very explicit signs that hey, boy is interested and boy shares faith…huzzah! Alas, neither came to fruition. Was I frustrated? Most certainly but I remained relatively optimistic that this was where a relationship would come from when it eventually happened. Apparently not so much.

I met M playing corporate challenge badminton this past spring. Yes, I play badminton and used to do so competitively; however, in recent years, badminton would only happen once a year for corporate challenge and that’s it. I actually didn’t really want to play this year because I was already committed to triathlon and rock climbing, two things of which demanded so much of my time as individual sports, never mind both sports. But I was bribed into playing with the promise that snacks would be involved at practice and at the tournament (it was all a lie!). I noticed M pretty much right off the bat and got along with him amazingly well. Somehow, things just came together and snowballed. We started talking more and come tournament weekend, both were pretty confident that the other person was interested in the other. However, M is a non-believer.

On the night before our first ‘official’ date, he figured that we should talk about our differences in faith and values. Up to this point, I had justified the existence of our ‘relationship’ to be nothing more than a summer fling but as this talk approached, I realized how much I liked him. In the past, this is the point where most people would’ve backed off because there would a) be no sex involved and b) not so thrilled about religion having a role in the relationship. M surprised me. Despite all our differences, he wanted to a shot at trying to make a relationship work for us. I was shocked.

Since all this began, M has never shied away from the difficulties our relationship has faced and the times when I question it and when I emotionally shut down. I never had someone care for me the way he does, to want to fight for us. And yet, inside, I felt very torn. In the church, we are told that dating non-Christians is a bad thing – after all, the Bible tells us not to yolk with non-believers. Perhaps my own viewpoint is skewed, but I did and do not view the things that are outlined in the Bible to be hard rules but rather guidelines to living that have been established by a God who loves us and wants us to live a life that is fulfilling to the max. With regards to ‘not yolking with non-believers’, it’s because it’s so fucking hard. It’s so hard to know that you don’t share that perspective with them and have them available for you to pray with when you’re not sure about something or struggling with something. It’s hard to think that when you die, you won’t end up in the same place. This past weekend, M and I really struggled with how this would play out in our relationship and after a lot of discussion, we have yet to come to a conclusion with what we should do.
I spoke about the imperfect love of man to the perfect love of God. I realize though the imperfect love of man will always be imperfect, even if the man is a believer of God because we as people are just imperfect. But love in itself is a beautiful gift from God that truly doesn’t come around as much as we think or wish that it did. Yesterday, the verse of the day on my bible app was Psalm 55:22 that says this: ‘Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken’. I am so thankful for my non-family family, that they can give me a good reality check and encouragement all at the same time. One of my girls, Jaws, told me that I had to let go and give up this self-imposed oppression about whether or not M would know God or not. She told me that it wasn’t up to me. That even though M couldn’t see himself coming to know God, that he nor I could predict what could or could not happen. That being with me was a window into a whole different world that he didn’t see before. That all I could do would love M and continue to live my life with the love God instilled in me and walk on the path God has laid before me. That by being ‘burdened’, I was trying to take control of God’s work. One of the most interesting things she told me though that I hadn’t even considered was that by sharing and not censoring the faith part of my life with M, that my own relationship with God grows. That through this relationship, I am learning and still drawing close to God. A part of me fears that by being with someone who is not a believer, that I am disappointing Him. But then I think about how blessed I am to have M in my life and I’m not so sure about that anymore. She also told me to be strong and not to abandon M when we are both learning and growing with one another. One of the things I value the most with my relationship with M is how we can have involved conversations about life and relationships. That there’s an established and growing trust to share things about our past and how we view life without fear of judgement and knowing that it’s being shared in a safe environment. I feel like one of the reasons why God placed M in my life is because he’s strong enough to be there when I fall and that he is helping me heal the emotional scars left behind by others.

So now my faith is growing in a way I never really considered. Man, it’s so hard. It really is difficult but so far, I’ve learnt so much about myself and my faith through M. I don’t know if he knows that. It’s not to say that we won’t struggle because we will but at least I know that I’m on a team and not alone. Here’s to hoping 