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?