Today’s post is by Isla Ambiyo, a friend I have known for close to four years. By the grace of God, we are now in a relationship that is headed for marriage soon. She has such an admirable passion for God and seeing His purpose accomplished throughout generations. She does not shy from laying out her filth in the open if only through that can God be glorified; I guess one thing that had me dead to all others and alive to her only, romantically speaking. See more of her work on her site.
There was a time in my life when I used to be really turned off by nice guys. Guys who were so kind and gentle to me would obviously have no place in my ‘heart’. I would think to myself, “Huyu nitamkalia tu. Acha ata tusisumbuane. (I am just going to defraud this one. I better leave him alone).” I would then get very cold and the poor guy would just walk away. I preferred the so called ‘bad boys’. A compliment or just a glance from a guy who was labelled bad would cause my knees to wobble; my heart would beat faster than the pneumatic drill (literally). I would actually go past cloud nine. Unknowingly, I had been carried by this deceptive wave of bad being ‘dope’ and nice being boring.
Even after I got born again, this mindset crossed over with me. I wondered if I was ready to obey God’s command on 2 Corinthians 6:14 with the way guys who were born again were seeming unattractive. Thankfully, I managed breaking up with the then boyfriend I had before receiving Christ; and was he bad! My friends would warn me of the many other girls he had out there (I totally feel for Teckla and Catherine each time I recall this phase of my life. You girls tried.). Apparently, I had fallen so head over heels that all these allegations they made did not make sense to me at all. Amidst so many tears and sleepless nights, I did it. I let him go.
After a year of being single and saved, the Lord brought along a man who would turn out to be very significant in my life. All through this while; I had learnt much about relationships and why Paul had to be very forthright about 2 Corinthians 6:14. It says:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
It took me time to actually accept what the Lord was saying to me in this verse and just take it as it was. So, I will expound on why I chose to obey and only allowed myself to relate with a guy who was saved.
The one major thing I learnt about any healthy relationship is that it must be founded on something. In this case, a gentleman and a lady relating must be aware of the direction in which their relationship is heading. For this case, marriage must be the focus. With how the world is today, the meaning of marriage has been greatly trampled on. It is rare to find people, even in the church, speaking positively about it. Marriage is not an institution you want to commit to with someone not too sure about it; in other words, having one leg in and one leg out.
Christ at the center
In the book of John 15:5, Christ said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing…” with time, I have come to appreciate the fact that indeed Christ meant every word He said here. The vine signifies Christ being our source. Us separating ourselves from Him means disobeying His commands and looking elsewhere for refuge. He then says “…apart from Me you can do nothing…” This may sound a bit too harsh but again, He meant it. It may not look so on the surface each time we disobey. However, this will mostly explain the emptiness and disappointment that come with relationships not founded on Christ. We end up making idols of our partners, putting them at the place of God; a responsibility only God Himself can handle.
I can confidently testify that there is nothing as fulfilling as a relationship with Christ at the center. This comes not only from my own personal experience, but also from older couples in the faith I know. It is hard to have Christ at the center of your relationship with a partner who does not share your faith. In fact, it is utterly impossible. The relationship may seem to blossom at the beginning. However, it will only be a matter of time and the cracks will begin to show. In following Christ, the trust-and-obey policy is what works. Apart from Him you can do nothing.
The selfish agenda
I know some may be going like ‘How about I lead him/her to Christ while we relate?’ This may shock you but there is actually nothing Christ-like in that. You are seeking to convert another into your faith for your own selfish gain: so that you can relate with them. Two negative results are possible here. The partner in question may actually agree and get saved for your sake; to impress you. This now means that Christ is out of this equation. It is not Christ that saved them; it is you that ‘saved’ them. This is not Christ-glorifying at all.
The other result would be resentment. The partner may end up resenting you due to the pressure they feel you are placing on them to have your faith. This then becomes a hindrance to the working of the Holy Spirit; who is the only one able to truly convict anyone in to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The partner then ends up moving farther away from ever discovering the love of Christ for what it is. This is therefore not an option for anyone who genuinely loves another who is not in the faith. Being found in God’s will is more important than missing out on a supposed love story.
Growing is always good; something I constantly desire concerning my faith. Being in a relationship with a partner with whom you can share values that are of benefit to both of you is an awesome thing. This means that your views of life are not too different and you are both driven by similar values. My faith is important to me. I therefore needed to walk into marriage with someone who would lead me in a godly way.
I realize how critical the position of a husband is; both in society and spiritually speaking. That is a major reason why I did not want to accept just anyone on to that spot. I do not mean that it had to be someone perfect. I know Joseph is not the most perfect guy in the world for me, just as I am not the most perfect girl for him; but it is through our imperfections that we are both learning to love perfectly. The Lord is using our weaknesses and strengths to mold each one of us into His likeness. I am convinced that the marriage relationship was designed by God more for our eternal benefit, than just for our enjoyment in this world. It is more about God’s glory, than my happiness and satisfaction.
So the bad-boy-syndrome is dead in me. I am more thrilled by Christ-like charm nowadays; which is exactly what God has blessed me with. The man in my life is one I would comfortably describe as my best friend. He is one person I love to look up to. We may not be too sure what is coming in the future we are both looking forward to, but with Christ being the Rock of us, I know those storms will come and pass.