Along with being 26 years older than me, my boyfriend Brandon had very different views in life. The most crucial to our relationship was our religious standpoints. As a Christian man who wanted a woman who was “equally yoked,” I was not up to par with his expectations. Brandon was not the kind of guy that believed that women belonged in the kitchen or that we are to be submissive to men, but he did expect me to practice what he preached and that was not OK with me.
I was not Christian and did not plan to be anytime soon. I liked to be open to the concept of different beliefs and all I got from Brandon was a narrow-minded Bible thumper. Don’t get me wrong; I liked Brandon and his faith was refreshing, but when he started to point the finger at me, I did my best to not tell him to look in the mirror before he judged.
This subject is a really big sore spot in our otherwise happy relationship, but it was a situation that needed to be talked about and as Brandon expressed more and more of his feelings for me, the more I got angry at myself.
“It’s just that, Lena, I’m starting to have deep feelings for you, but I want to know that you’ll walk with me and Him. I can’t sit here and pretend that I’m OK with being with someone that is not walking with Jesus and at any moment can leave me if she finds someone who has the same beliefs,” I remember Brandon telling me that night in his car.
I was so angry and tears were streaming down my face from the sheer anger I had in myself. “I just don’t get why you think that me being Christian is going to change the possibility of me cheating on you,” I replied. “I think by now you should know the kind of person I am. I accept your beliefs and I wouldn’t leave you and go with someone else because your beliefs aren’t the same as mine. And how can you say that I’m the one keeping you from going to church? Didn’t you ask to go tonight and I said yes?”
He looked at me and hesitated on what to say next. It was the first time that Brandon had seen me crying and I knew that it was making him uncomfortable. But I was not the type to just scream and shout when I felt like I was being attacked; I got angry and with that, tears usually followed. “I know Lena, and I appreciate that you do go, but sometimes I feel like you don’t want to go and you do it just to make me happy,” said Brandon.
“I don’t feel like you’re forcing me, and if I really didn’t want to go, I would tell you. But I do it out of consideration for you and I respect you. Trust me, if I didn’t want to go I wouldn’t,” I retorted. “And if I don’t like it, what is the big deal? I’m going to support you, not to change my life.” I knew the last part was like a punch in the mouth, but at that point, I didn’t care. Here I was dating this guy and it hadn’t even been a year and he wanted me to change. I prided myself in never being in a relationship where I was being told that I wasn’t good enough and the minute Brandon said the words, “You’re not the woman I thought you were,” it was as if he had said I wasn’t good enough.
“Wow, isn’t that typical. Just like every woman. You all know just how to make yourselves the victims and turn it around on the man,” Brandon said with an angry laugh as he shook his head.
I looked at him, surprised and hurt. He was again generalizing women, but this time he didn’t understand just how resentful he had sounded. This wasn’t about me being non-Christian; this stemmed from something else. This was pain and hurt that Brandon didn’t know what to make of and he didn’t know how to express it, let alone where to point it. And I had to wonder, was he even over his previous marriage?