Written By Duo-Jia, China, originally in Simplified Chinese
On the last day of 2016, I stopped replying to his emails. Our relationship was over.
It all started in August 2015, when my family members introduced me to Alex*. At the time, I was already above the age of 25, so my non-Christian parents were anxious to see me married—but not to a Christian. Although I was initially wary about dating Alex because he wasn’t a Christian, I decided to meet him because of my family’s relentless persuasion.
At our first meet-up, I told Alex that I was a Christian and was looking for a Christian partner.
After hearing what I said, Alex—who knew nothing about Christianity—felt it would be a waste of time to meet me. But his family urged him to give it a go. So, under pressure from both sides, we began to meet up occasionally. That’s when an idea grew in my mind that I would tell him about my faith and hopefully convert him someday.
As I got to know Alex a little better, I began to realize that he was a very caring, attentive person. Once, when I had acute gastritis, he took me to a doctor and then kept reminding me to take my medicine afterwards. Another time, he told me—after attending a Christmas gathering I had invited him to—that he felt sorry for the past occasions when he would either turn me down or express disinterest whenever he attended my church.
Moved by his care and consideration, I opened up to him and we began dating. I knew that 2 Corinthians 6:14 clearly tells us not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever—but I would only truly understand it later, after many arguments and tears.
In our first two months together, Alex and I got along really well. But whenever I brought up the topic of being “unequally yoked” and the need for him to convert, he would look extremely hurt and ask me not to talk about it again. There were moments when I wondered if we could just get married even if he didn’t become a Christian, but the Holy Spirit kept reminding me that believers should not be yoked with unbelievers. I told myself that if we were ever to get married, Alex had to become a Christian first. So I prayed for him every day and even fasted over him periodically.
In April 2016, Alex’s aunt came over to talk to my family about marriage. At the same time, a few sisters-in-Christ expressed their concern about Alex’s lack of interest in Christianity despite coming to church often. Anxious at this turn of events, I talked to Alex and urged him to become a Christian. The next day, we met a church elder for a four-hour long conversation. However, Alex wouldn’t budge, and we ended up arguing after the meeting. At that point, I felt that the situation was hopeless and believed that our relationship was over.
Although Alex did not want to break up, he wasn’t willing to convert to Christianity either. It was his family who urged him to make up so that we would stay together. He agreed, but said that if he was still unconvinced after learning more about Christianity, he would try to convince me to leave the faith as well.
At the same time, I held out hope that Alex would change his mind. Surely if he kept coming to church to hear about God, I thought, God would work in his heart. But after another two months, Alex still did not change. As time wore on, my patience grew thin, and we began to argue more often.
The first separation
As we spent more and more time together, we clashed more often over what we would do on Sundays and going to church, and argued more frequently. Finally, Alex refused to attend church with me anymore. After trying but failing to reach an agreement with him, I suggested breaking up. Alex agreed.
I remember crying almost daily from the heart-breaking pain of losing a relationship as well as the sting of his accusations. After we broke up, a brother-in-Christ suggested that I had been wrong in dating Alex from the very beginning. But I did not take this seriously.
Sometime later, after I had just returned from a business trip, Alex asked me if we could get back together again. Initially, I refused. But on seeing his tears, I agreed.
Unfortunately, we began going through the same cycle. Again, I tried to convince him to become a Christian, only to find him becoming more distant. And again, he eventually stopped attending church. This time, however, he even demanded that I stop believing in God as well. This was the breaking point.
It was then that I finally understood what the psalmist meant when he wrote Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” I realized that unless Alex was prepared to let the Builder work on him, neither I nor my prayers would soften his heart. Finally, I chose to submit to God and let go of the relationship that I had treasured so much.
Just as I did when we broke up the first time, I cried a lot. I felt great regret whenever I thought about the many things I had loved about Alex, but also sadness whenever I remembered how he had resisted the faith. It was only when a brother-in-Christ recommended that I watch a video on marriage counselling, did I realize that I had fallen into the trap of human thinking.
God had intended marriage to show us a glimpse of the goodness of heaven. Husband and wife were meant to become one in flesh, heart, soul, and purpose. However, because Alex didn’t know God, our purpose in life and values regarding marriage were so different. The wisdom of 2 Corinthians 6:14 spoke out to me again: “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
If I were to reflect honestly on what happened in 2016, I would have to admit that I had compromised on my time with God. Because of my relationship with Alex, I grew increasingly distant from God and lost my inner peace during that period. Since breaking up with him, however, the Spirit has been graciously granting me a renewed sense of peace and affirmation. God has helped me to learn that He works even in the worst situations. Through this relationship, I have learned to seek God’s will and to submit to His Word.
God also showed me that I should not have used the excuse of evangelism to get into a relationship with a non-believer. I learned that I hadn’t really trusted Him regarding marriage, and had fixated on the fact that I could see no other suitable partners. But couldn’t God—the God of the entire universe—bring me one person? Is anything too hard for God? I had to learn this difficult lesson of trust. Psalm 37:7 served as a good reminder for me to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Subsequently, I made a promise to God to seek His will instead of finding my own ways to satisfy my emotional or physical needs. I prayed for His help to keep me holy and to wait for His perfect timing.
You may be facing an experience similar to mine, or just a prolonged period of singlehood with no suitable partner in sight. But I hope to encourage you: Turn your eyes to God and entrust Him with your hopes and needs.
*not his real name