Posts

I-Kissed-Dating-a-Non-Christian-Goodbye(2)

I Kissed Dating a Non-Christian Goodbye

Written By Audrey A, Malaysia

“I don’t understand why we can break up over something that I cannot understand . . . I cannot believe you chose your God over me!” Those were his final words to me. God had finally given me the courage to end my relationship with *Duncan, a non-believer.

I was born to a Christian father and a Taoist mother. When I was little, my mother would bring me to the temple without my father’s knowledge. I did not know what I was doing at the time—I simply followed my mother and held joss sticks to pray.

Thankfully, my grandmother showed me the way. Every night without fail, she would teach me how to pray to Jesus. I knew that she had been praying for my mother’s salvation too.

My mother eventually converted to Christianity when I was nine and I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior when I was 16. I have always been amazed at my dad’s boldness in marrying a non-believer, and his patience and trust in God to make the flower bloom as he planted the seed of God’s love in my mother’s heart.

Naively, I thought I could do the same.

Duncan and I were colleagues and we worked on many projects together. Day by day, we became closer and we started hanging out exclusively. I shared my troubles at work with him and I enjoyed his company as he listened to me. I knew that Duncan was not a believer but I couldn’t care less.

I knew 2 Corinthians 6:14 well: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” However, my affection for him continued to grow.

Despite knowing what God had said through Paul in the Bible, my stubborn heart chose its own way. I was determined to make my relationship with Duncan work. I was convinced that after I shared the Gospel with Duncan, he would believe in Christ and our yokes would then be equal. How overconfident and optimistic I was.

 

Red Flags

One year into our relationship, I began to hear God speaking to me. I started to have unusual dreams. I had dreams of Duncan and I constantly fighting, of Duncan with another girl, and of me being in church with a guy who was not Duncan. While I struggled to make sense of these dreams, I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me that the relationship was wrong.

Even as I spent more time with Duncan, the Holy Spirit would tell me time and again that I deserved someone who knows God personally and intimately. Deep down, I knew what I needed was a man who could pray and worship God together with me.

The Holy Spirit’s tugging at my heart never went away and the cracks in our relationship started to show when Duncan and I frequently argued over the smallest things. We had different perspectives on the world and had opposing views on many issues.

We disagreed on issues such as homosexuality—Duncan believed that some people are born to be gay and should be given the free will to love. Duncan also did not want kids—he saw them as a burden, while I saw them as a gift from God. It also troubled me that Duncan was finding it especially difficult to forgive people who had wronged him.

These arguments left me frustrated. I would get so exhausted that I gave up trying to change his mind. I would give in, not wanting to continue our fights. It became clear to me that our yokes were vastly different. God was not the center of our relationship. Being with him was akin to having one person pulling in one direction and the other one pushing in another.

Despite the red flags from concerned family members and friends, I pressed on because I did not want to start over. He was my first serious boyfriend and I was afraid that no one would love me again. After being with Duncan for two years, I did not want to leave the familiarity of our relationship.

Following my father’s example, I brought Duncan to church and shared God’s love with him in the hopes that he would change to become more caring and loving. I also continued to pray for God to soften his heart so that he could know Jesus.

He was physically present in church, but was not present emotionally and spiritually. He struggled to understand the faith and his disbelief led him to constantly challenge the existence and sovereignty of God. His heart was hardened against God.

The breaking point came for me when Duncan declared that I should learn to accept him for who he is: a non-believer. Adding that it was pointless for me to share God’s word with him anymore, he stressed that there was nothing I could say that would change his mind.

I was heartbroken. I cried, pleading with him to reconsider his choice.

Ultimately, he refused to change his mind. That was when I knew what I had to do: I had to let this relationship go. Jesus said: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. . . Anyone does not love me will not obey my teaching” (John 14:24). I broke up with him that evening.

Even though my heart is still aching from the breakup, I know that I must run to God and let Him heal me. I also asked God for forgiveness, knowing too well that I had been disobedient. I had ignored His promptings and His Word throughout my relationship with Duncan, which lasted two years.

I cannot be certain that I will eventually be married in the future. However, there is one thing I know for sure—Christ is indeed enough for me. I have since learned to place my heart completely in God’s hands. I trust that—if it is in His grand plan—He will place a godly man in my life.

If you are going through a similar journey, I hope this will encourage you to place your hope and trust in God’s promise in your life. “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).

 

*Not his real name

My-Quest-for-Love-Nearly-Destroyed-Me

My Quest for Love Nearly Destroyed Me

Written By Aphesis, Singapore 

I come from a family of six. I have an elder sister, a younger sister, and a younger brother. My parents were hawkers. To give my siblings and I a comfortable life, they worked long hours and would not rest unless they fell sick.

As a result, my siblings and I rarely spent time together with our parents. My mother would squeeze some time out, at least once a week, to bring us out for a swim or a meal. But my father became a stranger to me.

It was at the age of 10 when I became aware that my parents’ relationship was strained. Family reunions were hardly a cause for celebration because of their constant bickering. Whenever that happened, I would not know what to do. Helpless, I would camp outside their room and desperately beg them to stop quarrelling.

As my mother spent more time with me, I sided her more as she fed me her side of the story. Caught in the crossfire of words and violence, I didn’t know how to make sense of it. My father would hurt my mother verbally and emotionally. This would result in heated arguments between the both of them, usually ending with my mother giving my father the cold shoulder. Without a father figure to guide me through my teenage years, I started looking for love and affirmation through relationships. At the age of 17, I had my first boyfriend. However, my young puppy love didn’t last and in my quest to seek “perfect” love, I moved from guy to guy. But with every guy I dated, the pain of break-up got deeper and deeper. It was also during that time that I started mixing with bad company and picked up smoking and partying.

Although I was baptized at the age of 14, I fell away from the faith for more than 10 years. Ironically, I was brought back to church by my most recent ex-boyfriend, a believer. He would take me to church every week, and I would obediently follow. I’d listen to the sermons, but never take them to heart.

Back then, I believed I was fine just the way I was and I didn’t have to change. In any case, the thought of being a religious Christian did not sound cool. The only reason I attended church was to spend time with my boyfriend—not God. As long as my boyfriend loved me, I was happy. If attending church was the best way to gain his affection, I figured, it was a reasonable sacrifice on my part.

But whenever I felt that he wasn’t showing me enough attention, I’d throw tantrums. I also manipulated him emotionally by guilt-tripping him over very minor issues, knowing full well that he would eventually soften. But over time, his patience wore thin. After being together for two years, he ended the relationship.

I was devastated. I felt like I had been abandoned. Worn down by all my negative thoughts and feelings, I slipped into depression.

Visiting the psychiatrist and taking medicine didn’t help. I blamed myself for the break-up. I blamed myself for allowing my insecurities to lead me to suspect and accuse him. I blamed myself for wrecking yet another relationship. Thinking I was shallow and useless, I believed the lies I weaved and drowned myself in self-pity.

One day, two peers from church asked me out for dinner. They knew about my love for reading and shared with me Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. As I flipped through the pages, I learned, for the first time, that lust and love were completely different things. Among other things, Harris wrote that love is about expressing self-control and is not manipulative. I realized that in all my past relationships, what I had experienced was lust, and not love.

I thought I knew what love was. In fact, I thought I was skilled in the game of love. I had read about love in 1 Corinthians 13 but, in reality, love was a foreign concept to me. All along, I had been pursuing the wrong idea of love. I broke my partners’ hearts, and in that process, I broke my own too.

Reading the book that night, I experienced a wave of emotions and instantly knew that it was God working in me. He opened my eyes to recognize real love. Overwhelmed with regret, I wept. I could feel Jesus’ presence and sense Him telling me, “My child, it’s okay, I’m here. Don’t be afraid, just come to Me.”

For the first time in my life, I felt true love. Jesus’ heart had been broken for me. I felt so unworthy—that a holy God could be right beside me, an unholy being. I went down on my knees, thanking Him. I was still crying, but it was tears of joy, because I finally understood a very simple fact: I needed Jesus and His love. In fact, that’s all I need and will ever need—a relationship with Him.

With God’s love in my heart, I turned over a new leaf. By God’s strength, I quit smoking. I threw away my revealing clothes, stopped partying, and started serving in church.

I became a better daughter to my parents and a better sister to my siblings. My younger sister—whom I used to bully the most—was the first person to witness the change in me. She started attending church with me, and got baptized after a few months. Today, both of us serve in the worship team together.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned. We can experience real joy and real peace only when our lives and hearts revolve around Christ. Nothing other than the love of Christ can fill the cavity in our hearts; Jesus is irreplaceable. Of course, there have been times when I still felt lousy about myself. However, in these times, I have learned to praise and thank Him. By God’s grace, the relationship between my parents has improved tremendously and they are very loving now. My dad has also become a very caring father and would even say grace before our meals together as a family.

Although my past relationships brought me a lot of pain, I’m thankful that God allowed me to go through the same issues that many young teenagers and adults face today. With my personal experience, I can help others who are still lost and searching for the answer.

Being single for the past four years has given me more time to spend with my friends and to care for other brothers and sisters who might be in need. I have more time to go the extra mile for them.

Over the past years, one of the verses that encouraged me tremendously was Proverbs 4:23. I pray that God will continue to guard my heart, so that I will never go astray again.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

My-Heart-breaking-Relationship-with-A-Non-Christian

My Heart-breaking Relationship with A Non-Christian

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.

 

 Growing differences

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

IMG_8209

The Day My Heart Stopped

Written By Michelle Lai, Singapore

In the second half of 2015, I was appointed cell group leader in my university’s Christian Fellowship (CF). It was my first time serving as cell group leader, so I took on the role excitedly.

Shortly into my new role, however, I developed a crush on one of my cell group members; he was also a leader serving in the CF as well as in church.

It started off innocently, with me seeking his advice on cell group matters and spending time with him to learn how to plan Bible studies. It was my first time doing many things and I really appreciated his help.

But as the days went by, thoughts of him would creep into my mind as I planned cell group meetings. I realized it was distracting me from serving other group members. That’s when I knew I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I spending a disproportionate amount of time with him at the expense of other members? Had I become too engrossed in looking out for and listening to him during meetings? Was I giving him priority over other members, like shifting our outings to another day just because he couldn’t make it?

I have heard of cell group leaders dating their members, but I knew that in my case, it was not the right time for me to consider a relationship as I was also balancing other commitments like work and school.

As I became more aware of my struggle, I became increasingly moody. What do cell group leaders do when they have a crush on their members? I decided to confide in one of my friends about this struggle. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding, we fell out when I felt that she was questioning my motive for serving and for doing things the way I did as a leader. It made me furious and upset.

For days, I wrestled with these emotions—till it reached a point when I felt numb. It was as if a plug was pulled from my heart; I felt emptiness. And as my heart “stopped”, my mind took over. Without the heart, the mind is a cold thing. I could do the things I needed to do, but I found that I had dark thoughts. I formed negative thoughts about others. I became calculative. Even though I continued to attend CF sessions and do my quiet time, I felt far from God.

But the deliberate and conscious decision to keep reading God’s Word, worshiping Him, and immersing myself in His community had an effect on me. During a CF worship event one day, the worship leader sang the song, “Divine Exchange” by Lara Martin. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt convicted in my heart and mind to leave all my burdens at the foot of the cross. I let go of all the tiredness and numbness I had been feeling, and at that moment, I was able to enjoy the presence of God. A sense of relief and peace entered my heart and slowly, my emotions came back.

Over time, I got over my crush on my cell group member. He stopped being a distraction and I no longer had to struggle between how I felt and what I needed to do at every meeting. I also cleared the air with the friend whom I confided in, and forgave her for hurting my feelings.

Through this episode, I learned the importance of obeying and worshiping God even when He seems to be far away or when I don’t feel like it. Worship and love for God is not merely a feeling—it is a deliberate and conscious choice we need to make on a daily basis. I am glad I learned to lay all my thoughts and feelings at His feet instead of struggling to fix them on my own.