Looking back at my first date with Dinah, we talked about God and our faith. We belonged to different churches. She was Catholic and I attend a Baptist church and was a Catholic before. We shared a common ground about religious activities and the individual connection each person has to his/her church.
Something else we shared in common is that neither Dinah nor I felt the need to evangelize to people. We both felt that religion is a personal matter that should be explored on one’s own journey. She didn’t preach her beliefs to people or demand they attend church with her every Sunday, or get into arguments about opposing beliefs. She kept her religion to herself and close to her heart.
After only two to three weeks of our initial meeting, Dinah asked me to go to church with her, it was a gentle invitation. It happened to be on a Sunday in the middle of football season during a time when a tradition takes place at my brother’s place…football games every Sunday. It is a time both my brother and I make priority to share with each other. I would not think about trading that special time for going to service instead.
Dinah understood the situation, but nonetheless, she diligently kept asking each week, which I give her credit for. One Super Bowl Sunday, Dinah and I met with my brother at his place so she could see him for the first time. Her church happens to be right around the corner and it was then that we finally went to church. We attended the 5:30 pm mass. It was very quick and she suspected that it was because of the game.
Although I happily attended the mass without hesitation, instead of dragging my feet into it, I honestly still felt like the spotlight was on me. I don’t think she intended to come off that way, it was a coincidence we would be near her church that day, it’s not like she was trying to push me into it.
To ensure she knew that church was important I accepted the invitation, I wanted her to get the right message. I could not decline this time.
The church is in fact very important to me, but my regular attendance doesn’t reflect that in particular. In 2014, I didn’t attend church once. And, in 2013, I probably attended church no more than 10 times. The last memory of regular church services was in 2012, but I still can’t say that it was every single week. I have held high regard for the value of attending church. I cannot openly say to someone that I don’t care about going to church or that is not my thing.
It doesn’t take much for me to want to go and commune with God on a Sunday. It doesn’t take a disaster in my life for me to want to go. I’m not the type that only goes to church on major holidays. In fact, I prefer not to go on Easter Sunday because all the seats are packed with the “once per year” churchgoers.
Attending church is very important to me, but I don’t feel the need to be so strict on myself. If I feel like going, I will go, but if I don’t, I simply won’t. I get inspired to go because it feels good, regardless of what state of mind I find myself in. After attending a service, I always feel better than when I arrived. Never do I feel like my time was wasted and I have not felt any downsides.
There are times on Sundays that I want that day all to myself. I don’t need to find excuses for not going at times, there are activities that call my attention around town or at home. There’s no point in justifying the reason why sometimes I don’t go. It could be a new series on TV or a new restaurant in town. Even though going to church feels great, it doesn’t mean that I feel bad when I don’t attend church.
On the other hand, with my girlfriend involved and her inviting me and me politely declining her invitations, I began to think about the message I was sending and how she may interpret it. After getting to know Dinah better, I found that she is strong in her faith, a devout Catholic, and a very spiritual person. I admire this about her very much and hold it in high regard, she inspires me. I haven’t been the type of man looking for a “holy roller” but strong faith, a spiritually awake person has been a great quality to have in a woman. I like what Andre 3000 said about him finding a strong praying woman very attractive.
Being that this particular Sunday is important to many people, I had to be honest about why I won’t attend. As when Easter mass comes around and she goes, it is likely I won’t be there. It’s more than me just not feeling like it.
Growing up in the Catholic faith as an altar boy who confessed, memorized Our Father/Hail Mary, and at times was so devout. I even attended mass on a Saturday before going to prom since I wouldn’t be attending the next morning.
When I got to college I stopped going. I won’t go into details of why I’m no longer a Catholic. In general, some things about the church’s ways didn’t feel good to me. I want to emphasize that it’s just my unique perception. My family and my girl accept me this way because they know I have strong faith in God and my devotion goes deeper than any religious practice.
Religious practices are sacred to me and I would not be comfortable attending a Catholic service on a day intended to honor Jesus’ resurrection.
Many Christian couple have a favorite term “equally yoked.” It comes from Corinthians 6:14 where it is said by Paul not to be yoked together with non-believers, and light and darkness have nothing in common, as believers and non-believers have nothing in common.
When I initially heard this verse, I girl I dated in college introduced it to me and spoke about us not being equally yoked, and that’s why she could not date me. On the other hand, Dinah does not feel that way about us. I feel she would not leave me because of this concept.
I know, however, that since we’ve been dating, I have politely turned down her invitations to go to church, just about every Sunday. And on top of that, have not shown any intentions of going on my own account. I cannot take advantage of her understanding and accepting what I’ve chosen. I have decided that after Easter, I will make attending mass a priority. Perhaps I will go on Wednesdays to the service that I enjoy much more.
However it may be, I will attend because it’s important to me, not just to be on Dinah’s good side. The service for me is a time to commune with God, it is not necessarily a time for a couple to be together. It is my time for him, I feel a deep belief of that – I am ready to give him much more of my devotion at church.
I have also come to the conclusion that expressing this in writing may contradict what I said about making my faith something very personal. I just thought it was a good thing to share because it many people see religion as a priority in a relationship, that one must be compatible.
I feel good that Dinah and I feel similarly about it and that is okay if we don’t ever attend church together as long as we each practice our devotion to God. As long as we each do our individual routines on Sunday, I know we will happily come together at brunch. Like they say “a family that prays together stays together.” So long as we continue to practice our faith, I know we will see the value that we each bring to our spiritual lives. I’m sure there will be a time when we enjoy the mass service together. And, with time, we will create our unique traditions and ritual to honor our religious beliefs.
As long as the love and devotion for God are there, the goal is being met. Each individual has to determine how they will with God. The same as each couple has to determine what works particularly for them.
I am grateful that Dinah has shown understanding and flexibility. Perhaps sees in me my strong devotion to God, which is something that allows her to feel good about my church-going habits. A relationship has to explore different ways of doing things now that you’re together. As long as we put faith first in our lives, our relationship will unravel under perfect grace.