Monday, January 4, 2010

Doubling the Deck: Religion

While I wait for my mom to upload 40 gigs worth of vacation/scouting pictures to her website, I thought I'd talk about the less physical aspects of wedding/relationship preparation - learning about another person and deciding how that person fits and complements your life.

Deciding to share my life with someone else is akin to owning a trading card collection and springing for that super-deluxe expansion pack. Suddenly (or gradually, depending on how much culture shock there is), your whole world doubles in size. While it's normally filled with common or even duplicate cards, your attention is always drawn to the one "shiny" foil-faced card, which stands out more than others.
(Shiny Charizard, for all you first gen Pokemon fans.)

For me, that shiny card of obvious difference was religion.

Sak was Buddhist when I met him.

I am a follower of Christ, with my roots raised mostly in the Baptist denomination.

Being somewhat-sheltered, I had a lot of misconceptions and generalized beliefs about his faith. But with his patience, he set me straight and taught me that there were many different kinds of buddhists in the world. For example, his kind didn't believe in reincarnation, or that Buddha is a God, or even Nirvana. The reason his church is called buddhist, he says, is because they follow Buddha's teachings on living a good life. And that's basically the premise, to live a good life, and to keep an open mind. So his religion was less one of worship, and more one of teaching and principles.

It's actually pretty interesting, how things all panned out. Sak must have been a good Buddhist, since his open mind led him to ask questions about my faith. Then several months after we started dating, he began joining me at the local Baptist church near our college. Half a year after that, he decided to accept Jesus as his Savior, becoming a born-again Christian.

As overjoyed as I was that the love of my life now shared the same beliefs as I did, I was honestly very worried. Did I pressure him into this? Is he just pretending to believe to make me happy? As important as it is to see eye-to-eye on certain issues, no one wants a relationship based on lies or force. In the end, and despite my concerns, I chose to try to trust him at his word. I say "try", since I was guilty of observing from the shadows, like a ninja!

And what I have seen over the past years has put my doubts to rest. He was being completely honest, and I know from his eagerness to practice and learn his religion, that it's for himself, and not for me.

Would I have still married him if he did not share my beliefs? It's hard to say. For me, it's like asking if you would still marry a man that had no desire to be a parent, when all you've ever wanted was children. It's a fundamental difference, for sure, but many couples do work around it. So I may have. And I'm honestly glad that I don't have to make that decision.

But I am thankful and respectful of his Buddhist upbringing. It helped shape the man I love into who he is today. He's slow to pass judgement on others, and he always keeps an open-mind before coming to a decision about something. I admire that. And learning about his different perspective helped open my own eyes, as well.

What is your "shiny card" - the biggest and most prominent difference your significant other has brought into your life?


  1. This is a great post and I am so happy to hear that he has become a Christian! As you mentioned, I honestly don't think I'd ever be able to marry someone who didn't share my love for Jesus and acknowledge Him as their Savior. Nothing against those inter-faith couples out there, but it is just a fundamental aspect of who I am that I must share with my partner. And thankfully, Mr Fix It and I truly do have mostly the same beliefs and ideas about things. I always say how lucky I am that I fell in love with someone who shares so much of the same ideas and values as I do...right down to the fact that neither of us even drinks alcohol...which is a rare find to say the least :)

  2. Definitely! I think it definitely helps make a relationship smoother when you have less to disagree about (though I still like a good debate now and then ^_^)