He was unlike anyone I had dated before — those guys were typically youth pastors or fellow missionaries.Adam was neither of those things and he definitely wasn’t a Christian.I started mumbling under my breath during the Sunday sermon, balking at the opinions of my hardcore conservative friends, dating Christian guys that were threatened by my "alternative" beliefs, and questioning the validity of many of the points I’d spent three years trying to hammer into Adam.
Adam was raised a secular humanist, a "nonreligous lifestance" that deemphasizes the role a God-like entity plays in a person’s life and emphasizes making good personal decisions.
His family was so far left and my family so far right, they practically came back around the circle.
Adam tried his best to meet my needs, but he couldn’t fulfill all of my expectations — there was no way he could understand the full scope of pressures exerted by a culture he wasn’t raised in.
It wasn’t that our values were so different that we couldn’t talk about them deeply and agree on some guiding principles; it was the constant ache I felt for the familiar.
More than one dinner out ended with me crying at the table in frustration, so we started eating at dimly lit restaurants. It was my family, the only community I had known, my education, and my profession, but it simply wasn’t for the person I loved. Luckily, Adam’s patience was just as strong as his stubbornness, and he put up with Sunday services, my parents prophesying over him, and the celibacy that I had committed to as a 13-year-old (despite the fact that I’d lost my purity ring, oops).
He tried to explain to me that maybe, just maybe, our differences had more to do with rhetoric and semantics than actual value disparities, but I couldn’t accept that. As we passed milestones in our relationship and continued to circle the major issues dividing us, other problems arose — namely, our different cultural expectations.
But after three weeks, Adam knew things couldn’t stay that blissful.
Sitting quietly by my side, the doctor-to-be stated his prognosis: He said that though things might seem great, we believed differently, and ultimately, that would tear us apart.
The only thing they could agree on was that we should care for the poor — to do this, though, was another minefield of ideological differences and presuppositions about who was to blame for that poverty. He would scoop me up on his black motorcycle and whisk me to the best restaurants on the island, where we’d discuss our mutual love for travel and the family legacies we both shouldered.
All the while, fireworks literally exploded above us.
It started with a lot of bluster and confidence, mostly on my part. Converting the "lost" was my profession, after all. I also needed to believe this and needed to tell my worried, but open-handed, parents that although I was breaking the one rule they persistently drill into young evangelical girls (aside from no front hugs) — do not date non-Christian men — I was in control and was going to handle the situation. And while we clung tightly to each other and to the notion that love could conquer all, our relationship descended through multiple stages of hell before it finally came to another end.