Monday, October 29, 2007

Courtship with a difficult background: encounters with arrogance

As some of you already know, my background wasn't exactly perfect: growing up without a father and without a proper role model to help me avoid the dangers of secular dating, I was the typical teenager of today. Starting from when I was about 15 years old, my head was full of boys, boys and more boys. Around that time, I started dating, which led me to experience a whole range of negative effects, about which you can read here.

Today, however, I would like to share with you some more experiences of making the switch from dating to courtship. In my previous post about courtship I briefly mentioned how 'the good guys' might be less than enthusiastic about giving a chance to someone who had a difficult past. Now, I don't want to make any sweeping generalizations here, but this is something I have encountered – a lot – when I was introduced to men who were interested in courtship.

Unsurprisingly, many of these young men were from families that also encouraged and practiced the idea of courtship – which is wonderful. The less pleasant part was the look on their faces when they heard that I was raised by a single mother, that I don't know my father, and especially that in the past, before I saw the error of my ways and corrected them, I did many foolish things that compromised my purity.

I also had to endure humiliating questioning; demanding account about every little detail in my past, no matter how little relevance it has in my life today; it wasn't enough to say, "I made mistake X". No; I had to tell exactly when, why, at which circumstances, and how often I made mistake X. Don't get me wrong – I wasn't really hiding anything. But it's impossible – at least to me - to open up quickly and tell deeply personal, intimate details when you have just been introduced. If you want to get to know a person, it takes time. By brutal, matter-of-fact interrogation, I was given the following message: "I'm not ready to take the time to know you, because you might be not worth my time. I'm checking if you have any of the flaws on my no-go list, so I can eliminate you quickly or take the next step. I don't have enough patience and wisdom to see you, the way you are – I just see facts A, B and C in your biography, and I don't really care how much you have changed or how much you repent your past behavior."

And here I feel it's time to make a little disclaimer. By no means do I want to give a message that it isn't alright to be cautious about the person you are getting to know; after all, we're talking about your potential husband or wife! You have the right to know truly important details. But the evaluation should be made according to what this person is now, not what they used to be. We are all sinners. Those who made grave mistakes, and then, in a process of pain and growing, reached out to God and embraced His guidance and forgiveness, have done something truly great. They don't deserve to be treated like second best; they are the best.

We all have dreams about our future prince or princess; and while, as we mature, our rosy visions give place to a more realistic image, I don't believe many of us think, in relation to our future spouse, about matters our significant other might have had in the past, such as broken families, abusive relationships, children from previous marriages and other things that aren't – how should I put it – the perfect adornment of the first romance. But who said it will only work if it's perfect?

I know this isn't easy. If you are preserving your chastity for your future husband or wife, it is only natural to think your future spouse will be someone who did the same thing. But I still would like to encourage everyone to think outside the box on this matter. When someone has gone such a long road to recovery, imagine what they must feel if the attitude is, 'you can never hope to marry a really good man/woman after what you've done'.

Beware of arrogance. Maybe you come from a strong, loving, protective family; maybe you were raised as a believer, never rebelled, and followed the wise path of your parents, and that's excellent. But keep in mind that all of this was made possible only through God's grace. Some might have been born into less fortunate circumstances, but through a journey to God, they refined their spirits and – who knows – one of them just might be your soul mate, that special person you have been praying for, your lifetime partner.