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One, But Not the Same

Dating someone with different religious values and beliefs and can seem like a good thing until you consider what is most important in a relationship. Read this true story by someone who learned this lesson firsthand.

by Michelle Zollner

Dating Have you ever had a soul mate? Someone you could spend every waking moment of your day with and never get tired of? Someone you want to give your life to? That's how I felt about a friend of mine in college.

I was going through some tough times emotionally, spiritually and mentally at a highly competitive college. As many of you who have chosen a path in engineering know, it's no cakewalk.

I was sitting (practically sleeping) in "Electromagnetics" one morning when an ice cold Coke was placed in front of me. I followed the hand on the can up to a beautiful pair of blue eyes and a smiling face. He whispered below the professor's words, "Here, this always helps me--I wouldn't dare come to this class without one!"

I muffled a laugh and accepted his offering. After class we started talking and decided to meet later to work on the impossible problem sets for the class. I came to find out that Brian (as I'll call him) was in a few of my other impossible classes, so we planned to work on those together too. The next thing I knew, we were spending hours upon hours together every day. I looked forward to our study sessions and actually began to enjoy school, even "Electromagnetics"!

This brilliant, sweet, charming guy had many qualities that I absolutely admired. Before I realized it, he had stolen my heart. Brian actually reminded me a lot of my dad with his tall stature, dark hair and dry humor. My time with him was the best part of my day.

We began talking about deeper topics like evolution, and what happens after you die. The thought occurred to me that God may be working with Brian. I was even more excited at that point because we had become such close friends and it would truly be wonderful to become more than that. Our discussions continued over months and he seemed to be very interested in aspects of our religion that are so different from others.

Not knowing what would happen next, I was reluctant to start a relationship, but emotions took over and we began to date. From surprise lunches between classes to birthday flowers, we spoiled each other without end. Our discussions became less and less about God and His plan and more about us.

In the back of my mind, I felt myself drifting away from God, but didn't have the courage to stop or turn around. I wanted to, but on the other hand, I wanted so much to be with Brian.

One day, I sat staring at the phone on my desk and the U2 song "One" came on the radio. Brian and I are both huge U2 fans and "One" was our favorite song. The next thing I knew, tears were pouring down my face as I was thinking about the chorus to the song, "We're one, but we're not the same..."

How true that was! Brian and I were one, but we weren't the same. For whatever reason, God was not calling him, but He was calling me and I had an obligation to answer (which I did a few months later at baptism).

The most difficult task

Girl talking on her mobile phone I then picked up the phone and did the most difficult thing I've ever had to do—push away my best friend, a person very dear to my heart—my soul mate. God made me realize that it just wouldn't work out. Sure we would be happy together, but I knew I'd always feel that missing dimension in our relationship. God's Spirit is crucial to the marriage covenant and I don't want to be without it.

Brian knew me well, but not all of me. He knows my beliefs are very important to me, but he doesn't fully understand why. And that day, he didn't understand why I was breaking up with him. He thought we could work around it and compromise, but there is no compromise to God's way.

Brian was so hurt after that phone call, but he tried not to let on or take it out on me. He still remained his happy self, but did avoid my presence if possible. It hurt so much to see him push me away, but I knew he didn't understand why I did what I did. He won't ever understand until God reveals the truth to him, and that is the part most painful to me.

As graduation approached, Brian began calling me again and wanting to spend time together. I felt like we had returned to our friendship days and were finally able to put the relationship stuff in the past. But just before graduation, he said he didn't know how he was going to live without me and he wanted me to move out to where his new job was to start a life together. I was a bit surprised, but really should not have been, because I was dreading the thought of a "life without Brian" too. But here it is a year later and I'm still alive!

What I learned

So what is the moral of this story? Well, there are four main things I've learned from this:

  1. Guard your heart. God warns us not to awaken love before its time. If I had to do things over again, I would have kept things as friends. I should have relied more on God and not trusted my own desires. God promises to bless those who follow Him, and I should have had more faith in that.

  2. If God was truly calling Brian, He could have done it without me. At points in the relationship when I knew that God was probably not happy with my actions, I couldn't back out because I felt like Brian's only connection to the truth. But I should have realized that God would never put me in a situation where I needed to do something wrong for the calling of another.

  3. If things were as wonderful with Brian as they were, they will be even better with someone who has God's Spirit.

  4. I am comforted by my decision. I believe I did the right thing. Do I miss him? Absolutely! I think about him often, and that U2 song "One" will always bring back a memory or two. But I have the peace of mind that I chose wisely. I was protecting myself with my choice, but I was also protecting Brian from the future pain of a rocky marriage.

Some young people in God's Church choose to date outside of their religion. After my experiences, I feel I must warn you that it's the tougher way to go. As I look back on the situation, I wonder why I was even bothering with someone who was missing my highest criteria for a husband. Sure he fit all of the other profiles perfectly, but they all meant nothing without God's Spirit and truth.

Beach at sunset I know many of you deal with situations similar to this all of the time, which is what inspired me to write this. All I can say is, hang in there! You are precious to God and He only wants the best for you. You will be rewarded for doing what is right! It's extremely hard to stay focused on what God wants us to do. The path of the righteous is narrow and there are few who find it!

There are many wonderful young men and women out in the world who will make excellent mates someday, but I don't feel that is what God wants for His people. God designed marriage to be the most influential connection between two humans. He modeled the marriage relationship after Christ's future relationship with the Church. I want my mate to understand that and have a similar perspective on our relationship. Then my future husband and I can work together as "One" and this time we will be the same. YU

About the author:
Michelle Zollner is 22 years old and works as a biomedical engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. She attends the United Church of God congregation in Collinsville, Illinois.

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Origin of article "One, But Not the Same"
Keywords: dating dating outside the faith marriage outside the faith 

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