I was sitting at a Starbucks at 5:30 AM on a Friday morning before work with my friend Sandra, drinking tea and going through my Bible study book. We met every Friday morning for several years-engrossed in what God was teaching us.
One morning, we were deep in conversation when a barista approached me.
“Miss, there is someone on the phone for you.” she said.
“Oh, you must have the wrong person.” I dismissed her. “No one knows I’m here.”
“It’s a customer, Miss. He says he needs to talk to you.”
Confused, I went to the counter and she awkwardly stretched the cord over for me to use.
What followed next caught me completely off guard. A man introduced himself as Chris and said that he knew it would sound crazy, but he had just left the store for work and was kicking himself for not talking to me. Would I give him a chance to take me to dinner?
Two things ran through my mind-I was both totally flattered and totally freaked out. But the flattery won out, and we eventually made arrangements to meet for dinner a couple of weeks later.
At the time, I was newly unattached having been through a recent breakup and I was hungry to find the man God intended for me to marry. I had waited much longer than my friends had waited and I knew God must have someone special for me right around the corner. I didn’t know if this guy was a Christian or not, but I figured that I could find that out pretty quickly.
The night we had our first date, he treated me better than any man had ever treated me. Chris was handsome, kind, a good conversationalist, and seemed to be completely fascinated by who I was. I had never met anyone who treated me with more chivalry and respect.
Over the next month, we met up several more times-and I was not shy about my faith. I explained to him my beliefs, how much God meant to me, and even the Gospel. Chris was not a believer but he wanted to hear about my relationship with God.
And even though I never considered that I would allow myself to date a non-Christian, I found myself inextricably drawn to this man who treated me better than any Christian guy I had dated before and who had all the qualities I desired in a husband.
He began going to church with me every week. We wined and dined. I would sit in his garage while he built cabinets-a hobby of his. He owned a house and had a great job. My family loved him. He read books I gave him about faith, and we had long talks about God. He seemed perfect in every way.
But he just wasn’t ready to give his life to Christ.
I felt like a hypocrite. I was teaching at a private Christian school, and if anyone had ever asked me if it was okay to date an unbeliever I would have told them to run in the opposite direction. I certainly would not advise my students to date an unbeliever.
Yet, God’s Word is clear. He tells us that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
I justified my relationship with Chris because I wasn’t actually married to him, and I believed that God had brought me into his life so that he would be saved.
Months passed. And I was in deep. I wanted to marry him. We weren’t at that stage yet, but I knew that my heart was deeply attached to Chris. I began to feel panicked. What if he didn’t come to know the Lord? Would it be okay for me to marry him anyway?
I started down the slippery slope of justifying how I might be able to take him as my husband. I wasn’t willing to break my own heart by walking away.
Here I was, a woman who never compromised when it came to my faith, compromising.
My friends and family knew that I was in a strong relationship with an unbeliever but no one really told me that what I was doing was wrong. It’s what I truly needed-someone to tell me the Truth. I wasn’t strong enough myself to turn away from him.
And then someone close to me sat me down.
“Amber, if you marry Chris, I won’t come to your wedding” they said. And honestly, to get married and not have this person in attendance was unthinkable.
I wept. They echoed what the Holy Spirit had been whispering and then screaming to me for a long time.
I went that very night to Chris’s house.
As soon as he saw me, he knew. “I’m not the man for you” he said, gently. And I nodded my head. Chris was a truly good guy, and he didn’t try to change my mind. He accepted that my faith meant more to me-obeying meant more to me, than my own desires. He joked that I had left him for a better man-God.
It took me a long time to get to the point of obedience. Had I listened sooner to God’s convictions I would have saved both myself and Chris a lot of heartache.
I know that God has forgiven me for entertaining a path of life with someone who He had not intended me to spend my life with, and He redeemed that by bringing me my wonderful husband, Guy. I now know that having a spouse who loves God and will partner with me in raising our children in the Lord is the best path.
Guy understands the part of me that is the most important aspect of who I am-as a Christ-follower. In retrospect, I can’t imagine a marriage where I did not have that spiritual connection with my husband.
God’s ways are best. Always.
I know it’s not easy to make the right choices all the time. I had to say goodbye to a man I had grown to love and I had no idea how God would repair me or when He would honor my desire for marriage. But I knew that I could trust God more than I could trust my heart.
If you are facing a tough decision that is already laid out for you in Scripture, don’t delay a day longer. God will honor your faith in Him and your obedience. At the end of the day, this life is not about what will bring us pleasure or fulfilling our own wants and needs. It’s about loving God and allowing Him to refine us. So although I regret that I dated an unbeliever and all the pain that followed, I don’t regret how God used that experience to shape me into a woman of even stronger convictions. I desired love, but it was wrapped up in bondage and anxiety. True freedom came with obedience.
Single friend, if you are in a relationship with an unbeliever, you need to end it. How I wish someone had told me that early on. I knew it, but I ignored it. My prayer is that you will experience God’s best for you-and that path is not one of being unequally yoked. Trust God to handle your future, for He is good and His ways are better than ours.
YOUR TURN! Is there something that God has been telling you for a while, that you are justifying or ignoring? Have you also made hard choices to obey God in your life? Please, share with me!
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