We held hands as we entered the church. He handed me a program and we settled into the back pew. I looked around. Everyone looked just like us—like me.
When TD introduced me afterwards to his fellow parishioners, I met more people like him than not—educated, artistic, interested and engaged in the world (both secular and sacred) around them and, surprisingly, supportive of TD and me. Looking back on it now, I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe, like my friends, I had been scared off by too many sound bites on the television or documentaries like Jesus Camp.
I've accompanied him every Sunday since and now, nearly a year later, I can muddle through the liturgy without the aid of the program. Still, there are often things TD has to elucidate for me (What is Calvinism? What's an elder? Why is it called "The Lord's Prayer"?). These serve as reminders that I am still a participant-observer in all of this and may always be. Recently, I asked TD if it was annoying, this constant explaining he has to do with me. Would it be easier if he was dating someone who knew this stuff already? Someone who truly shared his belief system? Soul Mates: 10 Steps To A Spiritual Relationship
"No. Not at all," he said. "It's good for me."
"Good for you?" I asked.
"It helps me articulate my faith in a way I've never had to do before. It makes me accountable to it."
So what I've learned is this: I don't necessarily have to share his faith to share in his faith. It's not important that we agree on everything all the time, but rather that we challenge each other, and that out of that challenge we both grow.
Has he tried to "turn me" as my friend put it? The honest truth is still no, he hasn't. What I do with my thoughts on theology is my decision, my path, my journey, just as it was his. He's made that abundantly clear. And while I don't know what I think about Jesus or the Bible just yet, what I do know is that I am in love with a man who is smart, full of courage, funny and, yes, faithful. Despite our different upbringings, I think we can make it. I think this can work. And in that, at least, I have faith.