love trumps belief: when your partner believes differently

"Love Trumps Belief" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Love Trumps Belief” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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This is something I wrote back in the summer of 2013 for my online community The Lasting Supper. It’s about how Lisa’s and my relationship went through some strain. After we left the church the difference in our beliefs became more apparent. It was a difficult time learning how to not pressure one another to align with one another theologically, but to align with one another in terms of love, grace, patience, and trust.

Here’s what I wrote:

Yesterday was a lovely day so Lisa and I walked down to the river beach and sat while the waves rippled in. We had a heart to heart talk. She’s feeling sad because she doesn’t know how to pray right now. The old comfortable way no longer suffices. She asked me if I pray or how I pray or what I pray to. She was, like, “Seriously! How do you do it? What do you do? Tell me.”

I never really know how to answer this question. But this is what I stumbled to say, “There are no words. I don’t really pray ‘to’ any other being. I just have this sense of the All in all, and I let my feelings and desires and gratitudes rise up into this All-ness.”

While I said this to her I felt silly. Like I’d backslidden or something. Even in the back of my mind I could hear someone scoffing me, “That’s not prayer, you idiot!” Shame. But I felt safe with Lisa and so I told her what I felt.

We didn’t come to any agreement theologically or practically. We just sat with each other, with tears, each one in our different perspectives and experiences. We reached across the pebble beach to love each other before this wordless river of mystery.

Love remains.


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11 Responses

  1. Ducatihero says:

    It is difficult when going through what I am led to believe Fowler talks of being stage 4 and the invalidity of some unavoidable tensions.

    I can certainly relate to the kind of think you are talking of David with prayer, though I didn’t have a partner to share that with as you have with Lisa.

    What I ha found helpful has been the simple prefer “come Lord” as practiced in a community I eventually found. I say simple, yet I find it to require courage. Often times pain an fear is experienced as areas of life in need for healing and (dare I say it) discipline come to the surface as dross comes to the surface when gold is refined in fire.

  2. Ducatihero says:

    Sorry typos invalidity should be inevitability and prefer should be prayer.

  3. Purvez says:

    David: I just have this sense of the All in all

    I wish I’d said that!!!….. I will with credit to David.

    Hope you don’t mind.

  4. Pat Pope says:

    So, the question becomes, how might churches practice this rather than forcing people to believe something that they haven’t grown to or have grown away from?

  5. Thanks guys. Yes Pat, that is the question that is of utmost interest to me.

  6. Ducatihero says:

    That is an interesting question.

    In a marriage partnership there is a lifelong commitment to each other at least in principle. Sadly that doesn’t always end up being the case for a number of reasons – one or both parties no honouring that covenant.

    Surely one must begin with a definition of with church is. So what is church? If it is a building containing people not honouring God’s covenant with humanity, then although it may be called “church” then it hardly can be considered to represent church in it’s truest sense – a gathering where Jesus is central and Lord.

    I no longer define church as Sunday gathering, but wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together in Christ’s name. I’d consider what you have courageously sheared in all that beauty, vulnerability, pain and love, bearing with eacho other, knowing from your video here that you are an “unashamed Christian”, and I assume Lisa is too, as church.

    So I see it as that which may or may not be there on a Sunday gathering in varying amounts. Sometimes shining brightly, sometimes with nothing but darkness and God leaving the building.

    So how can churches practice this? Well if there were some magic formula to make that happen, somebody would become rich off it, but since that is not available, perhaps not a bad place to consider in following Jesus is in a broad sense doing what he did – being aware of how God is active, and choosing to be involved in that. Noting of course that one way in which God is active, is to rest!

  7. This is absolutely beautiful.

  8. Helen says:

    It seems to be my day for saying, ‘Oh yes!’ Beautiful words; painful place x

    This really resonates with me; my best boy, John, has journeyed deep and wide with me for more than 30 years and even more so since life and I collided head on almost 10 years ago.
    We’ve sat either side of some very tricky divides too; it hasn’t been easy but I think his willingness to learn through my ‘process’ has truly allowed our marriage to stay strong and close even when the tears threatened to drown us both! Glad to hear that you and Lisa continue in love x

  9. Thanks Helen. Yes, we do.

  10. Teague Frawley says:

    I’ve given this some thought and thankfully, even while I was in Church, my communion with Source was deep and likely different than many. I never related to Source as some external being, but as someone in whom I abide and who abides in me – with whom I am one. In my experience there was no required forms or times. Currently, sometimes I verbalize, I also continue to believe in speaking in tongues which I often use in prayer. Other times it involves silence and/or meditation. I do not know how I was able to find this while still in church, but I will say that my experience in Source is what has saved my him/her/it.

    My “theology” has changed significantly, but my relationship with source has not.