When Being Christian Isn't Enough: A Heartbreaking Story of Different Churches, Family Opposition and Lost Love
I am the first born of 5 children and an only girl with four brothers. I didn’t have the easiest childhood because of the expectations from my father. I was the model daughter, who never did wrong and I was often the basis of comparison with other kids. I couldn’t make decisions on my own where my parents were involved, especially my father. And although my mother didn’t agree with many things he did or said, she couldn’t really do much to help. I lived for my family, I did everything to please my father. Until my relationship with Kay.
Kay and I met at the University of Jos as students. We were both in the same class but we weren’t friends until our third year. Initially we were just friends and in relationships with other people. I didn’t have the slightest inclination that we will end up lovers.
When I first met him, he wasn’t the type I would usually date because of the age bracket. He is a year older than I am and I had a preference for older guys. Also, he was a catholic and that was a keep off zone.
But spending time with him made it impossible not to like him because unlike my chatty nature, he was quiet and a good listener, well- mannered, and had a good sense of humour. I was smitten and we started dating - it no longer mattered that he was catholic. We were in love and that was all that mattered.
My relationship with Kay blossomed quickly and we became inseparable. He was always on the sideline cheering me and encouraging me to be the best in everything I did. Kay supported me in all my business ideas, including those that didn’t make sense. He believed in me and my abilities to create value out of anything. We complemented each other and I was sure he was the right man for me. Our relationship was quite an easy one as we barely fought; we always had ways of resolving our issues before they spilled out of control. There was one exception- our church differences.
I was raised in a protestant home, NKST to be precise. NKST is an acronym for 'Nongu u Kristu u I Ser u she Tar', translated as Universal Reformed Church of Christ. The members are predominantly from the Tiv ethnic group of Benue State, Nigeria with a handful of worshippers from other ethnic groups. Admittedly, there has always been a silent rivalry between the catholic and NKST churches in Benue state for reasons I may never know. I never really enjoyed worshiping at NKST, so going into University in Jos was a perfect opportunity to worship in a Pentecostal church - which I still do.
To be fair on my family I always knew that they were not going to accept Kay, at least not without a fight. Especially as my father never missed an opportunity to show his disdain at NKST ladies marrying into catholic families. From the first year of our relationship till the 5th year when Kay proposed, church differences was an occurring issue and we did try to break off a lot of times, just to avoid the anticipated rejection from my family. We never went through, and it was only a matter of time before we made up. It was difficult to give up on love because of church differences, especially as we didn’t have underlying issues between us.
On the 3rd of March 2014, just before my 29th birthday, Kay proposed at a private dinner. It was magical and everything I wanted. This was meant to be a happy moment for me but I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings. I cried through the entire night because I knew I was in for a fight.
Most of my family members had met Kay while we were dating and it wasn’t long before he became friends with almost everyone - except for my father, who had made it obvious that he was not interested in a catholic son-in-law. After the proposal, I tried to talk to my parents but it was all futile. I spoke to a few family members who managed to persuade my father to a formal introduction between the two families. I know, I should have given up long ago, right? It’s easier said than done.
We finally had an introduction and it was an embarrassment. What was meant to be a loving environment became a hostile meeting with several conditions from my father to Kay and his family, amongst which was the condition to convert from catholic to NKST. The series of activities that followed were humiliating. In all of this, Kay and his family were willing to do anything for us to be together. They had accepted me from the first time I met them.
He eventually started attending my family church and even enrolled for the membership class. I couldn’t bear to see him go through all of that for me but he was not willing to give up until my father called off the membership class, saying that it didn’t even matter anymore. My father decided that the marriage would only hold over his dead body because beyond the church, Kay’s family were members of a rival political party and he simply didn’t like them enough to be family with them. At this point, I had lost the will to fight more and I had to end the relationship. Despite the encouragement from friends not to give up, I had to let go because the pressure was already putting a strain on our relationship, it didn’t change our feelings for each other but we were now unhappy and frustrated.
I expected my father to put my needs above their pride and ego but rather I had family members begging me to let go for peace sake and as strong as I tried to be, I was hurt. I felt betrayed by the people I loved the most. No one was really bothered about my feelings and what my relationship with Kay meant to me. I was broken for so long.
It’s been over four years now. My father has now come to terms with the fact marrying a Tiv or an NKST member is almost non-existent. I haven’t been to NKST since my relationship with Kay ended. I have tried to date again, but I’m always unable to go through with other relationships. I lost the enthusiasm to love. I became indifferent towards relationships - it didn’t matter anymore. I stopped socialising and except for work, I spent most of my time indoors.
I decided to confront my pains and seek help. I went through counselling and forgave every grudge that I held. I am thankful that Christ has healed me and I have also forgiven and let go of every grudge.
Through all of this I developed a close relationship with God. At some point, He was all I had and His unconditional love kept me sane and gave me the ability to build a thriving business from scratch.
I run an event/wedding planning business, which I’m very grateful for. Helping couples to create magical memories has helped revive my interest in love and now I am ready to love again. It was important to me not to carry on my unresolved issues into a new relationship.
What lessons have I learnt from this?
~ Not to be a people pleaser. No one can love me more than I love myself not even family. So I should always go for what I believe in and do what’s best for me.
~ Christianity is knowing Jesus, loving him and imitating his lifestyle so as to be christlike. The core message of Christianity is love hence the need to love, tolerate and not judge people based on their perspective of Christ. Most of us worship in a certain way because we were born into that faith and that’s all we know.
Honestly, this story broke my heart. I think it's one thing for individuals themselves to decide to marry from certain denominations - I appreciate that faith could be very important. But when the individuals themselves are fine with this and the family is the opposition, I think that's quite sad.
What's your take? Is a shared faith sufficient? Would you personally be wiling to marry someone who goes to different church? Do you have this experience? What would you have done differently?
Thank you so much to blog reader Annabel for sharing this. We trust you'd find love and happiness again.
pS: I think these reader stories and experiences are becoming a part of this space. What do you think about a Reader Story/ Digest section where we can you can send in experiences on anything? Let me know!