Kylie and I sat as panel members for an AACF Relationships Seminar: South BAE (pronounced bay). A play on words, a portion of west Los Angeles is known as the South Bay; and BAE is slang for “‘before anyone else,’ or a shortened version of baby or babe, another word for sweetie.” As one of the three couples on the panel, we shared about the lessons we learned about relationships, and our understanding of biblical relationships.
It was a small group of students who attended the seminar. I believe that God knew that there were students to needed to hear the stories and lessons from the three couples. I want to encourage couples to share their insights and the lessons they have learned about themselves and God from their marriage to others. Take 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 to heart, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Jon’s sharing: I talked about family. I shared about my parents’ divorce. It was hard to understand the divorce. I disconnected from my family as a defense mechanism. I compared this to my experience with Kylie’s family. Before I asked Kylie to be my girlfriend, even before I told Kylie about my feelings, her mom was praying for us. Then while we were dating, Kylie’s mom welcomed me to the family. My own family was very supportive. My brother and his wife often opened up their home to host dinners for us. I felt so blessed by family. It has been a season of learning to love family. The students connected with the experience of my parents’ divorce. A small group of students gathered around Kylie and me during a break to ask some questions. They asked me, “how has my parents’ divorce affected my relationship with Kylie?” This is something that I have thought about before. I know that I am like my Dad in several ways: I know that I have his temper. I didn’t like his temper, but it is how I learned how to respond to conflict. I told myself that I did not want to be like my Dad. I said that he taught me what not to do. But I dug deeper. There were positive things I inherited: his entrepreneurial spirit and the importance of hospitality. I knew he loved us and did his best. I told the students that I don’t feel as though my marriage is doomed to fail because I am a child of divorced parents. I believe that Christ not only redeems our souls, he also restores and reconciles people and systems. God’s grace can break the cycle of sin.
Kylie’s sharing: During the panel sharing, I explained how Jon and I were growing – Jon is learning empathy, and I am learning to express my needs clearly. We have had to practice this the last few months with more stressful and emotional situations at work. There are days when I come home with a dilemma that Jon can logically walk me through. Other times, his empathy looks like a simple hug, especially when words or actions won’t fix the problem; I just need to “feel” – the good, the bad, and mostly the ugly. This resonated with a couple of the girls, who then suggested Jon and I should lead a workshop for guys: What To Do When a Girl Cries. After the event, another young lady approached me to ask questions about being in a relationship with someone older. Though an age gap may have its disadvantages when it comes to life experience and maturity, I encouraged her to openly examine the expectations in the relationship and perhaps adjust them to be more realistic. I had told Jon specifically that I did not want to feel left behind or less than because I am younger than he is. He has had to learn to respect that, to be patient with me, and to include me in positive ways. I have had to learn to admit when I don’t know something, to gain courage to try new things, and to be okay with making mistakes. I reminded this gal that she is first and foremost loved by God, and in my prayer for her, I believe that God confirmed this and gave both of us a sense of peace and confidence. There’s something pretty awesome about surrendering your insecurities to God.