I don’t hate the guy who asked me to marry him and then broke up with me three weeks later. I don’t hate the woman who commented on my style, “At least you won’t have to worry about guys noticing her.” I don’t hate the person who let me believe everything bad in life was because I wasn’t perfect enough. But I hate the guy I met in India.
Hate is not a weak word. It’s not a word that Christians are supposed to use to talk about another person. But when I look back on that time I gather more evidence that my stupid, romantic, masochistic heart was just a tool for money and escape. How can I not hate that?
This mess started after I went to India on a business trip. Although I made several close friends, one guy quickly became closer than the rest. After two weeks that guy was like a best friend. We shared all our regrets and dreams, and when I left we stayed friends and kept in touch through social media.
Since Joel and I have been dating for what feels like eons, we’ve been through a lot of trials. Today I see how each one helped us grow individually and grow closer together, but this was one experience that came the closest to ending us.
Before I left, it didn’t matter that Joel was a spiritual desert. After all, I was a dried up sponge myself. As I packed my bags into the car to leave for the flight to India, Joel held me and whispered, “Make it back, okay? Because I’d like to marry you.”
However, as often happens with international adventures, I returned a changed person. I wasn’t changed just because of the place. It was also my first breath of what it’s like to be completely surrounded by bold believers. It was like I was dunked in a pool of cool water, and my desire to have a spiritual connection with my future husband, a desire that I’d buried six-feet under, was suddenly sprouting like a pine tree.
I wanted to marry a Christian. And Joel wasn’t even trying.
Without meaning to, my relationship with Joel deteriorated from my side. So I asked for a three month break, and that he use the time to honestly search for answers and decide what he believes. With tears in his honey-gold eyes, he agreed. We picked a date to meet again, May 14th, and I left.
Although Joel and I used to text every day, we agreed to only contact each other for emergencies. Despite cutting our communication, my phone was never silent. Instead, conversations with that guy from India began to fill the gap. I learned that he prayed 4 hours every day, and he read the Bible for an hour every night. When I had questions, that guy had answers. He was a spiritual Jedi and I was a lowly Padawan. Like a bucket of melted marshmallows, this situation began to get really messy. My feelings for Joel were still there but fading, while my feelings towards that guy began to shift from friend to something more. I was duped by one word: Christian.
It felt so good to finally let my guard down. I didn’t worry about saying the right thing and always setting a good example. I could admit my weaknesses because he was a believer too. Our topics drifted from theology to relationships to marriage. And I actually considered it.
We even dared to say we were in love.
“I love you.”
“Love you too.” Ugh…(Do you ever remember something you did that makes your stomach churn and your cheeks blush and you want to face-palm yourself?)
Then everything began to endlessly collapse in on itself.
A lone sliver of neurons was still firing, so I pulled on the reigns and brought discussions of marriage to a halt. I just wanted to be friends, and that guy agreed. But in the same conversation he asked about marriage again. So again, I said “No, just friends,” and around and around we went. As I spiraled down the rabbit hole, this time I prayed more than I’ve ever prayed before or since, and I think that saved me.
The biggest wake-up call was when his employers got upset that we went for a scooter ride at night. To me it wasn’t a big deal–I’d never been on a scooter before and that was the only time that fit our schedules. We buzzed down the main road, stopped to get gas, then turned around and came back. My employer wasn’t happy about it either, and I agreed that was a dumb idea. I got little more than a slap on the wrist, but after I left, his job was put on hold and he was wrung through a series of meetings with the entire board of his organization. They wanted to know if he was unfit to continue to work with them because they thought he “sinned.”
I’ve not lived a blameless life, but we most certainly did not do THAT. But because I’m American that means I have loose morals by India’s standards, and that’s reason enough to to interrogate. The situation splashed into clarity.
After a week of rigorous questioning that guy was able to keep his job. But in the process something else was lost. I could not, and did not want to continue as anything more than friends. Now I was 100% certain. And that’s what I told him.
And that’s when he erupted.
He was mad at me, sad at me, said he loved me then said he hated me. Our words became so ugly that we took turns blocking each other on social media. Finally, I realized that no matter what he said, he didn’t want just a friendship, and at that point I didn’t either. I didn’t want to be friends at all. So I burned every bridge that ever connected us and permanently blocked him from everything I could.
When I no longer responded, he contacted my friends on Facebook, emailed my dad, and sent countless novel-sized emails to my co-workers, including my boss.
The entire office was suddenly in the frying pan with me. After my co-worker finished replying to his eleventh novel, I mean, email she advised me with love and a hint of frustration, “Unless God specifically tells you to contact him, DON’T.” All my greatest failures and regrets that I shared with my once close friend were in his emails, and all of them were suddenly common knowledge at work.
Ironically, that’s one of the few good things to come from this. I no longer wondered if the people at work were being nice to a black sheep they thought was white. Thanks to that guy they all learned how soot-colored I was, and to my surprise they loved me anyway.
But this experience taught me something else. After that guy didn’t get what he wanted he disrespected my father, stalked my friends, attacked Joel to the point that Joel almost took his own life, and I became so emotionally exhausted from the bullying and hate that I also believed life wasn’t worth living. Hurtful names, judgments, and hate came from a Christian. I realized something most people already know. Christian doesn’t mean the person is perfect. Christian is often just another title.
But you’ve only heard my perspective.
I imagine that guy would say that he met an American girl who lead him on and then left him, or something like that. I don’t know exactly what he would say, but I know I’m not an innocent victim. I thought I had learned my lesson from my ex-fiance, but I went to India as the same girl—a girl who needed a guy to feel complete. I wish more than anything that I had been more focused on my relationship with God than searching for a “Christian” man.
But I wasn’t, and hearts were permanently damaged. That guy. Joel. Me. I got over it, but I forgot to forgive. So with every year that passed, I hated that guy more.
I didn’t actually realize my hate was growing until my phone buzzed the other night. DZZZT. It was an email alert from PayPal with “Request for Payment” as the subject line. At first I thought, “Is this the long-lost children’s book illustrator that finally finished the project?” I nearly choked on my spit when I saw how much was requested, and who it was from.
It was that guy…In a few moments I relived weeks of harassment. My blood boiled immediately. I wanted to tell him he’s an idiot. I wanted to tell him to eff off (but I learned THAT lesson already). More than anything I wanted to tell him that I’d rather eat glass than give him a single penny.
(Before PayPal messaged me I didn’t understand the lyrics of this song. Now when the chorus comes on I almost blow out the speakers in my car.)
I try to tell myself that it’s been two years. I’m a different person so he probably is too. Maybe he actually does want to be just friends, or maybe he just wants to make sure I remember him and PayPal is the only site where I haven’t figured out how to block him.
Or…You know what? Maybe God actually inspired him to send this payment request. I’d almost forgotten what happened, but clearly, I haven’t forgiven. Instead, I let this experience fester in my heart so much that I can’t pray good things for him, and I still don’t like to talk about visiting India.
I’m grateful that I don’t have to talk to that guy again. I never have to see that guy again. But can you imagine running into someone you hate in heaven? I don’t think it’s possible. I don’t think I’ll make it to heaven if I hate someone God loves. It’s possible that by sending me this payment request, that guy actually saved my soul by helping me realize there’s hate in my heart. And that’s a priceless gift.
Is there anyone you hate?
Is there anyone you need to forgive?