“Are You Saved?” When Your Boyfriend’s Parents Are Devout Christians, But You’re Not
When it comes to meeting the parents of someone you’re dating, there is no such thing as being prepared. You can ask your significant other a million questions about family history, lifestyle, and essential facts, but you will never be prepared to actually meet and interact with them. All that you know is irrelevant. I was reminded of that when I met my boyfriend’s parents for a nice Saturday brunch in Baltimore on a cold and dreary day.
Think back to when you were a teen, and you had your first boyfriend or girlfriend and the first thing you had to do was tell your parents…unless you were sneaky. You had to endure the chaperoned dates, family ogling over you two sitting in the living room watching TV because you weren’t allowed to be in your room. Remember those days? Well, it’s just a little different as adults. You’re still ogled. But when you meet the parents, that’s when you know it’s serious. Therefore, the questions go beyond family history, lifestyle and essential facts. They get a bit deeper and are a lot more purposeful.
The day I met his parents, I was extremely nervous. I kept smiling and reassuring him that I was okay, telling him, “I’m usually good with parents.” The food was good, the ambiance was lively, but after some jokes and laughter and the cliche introductory “So, how did you two meet?” questions, they turned up the heat a bit. Make that a lot.
I knew that my boyfriend was strong in his faith, but he also has a lot of open-minded, laid-back qualities. His parents are another story. I wasn’t prepared for his parent’s traditional ways. They are devout Christians who attend Sunday services all day, put on their Sunday best, love Tyler Perry, and don’t play when it comes to their faith. In comparison, while I come from a similar type of family dynamic, I’ve since grown distant from the church. I wouldn’t consider myself a practicing Christian as I don’t attend services, and I haven’t touched a Bible in years. That’s why it was so awkward when his parents asked me repeatedly about my home church, who my pastor is, if my parents are saved, and if I’m saved. I couldn’t lie, but I felt exposed in a way. My boyfriend knows my struggles with the faith, struggles I didn’t necessarily want to share with his parents. But it brought me back to the idea that when you make a commitment to someone, you also are committing to their family in a way.
Soon after meeting mom and dad, I started getting offers to accompany his mother to church. I ended up at the mall in the MAC store getting the Sunday best makeup and in Nordstrom, LOFT, and Arden B holding piles of skirts, dresses and cardigans. It was all too overwhelming for me. Especially since I haven’t gotten to a place in my life where I want to spend my Sundays in a church again. I’ve adopted the rest and relaxation rituals that come with Sundays. I enjoy my face masks in bed while watching shows on the DVR as my hair is deep conditioning. I have my own schedule to follow and stance on the church to keep in mind, but I don’t want to make a bad impression.
So, while his parents seem to like me, I’m facing a dilemma: Should I oblige them by agreeing to go to church with them sometimes and take part in other traditional Christian things I no longer practice or enjoy?