By Nicolle

As I sat in the back pew of a small-town Baptist church this weekend, witnessing a friend’s morning nuptials, I found myself questioning and doubting any and all things being spoken from the pulpit.

photo by Kelly Cole

“…in sickness and in health…”

“…for richer or poorer…”

“…I promise to lead you, not to bring you harm…”

“…I promise not to try and change you…”

Really? Can you say you’re always going to believe wholeheartedly in those things?

And then I began to get teary-eyed – but they were not I’m-so-happy-for-the-newlyweds tears. No, my tears were for myself.

I’m a skeptical cynic when it comes to relationships. It comes naturally to me – and by naturally, I mean that my experiences have conditioned me to doubt, in the truest sense of the word.

I used to think my cynicism was born purely out of a place of reality, of being more in tune with realistic outcomes of relationships than those around me. Instead, as I began to realize sitting in that church, my skeptical nature is a result of bitterness. Bitterness from seeing an overabundance of selfishness in relationships. Bitterness from seeing marriages fail, whether or not they actually end in divorce. Bitterness from fighting for doomed relationships. Bitterness from unmet expectations.

My wedding-day tears were a part of that self-realization process. Not only was I being unjustly judgmental, but I was also arrogantly placing my opinions, thoughts and paradigms on this couple. And I didn’t like that feeling, the feeling that I’m against more things than I’m for, that I know more than anyone else (which is clearly not the case).

But moving out of cynicism when experiences continue to fuel and justify being skeptical feels impossible. I see friends so enthralled with the idea of marriage that they latch themselves to the first guy or girl who has a pulse and is suitable enough to (temporarily) fill their longings. I watch friends disappear once they think they’ve found “the one.” I see friends emotionally scarred from selfish partners.

And while I stand on my soapbox and pretend I’m knowledgeable about relationships, all of mine have ended, some more catastrophically than others. Some of my cynicism can be tied to that as well.

What I’m concluding is that it’s not enough for me to critique the world from my pedestal – I’ve got to accept and understand that my opinion isn’t the only “right” one. Maybe I can learn about spontaneity from the friend who got engaged after less than a year of dating. Maybe the friend who hasn’t dated anyone, ever, has something to teach me about discernment.

So, though I’m sure I’ll analyze, critique and question until I’m lying on my deathbed, I’m learning that it’s OK to be less skeptical sometimes. And that’s a lesson I can apply to more areas of my life than when I’m watching a couple say “I do.”

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