My best friend introduced me to a lovely man a couple years ago. I was pretty young at the time, a couple months out of university and obviously “very ready” to start pursuing a serious relationship. We were introduced as friends, knowing very well Malu men and women rarely ever just stay friends, and spent the next several months getting to know each other. We lived in two different cities and chatted on the phone quite frequently. On paper, it made a lot of sense – similar family dynamics, faith, culture lined up perfectly.
To be completely honest with you, I had no intention of ending up with a Malayalee man. I always felt a little different, not enough or valuable enough to fit into the cultural expectations of a Malayalee woman. In the deepest parts of my heart, I’ve always sought validation in a community that I felt I was never enough for. This was a completely unrealistic, not normal dating experience for me, but I really wanted to make it work. I truly wanted to find acceptance in this community and I felt that the best way to do it was through pursuing a relationship with a Malayalee man.
We spent four months talking with no clear direction of where it was going. To be fair, four months isn’t a particularly long time, but for me, it was very confusing to be spending my time talking to a guy every week without a plan. The “Malu Pente vibes” in our relationship made this even more confusing… was I allowed to talk to other people, should we know by now, when is he going to know, am I going to know?
Despite my deep disinterest in taking reins over this relationship, I decided to take “define-the-relationship (DTR)” conversation into my own hands. It didn’t end well for me – we decided at that point to continue in friendship and not pursue the relationship romantically.
It’s not fun to not know where you’re going when it comes to relationships. It’s hard to be friends, date, or even maintain an existing relationship when you don’t know where it’s going. As an adult, I’ve had to become very intentional about every single relationship that matters to me. I carve out time, I take concern over their interests, I show up, and I spend a lot of time ensuring that the people in my orbit know how much I deeply love them. This might be setting a high bar for friendship and relationships – but I think people are important. I think there’s nothing wrong with investment. I think we live in a world where people don’t want to show their investment in fear of looking like they care too much.
I do not want to be one of those people.
In a romantic relationship, I recognize how difficult this actually can be. It’s not always so easy to be sure. Yet, I find that we don’t trust the God inside of us to help us steward relationships well. I think it’s perfectly okay to ask God if we should invest in a person, people, or a relationship. I think we hurt more people by being unsure. I think we serve a God who gives us access to His answers. I think He confirms these answers through his Spirit, Word, and the communities he plants us in. We need to be better about trusting the God who lives inside of us to help us treat the people we invest in well. As Christians, I would hope that we can be confident about intense investment. We can’t do that for everyone – but I do think we can do it for the ones God makes us sure about.
This man and I are still very good friends. We acknowledge that romance was never in the cards for us. It didn’t mean that we didn’t find each other to be attractive, lovely, or kind people – in fact, I am quite fond of him and think he’ll make a great partner to an incredible woman who is right for him.
I am a firm believer that God is very clear when He speaks to us. I think we want a over- spiritualized answer when the reality is, God is fairly simple with us. He knows exactly what you need, how you need to hear it, and he communicates it only in a way that you can understand. Even when we hear Him, He is gracious enough to allow us to walk it out. He often gives us as many signs as we need to see whether or not someone, or something, is not meant in our life. It is our free will that allows us to decide if we will take that sign or not. It is our free will that often pulls or pushes us into seasons of hurt that isn’t really necessary for us to undergo. You just have to look up and see it.
At the same time, God uses everything. He knows what route we are going to take, but He is going to use the hurting and the joy to showcase His glory. I heard someone once say that God often trusts us with certain pain because He knows we can steward it well.
I hope we can be the kind of people who are confident in enough in our relationship with Jesus to not only ask him who to invest in, but to ask Him to help us steward all that investment well.