Answered prayer, unanswered questions | Inquirer Opinion

Answered prayer, unanswered questions

/ 09:34 PM August 12, 2015

lovelife 081215

“The deep, philosophical talks turned into petty fights and the silly jokes became heated debates.”

After watching “The Notebook” during one of our many sleepovers back in high school, my girl friends and I talked about our ideal guys—our own versions of Noah. It was fun, innocent, stereotypical and pretty far-fetched. One was into the “bad boy” (or at least, boys who personified James Dean’s film roles), while another was into sporty guys (I remember her saying, “someone like Zac Efron in ‘High School Musical’”). Of course, we were young and naïve about love, but I was sure about what I wanted in my Noah.

It must be my Catholic upbringing but I knew even then that all I really wanted was an honest and God-fearing guy. I may not be religious—I don’t attend Mass regularly and I have my reservations about the teachings of my religion—but I want to love someone who loves God as well.

Fast forward to a few years later and, oh boy, did I get lucky in college.


Blame it on fate or sheer coincidence or perhaps, dare I say it, God’s will, but he came as a pleasant surprise in my life. He was funny and generous—the typical nice guy and boy-next-door. But what really stood out for me was how he tried to see the good in everything and everyone, which was something I tried to do but was not very good at. I was rigid and he was forgiving. I was reserved and he was friendly. But I got what I wished for; he truly was honest and God-fearing. He was the kind of person that made me want to believe that anything’s possible if I worked and prayed hard for it. “Thank God for him,” I thought. I felt lucky—no, extremely blessed—to have found a love so sweet and strong that it was easy to believe we’d make it until the end. It was an answered prayer when he came along, the one person who loved me and made me want to become a better person.

While we were together, my faith in God grew stronger. We were that type of couple who prayed and talked to God together. We were growing with Christ in the center of our relationship and I couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately for me, despite believing in the same god, we had different religions and set of beliefs. That—religion, of all things!—became the cause of my very first heartbreak.

We met in college through a friend of a friend and, well, you know the rest. What started out as group hangouts became coffee dates. We talked about everything under the sun—from pop culture to different art movements, comic books to films, our own families to our future plans—but like some sort of taboo, we never touched the subjects of, say, homosexuality or divorce. I had to keep mum about these things because I knew we had opposing views. We understood that despite our devotion to God, we had different opinions on different things.

But still, despite the odds, we fell in love. I fell in love with the way we could talk for hours and still be comfortable with silence, simply content and grateful with the presence of each other. I fell in love with the way he took care of me; he knew when to come closer and when to back off. I fell in love with the way he smiled, with the way he made me smile. But most of all, I fell in love knowing we were a team despite our differences. We helped each other get through life’s challenges, confident we had each other’s backs.


However, I never had the privilege of changing my Facebook relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship,” and we all know how important that validation is today. I convinced myself that labels weren’t necessary. He never formally courted me nor asked me to be his girlfriend because he could be in a relationship only with someone from his religion. It was just a question of technicalities anyway. The fact that I wasn’t his girlfriend assured his church mates and the fact that he loved me still assured me. After all, the plan was to make things official after graduation because maybe then his church mates would become more accepting.

It was okay for me, anyway. I was more than happy to settle with what he had to offer, which was love and constant companionship. He assured me with lines like, “Let’s just cross the bridge when we get there,” and, “It will happen in God’s perfect time.” I believed him, of course. Sometimes even though we know something’s wrong, we choose to believe what feels right.


It was difficult, him not being officially my boyfriend. I wanted to go out on dates and celebrate anniversaries. Still, I never gave up, hoping that someday everything would turn out okay. I also knew that it was harder for him anyway, being with someone from a different religion. I knew the guilt and shame were eating him up and that it was just his love for me that made him go on. I knew that his parents and church mates were strongly against us. I also knew that his church mates told him to “drop her off,” like I were some wicked baggage he had to detach from himself. As if we weren’t two people in love.

What started as deep, slightly philosophical talks about life suddenly turned into petty fights, and before I knew it, four years later, the silly jokes became heated debates. Until he decided to call it quits.

After all this time trying to forget it, I could still vividly remember the time when he messaged me on Facebook to say the words that broke my heart: This has to end. I spent hours—days, even—trying to understand what happened. We were a team! We had been together for four years! I knew it was difficult but we were supposed to face our problems together. We were hanging by a thread, sure, but I thought that that thread was at least strong enough to hold us together.

“Is there someone else?” I braced for his answer.

“Of course not,” he said. “It’s just exhausting. It was never going to work.” Right. Because of the “religion thing.” Of course, like every word he’s spoken—from the “I love yous” to the “We can make it”—I believed him. Others, like my friends, didn’t. My friends, the very same friends I watched “The Notebook” with, were seething. They didn’t believe his reason for one second. After four years, now he decided that the “religion thing” actually mattered? Their arguments made sense but for some reason I felt the need to defend him. I made excuses for him, insisting that I knew the guy I loved, that he was still true and honest despite hurting me.

It wasn’t until a few months later, after searching every possible source for any information I could unearth, that I found out about the other girl. They were from the same religion. They met in a church event while we were still together. They were similar in all the ways we were different. It was easy and convenient in all the ways our relationship was difficult. I watched him fall in love, from a distance, on social media. I watched them go on dates. I watched him change his relationship status on Facebook.

Even though the intense pain has now receded into a dull ache, I can still remember those sleepless nights I spent crying, looking up at the ceiling and asking God the single most infuriating question at the time: Why? Why now, after your years? Why couldn’t he just tell me the truth? Why should something like religion, which was supposed to be about love and compassion, separate two people in love? Why, why, why? I wanted answers, I wanted an explanation, and I wanted the truth. But I got none of that. I’ve never been so confused and angry and hurt. I didn’t know the words to describe the pain. All I knew was that I wanted to feel every bit of anger and hurt and sadness, with the hopes that I would come out of the other side feeling better.

I didn’t, not for a long time, at least. Until now, I still don’t have the answers from him and perhaps I never will. The funny thing is, it’s okay. Maybe the answer was in the purpose. Maybe the purpose was to strengthen and test my faith. If that was the case, then I was lucky—no, extremely blessed—to have the best emotional support one could hope for. I had my friends, my family and about a dozen self-help books. But, most importantly, I had God. It was then that I realized that, wow, everything happened for a reason. I liberated myself from religious biases but I found solace in God.

It’s cheesy but what Noah wrote to Allie in “The Notebook” rings true today: “I’m not bitter anymore, because I know that what we had was real.” I now rise up with a sturdier heart and stronger faith.

Samantha Gomez (not her real name), 20, likes learning new things every day. She’s currently studying Morse code.


I have myself and that’s okay

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Not mine to keep

TAGS: FAITH, infidelity, love, Religion

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.