Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Proverbs 27 v 4
“I don’t want to see him” I said flatly, attempting to stay the anger that was rising inside.
I had always respected my Pastor. He had encouraged me more times than I could remember and he had challenged me more times than I could forget. I had only been to his office on one occasion before, and the walls had felt so wide and inviting, but today, sat in one of the black armchairs, it was as if someone had pushed the walls in two or three metres.
My Pastor looked at me, his head was slightly bent.
“He wanted to speak with you, he’s been waiting all afternoon” he said through a pained face. “He’s outside”.
My heart beat intensified inside my chest and my face started to burn.
Did I hear that correctly? He didn’t just say that. He couldn’t. My text message clearly said I wanted to meet my Pastor alone. I purposely booked the latest slot in the diary to ensure I would not have to bump into him, so how could he be here? He couldn’t have meant that…could he? All these questions and more rolled around in my head, and before I knew it, I felt a lukewarm tear roll down my cheek.
“Why is he here?”, I cried. “Please don’t make me see him. I don’t want to. Please. Please!” I begged.
My Pastor looked at me, as if trying to recognise the person sat before him, because this was not the young lady he was used to. For a minute, it was as if I was the one who had surprised him, like I had invited him to a meeting and switched up the agenda. I was no longer the sweet, smiling spiritual daughter – I was this fearful, fragile thing, slumped into her seat, and I had never felt this small…
I wish I could say that this was the final paragraph in the latest novel I am reading although slyly, what kind of depressing thing would this be to read? Nah boo, do not depress me on a Friday but alas, it is not. This is taste of a page from my memory book. Yes, me. A crying wreck – no, that was not a scratch-through typo.
This week, I’m not here to make you laugh, I’m here to make you think, and as we continue ‘The Chronicles of Bae’, I wanted to introduce My 6 Red Flags.
Above is an excerpt of what happened when my Pastor attempted to reconcile me to my former partner, FirstBaeInChrist. And yes, the thought of getting back with him brought me to literal TEARS.
Why? Because I knew how hard it was to break up with him and the thought of getting back with him was so painful.
Why? Because FirstBaeInChrist represented what happens when I try to force a fairytale, and after two years with him, I was spent – mentally, emotionally and of course, spiritually.
Why? Because I had just about mustered the confidence to finish things, and I was not about to go back on that decision.
But why? Because the day we broke up was a joyful day in the heavenlies – I was literally praying Psalm 124 in that first week of Singleness: the snare was broken and I had escaped!
WoooOOOoOOooOoOooW. Is it that deep?
Yes, because he had represented so many Red Flags.
Now you may have heard of a “Red Flag”, it’s a warning sign that if seen, is a key indicator that a relationship should not be pursued any further.
Some people call it their “Dealbreakers”.
I’ve been known to call it my “No Way Jose”.
The Civil Servant in me would call it the “Insurmountable Obstacles”.
But I like how the Oxford Dictionary sets it up sweetly as “a factor or issue which, if unresolved during negotiations, would cause one party to withdraw”. Bruh, some of us need to deep that and shake our heads for a few minutes because that definition just sent shots to our last three relationships. #BaeFail
Now, these Red Flags are things that are going to make dating the other person unbearable, living with them untenable and marriage unworkable.
The traits that are usually toxic, poisonous, and based on what I have experienced, usually bring out the worst in you too.
What are yours?
Is it a behaviour?
Is it a tone?
Is it an attribute?
A lifestyle choice?
Before you move from your Ex to your Next, I want you to consider your Red Flags.
Yours will most definitely be different to mine, because with different upbringings, different values and different experiences, there is no way we are going to have the same dislikes or pet peeves. And that is A-OK – there will be things that I cannot stomach that maybe you have never dealt with, and vice versa.
What are yours?
Like seriously, take a minute to pull out that sheet of paper/notes on the ol’ iPhone and think about it, I really wanna encourage you to think about your own 6 Red Flags, and whilst you do/before I share my own, please note the following two points:
1.Your Red Flag cannot be religion/faith/spirituality: So this is for those who profess to be followers of Christ: I am working under the presumption that we are Christians who desire godly marriages with other Christians, ja? Ok cool. If you claim to be a Christian, dating a non-believer is not a Red Flag for you boo, it is a fail. I’m not going to go into it, you just read your Bible and meet me at point two. If you are a non-follower of Christ though, your dating pool is maaaad wide, and you have many a diverse fish to h’enjoy, but if you are a born-again, spirit-filled Joe or Joanna considering marrying outside the faith, you need to check your commitment to Christ. In fact, don’t even meet me at point 2, meet me at 2 Corinthians 6….
2.Your red flag cannot be a physical/superficial condition/disability: I don’t think I need to say much here, but if your Red Flag involves a person’s physicality that he/she cannot change, you need to check your conceit. Yep – some of us still have a mote in our eye about Albinism, Vitiligo and those in wheelchairs. Please, before you pray for God to “deliver them from their condition”, let’s lay hands and pray for healing for your vain heart. Oh yes, dear Reader, I’m calling your number tonight boo, and I’m sending shots.
Now, if you’re ready, let’s begin with our first flag this week:
Red Flag 1: Jealousy
As I sat on the train, I thought about what it could have been this time. I don’t think I had any excessively long conversations, and I was certain I didn’t spend too much time with my team this week. But his face looked annoyed.
I waited until we got off the train before asking.
“What’s wrong?” I posed.
“I don’t like the way he speaks to you” he replied.
I tried to disguise the automatic eyeroll I felt being sent from my brain to the optic nerves in my eye. We had had this conversation more times than was comfortable.
“He didn’t speak to me anyhow” I replied.
“Yes he did. I know what guys are like – he was trying it. In my presence as well – he doesn’t rate me” he spat.
I looked up as if attempting to find an exit route away from this conversation. There was none.
“He does, you know he does” I protested.
He shot me a look of disgust. I knew better than to argue about this by now, and I definitely knew better than to defend another guy in front of him.
“Ok, I’m sorry. I won’t speak to him, ok. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you”, he sighed. “You don’t know what some men are like, trust me, you need to be careful”. By now he was holding my hand, as if to transfer the seriousness of his conviction through the tightness of his grip.
“Ok, I will”, I smiled, and reassured him with a hug.
Sundays used to be such a wonderful day – now they were just another excuse to argue…
Yeah, my first red flag is JEALOUSY. FirstBaeInChrist taught me that one.
I can honestly say, that in all my 27 years, I have never been with a jealous partner, with the exception of FirstBaeInChrist – all my other Baes had a balanced approach to me and my intereactions with the opposite sex.
But not FirstBaeInChrist.
He was the first person who shouted at me for laughing too loudly at another man’s joke.
He was the first person who was displeased when a man held my hand whilst speaking with me.
He was the first person who was uncomfortable with the guy behind the counter paying me a compliment.
He was the first person who discouraged me from witnessing to the waiter.
He was the first person who told me I was spending too much time with my friends.
He was to all intents and purposes jealous, and his jealousy was directed at any guy around me. The guys I served with at church, the guys we met at events – even single male mutual friends.
I still recall the time we argued because one of the guys in church spent a little too long getting to know me when the pastor directed us to turn around and greet our neighbours.
I used to think that it was just strangers he was unsure of, but the conversation above was actually about a brother in Christ, someone who was a mutual friend to both of us, and for FirstBaeInChrist, he was too mutual.
The jealousy led to a strange possessiveness. I tried to play it down when my friends would make comments like “wow Steph, XXXXXX never lets you out of his sight”, but it actually wasn’t a joke.
I had been an Usher in my church since 2010 – that was actually how he first met me – and once we started courting, he would come and meet me whilst I was serving, then sit next to me during the service, and like clockwork, he would be right there waiting for me once my team had finished praying and would escort me home.
Sundays became “our” day – a day of anger and a day of apologies.
Surely that was enough to know that something was off? You would think so, but nope. I was 23 when we started going out and I just thought he was a bit insecure – I mean who isn’t? I think the first time he questioned my motive with a completely platonic male friend, I switched, and he fell back. I let him know that I wasn’t that kind of girl. But then it kept happening, and eventually I stopped defending and starting pacifying. I don’t think I ever told anyone about the full extent of his behaviour, but I remember remarking in fleeting moments of honesty “sometimes I feel like I’m always in the wrong”, to which I was told that this was part of the pruning process, and that this would prepare me to be a submitted wife in marriage. And at 23, I wanted to get married.
I could go on and on. Like I said, FirstBaeInChrist really dealt with me and one of the reasons was due to his Jealousy. Some of the things he said, some of the arguments we had really stuck with me, and took me a minute to recover from, so my first Red Flag is Jealousy.
Guys, marriage is not worth your mind. The guy you are dating who is showing a jealous side today will show you his possessive side tomorrow. Please don’t make my mistake – don’t force the fairytale with someone you could never marry. Recognise the flag, drop it and run.
Until next week…
This post wasn’t about demonising FirstBaeInChrist – I use BaeNames for a reason. He was a solid Christian, but he had some inescapable character flaws. No, My 6 Red Flags is about something more. Today I heard that 2 women a week die as a result of domestic violence and 1.2 million women suffer domestic abuse each year. Domestic abuse isn’t just the physical; it’s the verbal, the mental, the financial, and often it is the emotional. Now I am not trying to conflate the issues, don’t get me twisted, but I’ve read enough to know how quickly things can escalate. If he raised his first to you whilst you were dating, please believe he will raise it again in marriage. Don’t ignore the signs. Don’t rely on your soon-to-be mother in law or your Pastor’s wife – trust me, some will ignorantly try to convince you to stay. But they won’t be the ones facing his fist after dinner. There are women’s charities here for this very reason, please get help and whatever you do, please don’t ignore the signs.
Happy International Women’s Day.