But…He said he loves me


Around two years ago, I was at my part time job when I got a text from my friend asking me whether we could talk. After work, I went to her place and she was in tears. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that her boyfriend had come over to visit and used her computer. When he left, she realised that he was still logged unto Facebook and was about to log him out when a girl he had been talking to, suddenly started a chat on Facebook. She then saw the history of their conversation and could see that her boyfriend had been flirting with that girl and even told the girl he wanted them to meet. My friend then said: ‘But he said he loves me’.

I couldn’t help but go back to the beginning of their relationship. My first concern arose when my friend suddenly disappeared, I could hardly get hold of her. Furthermore, I didn’t see her at Mass anymore, which was worrying as we first met at our university chaplaincy (after Mass). When I finally got through to her, she told me that she had a boyfriend. To which I replied (probably not my best answer): ‘So that’s why you are not coming to Mass anymore?’ and she got annoyed with me (rightly so). I was concerned back then because I always thought relationships should not pull you from your friends. Anyways, I thought maybe that was just I being jealous of her happiness so I let go.

The thing is romantic relationships are not meant to pull you away from your family and friends. I know it may seem thrilling to elope with your partner or go out with a guy who is the complete opposite of you and doesn’t believe in God. But let’s ask ourselves this question: ‘When you are both old and have grey hairs, will this be enough to sustain your relationship?’ For flesh and bones alone are not enough to sustain a relationship. What I mean by flesh is that this initial attraction you feel for a guy. That alone isn’t enough to sustain your relationship. For a relationship to be fruitful, God must be within. That’s why we should worry if a romantic relationship leads us away from our family and friends. Is this relationship based on the Lord? Does it go beyond flesh? A way of looking at it is, if I stood before God with this man, will I be standing next to him or hiding him behind me? Relationships are meant to make us holier. This is not to say the liability of our holiness is the responsibility of a guy but, rather that we don’t feel in the relationship that we ought to hide our faith because it’s killing the vibe.

Now, back to my friend. She was mostly hurt because she was confused. She didn’t understand why her boyfriend will do such a thing after telling her he loved her. So I told her this: ‘’maybe he really thinks he loves you’’ and she looked at me puzzled so I added: ‘He may think he loves you but what if he doesn’t know what love really is? Just because he said it doesn’t mean he understands the meaning of it. He might think he does but clearly what he has just done, proves that he doesn’t’.

This experience made me reflect about miscommunication not just between couples but also in general.

For example I used to be an avid football fan (this must be due to the fact that I have 4 brothers who love football so they introduced me to it during my teenage years.) Let’s say, I come to the USA to visit a friend and I tell this friend that I love football and my friend decides to treat me to a football match. We arrive at the stadium and we start watching the match. I then realise that this isn’t football, this is American Football. My friend may look at me and say: ‘But you told me you like football’. That statement is true but the definition of football varies per continent. I still love football, but not the football my friend thought I liked.

Love is similar. Unfortunately love has been tainted by culture and someone’s definition of ‘love’ may not be yours. That’s why Jesus came down from heaven. To show us what love is because, back then, they were already confused! I still can’t believe Sodom and Gomorrah was in Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible; we didn’t even make it past the first chapter to damage love. To understand love, we need to look at the Lord because only HIS definition of love is accurate. I love the fact that Jesus Christ didn’t stay in heaven to tell us what love is, He came down) to show us love.

So my friends, when a guy says ‘I love you’, asks him what he believes love is. And don’t just take him on his words, look at his actions.  We cannot give what we don’t have, so in order for us to recognise love, we need to know what it is. And we will know what it is by encountering Christ, most especially in the sacraments.


The Challenge of being a ‘Chastity Speaker’


I have a few answers up my sleeve for when I am asked: ‘So, what do you do?’ One is, I am a free-lance motivational speaker. Another is, I teach Sex and Relationship Education and a final answer (that I use the least) is that I am a chastity speaker. I use that answer the least because it gets the most awkward response! There are several reasons for this.

The first is that I don’t think many people know what I mean. For most people the word chastity sounds odd, super religious & outdated, or even worse judgemental and unrealistic. When I have the opportunity to explain that Chastity is the virtue (characteristic) to help us to love and be loved, as we desire to love and be loved, then it starts to become slightly more appealing! But that’s not the point that I want to focus on.

A second challenge in being a chastity speaker is chastity! Chastity is connected to sexual purity and we live a world that does not understand or value this virtue. I would even say that our culture doesn’t believe that it is possible. Therefore, many young people that I speak to about chastity and saving sex for marriage, have already accepted the culture’s spin on things and have had sexual relationships. So, a second challenge is ‘why bother? Isn’t it too late for most teenagers?’

I want to answer the second challenge ‘why bother?’ by addressing the third challenge, which is this: How do I proclaim the love of God through the message of chastity? The reason that I bother with this work, is because when it is done well, I am able to share God’s unconditional, perfect, healing love with another person. In speaking about chastity, I am aiming to stir up the questions of the human heart: ‘What are you looking for? How do you want to be loved and how do you want to love?’ In speaking about chastity, I am able to invite people to reflect on their lives and to consider how their relationships and experiences correspond to the deepest desire of their hearts. ‘Are you finding what you’re looking for, in the relationships that you are in?’

I was telling someone recently that I give talks on chastity and we discussed the challenge of ensuring that the love and mercy of God comes through above everything else … The guy I was talking to said this great thing: “We think that Jesus came to make us good, but he came to make us happy!” I really liked that, because I think it’s true. We may think that Jesus came to make us good and that only when we are good will he love and accept us. The problem is, it is hard to be good and the truth is, that we are already loved, just as we are – good or not good! The message of chastity is that the love that we so desperately seek is ultimately God’s love – and it is possible to receive it through a relationship with God’s Son – Jesus Christ. When I came to know this love, then I wanted to be good; not to keep the rules, but to find happiness!

So for me, this is the greatest challenge: to let people know that they are deeply and eternally loved! Every time I give a talk I don’t want people to hear a demand to keep the rules, but an invitation to a life-giving relationship – A relationship with Jesus Christ that enables our hearts to say ‘Yes! I have found the love that I have been looking for’.

Fiona Mansford

Fiona is the founder of Pure in Heart in the UK. She has a BA in Theology and Religious studies and has undertaken courses at the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia.