I would love to introduce you to India and Jamaal. I met both India and Jamaal during my time as a student at The University of Florida. I am so honored to have had the chance to speak to them and interview them. Honestly they were the first couple to come to mind when I was thinking of starting this blog. So without further ado…..
1. What are your names and tell me a little about yourselves?
India: My name is India and I’m 28 years old and I’m from Jacksonville, FL. I am an event coordinator at a Women’s Center. We Love the Lord.
Jamaal: I’m Jamaal and I’m 30 years old. I’m currently a student at Florida State University working on my master’s degree in Social Work. Right now I’m a Substance Abuse counselor for a private agency in Jacksonville, FL. Prior to that I worked as a Probation officer in Gainesville for 5 years. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2006.
2. How did you meet your mate?
India: I’ll let Jamaal start because we always debate about how we met.
Jamaal: Initially, India and I met on campus. She doesn’t remember because it wasn’t formal. I was at a BSU (Black Student Union) meeting and I remember her standing up and asking a question because BSU was about to take a trip to New York. This was around 2004. I remember walking across the Student Union at the Reitz and I said “You’re getting ready to go to New York?” and she says “Yes, chile I’m going to New York!”. And that was the first time that I met her. Then I met her again when I started working at Oasis, a workstudy program for the summer, in 2005. We became good friends, nothing more. I just remember her always being old school—
India: —He’s trying to call me old-fashioned!
Jamaal: Real old and homey. I never thought anything about her, like “Ah man I really want to be with her or that’s going to be my girl”. It was nothing like that at all. I graduated in 2006.
***Jamaal was going to tell the whole story from A to Z and India interjects and reminds him that there are going to be other questions. Too funny!
India: When we met in 2004, I had a boyfriend and it wasn’t going anywhere and it wasn’t a Godly tie. And the spirit of God told me to break the relationship off, which was difficult to do but I did it. And I got to a place in God where I was happy. It was me and the Lord and I was loving life. After Jamaal graduated in 2006 we were really good friends. He would hang out at my house and we would have dinner. We would hang out at as a group and we even went to the movies one time. So he was just my friend or so I thought. One day I was at his house having lunch like I normally did because my job was right down the street from his house. And he goes, “Hey, I had been wanting to tell you something” and I said “What did you want to tell me?”. He goes, “Uh, uh I like you. I’m not expecting you to like me back but I just thought I should let you know”
PAUSE: At this point I’m saying “AWWW” but apparently it was not an Awww moment as India contiues…
PLAY: I didn’t say a word. I just sat there for a few minutes and said “Ok, I’m going back to work and I’ll see you later”. And I packed up my stuff and I left. I got back in my car, got down the street and I started balling (crying). I was so upset…SO upset. I honestly felt like he had ruined our whole friendship by doing that. People always say that men and women can’t be friends and I felt like we had proved that wrong by having him as my friend. I felt like he ruined everything. And plus I was in a place in my life where I was so happy with Christ that I thought it was the devil. I thought the devil had gotten to him to try to throw me off. **laughs** I called a friend of mine for encouragement.
Jamaal: I didn’t expect anything in return…
India: And I didn’t give you anything in return, I just left.
Jamaal: There were awkward moments. And I didn’t want awkward moments. I told her this in May and it wasn’t until November that she finally told me that she liked me back. So that’s when we officially started dating.
India: I had to wait until I felt released in my spirit to date. The Holy Spirit had to tell me “Hey, It’s ok” before we started dating.
3. How long did you date and how long was your engagement?
India: He proposed in June 2007. So we dated for like 7 months and then he proposed.
Jamaal: As a matter of fact we were going to a wedding that day and I proposed that morning.
India: We were engaged for 11 months and then we actually got married.
4. How early on in the relationship did the subject of sex come up?
India: I don’t think the issue of sex came up because it wasn’t an issue for us. The issue for us were more along the lines of kissing and certain types of touching and that type of stuff.
Jamaal: And the reason the touching was an issue because India was my first real girlfriend. In high school and college you have crushes and go on a few dates but I had never been in a relationship with someone. She was my first for real girlfriend. That whole area was new to me in terms of kissing and being intimate with someone. I wasn’t that comfortable with kissing at all. Because it was new and different. And I know that with kissing, kissing leads to other things. We kind of stayed away from that.
a. So did you guys not kiss at all or were there moments?
Both: No, we did.
India: We were just careful about how we kissed and how long you kiss. Keeping your hands to yourself. Seriously, that rises your flesh up and you don’t want to get into a situation where you’ve cranked up your motor so far and you can’t come back. It was much easier for me being in this relationship because Jamaal was a virgin when we got married. I was not. It was a blessing and a curse. It was easier for me not to have to fight any type of sexual temptations. Because for him, He’s a man of God and he loves God. And his goal was to wait until he got married. So having sex wasn’t even on the radar.
5. Did you both have to come to agreement to wait or did it go unsaid that you both would wait for marriage to have sex?
Jamaal: It was pretty much understood. For me, that area was totally obsolete in my life. So there was no agreement, per se. She was going at the speed that I was going.
a. How long were you abstaining before your met your Jamaal?
When I met him I wasn’t abstaining girl **laughs** But by the time we started dating it had been about a year.
6. What was the turning point that made you want to abstain?
India: That’s a good question. It was really a mindset thing. If a person is a Christian and they say they love Christ, you can claim that you love Him all day but what do your actions show? It got to a point for me that I needed to live my life for God. I needed to be the person that I SAID that I was. I was living these two different lives. Some people would look at me and say “Oh yea, India “Hallelujah” Lane”, that was my nickname in high school. Because people knew me for being a woman of integrity and that she stood for what she stood for. Yet, I continuously fell into lust and sexual sin. After getting with a guy who had been in various sexual relationships—he was a great person don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t going in the same direction I was going spiritually. If you think you’re going to get in a relationship and you’re going to pull them towards Christ, no they’re going to pull you the other way. You have to be very careful about that. I had to make a conscious decision. I remember the very last time that we had sex, I just cried. And these were not tears of joy, these were tears of shame. I just felt so disappointed in me, I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror. I was so angry with him for not wanting to help me, although I had told him “I don’t want to do this”—he didn’t force me however. It hurt me to lose this great guy that I had in my life, but it wasn’t worth me losing my connection w/ Christ. I had to put my foot down and cut the relationship off.
7. Jamaal, you did it. You did what most of us wanted to do. What made you decide to stick to your guns?
Well, I’m gonna be honest now. When we started dating, I was 24. Throughout my life growing up, I struggled with masturbation and pornography. That was how I got by. So from all those years of never having any intimacy w/ a physical person that was kind of how I abstained without actually having sex with someone. Even for myself, although I loved God, I had my own issues that I was struggling with. So I don’t really toot my horn like “Yay, I was a virgin” because I still had struggles and strongholds and things I needed to work through. Really, I was no different from India. She was having sex and so was I. I just wasn’t having sex with another person.
PAUSE: I was taken aback by this moment of honesty and transparency! It was exactly what I prayed for!!
PLAY: WOW! Thank you for being so honest. The enemy has us deceived in thinking that masturbation and pornography are not major strongholds in the church and they are.
8. Did you know that this relationship would be different?
India: Yes, I did. Remember that Jamaal and I were friends for two years before we started dating. The man who he says that he is—he’s not a perfect guy, but the man that people know him to be that’s who he is behind closed doors. So being a friend to him and being in a relationship with him was very similar. He loves Christ, he loves the Lord. He follows the rules and it used to make me so mad! His morals, his values, his integrity and his name are very important to him. There was never any reason for me to try to lure him into doing something different. It was pointless because he probably would have spazzed out and rebuked me! It makes a difference when a man is after God’s own heart.
9. In what ways do you think, keeping sex out of your relationship benefited the relationship?
Jamaal: It helped us to respect each other, the utmost respect. I think that when you begin to have intercourse with someone, you begin to take them for granted and you don’t cherish them as much. You have all these types of feelings and emotions that you would not normally have if u didn’t have intercourse.
India: It kind of helped to keep our mind focused, focused on the main goal. Of course when you’re dating, I’m not just dating just for the heck of it. We were dating with intention, with a goal in mind; which the goal in the end was marriage. Sexual thought can kind of take over your thoughts for the whole day. When you have sex with someone for the 1st time, you’re thinking about what happened, how it happened and what it looked like. And your mind is overtaken. And I couldn’t imagine going through that with Jamaal because that’s a stronghold. That will really throw you off course.
10. Were you ever tempted to give in to the temptation to have sex?
Jamaal: I don’t think I was ever tempted to go as far as having intercourse. Of course, I’m human and you get aroused. You may want to kiss longer than you should be kissing. I don’t think I ever had the thought “ OK, I’m going to go further than this”.
India: I think—Jamaal didn’t have no swag or nothing **laughs**. I’m not going to lie, I might have been in trouble if he had some moves or tried to put some moves on me. I might have found myself in a difficult place, where I would have had to choose. Thankfully, God knew exactly what I needed and He knew the area that I was weak and gave me a mate that was strong. This was an area that I had already fallen before.
11. Why do you believe God asks us to remain pure before marriage?
I believe God asks us to remain pure prior to marriage so that we can stay focused and please Him. I believe it says in 1 Corinthians 7 To someone that’s single they can give all of their attention to the Lord. But for someone that’s married their attention is split in half. If you step into married roles before you’re married, you are a single that’s not doing your job!
PAUSE: Now that was PROFOUND!
India: You’re not able to do your job because your mind is thinking about stuff that was designed for married folks. But the Lord knows that’s going to happen to us when we get married and says “It’s OK some of your time is for me and some of your time is for your husband”. When Eve ate the fruit, everything changed. The same thing when you have sex outside of marriage and you may say “We’re going to do better”. But you can never go back, because your eyes are open now. There’s no need to put yourself in a situation to get kicked out of your spiritual garden before time.
Jamaal: God honors marriage and He ordains marriage. God created marriage to show how much he loves us.
12.What are some finals thoughts/words of encouragement for the readers?
Jamaal: Wait on the Lord, I say wait. **laughs**
India: Write your list; be specific when it comes to finding a mate. Be very specific because God hears your desires. He knows what you need. But you have to be open to telling God “Give me what I need”. He’ll give you some of your wants too but there are things that you need out of a relationship that you may not know that you need. I’m a witness that He will definitely give you that.
Jamaal: I’ll add to that. People get caught up in looks, physical attraction to one another—of course you’re going to have some type of attraction to each other. You don’t always fall in love with the one that’s going to cause you to fall in sin. My wife and I were not physically attracted to each other when we first started dating, we were just friends. And for a lot of our friends that are married now, it’s the same story. God is going to give you His desires. As long you’re lined up with the Word of God, your desires should match His desires. The Will of God should be your will.