Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Separation of Church and State

Merry Christmas, everyone! I know this note doesn't exactly fit the Christmas theme or season, but it's something that's been on my mind for awhile now, which I've only recently had the time to write. I'll apologize up front for it's length, but I hope you'll all read this and respond. And again, have a very merry Christmas.

I've long believed that to attempt to separate church and state to it's fullest extent possible would be nothing short of a complete catastrophe. Just as having the church and state united to its fullest form has proven foolhardy whenever attempted in the past, so would having the two completely separated, as was the case, in part, with the communist Soviet Union. As many would guess, I am not in favor of the complete separation of church and state. However, I do agree with a great many liberals that there should and must be some degree of separation between the two.

When Rome fell, it was the church for which people turned to for authority and leadership. For a time, this was perhaps a very good thing. The church, being the embodiment of Christ, can do a lot of good when given such a good degree of power. However, the church being comprised of flawed and sinful human beings, despite its strong connections with Christ, can still do a great deal of evil when given unlimited powers. It does not take much to corrupt a man's actions when their actions are left unchecked and unquestioned. There has been a great deal of evil done throughout the course of mankind's existence in the name of God and Christ and goodness. I'll bring your attention to the Inquisition, which took place due to the authority given to the church. Many innocent people were not only tortured but murdered because of their rightly or wrongly believed beliefs against the church. To control its masses, the church provided fear to the people in order to retain their power over them. And their desire was to enforce Christian beliefs upon all peoples.

This is foolhardy. And this is why it is not good for the church to have total authority over the state. You see, the state itself is a secular institution. Whenever the two are united to become one, one may be improved, the other degraded, but both corrupted by their unity. Whatever people may hope to believe, the answer to an improved state is not for it to be governed or put in the hands of the church to control. That has been proven well not to work.

Having said this, I do not believe the two, church and state, can, nor ever should be, completely separated. For when that happens, the two can very easily become enemies. The state wanting to condemn the church for what it wants and the church wanting to condemn the state for its wants, neither working with the other for the good of their people. That is why the two should never be entirely divided. To eliminate all connections would be just as incomprehensible and as destructive as the other extreme.

In our modern times, as we foolishly call them so, we have been presented with this particular dilemma again. How far should the church and state be divided, and to what extreme measures should we take to achieve this? Some would argue that Christians have no place at all within the political sphere. Some would attest that any public acts of worship be completely forbidden. And still, some would insist we have only secularism, without any church or religion at all. Within our society, the extreme toward secularism is already proven its way forward. Just as the total control of the church has proven foolhardy, so has the total control of the state. I do not doubt we are heading in a very grim direction. For just as the church has tried to enforce its ways through acts of violence, so has and will a completely secular state try to enforce its ways upon those of faith (persecution). I personally believe it can be a very good thing when men and women of faith enter the world of politics. If they remain governed by their Christian values and morals then they should prove to be decent politicians who truly do good things for the people they represent. I will always vote in any election for the man whom I believe holds to these values and morals above anything else. That is the man or woman I will most likely trust to be honest, good, kind, and moral when in office. Now, though that is the person I would want in office, I would not expect that person to create or enforce laws, which would impose certain Christian beliefs upon others. It is not the business of the church to attempt forcing others to believe as it does. Being tyrannical never wins anyone over for the Lord. All that does is promote fear and hatred of the church, and in consequence, towards Christ.

This, I believe, is a moderate view. It is the view that people of faith should be allowed a part or place in the workings of the state, so long as they do not attempt, once allowed into that place, to force Christian beliefs onto other people. Influence should certainly be allowed, but enforcement, no.

One other reason for why I believe this way is because of what I already mentioned about enemies. When the two become completely divided, or separated, they naturally become inclined to distrust and dislike each other. If all people of faith are excluded from politics, then that naturally means all people of the secular state are excluded from the church, religion, or faith. Or, we will have no politicians and be governed by who knows whom. As Christians, we should not want this. As secular beings, we should not want the church excluded from the state either. Men of high morals will do far better than those with very little. Now this is not to suggest men of faith always act morally. Far too often they do not act morally at all. But this is just to suggest they are perhaps more likely to act moral. So, it is good for the two to be united to some extent. Not completely united, but not completed separated either.

What's more, if a Christian does enter into politics, to ask them, or to demand of them, not to consider their faith in making decisions is quite impossible and impractical. If a Christian man is elected to the office of the president, of course he should govern as the Christian man he is. He should not attempt to be something he is not just to prove separation of church and state. To separate a man in such a way is to make him two-faced, and able of doing very little good to satisfy anyone in such a state. I tend to believe to some extent our current president, George W. Bush, has at times faced this dilemma. He has had to decide whether he should be a Christian president or a secular one. Depending on the situation and the company around him, he has made his decisions, but in doing so, I believe he has obviously separated himself into two people. There is the Christian president who upholds most Christian values and morals, helping with AID's causes in Africa and implementing additional tax breaks for churches that provide a public service, and there is the secular president who seems to favor war to diplomacy and fights for measures which allow the rich to get richer and the poor poorer. Granted, speaking of President Bush, he has made his decisions of his own accord. No one has forced him to be the sort of president he has been. Influenced, perhaps, but not forced, I do not believe. But clearly, he is a president who at times has acted very Christlike, while at other times, very non-Christlike. His presidency proves many things though. One is that even a Christian man can do a bad job in office and do a lot of potentially immoral things while in that position. Two, he is a Christian who I believe has genuinely tried to follow his faith while in office. At times this has proven both wise and unwise. As a Christian, he has attempted at times to push his faith down others' throats. For instance, he has said on many occasions that he would support an amendment to the constitution banning gay marriage. Now, as a Christian, I am not in support of gay marriage. However, I strongly disagree that it is the governments place to tell two people how they should or should not live their lives in such a way. If two gay men, or two gay women, wish to be united in a secular marriage, it's their business to do so. And so, I believe this is one regard where the Christian President Bush has overstepped some. Three, President Bush, as a Christian, has given in to many secular demands. The call to war, for instance, could be an example of this. Likewise, his less than always truthful, or moral, means by which he got elected and then reelected as president are certainly in question here.

But let's say a man unwilling to compromise his Christian beliefs becomes president of the United States. Should he be asked to compromise? If he does not compromise, should he be forced out of office? Here is the conflict. How can a truly Christian man become the leader of a secular institution? For if he becomes its leader, will he have to compromise, ask others to compromise, or will he completely rule by tyranny to promote his ideals or beliefs onto others? Or, another possibility, will he do nothing?

A solution to this problem can be summed up by one phrase spoken by Jesus, which is, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's”. In the realm of politics, I should think this would mean that a Christian man should do what he can through that office for the Lord, but likewise handle those secular issues as best he can without infringing on those of secular beliefs and without disregarding his own conscience. This was a solution brought forward by the famous World War I hero, Alvin C. York. When drafted to fight in war, he knew he'd be called to kill other human beings. Being a man of faith, a Christian, he believed killing people was a sin against the Lord. After several attempts for exemption as a conscientious objector, and being denied that request, he had no choice but to become a soldier. Before going to Europe, however, his superiors, knowing he'd objected to fighting in that war, confronted him about his decision. He explained his side of things and then they explained theirs. From their standpoint, fighting for the freedom, defense, and security of their nation and others made the killing okay (perhaps not okay, but justifiable). It was killing only in defense. York thought upon this and still struggled with his thoughts. His superiors sent him back home to think about his beliefs. If after a short time he still couldn't agree to fight, they would allow him to leave the army.

York went home and thought about what he should do. He believed in the defense of others and in securing freedom and his nations right to exist, but he also believed the Lord was against violence and against people killing others. He became very torn between serving his country and serving his God. In the end, he came upon the passage I referred to in the Bible, where Jesus is asked about paying taxes. The response from Jesus was for people to give unto their country, unto the secular institutions by which they were bound, those things that belonged to them, and to likewise give unto God the things that are God's. The answer was to do both. And so York went back to the army, fought as a Christian man in defense of others, and became perhaps the hero of World War I, capturing a great number of German soldiers and doing so almost completely by himself. Now, did he act as a Christian, or did he act secularly? The answer is, in a way, he did both. He had to act secularly to defend his and other's Christian way of life, which if not defended, may not have lasted. He defended and protected others against a grave threat, while simultaneously fighting for the country, the secular institution to which he belonged, and fighting to preserve the ways of God.

Concerning President Bush, had he followed this way of thinking, he'd have done the good for the Christians and those of faith which he has done, but would have ignored the gay marriage issue and other similar issues that serve more to restrict people who do not believe as he does or that divides us as Americans. He would have therefore done good for both Christian and secular, tearing neither one down above the other. There are things for which a Christian can do for both his God and his country without being immoral about either. Those are the things that should be fought for by the Christian politician.

I will agree that it is probably best for the Christian to remain out of politics altogether though. At least it might be best for him. Politics is a world of compromising. One may be able to do so to a certain extent and still be okay, but if tempted to overrule all previous Christian convictions while in office, they may very well be doing themselves a great deal of harm concerning their spiritual lives, and perhaps physical as well. If a Christian wishes to enter politics, it may very well be best that their political aspirations remain small and they fight only for a few good causes that work against no one, but only to the benefit of everyone.

But still, I do not see justified the claims of those who believe in a total separation of church and state. When they are separated completely, or united completed, no one is benefited. But when you have the two working together, side by side, keeping the other in check, that is when the greatest good comes about.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Battle In the Church

Have any of you heard about the group of lesbians who invaded a church in Michigan shouting profanities and disrupting the service? It is absolutely incomprehensible and inexcusable what went on. I know people can get upset, but really, this is just an extreme that should be made an example of. Please read the story at I personally hope they arrested every one of them for public disturbance.

I just don't understand peoples anger sometimes. I've been rather furious before, but never to the extent that I would have so little disrespect for churchgoers (or any group) including children in such a fashion as this.

Let me tell you folks, if you want to win any sort of argument, this is by no means the way to do it. Acting as these lesbians did will only turn even more people against you. Use your brains. Not violence.

The one thing I do admire from this story is the response of the church members. To remain calm and not resort to violence or revenge of any sort was very admirable on their part.

But please read this story. I have a feeling it won't be the last time something like this will happen. Let us pray about that and hope that a right Christian response will always be given.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where I'm At

Well, I've not fallen off the face of the earth or anything. I figured everyone might like to know what I've been up to, and since I somehow managed to find an extra minute or two I decided to write something.

I've been consumed with schoolwork lately. It's absurd. I'm not even kidding. I've never in all my life had so much homework to have to do. I had to quit my job a couple of weeks ago just so I could get it all done. I've been spending every single day not in school just playing catch up with it all, and still just barely being able to finish everything I need to do. I've literally been a nervous wreck about this. I've just been in a constant state of panic that I won't be able to get everything done in time. The other day I was eating and noticed I couldn't stop shaking my hands. I realized I just couldn't get away from that feeling of panic. Due to that, I've intentionally tried to calm down the last couple of days by doing things to get my mind off of school.

I went last night to see the new James Bond film. In case any of you didn't know, I'm a Bond fanatic. I love those movies. I even love the books. I've read just about every one of them Fleming wrote--some of them twice, actually. Bond was even the inspiration for my first book, as a matter of fact. So, what did I think of the movie? It was pretty good, but there were things I disliked about it. It wasn't nearly as good as the last one. This one just had too many over-the-top action sequences in it and not enough story. I was especially disappointed that the gun barrel sequence was missing from the beginning again. It worked in the last film, but I didn't think they pulled its absence off very well in this one. They waited until the very end, where it just seemed sort of out of place. And then some of the things Bond did in the film just was not Bond-like at all. For instance, at one point he throws a deceased colleague into a garbage bin, robs him, and takes off leaving him there, proclaiming he didn't think the man would mind. I cringed watching that scene because it was nothing that Fleming's Bond would ever have done. He just wouldn't have dumped a friend in the garbage like that and took off. That's not cool! But overall the movie was good. I liked it. And I was glad to have finally been able to see it. I'd been waiting in anticipation for months now. Oh, and I guess I should apologize if I've ruined it for anyone just now. I might should have made the disclaimer previously.

On a few other points of interest, I was thoroughly disappointed on election night. I was not in support of Barrack Obama at all. I didn't cry by McCain's defeat though, because I personally thought he ran a fairly poor campaign, and the loss was pretty much expected. But, nevertheless, it was rather depressing. Of the two men, I really don't think either was any count, but I did feel like McCain would do a better job cleaning up some of the corruption in Washington and getting at least a hint of bipartisanship back into the system. I really don't know that Obama will be able to do that. I also liked McCain's plans for the housing market, which is something Obama opposed. But as I said, overall neither man impressed me. I was just voting for who seemed to me to be the lesser of two evils. I'll freely admit I may have been blindsided or prejudiced in my decision. I don't say prejudiced because of Obama's skin color--I could care less--but because I'm Republican. I wanted the elephant to win.

I was also disappointed by the Proposition 8 decision and the other similar ballot measures that passed. Now, I'm not a supporter of gay marriage per se, but I don't think the government has any right to legislate such a thing. For one, it shows a bias against homosexuals. I say that because the government will willingly recognize just about any form of heterosexual relationship, but the minute homosexuality is hinted at, it slams its fist down. And I'm rather bothered by the Christian response out of all this. Don't Christians know how their fighting gay marriages causes homosexuals to dislike and distance themselves from them? Allow people to live and let live. What harm does this really do anyone, but the ones who want it? And just how does any Christian think that opposing gay marriages will lead any gay person closer to Christ? All this does is reinforce the idea to homosexuals that Christians are the enemy. It turns homosexuals away from them. And, really, who could blame them? So, why not allow gay marriages? Why not allow homosexuals to have what they want? It doesn't mean you have to stop trying to reach out to them to win them for Christ. It just means you're not going to be in their face every waking moment of the day, dictating how they are to live their lives. Now, just to make clear, I don't approve of gay marriages. I don't think that's in line with God's wishes. But I dislike the ban on gay marriages because I do think it's an injustice to peoples freedoms and personal beliefs. And I find it appalling to think of Christians trying to impose their religious and moral beliefs on others by helping pass legislation of this kind that serves no other purpose but that.

I'll say more on this subject later, so please don't jump to any wild conclusions just yet. There's much more I plan on saying soon about this.

So anyway, that's all for now. I will just ask that anyone interested please be praying for me. I've been so busy with school stuff that it's just been hard for me to find time for friends and family lately. I feel as though I've probably alienated some of them. I couldn't really help it. If I'd made more time for them I wouldn't have got my schoolwork done, so I hope they understand. Heck, the Bond movie was actually the first fun thing I've been able to do in weeks now, and thankfully I was able to include my dad and brother in that little outing. But because of all this stuff I've just felt so alone these last couple of months. I just feel as if I don't have anyone, and it's really starting to get at me a bit. You can imagine what temptations this has brought on me. So, yeah, please be praying, for me and for my family. We could all use it right about now, I think.

God bless, and hopefully it won't take me so long to write again.

Friday, October 3, 2008

True Love

I heard this song a few weeks back and fell in love with it.

The last few weeks I've struggled quite a lot with my own wall of struggles. I think my stress level quite literally has been through the roof lately--unmeasurable. The gray hairs just seem to keep getting to be more and more.

I'm reminded how much Jesus loves me though. And like this song says, Jesus can bring down all those walls we have in our lives, getting in our way and holding us back. He can make all wrongs right.

I just want to say I've appreciated so much the concerns and prayers some of you have sent my way. I've needed your prayers. They've helped and comforted me for sure.

I don't want to lose hope. I've tasted that and it's just not a good taste. There's a horrible bitterness to having a lack of hope--to despairing. This song helps me. I hope it'll help you too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back To School, And So Little Time

Sorry folks it's been so long since I've written. I've had a bunch of things to write about, but I've found my time has become a precious commodity lately, and I just haven't had enough of it to blog.

So, what's taken up all my time? SCHOOL!!! That's right, I've been back in school this semester. I had dropped out of college a few years back, mostly because I was just so incredibly burned out, but also, and probably more importantly, because I was having some major doubts about what career I was aiming to go into. So, rather than spend the money for a degree I might not ever use, I decided to drop out and wait until I was sure about what I wanted to do. Four years later, I'm back at it again. Some of the doubts are still there, but I'm determined to finish school this time around and get that darn degree. I realize, even if I never use it, having it can never hurt me. Besides, maybe just getting back in school will help me move along and progress a little. I'd been feeling a little stuck the last couple of years, so maybe this will help. But getting back to the reason why I haven't been blogging much lately, I've been just absolutely swamped with homework. So, with work, school, and homework, my free time has become pretty limited. And I'll admit, I've been fairly exhausted the last few weeks. What free time I have managed to get, blogging just wasn't on my mind.

Okay, so the point of this post, besides telling you all what I've been up to, is to discuss some of my thoughts lately. Since getting back in school lust has become a much larger issue with me. Being on campus I find it almost impossible to keep my eyes from looking, and there is just way too much to be looking at. I forgot about how many good-looking guys there could be on a college campus.

I met this incredibly cute guy on the first day of classes. I thought I caught him looking at me a few times from across the room, and admittedly, I honestly couldn't keep my eyes off of him. And the following day of classes we ended up sitting next to each other and have ever since. He's just a really great guy. Well, up until a couple of class meetings back, I honestly thought he was interested in me. And I'll admit, I was developing a full-fledged crush on him. Then, he dropped the bomb. Not only is he happily heterosexual, but he has a girlfriend to boot. So, I was sort of stupidly crushed for a couple of days. I know this was foolish of me, but in a way, I don't think it was too very foolish either. I'm tired of feeling lonely—so sue me for wanting companionship! The way I see it, if we had gotten together... Well, I'm not sure what I'm saying. I just don't feel like it would have been that big a deal.

I don't think I care so much anymore. To be honest, I don't know what I believe anymore. I keep wondering why God would think it so wrong for two gay men to fall in love, want to spend all their lives together, and, yes, even express their love for each other through sexual means. The argument that's always weighed heaviest on me is that God didn't design us for such things. But I wonder why God would care so much if we simply found a way to enjoy His design in a way He may not have intended. For example, someone creates a product that is just absolutely wonderful, and later, someone else realizes a great new use for that product—one which the creator never really intended, but doesn't really cause any harm to anyone or anything in itself. Now, I wonder, what is so wrong with that? I sometimes seriously don't have an answer for that. So then I turn to the second reason why not to be in a homosexual relationship, which is faith in what the church calls sin as being accurate. The problem with that is that I know at times the church hasn't always been right about certain things. But I'm not sure what to believe. If I do end up finding a guy interested in me, I don't know if I'll act on that or not.

And now I wonder if perhaps I'm just so tired of the fight that I've given up on it. And if that is what's going on, then I realize I may not be where I need to be.

Getting back to school for a moment, I have felt a little overwhelmed. In a couple of my classes I feel so lost that it isn't even funny. And I find it absurd the way some teachers seem to think you can't be learning unless the process is as complicated and confusing as humanly possible. It's like nothing in college can ever be simple.

So anyhow, that's where I'm at. I'll do my best not to wait so long before writing again, but I suppose that'll depend on everything else going on. Hopefully things won't get too crazy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Afters - You

The last few weeks I've been listening to a song by The Afters called You. It's such a peaceful, beautiful song about God and His greatness, and I've been able to relate to it's lyrics so much lately--about how I feel and the way I think about God. Thanks to Jay for helping me figure this out, I can now share the song with all of you from off of YouTube. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I may be giving myself away a little, but at this point I really don't care so much. I had to work late the other night and before leaving I decided to go for a little stroll around the dock where I work. The sun was just setting over the hillside and our customers had all turned in for the evening. The air was cool and soothing after the heat of the day. The water was perfectly still. The moon was shining bright across the water, and the stars were already coming out. I looked out onto the main body of the lake and suddenly felt lucky for having been assigned to work during this time. The beauty God had created all around me simply amazed me. Everything seemed so peaceful and calm, and I couldn't help but feel relaxed.

My mind soon began wandering, and I began thinking upon all the time I'd spent working there. I remembered all those tasks performed, all the coworkers who had come and gone, and all those good times and bad. It wasn't long until I began yearning for the past. I kept thinking about all those people who I'd worked with over the last few years. So many of them have gone on to other things, and I rarely see most of them anymore. In thinking about that, I remembered the guy I fell in love with a few years ago. I know there was no way I could have ever been with him—he wasn't/isn't gay. But I know I fell for him harder than anyone else I've ever known. He was a Christian, smart, funny, cute, kind, everything I ever looked for in another guy, and the more I was around him the more I loved him. I almost wanted to cry just thinking of him. I still see him from time to time, but it's far and few times between. When I do see him, it's not like it used to be. We're more along the line of acquaintances now than friends. I miss him. And I'll admit, I can't help but wonder sometimes what could have been had he felt the same about me. It's very likely that had he had feelings for me, I'd have gladly been his boyfriend. Who knows what different course that would have led me?

I don't just miss him though. I miss a lot of people. I've reached a point where I hate so very much having to say goodbye to people. I know from experience that once I do that, I'm very likely never or rarely to see that person again. Because of that, I hate having to say goodbye. I have that fear that when I do, I'll never see that person again. This is one of the main reasons why I've questioned my decision to become a teacher. You spend an entire year getting to know your students and then they move on in life while you stay put. It's a kind of sad profession in that sense. Not to say that it isn't extremely rewarding in other regards, but it's just that you lose people on a yearly basis who you've spent so much time with getting to know and love, and it hurts whenever you lose those you love—in whatever context that may be.

I think sometimes I must be the most sentimental person in the world. I have a great tendency to hold onto the past and long after it. I think back to good times and wish I could revisit them. I see a familiar spot alongside the road and just have to pull over. I think of people who have moved on in life and wish I could be around them again. I keep everything, because everything has a meaning and a story to it. I'm a real pack rat that way.

I know it's been hard for me to move forward in life because of that. I know my life could be a whole lot different in so many ways if I could just let go of the past. I know I let my past hold me back so much of the time. I may have found a better job, church, place to live, etc. by now if only I could have put aside the past and charged forward into the future.

Maybe there's fear there. Maybe I'm afraid of change. Maybe I'm afraid of the future. Maybe I'm afraid that what lies ahead won't be as good as what lies in the past or in the present. I think it's just that a lot of my past hasn't been what I'd call great. As a means of escaping real life, I've tended to lose myself in the thoughts of what were good times, and I long for those times and for what reminds me of them. I guess I just like the familiar and like to hold onto what's been dear to me. The places where I've lived, worked, went to school, church have all contributed to such a large part of who I am. My identity lies, in part, with these things and the people I've been around. To lose these things, I feel as if I lose a part of myself, or who I am.

I know I'm awfully sentimental this way. More than I should be. Sometimes it's just hard for me to shake my memories. And maybe in some ways that's actually a good thing more than a bad thing. I've learned it does help to think of the good times during the bad ones. There's hope in doing that. I just hope there'll be more good ones ahead.

I then began thinking about what job I may have five, ten, fifteen years from now. I wondered where I might be living. I wondered if I'd have a family of my own by then, or if I'd have completed writing what would hopefully be a bestseller novel, or accomplish any of the other hopes and dreams I've had. And as I looked out at the lake and thought again of God's beauty, I just felt His reassuring me not to worry, that there would indeed be plenty of good times ahead, new friends to make, and plenty of new memories to have and to hold onto.

I felt so at peace about that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What Others Think

Whenever you hate, the only person you hurt is yourself. Because the person you hate often doesn't know it, or if they do, they don't care.

I heard that from the movie Ghosts of Mississippi several years ago. It's something the late great civil rights leader Medgar Evers was supposed to have said, and something I've held onto and tried to apply to my life ever since hearing it.

I told that to my young friend from church the other night. He was telling me about how he had begun to feel about some of the people at our church. He knows deep down they are good, loving, people (and I agree), but that the way they have treated him is far from good or loving (also agree). And because of their response to him, he now worries about what others think about him and what they are saying about him behind his back. Because of that, he said he had begun holding a grudge toward some of them. That bothers him because these are people who prior to his coming out he really did admire, respect, and love, and whom he thought they felt the same about him. I told him to try to let go of those harsh feelings. That's a hard thing to do sometimes, but it's a worse thing to go around carrying those negative feelings inside you all the time. It simply weighs you down and wears you out. I also told him to try not to worry so much about what others think of him. What others think doesn't matter. It's what God thinks that counts. People will either love you or hate you, so you should just be yourself and not worry about what they think. But God loves us more than any of us could ever imagine. And He'll never stop loving us. The advice seemed to have helped him a little, but I could tell he was still bothered.

I wonder why so many people put such heavy burdens upon themselves. Why do we think so much about what others think? Why do we blame ourselves for things that are out of our control? Why do we overwork ourselves? Why do we worry so much? What good is any of it?

I know I have trouble with all of these things. I do worry too much about what others think of me. I try to be a good worker, a good son, a good brother, a good friend, a good student, a good Christian, and so on and so on. I want people to like me. I know it's unrealistic to expect that everyone should, and I know it's probably stupid of me to get upset when people don't like me, but it does bother me sometimes when they don't. Perhaps that's a little bit of pride on my part, but I think this is something common for most people. We all want to be well liked by others. I know of very few who'd admit to enjoying being hated. But as much as we'd like to be liked by others, we should care far more about how God thinks of us. God always loves us no matter what. He never stops loving us. And in everything we do, we shouldn't think about what our friends, family, or peers are going to think of us, but how God will think. The phrase “What would Jesus do?” I believe is a worthy saying to apply to all things. In all that we do, are we going to be more concerned with what everyone around us is going to think, or are we going to care more about what God will think?

Take Noah, for example. Noah was a Godly man who followed the Lord with all his heart while the society around him was falling into sin and moral decay, turning away from God. Rather than follow their ways, Noah chose to follow after the Lord. And when God told him a flood was coming and to build an ark, Noah obeyed. Now, the whole time Noah was building the ark, all those around him mocked him and made fun of him. “You're crazy,” they told him, and urged him to stop his work and to come join in on their sinning. But Noah resisted and remained true to the Lord. He cared more about what God thought and wanted than what everyone else around him thought. And in the end, that's what saved his life once the flood came and everyone else was killed.

We can all take comfort in that story. Whenever people put us down, abuse us, shut us out, or mistreat us in any way, we can always take comfort in knowing God loves us, and knowing that so long as we're living our lives His way, that's all that matters. If we're going to worry about anything, that's what we should worry about.

I see in my friend someone who can go on to do incredible things for the Lord. He wants to do good for others and he believes and understands Christianity in a way I only wish I could have when I was his age. I'm bothered that so many at our church can't see that at the moment and have turned away from him. I'm angered that they'd rather judge him and push him away instead of reach out to him with love and understanding to bring him even closer to the Lord. I mean, here is someone whose testimony could bring countless numbers of people closer to God and salvation. Why would anyone want to push someone like that away and not use him for such great purposes?

I'm gonna try not to hold a grudge against any of them myself. Like my friend, I don't want to think badly of these people. What good would that do me, or anyone else? All that sort of thinking ever does is tears me up inside, and causes me to do things I normally wouldn't do. I don't want to feel that way anymore.

I think putting trust in God is perhaps one of the hardest things for any of us to do. We can believe in God and have faith that can move mountains, but when it comes to making decisions, it's so easy for us to choose the worldly way over God's ways. But if we can trust Him, and do the things He wants us to do, and obey Him by not doing the things He doesn't want us to do, we can never go wrong. God will always deliver us and see us through any situation.

So I wonder sometimes why we so often put such heavy burdens upon ourselves. Why do we put ourselves through so much heartache and grief, worrying so much? Why do we lose hope and turn to other things that never bring us any happiness? Why are we so hard on ourselves when our lives don't go completely as planned? Why do we so often chase after the wind—such a meaningless pursuit—when following after Christ is our only true hope? Why do we care so much about what others think when we have a God that loves us each so very, very much, despite all our flaws and inabilities?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Whatever, I'm Tired of Feeling

I try to be positive and to hide my pain, but in truth, I'm hurting. I've been hurting for a long time now, and in a certain way, I feel sort of numb. I don't feel good, but I try not to feel bad, so I just feel... whatever.

I'm not at all where I'd hoped to be at this stage of my life. I'm trying to get where I want to be—to get back on course—but just so much seems to be so wrong or so complicated. I don't even know where to begin, or if I even should. It just seems like for every step I take forward, I take two giant steps back.

Several of my hopes and dreams have went to the wayside. I don't have any hope for a family of my own anymore. That hope and that dream is practically gone completely. Being a realist, I just don't think it's a very realistic thing to expect anymore. It seems far too unlikely. Instead, I find myself wanting a boyfriend, and knowing I can't have one, and realizing that even if I did have one, I probably still wouldn't feel any better than I currently do. And it doesn't help me any to face the very real prospect that I may be alone the rest of my life.

I've been struggling with lust and pornography. It's like I can't see enough; like there's a longing within me that I just can't satisfy. And I know this has been brought on in large part due to my work environment. I can't escape seeing at least two or three good looking, near naked, guys each day. It's sort of inevitable. I see them and that longing builds within me. I look away but the feeling remains. I try to turn to Jesus but I feel ashamed, or guilty or whatever, and then I just feel lonely.

I've come to the conclusion I don't really want to be straight anymore. I don't want to be anything for that matter. If I could have things my way I wouldn't be attracted to anyone or have any feelings of sexual desire or arousal at all for anyone. It just seems like there would be a lot less headache if that were the case.

I've been so disappointed with my church lately. I've been heartbroken by the response given to my young friend who reached out for help there. He is gay and doesn't want to be. People who I've known my whole life have responded so terribly toward him. These are people who I've loved and cared about and who I've worshipped with for so many years now, and it's just torn me apart in my soul to see how they've responded. It's made me glad in one sense that I never have told more people than I have about my own struggles. I wonder if they'd treat me the same way if they knew.

There were so many things I wanted to help bring about at my church. I wanted to help create more programs, get more people involved, be able to reach out into the community more and bring people to God, but none of that seems to be happening. Maybe I'm being a little impatient. I feel like I'm constantly fighting against everyone else though. A lot of my ideas seem to be brushed off or ignored. I seriously wonder sometimes why I always feel so compelled to stay at this church. A lot of times I just feel like people are pretending to care about me. I get the feeling sometimes that if I just stopped going, I wouldn't be too sorely missed. That thought bothers me. I don't want to sound too down on my church though. There are a lot of good things happening there. I just get so frustrated so much of the time about certain things.

I've also been angry with a particular family problem lately. I won't get into the details of that too much here, but it involves my brother and his kids. Their mother doesn't want them, but my brother and family does and can't get them. Someone outside the family is getting them instead, and it just feels like these kids are being stolen away from us and by someone who rightfully shouldn't have a say in anything related to them. I feel so helpless to fix the turmoil this has caused my family. There's nothing I can do. I can't help the people I love. And this is crushing.

I'd hoped on being a published writer of something at least somewhat noteworthy by now. I have all these really good ideas, yet I never find time to write anymore. I'm too tired or too distracted to ever concentrate like I should. And what I have written hasn't amounted to anything. I couldn't even get members of my own family to read my book a few years ago. I find that dream is still alive, but the goal just seems to keep getting further and further away.

I'm gonna be going back to school, but I honestly don't know why. I really don't know what career I want to pursue. I think maybe I'm just going for the sake of going. Everyone expected me to finish school and get a degree. I think maybe I'm just trying to live up to expectations. I'd like to graduate from college. I just wish I was more certain about the purpose of my going. I'd like to think that what degree I get may be put to some use.

I feel like I can't trust anyone. Some of the people who I thought were my friends I've recently found out they've been working against me behind my back. Aside from that, I miss some of my other friends. I haven't heard from some of them in a while now. Maybe they've just been busy like me and haven't had time to write/visit/phone/whatever. And I wish I did have more free time myself for such things. I miss spending time with these friends. I haven't had much opportunity for that lately.

I just wish I could get some answers. I feel stressed and frustrated and so clueless about what I should be doing in my life or how to achieve some of the hopes and dreams I have, and it just seems like God isn't answering me. I want guidance, direction, some blueprint for how to get from this stage in my life to the next. I want hope. I want encouragement. I want somebody to just tell me to keep on hoping and to keep on believing that everything will work out as it should. That God will lead me to a better place. I wish someone would tell me they love me. I wish I could get some rest and be able to stop worrying.

I just wish things could be good for a while. I'm just so tired of all this. I know everyone must get so sick of my whining around. I'm sick of it myself. I'm just so sick of feeling this way.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Falling Forward

I seem to be at somewhat of a turning point in my life. I've been out of school for several years now, but I'm about to be going back. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this. I'm excited about it, because I have been wanting to go back, but I guess I'm nervous because it's a new school (I'd went to a different one previously) and I'm still not convinced that the degree I'm going back for is the one I want. As if that wasn't enough to cause me some doubts, I may also have to quit my job in order to go. All of my classes will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I know I'll be able to change my work schedule to be off on those days, but that also means I'll have to work the rest of the days of the week and will have no days off for at least two or three months this fall. I think I can probably handle this, but I know I'm usually at my weakest when tired. It's when I'm tired that I most often give into temptations. I'm not trying to be pessimistic or negative in my thinking, but prepared. So, I've sort of mixed feelings about getting back in school.

Another turning point may be a little more spiritual in nature. I've given a lot of thought about stepping aside from a few of the leadership roles I've had at my church. I'm not yet convinced about doing this, but it's just something that's been on my mind for a while now. I get so frustrated with working on certain matters alongside some of the people at my church. I've found that when there is a conflict, I have trouble separating that from what should be the true purposes of church. I let the conflict consume me more than I should and cause me to have harsh feelings for what truly are really good people. I guess I hold a grudge. Because of that, I've seriously considered stepping aside. I've thought a lot about what church should be about and what my focus should be while there. Lately, I don't think I've been thinking of church in the right way. I've been thinking too heavily upon some of the conflicts and blocking out true worship of Jesus Christ among fellow saints. I've been thinking too negatively about the church. And so I know I either need to step aside, or figure out some other way of putting aside those negative feelings. Either choice is a hard decision to make. I've struggled some with knowing what God wants me to do about this. I feel like if I stay in the leadership roles I'm in, I'll be able to make a positive difference for a lot of people, but struggle to keep my focus on Jesus. But if I do step aside, I feel like I might feel closer to Christ and those in my church, but that I won't be able to do as much for others. So, there's my dilemma. I'm not sure which decision would bring about the most good. I just know I can't stay in this current state.

The last few weeks I have struggled a great deal with anger. Not just anger, but stress and worry as well. I've been bothered by things at church, at home, at work, and it's just all sort of overwhelmed me. I feel like there's no refuge or place I can get away. A friend at work recently told me that I'm one of those people who just bottles everything up and then finally explodes and goes off on everyone. I can see that in myself. I do tend to bottle up my emotions a great deal of the time. It's hard for me to let others know how I'm thinking or feeling. This blog has been an exercise for me in overcoming that. But I do tend to hold onto my emotions a great deal more than I should sometimes. I get frustrated with people who make dumb decisions and won't listen to any reasoning, and it angers me when their wrong decisions effect me in some negative consequence, or effects others in the same way. I find it so hard to give these sorts of feelings over to God, or to express them in healthy ways. When I get angry or frustrated or stressed, I tend to find myself not caring so much about what sins I commit. I begin to distance myself from God and others. I begin cussing like a sailor, which is something I really detest. I can't stand hearing that sort of talk from others, and it kills me how often I tend to just blurt out one of those little four-letter words without even thinking about it. I cringe practically every time I do. And I find myself giving into so many other things as well. It's just that I have a hard time working through my emotions. That's something I'm certainly going to be working more on. But in working through these things I'm hoping to improve my spiritual life some. I don't want to be holding any grudges and distancing myself from the church and those in it.

So, in short, I guess I could say that life is tough and sad and exciting and joyous and all the rest. I don't imagine that's a surprise to anyone reading. There are ups and downs to everything in this life. I guess the trick is to keep falling forward and to always place trust in God. I'm sure if I let Him, He'll lead me exactly where I'm supposed to go, and everything will work out as it should.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If It Makes Me Happy

Why is it that when I tell people I don't want to be gay, that I don't like who I am when I act on those feelings, that I become unhappy about my life and who I am when I do, that they insist I should do those things in order to be happy? Do they refuse to listen to me when I say that I'm not happy living like that? Does it anger them that I—heaven forbid—don't just follow the gay crowd and make all that is gay sound as glamorous and good as I possibly can? Whatever the reason, I wish those who continuously insist I should just accept myself as being a gay man and go out and find myself a boyfriend would realize that that's not what will make me happy. My nature keeps drawing me toward wanting to be with another man, but I've never found any happiness from pursuing those feelings or thoughts. I find myself miserable when I do that. But I find myself happiest when I put those thoughts to the side and strive to see myself in a different light, as God sees me. That being the case, why would anyone ever think that the way for me to be happy would be for me to do what makes me unhappy? The logic of that makes no sense to me. Is it a purely political response why you'd suggest that? Or is it something else?

Perhaps it bothers some people that I actually find happiness out of not accepting myself as gay. A couple of posts back, I mentioned how much better I've felt accepting Jesus more fully into my life, and letting Him take away some of those feelings I've had. And I have to say it's puzzled me by how many people seemed to misunderstand or reject the notion of that. Did you not understand what I was saying? I've found a companion in life who is everything good and loving that can ever be. That companion is Jesus. And since I've come to this realization, I've felt better than I have in years. Maybe better than I've ever felt. I feel like I belong to someone now and I am loved. Why would I ever want to go back to the way I felt before? What good would that do me?

I have felt good lately. I know I am loved. I know I belong. I know that it doesn't matter so much that I'm different in a lot of ways from most other guys. I know my best friend is walking alongside me, always leading me, nudging me, and helping me forward in life with each breath that I take. I have something good now.

I know I've tended to use this forum as a means of letting off steam. Maybe I shouldn't do that as often, or in the same way. In my last post, I voiced my frustration concerning my preacher. It did hurt me the way he treated me. But there again, I know I shouldn't have let it hurt me the way it did. I know this man cares about me. He'd have never offered to meet with me in the first place if he didn't. I know I just get frustrated about things a lot of the time. I don't understand how to relate to people. I don't understand their actions and responses sometimes. I have trouble knowing how to interpret them. Are they joking or are they being serious? Sometimes I can't tell. So I get frustrated, and mostly with myself. I get angry somewhat easily as well and I know I certainly overreact at times. I tend to be a glass is half full sort of person, and I tend to take everything personally. I know that none of that sort of thinking does me any good.

I know that I have so much to be positive about. I have so much to be thankful for. I have friends to spend time with. I have a family, and I know they love me. I have a church where I can make a difference and the Lord can use me for His own purposes. But the thing I'm most thankful for, most happy about, what makes me happy, is that I have Jesus in my life. I feel so much love and hope and joy and excitement, and all those bad feelings leave me whenever I just keep my focus on Him. I've felt so much at peace lately about who I am. And no matter what anybody else says, I know I'll be happiest following Jesus. He makes me happy. And He makes me a better person. He helps me resist temptations. He gives me patience and understanding. He calms me down and helps me to think better thoughts and to be more positive and hopeful in life.

Now let me explain something. I don't want anyone to think that I've found happiness by masturbating to the thought of Jesus or any other sort of nonsense like that. What I've been trying to say is that I feel like I belong to someone now. I feel like I have a partner in this life. I'm not alone. And with that being the case, why would I need a romantic relationship with anyone else? What would be the point? I can tell Jesus anything and know I can trust Him. I can always count on His love for me. I can always count on Him to comfort me and help me. I can spend any amount of time I want with Him. He never rejects me. He never pushes me away. He never abuses me. The most intimate relationship I've ever had with anyone is with Him. And if I'm crazy for feeling this way, well at least I'm happy in my craziness. I don't regret it. I can honestly say it's the best thing that's ever happened to me—to be crazy for Jesus.

And just one more thing, concerning this blog. The purpose of this blog is not to tear people down, or anything else like that. I write this blog, mostly, to help me process some of my thoughts or feelings. I write this blog to help me keep from bottling everything up. But I also write it because I want other people who share in similar struggles to know that they're not alone. I want other people to have a place where they can find community, understanding, and reassurance of God's love for them. And now I'll ask, is that really such a bad thing? Is it a bad thing if people find something good out of this blog that helps them to live a better life? And is it wrong for me to find happiness in following Christ and letting Him take control of my life? I don't think so.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I don't understand people sometimes. I'd felt really great for a few weeks now, and yet, for some reason, this week everything has just went to crap. It's just in everyone's attitudes. People at work, at church, at home, everywhere I've went and everyone I've been around just seems to have this snotty attitude. I'll admit maybe it's just me, I don't know. Surely not everyone is being this way.

I was hurt yesterday though. I'd called my preacher and asked if he would meet with me for a few minutes at our church, because there were a few things I just needed some advice about. Most importantly, a teen in our congregation had come to me and asked for help because he thinks he's gay. I wanted to talk to my preacher in person and explain the situation to him and see if he'd be willing to help me. Well, when I got to the church, my preacher couldn't have been anymore rude and hateful toward me than he was. I've never had anyone at church talk down to me like he did. And what it came down to is that he wanted to talk out on the front porch of the church, and I just mentioned that I'd prefer talking inside because I didn't want to take the risk of anyone hearing our conversation. After I said that, he just got completely... well I'd say hostile/angry about it, and for what reason I don't know. I was honestly just sort of in shock about it, because it made no sense for him to act like that. I didn't believe I had asked anything too unreasonable of him. But the way he acted, I just thought maybe I'd done something wrong. But when we finally did go inside—him mouthing about it—and begin talking, he seemed to relax somewhat when I explained to him why I'd asked him to meet me there. Turns out he already knew about the situation—the kid had already asked several others for help apparently, and was probably, but not certainly, only doing this to get attention. But it just seemed as though my preacher just almost wanted to pick a fight with me. I honestly don't know how to explain it. I was dumbfounded by the way he treated me.

That was the last time I ever intend to talk to him in private. I've tried to before—the last time being about a year ago—and every time he treats me in this fashion. This time was the worst though. And I don't understand it. I only wanted advice on how to help someone, and he just acted as though it was a big bother that I'd asked him to meet with me. Like I said, it was the last time I'll ever talk to him on a personal level like that. He's made it more than clear that he doesn't like me, and that he isn't concerned about anything related to me. After he spoke to me the way he did, I just asked him if he didn't like me. He acted as though he couldn't understand why I'd ask him that and then told me that he did. But I don't believe him. His actions speak louder than words. And I don't feel like I can trust him.

I'm saddened by this whole situation. I just don't understand why people have to act this way. What did I ever do to him, or not do, that would make him act like that toward me? I just don't understand it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You're All I've Ever Wanted

Me: (Curious and hopeful) Jesus, do you love me?

Jesus: You know that I love you. I died for you, accepting a punishment you were meant to receive, all because of my love for you.

Me: But do you accept me? Do you really want to know me, or spend time with me? Seems sometimes like no one else does. And I'm afraid of what they think of me.

Jesus: When I received your punishment, I did that so we could spend all eternity with each other. Yes, Brandon, I want to know you. I want to be your best friend. I love you beyond words. As for others, don't worry so much about what they think.

Me: (Humbled, broken, crying, happy) Will you always be with me? Even when everything is so terrible and I can't seem to find you, and there's no one else?

Jesus: I'll always be with you. I'll never abandon you.

Me: (Hesitant) Sometimes... I just really do feel as though I'm not as good as other guys, like I'm not good enough. I feel so inadequate compared to them. I think that's one reason why I'm drawn to them. And I just feel so lonely so much of the time. People have told me you'll satisfy those feelings in me, but I'm not sure how you can do that. I'm not sure I can trust you to do that.

Jesus: I'll fill your heart, Brandon. I'll fill your spirit so full of hope and love and warmth that all those feelings of inadequacies and loneliness will fade away and become just a distant memory. But you'll have to trust you. I've never led you astray before, have I?

Me: No. But what about my past?

Jesus: I don't remember your past. Those things you did have been forgotten. And as for those hurts, I was always with you through those times, helping you through them. Even when you didn't think that I was. But it's not your past that I'm interested in. It's your future. I want you to be mine, and I want you to have a life and a future more glorious than you could ever imagine.

I know you want acceptance. I accept you, Brandon, with arms wide open. I love you eternally. Will you accept me and love me in the same way? Will you trust me? Will you be faithful to me, and give your life and everything about you to me, as I have given to you?

In one of my more recent posts I described what I wanted from another man. I want a man who will love me. I want a man who will accept me and want to spend time with me. I want a man who will take care of me, and who'll never leave me. I want a man who will help me and comfort me in all situations.

It occurred to me the other day that I already have a man like that in my life. Jesus loves me, unconditionally. He loves me so much He died for me, accepting a punishment upon Himself that only I should rightfully deserve. He accepts me as His own. He likes me for me. He wants to spend time with me—all eternity! He takes care of me in all situations. When I'm feeling bad or lonely He comforts me. When I need help He helps me. He's always there for me.

I think about times when I'm lonely. All I have to do is think of Jesus and I can feel His presence. I can feel Him sitting by my side, with His arm around my shoulder holding me near to Him. Days when I feel so far removed from other guys, when I just feel desperate for a hug or some sign of male affirmation, He is always the one who no matter what, comes to me and lets me know I belong. He tells me I'm good enough, that I'm not some sort of freak. He tells me that just because I'm not like other guys in some regards doesn't mean I'm something bad or that something's wrong with me. It just means I'm unique in my own ways, and He loves me regardless of those things. He accepts me. Those things don't turn Him away from me the way they have and sometimes do with other guys.

And I know that any tears in my eyes Jesus wipes away. There are times when I feel so low, when the whole world seems so heavy upon my shoulders, when I've cried until I can't cry anymore and feel so hopeless and empty inside, and Jesus always is the one who helps bring me out of that. He's always the one, who through His love for me, draws me out of those wretched places. He fills my heart and my soul with so much warmth and joy. It can actually make me feel giddy sometimes.

Jesus can provide everything I've ever wanted. He's the best companion I could ever hope to have. He loves me. He wants to spend time with me. When I'm lonely, I can talk with him, and He'll put his arm around my shoulder and hug me. He takes care of me and helps me through the difficult times. I don't need anyone else but Him. I only want Him. I realize no other man could ever possibly compare to Him. No other man could ever love me as much, or care for me as much, or do so much for me as He has.

These are new thoughts for me. I've often said some of these things before, but never because of this line of thinking or with having these sorts of feelings. I've spent years looking and hoping and searching for another man who'll love me. I've wanted so desperately to be held and to be taken care of. I've wanted a partner or companion with whom to share my life with. I've struggled terribly because I felt like I couldn't have that. And yet it's occurred to me that I could have had that all along. Jesus can be all that I've ever wanted. He can satisfy all of those desires.

My preacher in one of his latest sermons began talking about Adam and Eve and how the serpent had lied to Eve and confused her about God's commandments. While he was talking, I suddenly felt such a moment of great clarity. What if Eve was me and the forbidden fruit was a sexual relationship with another man? What if the serpent had said, “Surely there can be nothing wrong about that? Surely God is just withholding something good from you? Surely you will not suffer any negative consequences if you do that? Surely your love would make it okay? And then you'll know love as God knows love.”

I feel like I've been confused. I feel like somebody pulled the wool over my eyes and blinded me. All these years I've listened to the lies of Satan. I've listened to him tell me how great a thing a relationship with another guy can be, and how the Bible may not really say what so many claim it says. I've listened to him as He's accused God of being unfair to me and uncaring. I've believed those lies about myself—that I wasn't good enough, that I was different, that I was unlovable and that nobody cared about me. I let him convince me to be with another man. And then after all the negative consequences of that, I still listened and believed him when he told me I just had a bad experience and all I needed to do was find another man and that things would be better a second time around (or a third or a fourth or a fifth time). Well, I'm done with those lies. I don't need another man. I don't want another man. All I want is Jesus. I only want Him in my life. I only want what He tells me is good and true and worthwhile. And all the rest can just be thrown out with the trash. I'm done thinking of myself as a homosexual. I'm not going to think of myself in anyway regarding my sexuality. I'm a male, created in God's image, a beloved follower of His, a Christian, and that's that. Whatever I'm tempted to do sexually is not going to rule my life any longer.

And therein is a whole new struggle for myself. Actually, same struggle, but new outlook on it. If I'm going to commit myself to Christ, if He is going to be the only man in my life, then all the pornography, sexual activity, etc., has got to go and come to an end. Jesus asks no more from me in that regard than any other man would. So, if I'm going to be committed to Him, if I'm going to belong to Him, I can't very well be looking at other guys or doing things selfishly with my body. So those things will have to stop.

In a way, I could say that I'm married now, and Jesus is my husband. He may not physically be with me, but spiritually and emotionally He certainly is. He's in my heart. I love Him and I want to be completely committed to Him—only to Him. Like a woman waiting for her husband to come back from a distant land, I'm waiting patiently for Christ, my true love, to return for me someday. And I want to remain faithful to Him in all ways until that time.

I feel like I have what I've always wanted now.

Me: Jesus, thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for wanting me. Thank you for absolutely everything. You're the best friend, the greatest love I could ever hope to have. You're everything I've ever wanted, and so much more than that.