Love Defined. (April 2017)

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“Love Defined” is an intermittent series of writings that reflect the way “love” continuously gets redefined in my life over the course of my experiences over time. My goal is to have a record of the way love matures and manifests itself in action as I continually give it and practice it in my life.

Love Defined in April 2017:

Love is an continuous act of respecting a person’s decision to reject you — though I fail at honoring this about twice a week, I am learning that love and respect are so interconnected and need to co-exist. I used to think that “lack of communication” is the downfall of many relationships, but I now believe that underlying the communication is the level of respect two people have for each other. When that respect is lost, then even good communication won’t really matter. I have to come to terms is that what was being lost over time unbeknownst to me was mutual respect – of each other’s time, of each other’s commitments, of each other’s needs. This lack is probably why I still find myself wanting to keep in contact despite knowing better. This next month, the goal is to fully and truly honor the decision of the rejection, continually choosing to respect space that was desired.

Love is the coming to terms with what love looks like now — have you ever wondered how much suffering you’re able to take on simply because you love someone else? It’s astounding how much bandwidth I have for “punishment” and “pain” because of how much “love equity” I possess with someone. I think the breakup process is the gradual exhausting of that love tank, so that you’re able to actually objectively observe the condition of the relationship, and make better decisions about your own health. I absolutely hate having to “demote” someone who no longer wants my heart from the position of “significant other” to “just-as-significant-as-the-rest-of-my-friends.” As someone who has committed the past three years of his life to voraciously communicating edifying, uplifting words to others, to actually say beautiful things that I have in my heart to tell them that I see in them, it really really sucks that the relationship is no longer in a place where they can receive it in the way I want to express it. But that’s where it is now – they have chosen to lower their level of significance in my life and therefore it’s no longer appropriate to affirm who they are to me at that level. The only encouragement for me is knowing that God can actually take over and surround that person with even better words and encouragement and life that I could only dream of saying. In fact, I know that’s the conversation God has always been having, and knowing that, I am glad and more able to step away.

Love is a truth-teller that is not concerned with making you feel better — A breakup is when you decide someone isn’t worth your time anymore. That they are no longer worth fighting for. That the value of your life increases when they are removed from it. That you believe in a future where you are happier without them than you are with them, and you want to invest in that future. That’s the subtext behind the action. That’s why it hurts – it’s a rejection that has evidence. They tried you out and decided that in the long term you were not for them. But love is always revealing truth, and that truth does provide the necessary perspective to focus on health and wisdom. And the truth is that I will never know what is in her heart, and it will never be shared or made known to me. That evidence is clear. The wisdom, however, I am gaining from this process become the guideposts that will help position me better for when love for someone else arouses in me again eventually.

Love Defined. (March 2017)

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“Love Defined” is an intermittent series of writings that reflect the way “love” continuously gets redefined in my life over the course of my experiences over time. My goal is to have a record of the way love matures and manifests itself in action as I continually give it and practice it in my life.

Love Defined in March 2017:

Love is not found in the strength of its grip but in the tenderness of its release — of my role as a pursuer, stepping down as the warrior determined to win her love, setting down my weapons of words, setting aside my climbing gear that I’ve used to scale the walls surrounding her heart. It is a submission to respect her desire, her wish.

Love is an offering — of my role as her future partner, a stepping aside, making that position available, trusting that the next person will far surpass the standard I’ve set, exceed expectations, who will deliver an authentic love that resonates from deeply within him that her soul will respond to naturally.

Love is a submission of authorship — the origin story of our relationship made me prideful. I gloated and bragged about how I pursued her, how I asked her out, that while God was clearly in the beginning of the story, in control over its authorship, over time I kept wanting the pen; I wanted to keep writing the words. I wanted to be the director of the story… the re-director. The truth is that God saw the relationship coming to the end, and similar to the tragic outcome of so many great TV shows that suffer from far too many seasons, running too long and becoming more and more irrelevant, I wound up diluting the poignancy and depth of the relationship by adding in too many chapters. Rather than the passionate short story it was supposed to be, it instead became a strung out relationship story of faded, fraying worth.

Love is a transition done well — viewing the relationship ending as a transition, not as one person quitting. The truth is that the relationship was over months before the actual breakup, and recently, as I have taken in and  re-read books and plays that are dear to her, and as more time goes on, the more I’m hearing confirmation of the death of the relationship, rather than a temporary season that will eventually end with us getting back together. Paulo Coelho said, “anyone who’s lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.” I am equally afraid of facing the feelings of rejection and abandonment as I am the feeling of guilt from moving on… but love is letting someone win without you rather than letting them lose with you. Love as a transition means that we are released to become more as individuals than we would ever be as a couple. She is free to transition from a relationship with me into her thriving future as a storyteller; I am released to transition into a man of character and into a person who can experience the greatest season of growth that will become the bedrock of my future. And if, along the way, we encounter our respective lifelong partners, then we have ultimately loved each other well by transitioning well.

Love is not the reward of doing the right thing — I am proud of how I have loved. While it may not have won me the heart of the actual person I was loving, I do believe that it was all worth it, and I got to practice loving someone humanely with patience and quiet strength. I have discovered the way I want to love someone in the eyes of my peers and in the eyes of God. I am not ashamed of the light that surrounded my decisions. I am not less of a man because I honored her “no.” Doing the right thing regardless of the outcome is the essence of love. Acting in love is a scarce resource that is produced so little by the people in this world, and it is a rare force that many fear, especially when it is misunderstood. Love is not a tool that draws attention to a cause… Love must be the cause.

Listen.

“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us… to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
— Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk

I am by far having one of the hardest years of my life. And it’s only February.

The battle is mental, spiritual. I’m desperate to hear God’s voice, and I find myself teetering on the edge of wanting to end it all… I’ve never cried so many tears nor have I ever spent so much time on my knees at the edge of my bed praying, face flat into the pillow, asking God to show up, taking a break to look up at my phone to switch between social media and Google searches for for affordable therapists, then back to prayer.

It’s been chaotic in my soul, to say the least.

One thing I can appreciate, though, is the battle. I’ve never fought so hard for anything before. There’s something to be revealed in me through the way I have been clawing and clamoring, demanding answers from God, petitioning for peace within my soul, asking God to fulfill my need to feel loved, to matter…

Slowly I can feel myself discovering my worth. Discovering what God is up to with my story, and the character I’m supposed to be in other people’s stories. I never seem to run out of encouragement for others, especially toward my girlfriend. The real battle is for me to encourage myself, though. And sometimes that looks like me just needing to shut up and listen.

It’s not always clear to me when God speaks. I feel like I do most of the talking. And I find that I don’t have much patience for dead space. But maybe that’s exactly what I need to get used to — often in my boredom I desire to just fill up my space with tons of nonsense and distractions. I haven’t really learned the discipline to be still and listen. Even when God doesn’t speak.

The truth is I’ve been spending more time with God than I ever have, and I’m always convicted that it’s only during times of extreme duress like this. It’s pretty crazy to think that God feels so much unrequited, jilted love from so many of His creation. And how often I ditch him when things start to get better. I never truly include Him in my life – He’s only my center when  I cry out and let Him drive,  when everything spirals out of control as a result of me trying to steer my own life.

So I am just trying to listen more… to pay attention, to train myself to be alert at all times, to be ready for when the moment God does speak, I’ll be aware. Until then, I am starting to understand that there is no immediate rescue plan, that maybe God wants me in this turmoil a little longer, to make me a little stronger, and if I continue in that perspective I can’t help but be grateful.

Maybe an answer won’t come, maybe a great revelation or audible voice won’t dawn on me. Maybe God is just enjoying that I’m near and responsive to Him again. And truthfully, even when there is no answer, I do feel loved. And that’s the proof of God’s presence, after all.

Why Trust Matters.

“We expend so much energy, watching, calculating, trying to predict, reading signals in people, ready for anything to change suddenly, preparing to be disappointed. So much energy spent.

“We talk about trust as something you build, as if it is a structure or thing. but in that building there seems to be something about letting go. and what it affords us is a luxury. it allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won’t catch us if we fall, to stop scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how people act when not in our presence. it allows us to relax a part of our minds, so it can focus on what is in front of us.”

Hope and Space.

“Something changes in the universe when you confess, admit, and declare truth. It seems that when you speak it out, truth is invited in.”
– Jamie George, Love Well

I’m a broken man… I want to acknowledge this. To you.

I know that I can vein vulnerability pretty well, I know that I can essentially hide the things that really bother me and divert the cause to something more menial.

But I know you’re more wise and keen than that.

So I want to own up. I want to share. I can’t heal what I can’t acknowledge. And I want to do this because I want to restore my hope in us again. I want to return to the place of beautiful, mutual vulnerability, and make those moments the cornerstones of what we are building together.

I want a relationship that is thriving, healthy, authentic, unstuck. One where we have access to each other without feeling like we have over-extended, where we are each getting what we are putting in. One that is brimming with hope, wonder, excitement, butterflies; one where guilt is put into perspective and is dealt with swiftly; one where even the simplest and faintest of communication is teeming with life-giving, game-changing love.

I want to believe that we can create that. I want to have hope again. I want to cling onto that hope and grip tightly until my knuckles are white.

This month I’ve found myself growing more numb. It started when I started sensing distance from you during the trip and couldn’t put my finger on it. And there was no space to acknowledge or talk about it. We have talked since, and while we have moved past it, truthfully I have to admit that even after much reflection, I still cannot pinpoint where I miscommunicated my gratitude for you on the trip. I would very much like to know this, I want to grow, I want to learn. I need help discovering where that was so I have the wisdom and awareness to deal with it.

Through that experience and later on in the month, I have started to feel in my soul that I had started to withdraw and change up my values to feel less pain. My speech and texts were cold. I realize that the danger in numbing myself was making me miss and appreciate the moments that you did give me, ones that were plainly you making the effort and giving your all. But I had numbed myself to the point where I couldn’t even acknowledge the sacrifices you were making. I was only concerned and focused on the sacrifices that I was making. I was glorifying my own efforts in my own thoughts, I was stoking my own ego, and I was taking back affirmation that I felt I was being denied. I know that these are huge unattractive qualities and I know how allergic you are to ego. And I see it developing in my life. I am acknowledging it’s presence, confirming it’s ugliness, and understanding the distance it can cause. I want it gone, and the way to get it out is to bring it to light and hit it with Truth.

I want to be clear and honest — my encouragement to you is real, it is authentic. It is the version of me that I am choosing in faith and doing the work so that I can believe it with my feelings too. And believe me, whenever I have told you that I have prayed for you, I did it. Every time.

I am also sorry that I have plagued our conversations with frameworks around “love languages” that clearly are not helping the conversation, nor do I feel that they apply to our communication. I want to apologize for this and say sorry for trying to put our uniqueness in a box and for continuing to try to explain us in that context. I want to tell you that I’m rejecting that attempt and I will simply just “be” and pay more attention to your sacrifices, your efforts. I no longer want to be blind to them and so affixed on my needs and the way I need to feel loved. We are unique individuals with our own method and brand of love and communication, and I need to pay more attention to you and discover the value in the way you communicate with me on my own.

I want to acknowledge that I have been sensing distance… avoidance, even.. I want to acknowledge this and create a space to talk about that. I’ve noticed that it’s tricky to schedule face-to-face time with you. I am wondering if it’s because of a fear of what is on my mind or what I want to discuss. The truth is that I’m just at a point where I just want to have a relationship, and I don’t care if we talk about us at all — I just want to “be” with you. I know you are hustling, making it work, and I have been respecting your time as best as I could. I will say though that not spending time with you is creating more numbness about our whole situation, and I find myself losing hope.

I do not want to lose hope. I do not want to go numb.

I want life. I want relationship. I want communication. I want fun. I want to be myself and fight for hope in us again. I want to fight. I want to be battle ready for the other hardships that will come. I want to talk. I want us to fight because that vulnerability is the soil where connection blooms. I want my girlfriend. I want to be real. I want Truth to be invited back into our space….

Space.

Space… huh. (please wait while brain switches gears…. *krrrrzzztt*)

In experiencing the love of God more intensely this week alone, I am now understanding that I do not love you well. We don’t love each other well. I am constantly trying to throw my words and support at you as if to goad you into loving me the way I want to, and getting frustrated when it doesn’t work. You withdraw from the pressure and feeling  inadequacy. Until this moment I have lived in denial — denying that perhaps you too are in just as much pain, but in a different way. We’re both sensing that something isn’t right, that there is a disconnection. And maybe space gives us time to recollect ourselves. It worked for you toward me, it allowed you to forgive me, the only issue was that I did not know that that was going on at the time when we were having space and I didn’t get a chance to utilize it simultaneously.

But I do see the value in it.

“Harassed by life, exhausted, we look about us for somewhere to be quiet, to be genuine, a place of refreshment. We yearn to restore our spirits in God.”
– Hars Urs von Balthasar

I’ve been a coward this whole time..  deep within me there is a deep fear of disappointing you, of not being enough too, of disapproval. of not speaking up about how I really feel whenever things change or plans fall through. the facade that keeps me from being real. the fear of losing you.

But if in the end if I lose you, there is a faithful God – He is good. He has a beautiful, full future for both of us.

Regardless, in the same way that spaces in this sentence allows room for understanding, maybe I need to give my soul some space to grow up and appreciate you for who you really are, what you really do for me. The way you cause me to grow. The way you make me see how Beautiful God can be. I want to know your thoughts on this.

On Tuesday I want to celebrate what we have done right. And I wanted to give us space after the celebration. I want to practice how to actively wait. How to reset and be okay. How to miss you properly without injecting guilt. How it feels to limit access to you and get my life together. I see you are already getting yours together, and I have much to learn.

I would love this to be our launching off point when we talk. OR we can just be and celebrate. Either way, I have something for you.

Choosing you always,

Joseph

Boldness. Forgiveness. Gratitude.

Those are the areas of focus that I have been working on in my life since the beginning of 2014. It’s been a crazy half of a year so far, and in these past two months I have been growing and stretching in some of the most excruciating ways that have demanded so much of my character to get chiseled in this painful, slow process.

If the same situation happens to you a dozen and one times, it gets pretty safe to assume that the situation happens because of you – that you’re the problem.

Or rather, I’m the problem.

I have to embrace and confront the possibility that perhaps I am the reason that I am unloved. I am the reason why I don’t get chosen. I’m the reason why things don’t work out. My undeveloped character informs the poor decisions I make that drive others away, that drive the relationships I’ve had away from me and into the arms of others.

I have to accept the fact that the brand of love I have to give just doesn’t interest most people, and I can’t be bitter at them for not choosing me. Sometimes people prefer other flavors. And at the very least I should be thankful that they gave me a try.

I have to realize that the “hope” I hold out for in my head and my heart, the hope that one day they would realize how wonderful I am or whatever… that it isn’t hope at all – it’s bitterness. It’s unforgiveness. It’s actually a desire to get back at them. It’s a desire to get the last laugh by fantasizing that they would come back and apologize. And it’s disgusting that I let myself even think of people who hurt me that way.

It doesn’t surprise me that my current love interest has set her eyes on someone else. In my life, it’s happened to me ever since the 9th grade. And I grew so heavy from the numerous times it has happened, and all the bitterness and unforgiveness I held onto. I grew very heavy. My heart is currently heavy. I’ve realized what happens is each time I have gone through something like this, I find myself letting go eventually. But I’ve never actually walked away from the place where I left it – it’s just something I’ve never done yet. And I need to. Because every time it happens again, I find myself picking back up every burden that I’ve let go of from my past, and I get heavier and heavier because I’ve never actually moved on. I need to not only let go, but I need to let go and move on.

And now I have to actually let the process of moving on do its complete work of changing my character. I no longer want to be bitter. I no longer want to imagine a situation where I desire power over someone because the person they left me for broke their heart. I want to be the kind of man who prays blessings onto the relationships of those I care about, and that includes who they are with now. I no longer want bitterness to remain in my heart, nor do I want to allow it to masquerade as “being hopeful.”

I want to be a person who has forgiven, who has forgiven myself, and who hopes truly for a future where the both of us are truly happy. I remember telling her that all I wanted for her was for her to be happy, even if it meant finding that with someone who isn’t me. I said that thinking that would never happen, but now that it is a reality, I want to truly believe it and mean it with all my heart.

Love has to do what it must. It has to do what is right. It has to do what is healthy. Love must rejoice in what is good, what is beautiful, what is true, and I no longer want to accept anything less than those ideals in my life and in my relationships.

I truly have to commend her for having the courage to do what I couldn’t do – stop talking to each other, because our conversations were the source of my pain. I have to realize that what she did must have been difficult and hard, and I as the man should’ve been the one to commit to it, but I didn’t. She did. Maybe it was easier because she had someone else she was interested in to talk to. Perhaps. But that’s irrelevant when it comes to my healing, my journey, and my quest to restore my heart back to a place where it can love again.

The miracle is finding someone who you can give all your love to, and not have to worry about not getting all of someone else’s love in return. We settle for less all the time in arenas where we should endeavor to deserve someone’s best. I have to accept that the energy that I am willing to give and pour and invest into someone… that sometimes, you could be pouring into someone who is just simply less willing to do the same. And it’s okay. We just have to keep going until we find someone who does.

Overall I am proud of myself for how I handled this relationship. I got really close to being the kind of man I wanted to be for someone. Even in our rocky beginnings, I was proud of the person I was. It was in the pursuit of her love that I learned that it was within my grasp to be kind, to be generous, to be giving, to be attentive, to be understanding, to be patient, to be a good human being. That whenever a relationship fell apart, this time I chose not to self-destruct. This was the only time that I ran straight to God when my soul started to break, and I can be proud that I made that choice.

It’s time for me to move on, to learn, to be happy for her, to be kind to others, to pray blessing on their budding relationship, and to mean those prayers each day I mutter them. It’s time for me to never tire of doing what is good, what is right, and to start trusting that there, too, is a hope, a love, and someone out there for me too. I have to keep pursuing. I have to keep growing. I have to keep forgiving. I have to keep being grateful. And I have to keep being bold.

Stillness and Pursuit

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself through just one relationship.

By engaging in this one relationship, I have experienced every emotion, and have begun to discover the capacity of my soul to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hope and despair.

And I have treasured every second of it, and have begun to embrace the fullest measure of all that I have experienced so far.

The biggest lesson I have been learning is the stillness of pursuit. There is a constant ebb and flow that happens; a push and pull. This woman has been in my life for almost a year now, and we have gone from strangers to friends, friends to best friends, best friends to friends that have confessed their feelings, friends that have confessed their feelings to friends who are unsure, friends who are unsure to friends that are estranged, and friends that are estranged to friends who have grown and reconciled, and finally friends who have grown and reconciled to friends that have a uniquely complicated relationship that is no longer easy to define.

Through every stage, I have had to battle with issues that have been deeply rooted in me ever since I started dating. I was a timid kid. Somewhat shy, comfortable in his own skin but very insecure overall. And I haven’t been in the best relationships either. Looking back my timidity had been mistranslated into cowardice, and sometimes it was. Looking back my desire to spend time with her had been translated as jealousy or too persistent, and sometimes it was.

But after meeting this woman, I embarked on this journey that would forever change me. It was a relationship that I stepped into that finally challenged me to be the man I always wanted to be. It made me want to finally fight for someone. It made me want to pursue.

For almost a year it’s been a constant struggle for me to continue to fight. It took me six months to finally muster the courage to ask her out, after spending all this time voluntarily in the friend zone. I was comfortable as her friend, but I was also miserable, watching her enter into a relationship and watching myself do absolutely nothing about it, even though I knew I was better. I watched myself grow sad, I allowed the situation to defeat me, and I let that circumstance erode my self-esteem. But it also made me treasure the friendship we had. And it helped me practice the art of gratitude over bitterness. One thing I learned from the experience is that you can still practice kindness even when things don’t go your way. That even if you don’t get the girl, you can still endeavor to be the man you always wanted to be. That you can still choose to be a force of love and good, even when you get nothing in return. In my past I was a very jealous, bitter, spiteful person, and it brought me comfort to know that I could still choose love, even when it felt like love would never choose me. That I could do it for a woman I loved even if she never wanted to move into romance.

I was halfway across the world when she told me that relationship ended. I wanted to hug her but I was as far away as one could possibly be. We continued to talk, and when she went overseas herself, our relationship started a blossoming process that grew into something more than friends. We began to flirt, she wanted to tell me everything that was happening there, I re-arranged my sleep schedule to be awake when she was. Even though we were on opposite sides of the world, I never felt closer to her. Then we had a conversation that challenged me even more. And I made a decision to ask her out when she came back.

One thing to keep in mind about this whole relationship, by the way, is that our timing is terrible. Like, it’s laughably, outrageously bad. It’s one of the things we joke about. In any case, I was so nervous about a week before she would arrive back home. I drafted this whole spiel of what to say, how much she meant to me, the adventure I would like to live out with her, and it hit her like a ton of bricks… both in a good way and a bad way. It was good because I finally got tell a woman I loved how I felt, and even more so that she shared the same feelings about me. The bad news was, well, the timing. She needed space, she was depleted from the trip, exhausted from a battle she constantly fights, and this confession was just too overwhelming. And after about two months of me pursuing more and her not having a clear response to give back, things just subsided.

Here is where the real learning started to begin. The real, hard-hitting, heart-wrenching lessons that I have had the displeasure of going through. I found myself waning in my previously unconditional type of love. The constant force of good I was so intentional about creating and exuding in her life was starting to turn more selfish, darker, more possessive. All of a sudden, the struggle to keep bitterness at bay became an all-out war inside me, as if there was a dam of it that I had no idea was piling up and growing and starting to spill over the walls. I found myself overwhelmed, and I finally discovered the limits of my seemingly infinite amount of patience that I once had. The struggle became real. I started to feel so, so lonely. So depressed. I started to lose my faith. I started to lose hope. I started to lose sight of the idea of love. The things I once proudly championed were starting to feel like false truths that I had no idea why I believed it in the first place. It was a dark and dangerous place to be. I started to say things out of frustration and loneliness that eventually just drained her. Our conversations that were once productive started to just go into circles and find no resolution. The closeness we once had started to drift. And I was painfully aware of it happening and felt powerless to stop it. I felt out of control of my own actions and wreaking havoc upon a relationship that I so desperately wanted to keep intact. That my grip on what I wanted was so tight that it was constricting the life of the one I only wanted to give myself to. That my jealousy wasn’t flattering but smothering. And it was painful to release her in the end…

I say all this not so you could feel bad for me, but to understand the process of what I have been going through. Like I said in the beginning, this relationship has challenged me, stretched me, and grew me in ways I never thought possible. It’s for that reason that this relationship still means so much to me, because it has made me painfully aware of my limitations and how much more growing I need to do. It made me realize how unprepared and not ready I am to be entrusted with a heart. At least not right now.

I’ve learned how much I desire control. I’ve learned how much not getting what I want upsets me. I’ve learned that sometimes I say things because it sounds like I care about their happiness, but really I say it to be manipulative and get someone to be what I want them to be before they’re ready to be it. I’ve been truly learning how to remain still and letting the moment be enough. To let the process do its work in me, to mature me, because what I’m learning in these moments are crucial elements being forged inside of me to help me retain the relationship that it will eventually be. That I am just not ready for that kind of caliber of a relationship. That I can’t just throw a tantrum and be passive aggressive when I don’t get what I want. That I need to cultivate even more patience and more forgiveness and more gratitude because the kind of relationship I want to have requires that I go through this process.

I am learning that to pursue with my love is sometimes to be still. That perhaps the timing is so wrong because I’m rushing things out of excitement and immaturity. That there is virtue in giving space, and there is no rush. After all, in the grand scheme of things, even a couple of years of being alone and never hanging out is worth it if it creates a lifetime together with each other. That love, perseverance, and kindness wins if you give it a chance to blossom in your life. That confidence and masculinity is vulnerability, and wisdom is knowing when to be that way. That growth is learning to bear the weight of the consequences of your mistakes, and letting that texture and shape your character. That  when you choose to persevere through unimaginably, unbearably difficult moments, you start to acquire all the skills you need to nurture the relationship that you will one day be entrusted to nourish and put effort into. That you can love someone by being still. You can pursue with prayer, and you can pursue with patience. You start to realize the loneliness of not being chosen, but then that leaves your soul with the realization that God has chosen you. You start to realize that when God is all you have left, He becomes everything you have ever needed.

So, the ride isn’t over. There is still so much to go through, so many decisions to make, so much to keep persevering through. So much to learn. So much to grieve about, and so much to feel joy about. I’ve already gone this far, and I have already been challenged by so many situations, and as many as I have failed, I have succeeded in many. I keep asking God to take this all away, and all He says to me is, “I’m here.” I have been victorious in battles I never thought I’d win, and I have lost battles I thought were in the bag. But I want my life to be an example of what it means to persevere, not because there is a girl at the end, but because it shows the power of what love can do. I want to overcome not so my life has a good ending and I get the girl, but because the world needs to know that love can win and it must win. And I will never stop pursuing this goal to have love win, even if it means I have to be still for a very long time.