Two Years, Too Far From Colorado

Two Years, Too Far From Colorado

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

May 24, 2015

Two years have passed since I joined a few hundred other college students at a Christian leadership program in Colorado.

While I have plenty of disappointment I could air about the program, I want to focus on the positives I have cherished. Such a positive moment can be seen in the photo of myself and a few other colleagues on top of Teddy’s Teeth, a small peak we climbed on our first weekend in Estes Park, Co.

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I’m standing with my colleagues atop the peak of Teddy’s Teeth outside Estes Park, Co.

A friend is another good thing I gained from my three months out in the Colorado Rockies. I became good friends with one guy I roomed with in our lodge. We spent a lot of time talking about a few issues we struggle with as young Christian men in our room, outside in the clean Rocky Mountain air, or over a cup of coffee in the guest lodge area. As with all relationships in life, we did scrap through a few petty conflicts, but we sustained our friendship. Ultimately, we gave and received from one another on our way to healthy spiritual growth.

Since returning to Ohio, our friendship has changed in many ways. First, our college life drew us farther apart. He had many duties, from acting as a residence adviser in a freshman dorm to leading a student Bible study. I continued living in a dorm across campus from him and fulfilled my own responsibilities during what was my senior year. We met up two times that school year, but, when we met up, it was very much like our supportive guy talk at the YMCA of the Rockies. Today, it’s been a year since I graduated college. He still has one final year of college, and he is transitioning into going on-staff with the college ministry there. So I think we’re both learning how to adapt to the changes in our lives to continue our good-lasting friendship.

Another thing I did gain was realizing a new way I have found to connect with God — through nature. In Colorado, I experienced a reflection of God through nature in ways I never had before. I viewed picturesque backdrops of the Rockies overlooking calm meadows of wild grass, pristine layouts of the lush green foliage in league with the terrain, and clear skies in which I often saw the entire star-lit night. All of these scenes were great to see but just a reminder of the awesome Creator who made them. Today, in Ohio, I can find beauty on a rainy, gloomy day or on a pleasant warm day on the bike trail near my hometown and be thankful for God that he ‘laid the foundations of the world’.

Writer’s Block

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Writer’s Block

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

May 7, 2015

I’m two weeks too late. I know. I’m sorry. Now I can share why I took two months from writing my novel.

My past March is part of the reason for the long break. Several episodes of hurtful memories from high school and, most recently, my final two years in college also led to my writer’s block. Ironically some of those memories are part of my reason for the novel.

I guess I’ve found out the hard way how authors can hurt themselves when they put so much of themselves into their stories. Here is a list of general subjects my story’s characters will deal with:

Insecurity with body image

Interracial relationships

Bullying

Prejudice

All of the issues stated above are as much important to my characters as much as they are to me. The way the story tells of the character’s hardships are based on my personal experiences. Now that I’ve found it hard dealing with my own real-life memories of the past, I will most definitely modify some of my character’s experiences. The trick is preserving my author’s licence of evoking a conversation on the difficult issues above that millions of people face each day.

Furthermore, I want to share about some other issues I’ve been dealing with in writing this story:

Eleanor

Eleanor is the main love interest of Arlan, who is another main character in my novel. They will have a future together.

The hardest thing has been creating Eleanor. Actually, the truth is creating Eleanor was easy. I just based her off of several people I’ve encountered in real life. The most difficult thing has been molding her into a person without her becoming a facsimile. (I’m pretty sure several real people I’ve based the character on would not approve of such a fantasy.)

To ensure that I didn’t simply copy a real person, I gave Eleanor some unique characteristics. The most obvious is that she is half Japanese and Russian with an average body type. Another difference is that she plays the tenor and soprano saxophones, even though she was classically trained to play the flute and clarinet for orchestral compositions. I also made her relatively reserved and diffident but very mature for her age, in contrast to a few outgoing people I encountered.

Supporting Characters

Another difficult task has been creating supporting characters that interact with Arlan and Eleanor. So far, I have developed the following characters who have important roles in the story:

Ashlynn

She is based off another real person. The big difference is that she can foresee future events and also recall flashbacks of people’s past experiences. She has all of this ability while being blind.

Ash becomes a good friend to Eleanor, and she also grows as a very influential character in my novel.

Elden

I can say that Elden is just as much influential as Ashlynn. Although he has been marred because of a costly mistake in his past, he is chosen to be a mentor and colleague for Arlan.

Later on, Eleanor discovers that Elden may not be who (or what) everyone thought he said he was.

More Than A Love Story

The final thing I will share is my difficult task of trying to make this novel more than a love story between Arlan and Eleanor. Arlan and Eleanor were destined to arrive to another realm of reality so that they become patriarchs from the ashes of two races of people. I can share that this realm contains a society where four races exist — two of them being more supernatural (of which Arlan and Eleanor learn they are offspring, respectively), the third being more human-like, the fourth are humans taken to this realm by abduction. What happens is that the two more powerful races warred against each other after eons of peace. A demi-god-like villain takes advantage of this war, seeking total power. Arlan, Eleanor, and their friends have to stop the villain. Then, Arlan and Eleanor bridge the gap between their peoples in the end — The End.

March for the Melancholy

March for the Melancholy

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

April 8, 2015

I wanted to begin this post by addressing the subject matter of my previous two posts regarding all that took place on March 29, 2012. First, I wanted to say that I do not intend to damage the character of the the group of friends. Although they did do some things that provoked me to feeling hurt, I also did mess up as I tried to gain their acceptance. Ever since I began counseling nearly three years ago, I have taken responsibility for my actions of vengeance towards them. That is all I wish to refer to this matter for a while.

Now I would like to give an update on my endeavors.

To be petty honest, the past month has been quite discouraging, really.

To start off the month of March, I had to pay $1000 to repair my car. The payment for these necessary repairs chopped away a significant portion of my savings. In a few months once overtime at work resumes, I should recover well.

Another disheartening moment came when I made the decision not to pursue graduate school this fall. If you have been following me, you’ll know that I applied to Master’s of social work programs at Ohio State and Miami (Oxford, Ohio). I am happy to say that both schools accepted me. Unfortunately, my present financial state is preventing me from attending these programs. Even if my education was well-covered with student loans, my graduate school experience would be nearly impossible to pursue.

The biggest thing was housing. Housing for grad school, I found out, is much different than undergraduate housing, where I paid a flat-rate fee to live in each of the residence halls I inhabited for four years. Grad school housing is more like apartment-style housing, where I would be responsible for paying month to month rent. That would not be a problem if monthly rent at one of the schools was not nearly $800. I have found that living off-campus was not much of a better option. Even at paying monthly rent around $500, other monthly expenses (like renter’s insurance and my car payment) would not allow me much money left over for groceries and gas to commute to work or school. Off-campus housing would not be so bad if I had a roommate or two. Unfortunately, I knew no one else pursuing graduate school. So, there was no alternative.

When I realized the dire nature of my current finances, I made my decision to continue working and going to back school later on in life. My hope is that I can pursue a nursing program in a few years from now. I’m sure the courses I’ve completed with my Bachelor’s degree from BG will help shorten that possible additional education. My volunteer experience at discharging patients in my local hospital also has exposed me somewhat to the environment in “the ward”. I’m sure this will also add to my success should I pursue nursing. With my car due to be paid off in less than two years, some additional education in any program at any community college is possible in the near future.

Although my post-college journey has been the most daunting, I’m still young, and I still have a lot of potential. My hope is that God will help me set up my life right so I can be completely independent and support a future wife and family of my own. I guess I shouldn’t rush things. [Wink.] I also hope that I will eventually break free of the vice the hurts and pains of my recent past have had a hold on me. Breaking free from this will allow me to heal, forgive, and strengthen me so I can pursue my purpose with a clear head.

Reflecting on the Damage

Reflecting on the Damage

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

April 3, 2015

The following is an addendum to my post four days ago, “Three Years Later“. In this additional text, I am looking back on the after effects of a fateful night three years ago.

Just Let It Go… Really?

First of all, I wanted to address some who have criticized my decision to continue reflecting on this dramatic event in my life.

I’ve gotten a number of responses from some who suggest I am doing nothing more than damaging myself with dwelling on this memory. Some have said it’s been three years and that I should be moving on because the memory is now the past. Others have said that I don’t owe the people who hurt me anything, and that I should drop the pain. I’ve even heard a few people from time to time say they were startled to know I’ve remembered the exact the date. To be honest, I have found many of responses pretty heartless.

In these responses, I barely see any empathy for my feelings or understanding about my perspective in the situation. All I ask to counter these responses is that people would become more understanding. It is not that I willfully choose to indulge in this memory because I seek some twisted pleasure or attention from expressing it. It is rather that the hurt is mine, and I do have a right to remember it. However, to your point, I do want to move on and I do want to forgive. I don’t want to harbor any bitterness that might keep me from enjoying any future relationships or blessings God has for me. (The bitterness actually feels pretty terrible.) Although I want to lead a productive life as I progress beyond that night, I cannot walk away and forget what happened to me. That was a life-altering moment for me.

Better Execution

Periodically, I think about how the night could have played out differently. I mainly think about how the meeting could have occurred or been avoided without anyone getting hurt (or hurt as badly). Any of these solutions, I feel could have resulted in a less stifling confrontation. If only creating alternate timelines were possible, like in Star Trek.

The first thing I ask is “Why didn’t the three girls come to me?” The three girls, or the girl I had a crush on, had every opportunity to come speak privately to me. We all were a part of a large small group (30 to 40 students) in our college ministry at that time. No, we did not know each other well, but, after months of attending, we knew of each other by way of this small group. I’ll never know exactly what it was they saw in me that made me seem unapproachable, but I should have been the person they spoke to. Their concerns were with me, not any one else to carelessly share with.

Alternatively, if the girl or her friends did not feel comfortable speaking to me during the small group, they could have pulled aside one or two of our small group leaders. Our small group leaders would have been a more preferable choice to mediate the situation at hand. Our leaders had invested their love and time into our lives. They would have a better interest into the well being of both sides. Settling in-house disputes before it reaches a pastor was a part of our leaders’ jobs. Obviously, I feel our small group leaders would have been a better choice than a lead pastor who knows little about either the girl, her friends, or myself.

A third solution my counselor proposed was that he said he wished he were brought into the situation earlier. I was recommended to start seeing my counselor about seven months after the inciting incident, which my counselor said was too late. He said he wish he could sat down with every one so that the meeting would have been more fair. He also said his goal would have been that the girls and myself could have found a way to reconcile our differences and accommodate our contrasting personalities for more cordial relations within our small group.

A Step Towards Forgiveness

One positive step towards forgiveness I took was in speaking to the pastor after our awkward intervention three years ago. This private meeting took place during my summer in Colorado nearly two years ago.

It all began when the pastor visited our location for Colorado LT. He was due to speak on this particular week. Every one I knew there from BG was excited to hear him coming. I actually I had no idea how to respond to his arrival. I felt mixed emotions — fear, hurt, sadness, which lead to unfocused anger. While my colleagues were happy to see him, I sulked.

So, I spoke to my project group leader about the pastor. I told him a very general overview about what had happened. (In being general, I did not want to share any names, damage anyone’s character, or demonize their behavior.) After hearing what I had shared, my leader encouraged me to meet up with my pastor. My leader became aware of my goal to peacefully resolve my issues with my pastor. And, so I took my leader’s advice.

Despite my unsettled feelings, the pastor and I had a productive conversation that lasted about a half hour. We reflected on what had happened, and we both shared our feelings. I had learned why he called me in to sit in with his meeting with the girls. From what he said, it sounded like the girls’ parents were concerned and that the pastor felt he no choice but to act immediately.

Looking back, for my sake, I’m glad the pastor did call me to the meeting on that night. I didn’t like the result of the impromptu invention. I still felt treated like the bad guy and that four people against one person was the most intimidating. However, I am glad he did bring me there. Had the pastor not brought me to he and the girls that night, it would have become three girl gossiping about me without me there to confirm or dispute anything said. As a result, my character would have been unknowingly compromised and possibly adulterated with lies and embellishments. I now see that the pastor took a potentially bad meeting and made it so it was more fair to me. I see that the pastor did this out of respect for my reputation and my feelings. Now I don’t like how the meeting played out or how the pastor deliberated it, but he did do his best to protect me with what he was able to work with. For this, I do respect the man as “a shepherd to tend the flock”. Realizing his respect for me has helped me heal a little easier from three years ago.

Three Years Later

Three Years Later

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

March 29, 2015

The Mourning

To be honest, I sincerely hate this day.

On this day three years ago, I was the victim of a very unpleasant experience. I sat in on a highly intrusive impromptu intervention involving a pastor of the college ministry I once attended, three girls, and myself. Two of the girls were concerned about my feelings towards one of the girls I had a massive crush on. All that I was guilty of was expressing these infatuated feelings to the girl’s friends, trying to invite myself into the group of friends’ lives, and getting upset when I was shunned away by the said group. Rather than speaking to me about their concerns, the three girls spoke to the pastor privately, after our small group with other church members. The private conversation led the pastor to inviting me in on a disturbing face-to-face meeting.

Upon arriving to see the girls sitting quietly with disturbed faces, the pastor asked me to confirm all that the girls had alleged I had oddly behaved around them because of the girl I liked. (Note that I was not asked to tell my side of the story.) Soon after, the girls were excused, and then the pastor started asking me really personal questions. The very first question bothered me for months later: “Do you watch pornography?” I was baffled when this pastor (who knew little about me) asked this stifling question; I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Of course, I answered “no” because I have never struggled with this sin of watching porn, unlike many other young men, who I wish could get some help for their problems with it. After the disturbing questioning, the pastor and I talked on for a few more minutes. The meeting ended with he advising me to de-friend myself from these girls on Facebook and to keep my distance from them. (Let me also note in saying two of the girls took it upon themselves to de-friend me before I had a chance to de-friend them myself.)

To put it the most concisely, I was wrecked.

I was expecting to enjoy a late night dancing at a local dance club with one of the girls and her male friend I had met months before. I wanted to spend quality time with these two people, fellowship with them for the sake of Christ dying and rising again for us, and possibly becoming friends with these intriguing individuals. That is all I had hoped for, not to be taken off guard.

I was treated as “the bad guy.” Unfortunately, that Thursday night wouldn’t be the last time I sat in this pernicious position. About 350 days later, in the following year, the same girl I liked, one of the same girls, and the same male friend arranged for me to speak with a man in a black outfit about the same issues concerning this group of friends.

The Morning

Despite the pain and the sadness I feel about this day three years ago, a lot of good has come my way since.

Starting with the following day, March 30, 2012, healing arrived immediately. Late that afternoon, I met up with my good colleagues from that year’s small group. Tom and Doug mourned with me and helped me process all I had experienced the night before. The rest of that night was spent with more friends from college church. We first ate supper at Popeye’s in Toledo, watched Sandlot in the dorms, and ate freshly baked Cookie Jar treats at the steps of the county’s courthouse. The fun that night cast some hope of healing and returning to a typical functioning in light of the pain the night before.

Moving farther away from that fateful week to late October of that year, I started seeing my counselor from our church on a weekly basis. At first, I initiated thought it was unfair: I was the one who had been hurt, yet I was the only one “getting helped” to correct issues in my life. I was also very scared. I didn’t like the idea of a man probing my life and my personal thoughts or being perceived by others as if I had a serious mental illness. Despite the unfairness and fearfulness of counseling, months later I was so happy my counselor and I had met routinely. The guy re-taught me how to pray and to use my talent of writing to help me journal (and appropriately and safely express) a multitude of painful events of life going back to my mid-childhood days. He also helped me to connect these pains to my discomfort and insecurities about myself.

Two years out from that dreadful night in the past, I invested my time in a group of people with developmental disabilities. I was a community friend for those four people for a combined sixteen hours of field experience over a four-month span. I was so happy that this service to them indirectly combated the brutal rejection of a girl and her group of friends in the past.

Although my Christ-like love for the people I served can be seen as admiral, I know that love has run short. I now have a lifetime mission of forgiving the people who had hurt me three years ago. To be honest, I’m still very bitter at them; they are the reason I have mistrust for women and my feelings around groups of women associated with the Church. Because of them, I still feel shame, even though I did not violate or harm any one of them. I also know very well that none of those girls will acknowledge my pain or apologize for that unpleasant night. Still, I have been called to forgive. So, maybe (and hopefully) on another anniversary of this date I will forgive everyone.

Mid-Winter Happenings

Mid-Winter Happenings

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Feb. 1 2015

First of all, I’m sorry. I haven’t posted something new since early November. I was busy working through the holidays and still getting used to this post-college life. A lot has happened in the past two months.

Since I mentioned my post-college life, let me talk about that.

If you’ve been following me, you might remember how distraught I said I felt back about seven to eight months ago. I graduated college with a degree for a career I was no longer pursuing. I had also felt brokenhearted; a love interest from my 2013 summer in Colorado patronized and insulted me over a purely innocent card I sent her (like the ones I sent to 10 other people), and a guy I have been jealous of had been for months dating some other girl I had unrequited feelings for two years prior. Also, I had also hated that I moved back to my loathsome childhood home in southern Ohio and that I was working a job unrelated to my college education. At the start of things, I felt like a total failure — not just in my college career but in my relationships with others, my pursuit for life success, and my relationship with God.

Well, due to time and events, my sentiments have changed. After much reflection around the holidays, I found myself more hopeful for the future and thankful for the present. I guess God is helping to be content with what I have now today, even though I still do struggle with yesterday’s pain. I’m still attending the second church I visited in September. Since my second week, I’ve been attending a small group where we fellowship and discuss the week’s message. (I brought this up in an earlier post.) I’ve also been more content with work. I still volunteer at my local hospital as well. Plus, although I still feel lonely, unattractive, and hopeless for a future love life most of the time, I am still content with the benefits of my singleness. Somehow watching episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Hulu Plus, listening to smooth jazz on Spotify and by CD in the car, journaling daily notes to God, talking to Him on my commute to work, and writing on my story strips away some of the barrenness and rejection from others I feel in my soul.

Now that I’ve mentioned writing, I can share about my novel.

I have finished a complete rough draft of the chapter titled “Flashback of Arlan”. The chapter is a first of a two-part series of flashbacks of the two main characters. Eleanor relives Arlan’s past.  Her friend Ashlynn can foresee future events also can recall retrospective visions of other people’s past that are so vivid it feels real but is like a dream. Ashlynn is the one who projects Eleanor’s conscious into Arlan’s mind. To Eleanor it’s literally like she’s in his body. In his shoes, she explores sources for his obsession over her but also discovers painful memories that explains his discomfort for his body image.

The first of the series is about Eleanor reliving sad memories of Arlan, her admirer, from his childhood and adolescence. The next chapter I will write will be titled “Flashbacks of Eleanor”. Now, it will be Arlan’s turn to relive his love interest’s past. Like him, Eleanor too finds discomfort for her body image. While realizing her discomfort with herself, he also sees her painful memories. Again, Ashlynn is the one who will link the two characters together.

I wish I could describe more deeply than that, but’s all I can share. I would probably overfill this post and also give away too much.

Aside from post-college life and my story writing, something very big and good has happened for me. I just accepted into a graduate social work program. Along with striving for a master’s degree in something I feel more passionate about, I will also go on track towards testing for social work license to practice anywhere in Ohio. With a master’s of social work degree and license, I can go on and start helping people like how my church counselor did for me at BG. My ultimate goal is to be advocate, supporter, and healer for people like my counselor was for me. I guess my new dream job is to become a school or mental health counselor for my age group struggling with a variety of issues. I’d like to specifically help those with body image issues, identity and ethnic identity crises, and anxiety and pain to help prevent suicides and lesson life-debilitating problems. In this exciting new career aspiration, my hope and prayer is that God can use my past experiences so that He can work through my work.

Unfortunately, my acceptance into grad school brings up some new real concerns.

First, I’ve more frequently asked the following question: Am I doing this on a whim? I keep wondering if this is where I should go — if this is the calling I’ve been feeling for nearly two years now — or if I’m basing this whole motivation for social work off of some honeymoon effect from my counseling sessions. I still haven’t figured it out, but I keep praying a lot about it. For the record, a radio ad for Mt. Vernon Nazerine U.’s BSW program played when I cut on the radio on my way to visit Ohio State in September. My thoughts have been that God may have given me clarity liked I asked him for. It also helps that I strongly care about social justice in this nation and in this world. Also spurring me on, has been my hurt and pain since my childhood. So, maybe my new career aspiration isn’t so capricious at all.

My next major is for my relationships and social life. To be frank, I seem like a loser. Through middle school and college, I felt out because I never found my niche with a cohesive group of people similar to me. I mean, I must be a loser because a group of self-proclaimed nerds in college rejected me. I had a girl in high school lie about her Arabian horse dying so she could avoid going with me to prom, where she had planned to ditch me. I haven’t found many other people who enjoy listening to smooth jazz or are into Star Trek like I am. I’m the guy who spilled hot coffee on my hand and below the dispenser at church when I visited BG a few weeks ago. (Of course, I would be the clumsy one.) I’m the guy who is attracted to mostly white girls but also get hurt because those girls prefer someone who looks like Ashton Kutcher or Benedict Cumberbatch. My point is that I feel like a loser, and I’m afraid things will not change when I start grad school in August. To ad to this concern, I’m very afraid about even considering attending their campus’ church that is similar to the one in BG. I am tired of feeling left out and hurt by people in the Body of Christ who say they are Christians but fail to love or treat me the same — with honor, respect, appreciation, and grace —as themselves or their other friends.

Miscellaneous

Four albums are on my must-get list for my smooth jazz collection: By Richard Elliot – Metro Blue (2005), Ricochet (2003), and Chill Factor (1998). By Marion Meadows – Soul Traveler (2015)

I already own In the Zone (2011) and Crush (2001) by Elliot. “Panamera” is my favorite track on In the Zone, and I like “If I Kissed You” on Crush for Johnathan Butler’s smooth vocals.

Soul Traveler is seems to be Meadow’s homage to his Native American heritage. That’s what I have gathered as I see tracks with titles like “Mother Earth” and “Dream Catcher”. Over the years I have enjoyed Meadows for his soprano sax playing. I have mp3 tracks from his 2009 record Secrets, which seems to have been an unpopular release (It is available on Amazon but not on Spotify or Meadows’ topic page on YouTube). I also first heard Meadows on a car ride to Indianapolis sometime around 2003. My dad owns Meadows’ Body Rhythms; this album looks to be another unpopular release.

I’m now in the middle of Season 7, the final one, of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve been watching episodes on Hulu Plus since November. I appreciate the show’s story writing (which is slow in the first season) and its rich character development. I’ve enjoyed Avery Brook’s acting for his character Benjamin Sisko, the only black represented as a captain in all the Star Trek TV series. I also like Garak, the mysterious Caradassian outcast and former operative in Cardassia’s Obsidian Order. Dr. Julian Bashir has been very interesting. I appreciate his professionalism for his medical practice and his friendships with Chief Miles O’Brien and Lt. Jadzia Dax.

I’m routing for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. I used to be a Colts fan, so you must understand my deep dislike for the New England Patriots. I predict the score to be 34-20, Seattle. I hoping the ‘hawks crack 40 points though.

I snapped a lot of photos during my walks at Wintergarden Park, like this one roughly a year ago.

The New Normal

The New Normal

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Nov. 9, 2014

Today, for my first post in November, I share about my first visit as an alum at BG.

I sit here at my desk writing that I did enjoy my weekend up in BG. From Friday evening through Saturday evening, I enjoyed some much long awaited time with friends and other people I appreciate who remain at my college ministry. My campus ministry had celebrated its 30-year anniversary. Because of all the activities and my work schedule, I could not see everyone whom I wanted to see. I also could not stay for the Sunday morning service because of time. Still, my visit was great, and I am content.

I snapped a lot of photos during my walks at Wintergarden Park, like this one roughly a year ago.
I snapped a lot of photos during my walks at Wintergarden Park, like this one roughly a year ago.

One thing I enjoyed the most was my time spent with my former roommates out at Colorado two summers ago. We got to hear about what God has been doing in each other’s lives and how we were growing. It sounded like both of us found each other’s stories over the past five months really encouraging for the other.

Another thing I enjoyed was peace.

Over the past five months, I had the time working through bitterness I had towards people in my final two years of college. My grievances with this handful of people is why I feel ashamed about leaving my college ministry on bad terms. Throughout the summer to this point in time, I have been expressing and processing through all the emotions. Forgiveness has been a process for me. I have had really good, peaceful days. Then, of course, I’ve had really low and bad days. My process started out especially difficult when I became incensed by one out of eleven people who reacted unfavorably to an innocent card of appreciation I sent them. Man, that felt like a dagger to my heart after the other stuff I dealt with the person’s friends.

Okay… So, after processing the emotions, I found peace upon my return to BG. A month earlier, I had prepared how I would react to some of the people who hurt me had they approached me. Whether they were friendly or not, I wanted to make a point of showing mercy upon these people by responding in a friendly and neutral manner.

As I prepared for these possible interactions, I kept meditating on Romans chapter 12. Paul writes to never “repay evil with evil” but to “do what is honorable in the sight of all.”

Have you ever had those times when you wanted to chew someone out? Curse someone out? Tear someone down with your words because you feel ‘I am right and they are wrong’? Many times in my young adulthood, I have felt that. I’m not ashamed to share that I’ve even given in to those feelings and even let someone have it with my words. I struggle with that from time to time when I am dealing with hurt feelings of the past.

Well, keeping Paul’s strong admonishment in mind over the past two months has been helpful for me seeking to be merciful to people who had hurt me in some way. I wasn’t sure if I would see these people or they would seek me out. I just wanted to be “honorable” to them by doing what is “honorable in the sight of all.” I thought of people who love me. Would my parents, my sister, my counselor, my close Christian friends at BG… my new friends at my new home church? Would they say I did an honorable thing if I was nasty and bitter — if I sought revenge with my words? Then, I thought about Jesus. He definitely wouldn’t think so. Even He was respectable to the Pharisees when he called them vipers (because the Pharisees knew better and had blinded themselves by religion and pride). More importantly, Jesus has shown and will continue to show mercy on me whenever I hurt him by sin and struggles I succumb to in life. With that mindset, I wanted to show the same mercy of Christ on people who hurt me.

Fortunately for all, I did not even see any of the people I was hurt by at my short stay in BG. Therefore, I had no anxiety about possibly interacting those people. I did see the person who I inadvertently upset over an innocent card. However, our presence around each other was non-eventful; five months ago, that person requested that we no longer communicate in any form. So, I did not seek them out and respected their staunch boundary, even though I was happy to greet others around us.

Now that I’m back home, I’ve returned to the new normal. My new normal has included working a full-time job, volunteering twice a month in the hospital, being a part of a new church family, managing my own budget, and being myself as I continue to live with my parents. Part of my new normal has included the rigorous task of forgiving. It’s a process. The process has been easier now that I no longer see certain people from college and, thus, who no longer affect my life in any way. Grief has also come as a piece of my new normalcy in this half year removed from graduating. I miss certain things about college, like helping out on production team with my college ministry (as I did as a guest yesterday). I have grieved the girl I had a crush on three years ago, even after knowing she will never return my feelings. (I just miss seeing her beautiful face, her smile and hair.) I miss the campus itself on cool and crisp autumn days. I miss Wintergarden Park in BG, which became my quiet time fortress for myself and God. So, now the grieving process continues. After visiting BG, I now I am definitely going to have to journal about my emotions this week.

Still, I am doing well.