April 28, 2000 – Friday – 7:53 a.m.

April is ending.  As are many other things.  I am no longer a full-time student, and Marie and I have just come through a really difficult time.

I think the past week really traumatized me, so much so that I can hardly remember the harsh words that were spoken to me.  I feel my mind is trying to forever forget them, like a scab covering a wound and allowing new skin to grow.  I’m tempted to not write about this at all, but I should put something down in these pages.

Clearly hurt and rejected after spending a week with my friends in North Carolina, a vulnerable Marie and I visited her family.  And while they are kind in action, I didn’t have a great time these past few days in New Jersey, one, because I was sick, and two, because there just wasn’t an abundance of joy and peace, at least not when you compare it to the amount of joy and peace in all my friends in Banner Elk.  So, once we headed back to Virginia, all of that pain and defensiveness bubbled up in Marie, and she became very critical toward me and of all my friends.

She said it was unnatural and immoral of me to have as many female friends as I do.  And, as if that didn’t hurt enough, she then accused me of only being involved with the youth group at Parkway because I was sexually attracted to all the girls in the youth group.  She said that my friendship with girls like Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly was inappropriate and that I should be ashamed of myself.

Much more was said, many more stabs were taken at my heart, but I pulled off the road, got out of the car and found a distant ball park, where I sat on the bleachers and stared off into the landscapes of Delaware, trying to make sense of what had just happened with this girl I want to marry.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more hurt.  Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly and their families and I all adore each other.  We are fellow believers together.  They take care of me, I like spending time with them, and yes Christin crushed on me for a while, but nothing ever happened.  I took her to her prom and I didn’t even kiss her.  The whole reason I didn’t pursue a relationship with her was because she was too young.  I sat there alone for a long time, and eventually heard from the Lord that Marie’s accusations were false.

So, I returned to the car.  By the look on her face, it was clear she knew she was out of line.  She apologized.  We drove home.

I prayed silently as we drove, and God gave me a very clear answer that I love my friends, and the fact that many of them are women is not a sin.  What Marie said to me reveals much more about her heart and mindset than it did mine, and, after spending a week with her family, it’s clear to see that she was raised in such a negative and narrow mindset.  We both got to experience where each of us came from these past two weeks, and the fact that we both came from two different words really broke us.  She felt like she didn’t belong with my group of friends and possibly even felt like she doesn’t have as good of friends as I do, and I felt rejected by (and bored with) her family.

So there it is.  God is breaking us.  Or maybe he’s sharpening us.

Perhaps this will make us a stronger couple than we were before.  Perhaps we won’t be able to recover from this.  Time will tell.

April 21, 2000 – Friday – 8:05 a.m.

I’m in Metuchen, New Jersey again.  And my recent days have been a learning experience.  On the 15th Marie and I drove to Banner Elk.  We visited Tracey’s and Lindy’s first.  Everyone heard we were there and then almost suddenly their living room was full of nearly 20 dear friends wanting to see me.   That was a bit overwhelming for Marie since most of them were girls.  Sarah even showed up and hugged me tightly.

Saturday night we saw Hamlet on campus.  What a wonderful production!  It had one of the most ambitious sets I’ve ever seen on that stage.  On Sunday morning we went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship, then to hike on Grandfather Mountain, then to visit Leslie and her family, and then to visit Heaton, then to visit Sharon and her girls, and it was just a huge day.  And when I say “we,” I don’t mean Marie and I, I mean everyone, all my dear friends.  Needless to say, Marie got placed aside a bit.  I tried to get her to join in on the fun, but she didn’t.

We talked that evening, and she cried.  She cried because she felt so lonely.  She felt there was this huge world that she had to compete with.  And the next three days passed in that same fashion.  One of those days we drove with Sharon down to Asheville, and we realized that this world of Lees-McRae had already been defined for me.  I knew this place without Marie.  It felt natural for me to cling to them while in this land, for I had no memory of ever clinging to Marie in these mountains.

Marie’s world is three family-members.

Mine is 25 friends.

I never realized how unique my college experience was until I saw it overwhelm another soul.

I still got to see everyone and get caught up.  Curtis and Megan came down.  It was so weird to see them married.  Dan was there for two days, then he left to go snorkeling in the Florida Keys.  Vince is leaving on the 8th of May for Bolivia.  Allen is marrying Jessica in June.  Abigail and Tracey’s band is doing wonderful in the area.  Ann-Marie is moving down to Florida after graduation to work in a repertory theater.  Charlie and Kate are getting married on June 24th.

It was the last time Dan, Allen, Vince, Curtis, and myself would be together for at least the next two years.  And who knows… maybe forever.

Marie and I learned much about ourselves during our five days in Banner Elk.  We left on Thursday to drive up here to New Jersey.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway until Roanoke and looked at that city a bit.  Then we took the Skyline Drive to Front Royal.

The drive through Shenandoah was beautiful and misty.  Then we drove through parts of Pennsylvania that I’ve never seen before.  I came down with a horrible head cold during the drive, and so here I am super sick in New Jersey.  I think they want to take me to their family doctor.

September 16, 1999 – Thursday – 6:49 p.m.

This has been a lonely day even though I spent some good hours with Dan, Theresa, and Amy from the bookstore.  The power went out and we got together to play a board game.

I have a bit of a headache.  My neighbors above me have really heavy footsteps.  I wish it would snow, so I could feel quiet and clean.  I wish I could ride horses against a Kentucky sunset.

David, my roommate, is as introverted as Matt.  I knocked on his door earlier and asked if I could come in and he said “no.”  His door is always closed to me.

Abigail and Jeni have recently had birthdays.  September is half over.  Then only three months left.  Some days I get so scared.  It all seems so big.  But there are other days in which being alive is the easiest thing there is.

I had a neat conversation with a Greek named Bill last night.  I was the first to get deep into his soul since he’s come to Regent.  He told me I’m the first and only person he has met who seems well rounded in all the gifts.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it was nice.

I also pitched “To Fly” on Monday.  Afterwards I was complemented by so many classmates telling me I was an amazing writer.  Why am I still so lonely here?  Was I this lonely at Lees-McRae?  I must like the wide spaces the mountains provided, it gave my heart room to grow.

Jesus, it is so hard to share you.  I feel like you’re all mine.  It feels like you spend all your time with me.  How can you be in my room and in David’s as well?  How can your spirit pour while I’m at church and also while I’m alone?  Can you be the leader of this dance?

I don’t know where to take you that you haven’t already been.

 

August 28, 1999 – Saturday – 7:02 a.m.

Five years ago today, I left for Lees-McRae College.

The CBN shoot was yesterday.  It was so much fun.  I got to break through a window, then fire a gun.  I threw a snake on someone!  Crazy!  I have to go back on another day to finish up.  Everyone said I did a great job.  Even the special effects guy who had worked on Waterworld.

The summer is almost over.  The fall semester begins on Monday.  I’m taking Story Structure, Redemptive Cinema, and Intro to Directing; plus a Career Management class and I’m beginning my portfolio project.

These have been some wonderful days here.  They are the best because they are now.  Five years ago I left my home, and it has been a grand time ever since.  I must continue to press forward.

God is with me.

 

August 4, 1999 – Wednesday – 8:15 a.m.

Yesterday was Lindy’s birthday.  We took her out to eat and to see Runaway Bride.  It was a fantastic time.  She’s 22.  We are only the same age together for two weeks every year.

I got to see Jeni last night.  We talked and caught up.  She is so busy with work and with marriage that she realize her relationship with the Lord feels very distant.  Again, it made me thankful that God was the only one on my heart at the moment.

In a little while I will leave from here and head north.  The Lord is my shepherd.  He is my guide.  My goal is to simply go away with him and see is creation.

Deep Creek last weekend brought bittersweet feelings.  I think I would like to go much less often and keep it a part of my childhood.  I did stand on my ledge and it was wonderful to pray there.

Talking to everyone about marriage is crazy.  Allen and Jessica really feel right for each other.  I’m excited for them.  Of course Dan and Abigail will probably get married next year as well.

God is keeping me young at this stage of life.  So, I leave my old college town now and prepare for the road ahead.  I am in your hands Father.  Protect me, guide me, love me.

 

August 2, 1999 – Monday – 11:00 a.m.

Much has happened in the past several days.  I am in Banner Elk, NC.  My last day on the film shoot was Friday, so Friday night I drove to Siler City, NC.  I spent the night with Peter at the Motor Lodge.  He was there with his girl Shivani and we stayed up until two in the morning, just talking.  I left early Saturday morning and went to Sylva and met up with my grandparents.  We all went to Deep Creek for the family reunion.  Everyone was there except for Nar, Kevin, and Patty.

I left Bryson City that night and drove up here to Banner Elk.  I went to Lees-McRae, but couldn’t find a soul.  I did finally find Jessi and learned that Sarah was in a show that night.  I only got to see her for about ten minutes.  Then I found out that Allen and Jessica had just returned from their road trip to Colorado, so I spent the night at Allen’s, as did Jessica.  They are getting married next summer.

We went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship yesterday morning and there I saw Lindy and Tracey and Ashley and tons of others.  Dan was still in town saying goodbye to Abigail, who is going to Austria.  We all just freaked out when we saw each other!  We all went out to lunch, hung out all afternoon, then went out to dinner.  Everyone is working this morning, so I’m riding with Sharon to Asheville and back later today.  Vince is away on a cruise.  I miss him.

But here I am on a flat rock off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I came here early this morning with Curtis and we took some amazing pictures.

Time to go meet Sharon.

. . .

It’s now 8:20 p.m. on the same day.

Sharon and Hannah and I drove to Asheville, she just had to get an Allergy shot, so I rode along so we could chat.  While down there we went to go see Runaway Bride; a perfect movie.  I don’t know if I’ve ever left a movie theater so happy before; there is such wisdom in that film.

Sharon and I had wonderful talks all day about life and love and Jesus and forgiveness.  Oh how I love and adore that woman.  I told her about Mary and she caught me up on Laura.

Runaway Bride taught me so much and I’m so thankful that I’m single right now.  After tomorrow, which is Lindy’s birthday, I’m going to get in the car and just drive.  I’m just going to keep driving and stay in weird places and be with my Jesus.  We are going on a honeymoon, if you will.

 

May 11, 1999 – Tuesday – 1:15 p.m.

My four days in Banner Elk were wonderful.  Friday, after we picked up Kerstin in Johnson City, we ate at Applebees.  There we met our waitress Celina, whom we ended up praying with before we left.  We went hiking that afternoon with Jessica and Curtis’ new girlfriend Megan.  It was so beautiful out there on the back side of Grandfather Mountain.

Megan is so delightful.  We became instant friends just like how everyone became instant friends with Kerstin!

We saw Sunny that night in Boone with Abigail, Dan, Grayson, Josh, his dad, and I think that’s about it.

Sarah had a lead in the show and did so well; she looked absolutely beautiful.  I ran up to her after the show and embraced her so tightly.  I spent time with her on graduation Sunday as well.  Our relationship has been healed.  Love has intervened.  Time has surrounded us.  We are great now!

I took Kerstin back Saturday morning.  It was so lovely to see her outside of Regent.  She so beautiful and so much fun!

On Saturday I hung out with everybody I could.  That night I slept in Lindy’s room.  We just talked and talked until we drifted off to sleep.

Church seemed the same as always at Heaton.  It was great, but no longer for me.  All the kids have grown up.  It was weird being there.

And then graduation came.  What a wondrous day.  Tons of hugs.  Tons of pictures.  Tons of smiles.  I loved seeing Ashley, I forgot how much she makes me laugh.  A perfect day…and I had to drive away from it all at 4:30 p.m.

I don’t think any of us realized what truly took place on that day.  Dan, Vince, Jaime, Tracey, Lindy, Allen, and Curtis graduated.  Justin is transferring.  Abigail, Jessica, Anne-Marie, Ashley, and Josh remain.  What will become of our futures?

As I drove back seven hours toward the east coast, I found comfort in my home here.  Voicemail messages from Kimberly greeted me when I arrived.  David took me out to eat.  I was only gone four days, but I was missed.  Now summer classes have begun.  I have homework to do.

It’s already May 11th

Hmmm.

Must mean I’m having fun.