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.

February 26, 2000 – Saturday – 10:14 a.m.

Life has recently been spent in rehearsal, class, work, and with Marie.  We had our most favorite special “friend day” yesterday on a little peer out at Munden Point Park.  It is a perfect place of reflecting light, green trees, and blue sky.  We were barefoot little kids playing in life-giving water and spitting on mosquitoes.  A perfect day, an eternal instant, we wanted to spend our entire lives there.

Sarah emailed me this past week.  I emailed her back and let her know that I did not want to continue to keep in touch, that it was not fair to Marie.

I spoke with Tracey this morning.  Charlie was punched in the face and knocked out cold by a resident.  He felt the school didn’t support him, so he quit his Residence Life job and left Lees-McRae.  He’s staying with his parents, but they don’t want him there.  Kate moved down to Franklin, NC with her parents who recently moved there.

Dan is back in Colorado.

Tracey and Abigail’s Seven Strangers band is making a demo tape.  Everything is supposedly going really well for that little band.

Vince and Natalie have spent the past two weeks in New York with Vince’s dad.

And Lindy is trying to get certified in aerobics.

The Regent community, or rather our small group of Communication School acquaintances, are beginning to put two and two together when it comes to Marie and I.  Many guys have asked Marie if she is seeing someone because she has this “certain glow.”

She tells them yes.

I think it is funny.

I applied for an office manager job for a children’s theater company in Norfolk.  I pray God blesses me with it.

Children are playing outside my window now.  It’s very clear that March begins in four days.  The sounds are in the air.

I apologized to Marie last night for kissing Jeni and Sarah.  I told her I wished I had waited for her alone.  I regret the words and phrases I have written in past journals about other girls, thinking and believing I wanted to spend my life with them, thinking and believing I loved them so deeply.

Forgive me God.  I wish I could erase those pages from my journal.

I love you Jesus.  Thank you for this redemption.  I place my past and my sin before you.  You are holy and beautiful.

October 17, 1999 – Sunday – 8:57 a.m.

I’ve been 23 for two months already.  I’ve spent different parts of the last three days over at Zap Studios doing some directing projects.  Yesterday I spoke at the Baptist convention about Christianity and filmmaking.  I met three people who attend and work at a church that meets in a movie theater and use a lot of videos in their services.  I’m going to attend there this morning, Trey, who will play David in Dang!, is going to come with me.

I saw Three Kings and Fight Club over the weekend, two interesting films.  What weird, cynical, post modern days we live in.  Something is happening.

I’ve been reflecting back to that full moon night with Dan and Allen on the backside of Grandfather Mountain.  What was I then?  19?

I need to get away from these flat, overly-paved suburbs.

October 13, 1999 – Wednesday – 4:00 p.m.

I had my television debut yesterday.  The reenactment I did for The 700 Club aired.  Most of all my old Lees-McRae friends saw it.  It wasn’t supposed to be funny, but it was funny to us.

We are nearing the middle of October and that is insane to me.  I feel behind, but I know all the work will take care of itself.  There are basically just two months of school left.

I’m not sure what will happen in May.  Part of me feels like I’ll graduate, but the other half tells me I’ll stick around here longer to finish up Dang!.  I’d love to stick around, but I’m also eager to find out what else God has in store for me.

I spoke with Dan.  He is in Colorado and in the new year, he’ll be going on a skiing missions trip to Alaska.  God is blessing him so much.  I miss my buddy!

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.