Expanding My Horizons - Spring 2006 To Autumn 2007
Before I unpack how my experience with Lauren set a sad—depressing—precedent, let me describe the expansionary period that followed, because, I suppose I had to rise to fall, and fall to rise up again, hopefully stronger than before.
Between 2006 and 2007, I was amazed at the way death can birth new eras in one’s life. My dwindling friendship with Lauren gave rise to my involvement in an online Christian community that I discovered during my Spring Break in 2006. It’s Teen Daily Devotional Ministry, abbreviated “TDDM”. In short, it was a site with daily devotionals and a message board (before its reconstruction in later years). Curious and interested, I signed up on the site as “OnFire4HIM”. I was shy at first and posted few messages to begin with, but gradually, I opened up and became a more regular contributor. I even made a few new friends, on and off the site, who at the time helped me recover from the pain of watching my friendship with Lauren dim, and helped me grow spiritually beyond that, deepening my notions of Biblical love. I certainly hoped I helped them grow spiritually, too—that is what I’ve loved most once I learned to do so, to seek to be a blessing to others.
Continuing on, 2007 was the best year for my spiritual life at the time, as I felt connected, important, and that I had purpose for living and doing what I do. Even as a couple of lesser friendships dissolved by the wayside early that year and late in 2006, I still always had at least one person I believed I could pour myself into. That is what’s been most fulfilling to me—giving of myself to someone else. I thanked God for all the friends I had had so far. I certainly would not have been where I rose to spiritually, without their help in my life, and certainly without the One who crossed their lives with mine or mine with theirs, God. I also wouldn’t be where I was, without the trials I had experienced thus far, especially the separation from Lauren. Thus far, I had been a Christian for over two years, and it had been an amazing journey. But who knew what would be in store for my life next? Certainly not I. But that was okay, for I’ve usually enjoyed the element of mystery and surprise that life features at times. We wouldn’t want to read a book if we knew its entire story beforehand, right? If so, why try to figure out what’ll happen in our lives, before it happens? It too is a story, that unfolds day by day.
Certainly, a new chapter began unfolding in August 2007, as I began college, a brave new world where I hoped to further expand my horizons—to achieve higher education, develop meaningful and lasting relationships offline for my first time, become part of a church, and take part in anything else God might have in store. I prayed that I might be a blessing somehow, to people on and around campus, and not just that, but anywhere at all, and sure, I did have the opportunity to bless some others. But with still others, I was less sure of my impact. It made me wonder how Jesus felt, if and when He’d try to give love to someone, but it earned Him desertion or hatred from the recipient. Hmmm… “God, no matter what, I am Your child, and I want to serve You faithfully. Please, take this life, and use it as You will—let me be a blessing, that I may display You to others in whatever I do, whatever I pursue. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen!”
That was my prayer, until I fell, and fell hard, in Spring 2008.
Devastating Contraction - 2008
“I can’t believe this”, I sighed in February, when I apparently said something to offend one of my remaining friends from the TDDM Web site, who suddenly quit talking to me. Really now? A Christian can be that cold to me? Even when I don’t try to be? And even when I was willing to make amends for whatever I did wrong (which I never did find out if and what it was)? I couldn’t believe that…
“I can’t believe this”, I’d repeat in my mind, as I tried to pursue a friendship with a girl in college whom I was very interested in, and failed. After so much prayer and trying to seek God, I couldn’t believe I would fail. Nor could I believe that college students (especially guys) could be so immature about perceiving others’ attraction to someone of the opposite sex, reminding me of high school, or—gasp—middle school. I coudn’t believe that!
Still I kept trying to stand strong, however, even in the face of mounting discouragement about friends, acquaintances, family, and myself. Initially, I ruled Spring 2008 a good semester for me, even as I cried out to myself…
…“I can’t believe this!” over and over, especially during the last week of the semester, when a then already emotionally straining storyline took a hairpin downward turn for the worst, knocking me down to my knees. I couldn’t believe I could say something so stupid, nor could I believe how I could damage another dear friendship, or so I thought. I couldn’t believe that I’d be fortunately proven wrong—my rare carelessness didn’t kill the friendship, my second and final major online friendship before I wrote off the whole Internet as a desert wasteland in regard to cultivating friendships…
…But, already scarred by months of silence on her end, silence resumed and would ultimately kill the friendship, just as it had killed too many other friendships before. “I can’t believe this”—I wanted to cry, as I proceeded with giving up on her in November. I had always been one to strive to be a friend, after being touched by Lauren now five years ago. How do I turn around and burn a bridge to a friend, the way I did? I couldn’t believe it! The experience weighed heavily on me, especially combined with my difficulty in befriending people at college. Everyone seemed too busy for friendship, or already had established circles of friendship, and so, I could never seem to feel like an essential part of any group, when I did hang out with other people. I couldn’t believe this…I felt…unneeded…just like a thing that gets forgotten, and then eventually winds up in lost and found, but is never claimed, because it goes…unneeded…
And I couldn’t believe, while feeling like that, that I would blurt out to God one cold night in December, “Do I really need You?!” I stopped cold when I realized I had said that… as much as I didn’t want to believe the state of my heart, mind, and spirit, however, there was no denying it. “God, I can’t believe…”
That lone contraction, that ushered in a devastating contraction of my spiritual life in 2008 and that at the very end invalidated that year in my eyes, would cost me dearly in all of 2009.
Lost And Found - 2009 To 2010
“Once saved, always saved”…Is that really true? I had leaned toward believing in it ever since I first discovered that question early in my Christian walk, but, I never really knew how it would apply to a case like me as I was in 2009. What if someone doesn’t care to be saved anymore?
No, it’s not that I was outright rejecting God. It gets more complicated than that. The same way I’ve felt unneeded by people, is the same way I felt unneeded by God. And I never want to even feel like I need someone, person or god, when I am not needed in return…because it’s one of the most discouraging imbalances to experience, at least to me. “Why should I bother with You?” I asked God early in 2009, so distraught that every attempt I’ve made to build a reciprocal life-giving friendship with the love I believe He gave me, has failed, leaving me so empty, and contributing heavily to my feeling utterly behind in life.
“I am lost once again, and I want to be found…If You really care, God, then seek me out, as I dig myself a hole to hide myself in, because I feel useless, even after I’ve tried so hard. But You probably don’t care. Or else, why would I have even sunken to this depth in the first place? What kind of Father would let that happen to His child?”
I probably never poured out those exact words, but they sure described my attitude in the first semester in 2009, the second worst semester ever in my life, as it was happening, but then the worst of all, upon later reconsideration. Back in Spring 2003, and even for a while after, I lingered in a very poor state emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, much like I did in Spring 2009. Though the circumstances were different, the impact was eeriely similar, even more so than I wanted to acknowledge. But, back in 2003, I didn’t know better, spiritually. I didn’t know God; I had no capacity for lasting joy, if any at all. Yet by 2009, I had long since had that capacity for joy and relationship with God, but had fallen so far short of living in it. So that’s why I ultimately ruled Spring 2009 the worst semester of my life thus far.
I’ve likely never been able to describe at length, the heartache and soul-ache I endured in all of 2009 and even the first part of 2010. Maybe I will describe it at length someday, however. Nevertheless, I can say for sure that I lost all of 2009 to it, making me feel even further behind in life. Toward the end of the year, however, I began realizing just how far deep I had dug myself into my hole, and how I needed to rise out of it, even if I had to do it myself. But knowledge isn’t always power, if it ever is? Indeed, a few months more would elapse before I finally began changing things, if I was even the one to set them into motion. Maybe faith is power, instead… which would be exactly what I lacked, and would lack until the springtime warmth in early 2010, that managed to thaw my frozen heart and spirit. Perhaps more importantly, however, a song also powerfully inspired me, for the first time in a long time.
After feeling so beaten down in 2009 and Winter 2010, and being stuck on songs that only seemed to keep me stuck in my pain, Britt Nicole’s Walk On The Water changed things almost instantly. Debuting on my Top 50 at #1 the week of April 3, 2010 (Chart #327) and dethroning the previous #1 of 49 too long weeks, Matthew West’s The Motions, Walk On The Water inspired me to figuratively walk on water, imitating how Jesus really did it. It deeply inspired me to take chances spiritually and relationally and to trust once more, that I do have purpose and a rhyme and reason for doing what I still love to do most, which is to strive to be a blessing. Healing takes time, of course, and my case was no exception. Nevertheless, 2010 shaped up to be quite a redemptive year overall. It wasn’t all sun and roses, as the second half of the year brought its own challenges, including a near-relapse into the very pit of despair that consumed me just the previous year. However, this time, I managed to reach out for help early on, thereby keeping me spiritually afloat the whole time. Never underestimate the power of talking things out with anyone you can trust…
Finding That Catching Up Is Hard To Do - 2011 To The Present
In the time since, I’ve graduated from college…that time came way too quickly, however. Sure, I accomplished my important goal of finishing very well academically; however, despite my efforts, I never was able to become closely involved with any of the student body, which was a huge loss. And, connecting with people beyond college has proven no simple task, either, especially while I’m living back at home (*sigh*), with still no car or job yet (*double sigh*). To think, I wanted to be driving and working before I finished up at college… Well, life and circumstances continually got in the way. Unfortunately, that’s less of an excuse now—my excuse since graduation has been busyness with various projects, namely anything related to my website or digital music library (I sure live up to being a music- and web-junkie, ha). For one major example, I’m not too happy that getting the new version of my site online took me almost half a year, but I am happy to nonetheless have it up, finally. It is great to see ideas I first birthed over two years ago, come to pass. However, that hardly makes a dent in my nagging feeling of being behind in life. I’m sure we all feel like that sometimes, right? At least, I hope I’m not alone with this feeling. Well, this too will pass eventually—though I hope life won’t pass me by first.
Someday, somehow, I will reach that place that my spirit may call “home”…until then, I guess the most I can do is pray, and do whatever else I can. I’m open to whatever God has in store—may the next chapter in my life, take me higher and deeper than I’ve ever been spiritually, and relationally.
If you read the whole thing, thank you so much! I hope it helps you get to know me even a little bit. If you have any feedback, please feel free to share or comment below!In Christ,Anthony
Original Date: September 1, 2007
Last Updated: January 17, 2013