Well, I’ve just about decided to give up on this whole emotion/empathy/lovey-dovey stuff. How do people live like this? I can’t even express how frustrated I am (but you know me, I’m going to take a shot at it anyways).

First of all, it’s annoying. I’m sick of caring, sick of being disappointed, sick of hanging on to the smallest hopes and sick of being disappointed. I don’t like being frustrated, feeling left out, or feeling unwanted. I don’t like being afraid of losing a relationship. I don’t like not knowing where I stand with people. I don’t like being hurt when I find out. I DON’T LIKE BEING EMOTIONAL.

Second, it’s getting to me. Part of the reason I’m effective in analyzing public policy, political theory, and the like is that I’m usually objective and unaffected by outside events. Putting value on connections with others, though, has been distracting. Since when have I had a hard time reading because I’m thinking about relationship issues? Heck, I haven’t even been able to concentrate on the news lately! (this is only significant to those non-existant few who are both Christians and politicians, you know what a huge deal this is).

Third, it isn’t helping. The goal at the outset of this semester was to be more open, more emotional, and more empathetic, with the purpose of growing closer in relationships with people. I have tried my best to make that happen, and it hasn’t. I blame nobody but myself, but it is clear that being emotional isn’t the answer. Though I have had some limited success in this area, I don’t know that it’s a result of my efforts. Perhaps it’s just different because people have already established relationships and aren’t looking for more, but if that’s the case then I have no reason to do this to myself anyways.

Fourth, and worst, is the fact that it’s hurting my relationship with God. Instead of being progressive, constructive, and safe, I’m finding that running back and forth emotionally severely affects (in negative ways) my quiet times and my ability to communicate with God.

I guess all this would be an acceptable learning situation to me if it weren’t for the amount that I’ve invested here. But with DC looming, I have to question. What’s it all been for? A few lessons and some timely advice? Give me a break. I’m wasting what I’ve got.

Hopefully things will start to turn up. Hopefully DC will be a new world. Hopefully I can get back to God and not hurt anyone in the process.

The principles seem so simple. Love God. Love others. Be a mirror reflecting God. Walk in the steps of Christ.

The problems seem so stupid. Loneliness. Smallness. Hurt.

I can overcome this. I know I can. I think, though, that emotion has proven to be a useless tool in my unskilled hands. Others may use it well, but I clearly cannot. It may have to go the way of the dodo in my life.

I’ve stopped caring that DC is a month and a half away. What should that be telling me?


A blog two days after another? Wow, what is this?

Ok, question for the day: What’s your responsibility in a given situation? The question seems simple enough. All that is needed to answer is to look at the situation, evaluate it, and then explain what you believe you ought to do. Fourth graders do it all the time. “Look at this picture. Little Tommy sees someone littering. What should he do? He should put it in the trash, Miss Smith! That’s right, Anne. Here’s a Tootsie Roll for you.” (side note: Anne spelled with an “e” at the end is much nicer than Ann. Just ask Rachelle, she knows how it is!)

However, I think there’s a lot more to it than that. See, Christ describes our obligation not as being to do a certain amount and then to stop… rather, he simply says that we must love the other person as we love ourself. Think about that. All those things that you wish someone would do for you… you’re called to do them. All the times you wish the lines of communication were clearer… you’re called to clear them. All the times you feel your patience has been stretched to the limit… you’re called to have even more of it.

The problem comes, though, when you try to figure out what to do in a given situation… and simply can’t. Whether it’s that you made mistakes in the past, or aren’t good at evaluating people, or aren’t sure of how others will react… you just don’t know what to do to help those you love.

That’s been the situation for me lately. A lot of people around me are struggling. Sickness, housing situations, busyness, relationship issues, and school are all driving people to the edge of their patience, and in many cases beyond. There’s nothing I would love more than to be there for people, to listen to them, to let them know that their friends are still here and that things are going to be ok… but I can’t. I’m not sure why it is. The most likely thing is that I’m just not handling relationships well enough. Perhaps I’m not good enough at reading people. Whatever the reason, I’m finding that few people see me as someone to turn to. Sure, I’m a good teacher. Sure, give me three days and a bible and I’ll wrestle with any theological question you throw at me. Sure, I’m a lot of fun when life is smooth.

But when frustration is high and optimism is low… nothing. Not a word. I almost have to force it out of people. They may let me know what’s going on, they may keep me up to date… but there’s not a lot of trust there. Neither, does it seem, am I wanted or needed when the chips are down. I’m an asset in the good times, but a liability in the bad.

::sigh:: to be fair, these things are only partially true. In fact, they’re probably mostly wrong. There’s a lot more trust than I would admit, and I imagine that personalities have more to do with things than a lack of trust. I just… I just wish I could do more, you know? I feel like my contribution to CCF is the same as the Voyager’s computer; plenty of information, but not really what you depend on in a crisis.

I know life will go on. I know there are a few who see me for what I’ve always wanted to be. I know, too, that God is the one who controls these things, and he’s watching out for those who hurt. But Lord, why do I struggle so much to find value in what I do? Why do the things I do feel so tainted?

Thankfully, tonight I was given yet another Samantha and Sewa therapy session; great food, great friendship, a goofy movie, and complete acceptance. Do I make people feel even remotely as comfortable as those two make me feel? I hope so, but I doubt it. They make the cloudy days seem not so cloudy, and that’s a great accomplishment. Thanks so much, ladies.

So, back to the question. What’s my responsibility here? How can I best love those around me without being a nuisance (one of my greatest fears)? What actions should I take to help them out? The only thing I can think of, at the moment, is taking care of as many details as possible so they don’t have to worry, and letting them know I’m there. Pitiful, if you ask me, but it seems to be all that’s wanted. We’ll see what happens.

On a side note, I had an atheist professor tell me I was one of the strongest believers he had ever met. Lord, thanks so much for that. When you’re frustrated out of your mind, a little encouragement from an unexpected source can go a long way. Finally, I see validation in attending Madison. Is a difference being made? Let’s hope so. Yesterday’s comment suggested that it is possible.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Till next time.


Wow, what a weekend!

First, I had the chance to see Michelle take a big step in her walk with God, and that was really cool. It’s such an exciting thing to see a person you care about growing in their faith. Next, I got to carve pumpkins (even though they were pretty gross) and eat delicious apple pie. After that, I played chess. All one evening! Very cool. On Saturday, I watched a movie and talked for 2.5 hours with Samantha and Joyce, which was great (you guys are so cool!). On Sunday, my family came to church with me, and I got to go for a CRAZY run with Diana and Samantha (I don’t know why you guys don’t like climbing trees, it’s so much fun…). Finally, I went to B and N and got a novel (unusual, I know), the Count of Monte Cristo, and a CD, which is REALLY old school classical music. Very nice.

So yeah, it’s been wild lately. Amidst all this, though, I’ve had some great conversations, and I’ve come across an interesting concept. It seems to me that when God cursed mankind for sinning, he gave them penalties that we still bear today. With Eve, he talked of pain in childbirth, but I think it meant much more than that. I think God made pain the primary bane of females in general. Pain is inherent physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in the lives of women. There is so much struggle there to overcome hurt, and it’s something I don’t fully understand.

Men, on the other hand, were cursed with responsibility. We are expected to take charge in relationships, but it’s our fault if things get messed up. We are supposed to take initiative, yet we’re the ones who feel worst when we get turned down. We are expected, nearly every one of us, to provide for a ourselves AND our families. We are, as Christian men, held responsible for the spiritual lives of our children.

It’s interesting, though sad, to see how this plays out in our world. It seems as though everyone is trying to avoid that curse. Women read perfect love stories and listen to perfect love songs and imagine perfect Prince Charming boyfriends, hoping to avoid the pain that is pretty much inherent in any serious relationship. Men dump girlfriends at the first sign of commitment and live large as long as they can, trying to avoid responsibility. Abortion is the ultimate culmination of these fears; men who don’t want responsibility for a wife or kids and women don’t want the pain of childbirth or of childrearing. It’s really pretty sad.

So, then, what do we do? For Christian men, it seems simple enough. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. We need to stand up and show that we’re not afraid, that we do care enough to do something that scares us. We need to make it obvious that with God’s help, we can do anything. Now, this will take a little help on the part of women. With encouragement, we can be initiators, even though we’re deathly afraid of it.

At the same time, women need to be willing to accept and face the pain that is a part of their lives. Ick, I’m not as sure on this one (any opinions? I’m very open to criticism, I’m on thin ice here!). However, it seems as though they need to have the strength to deal with pain even though they hate it, which can include being patient with guys who try to be leaders but blunder into walls, or learning to deal with the fact that they’ll be moms and that it will be hard. At the same time, men should be supporters and encouragers, helping women with the pain as much as they possibly can.

What a great creation marriage is! Imagine two godly people, and the way God designed things for them. As a unit, they are both a strong leader and a loving servent. They are both a hero and a lover (don’t get all weirded out on me… they’re married, remember?). They are both strong and gentle. They are logically in order and emotionally in touch. They face challenges with vigor and confront weaknesses with love. They bring each other closer to God than they could have gotten without the other. They are a team in every sense of the word.

In our friendships, we can have a weaker version of this. I mean, a group of friends can do so much. If they aren’t, then the question isn’t why should they… it’s why aren’t they.

Anyways, I know that’s a bit random. However, I have classes tomorrow, and you probably do too. So I’ll write again, hopefully, and maybe we’ll learn something new together. Oh… and does anyone have some creation vs. evolution info? It’s driving me nuts!


Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog, and I apologize. Consistency is not my strong point, to be sure! I’m sure those of you who don’t speak with me regularly are at least somewhat interested in the events of the past two weeks, and even those who have spoken with me are a tad curious as to what’s going on in my life. For those of you who aren’t, well, I don’t blame you. But why then are you reading this, anyway?

The parting of ways between Carrie and myself has gone quite smoothly. I think she recognizes, as I did, that this move is the best for us. Further, she is thoroughly enjoying teasing me about her newfound freedom. Yes, we are still on good terms. In fact, last night was her birthday, and though I didn’t get a chance to talk to her, I at least remembered to call, which is impressive for me!

Being in God’s will is something that is definitely hard, but just as definitely rewarding. Already these past two weeks God has blessed my decision about my relationship by;

1) Maintaining a strong and appreciative relationship between Carrie and myself.
2) Using this situation to open doors to better relationships with friends in CCF.
3) Made me seem more vulnerable and accessible to people who may otherwise feel that I am distant and unreachable.
4) Given opportunities to teach others about the benefits of a relationship focused on God.
5) Helped me refocus my priorities.

This isn’t to say that things are always peachy-keen when you make a good decision, cause that isn’t how it is. However, it’s great to be in a place where you aren’t constantly beating on yourself for decisions you’ve made.

So, thanks so much to all who have expressed sympathy in the past couple weeks. It’s meant the world to me to build better relationships with you, learn more about each other, and grow closer together and towards God. I’ve always missed that at CCF, and I’m glad people finally are starting to regard me as just another weak human at the foot of the cross, which is really all that I am.

Now, on to this week’s issue; how do you find adventure in everyday life?

See, I really agree with John Eldredge in that men need to life an adventure. We crave the excitement, the challenge, and the struggle of pitting yourself against the odds and emerging victorious. As Vince Lombardi once said, “A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done."

Unfortunately, though, I’ve lost this sense of adventure in recent weeks. Instead of feeling like a warrior in a great quest, I’ve felt like an accountant at the IRS. Instead of being ready to take on the world, I’m reluctant to take on each new day (and yes, I AM thankful for the day, cheap junk).

Generally, movies that inspire me (and many men) tend to show the hero as a strong, fearless character, one who faces his world with purpose and resolve. He is unbending in the face of evil, and his character and integrity are beyond question. Again referring to Mr. Eldredge, I believe God gives us appreciation for those qualities because they are a major part of what he wants us to be. Of course we appreciate characters like Aragorn, Luke Skywalker, Marcus Aurelius (Gladiator), Rocky, and William Wallace. They embody everything that God has designed us for!

The problem, of course, is that our adventures are quite different. Our purpose is not as clear. Our paths are not as obvious. Our skills are certainly far different (can you see me trying to wield a 5 foot sword? I didn’t think so).

So then, where to find adventure and challenge in the life we lead?

Personally, my adventures have always been clear; through high school, it was a combination of sports and ministry. Serving God and training myself physically were full of excitement and challenge. My first year of college, too, was exciting as I began to find my own way and become my own person. Even my sophomore year was an adventure, making leaps and bounds spiritually and enjoying being back in a leadership role. Through these two years, I was also involved with Carrie, an adventure in and of itself.

This year, though, the luster is gone. I’ve been through dorm life, apartment life, the workforce, classes full of debate and philosophy, and teaching lessons. I know what it is to be a leader (not to say I’ve “arrived”, but neither is it a new thing). I mean, imagine if Lord of the Rings was about the Fellowship walking in circles through the Mines of Moria over and over again. The movie would get boring real quick!

I have full confidence that God is trying to teach me something. I see his hand in so many places (especially financially, but that’s a story in itself!). I’m excited about the terrific relationships I’m building lately. Despite all this, though, I can’t help but wish I was doing something big, something purposeful. Perhaps the Revolution will help that, but even then it’s all about reaching out to a few people and reeling them in, instead of the great challenges that I seek.

At the end of the day (note: there are rumors going around that Lindsay has begun using this phrase, can anyone confirm? Jared and I love hearing our own phrases repeated back to us! Hearing people say CHEAP JUNK always makes my day) my best guess would be that God wants me to learn to be faithful in the boring and often frustrating times as well. It can’t all be fun and games! In a Star Wars book I once read, a senator points out to Luke that while he had been running around having fun and killing bad guys, his sister had been slowly helping build a government through blood, sweat, and tears, a painstaking process requiring discipline and strength of character. The senator then suggested that Luke needed to learn a little of that. I think that may be where God is taking me. “Learn to love me even when it’s boring and frustrating, Ben, and then you can go to DC.” Let’s hope that’s the case.

Pray for me, reader! My small group is dealing with predestination on Wed, and I want it to go well.

BTW, John Wong is probably one of the funniest creatures ever to set foot on God’s green earth. All males MUST read ALL his blog entries, you will die laughing. Girls, I would suggest against it, but would be blown away if your curiosity didn’t get the better of you.


Till next time.


Well, I feel like crap. I mean, I knew it was coming. I knew it. I knew that it would hurt, that I would consider going back a thousand times, that everything in me would kick and scream and holler until I gave in. In my mind, I had few questions about the way things would go.

And yet it still felt like a ton of bricks. It still seemed as though my breath would never come back, as though all my greatest fears were coming to a head at once. It still felt as if there wasn’t anything outside of the moment, as if all the world held its breath for one horrible minute and stared as I made a decision and took a leap.

I speak of one of the hardest decisions of my life… the decision to let Carrie go.

By far the most frustrating part of the entire ordeal is that I don’t think I was incorrect in doing so. It was the best decision. In fact, I truly believe that in the long run, it benefits her more than it does me. Even so, though, I find myself in agony. Why, Lord? Why do I serve you with everything I have and get this kind of pain as a reward? Why can’t I feel good about a decision designed to glorify you with my love for another? Why did I struggle so much just to say it, when ending the relationship was the most loving thing I could do? I don’t understand. I don’t understand why the pain has to be associated with the good things too. I don’t see why it has to be so hard on her, when in reality she loses far less than she gains. Why can’t I understand?

The fact of the matter is that we were great together. Her support, my strength. Her servanthood, my leadership. Her desire to love others, my desire to seek God.

So you ask, of course, why? The answer to that is a hard one. It certainly wasn’t anything she or I did. Neither of us has interest in anyone else, and neither is discontented.

However, I promised God, Carrie, and myself (in that order) that I would do my best to handle things in a godly manner every step of the way, and I think this is the manifestation of that promise. Why?

First, and most important, I cannot guarentee we will get married. I don’t know what it is to be married, obviously. Not knowing means that we would be taking a huge risk if we tried to go “all the way.” I mean, we’ve never gone for more than a few weeks as close friends when we’re together. How can I know for certain that we would be fine long term? We’ve never even had a serious fight. Carrie deserves to enjoy college life, to get to know guys without them feeling nervous about messing with someone else’s girl. She deserves to feel comfortable doing what she wants to do, to not have me “looking over her shoulder”. She deserves more out of college than she would be able to get with me in the picture.

Second, I am afraid that I am beginning to allow our relationship to intrude on my relationship with God. No doubt, she has affected that relationship in many ways, all of them good. For the first time, though, it’s starting to get in the way. This is my fault, not hers, but it is still something that needs to be fixed. I realized recently when planning for next summer that instead of planning around God’s will for my time, I was planning around seeing her. It could very well be possible to recalibrate my focus and get back to God without ending things, but I don’t know that I have that kind of character and moral toughness.

Third, the more I look at the world of politics, the less I like the idea of bringing someone else into it. Especially at the lower levels, the hours are long, the work hard, and the pay bad. To ask someone to follow me into that world would be, I think, irresponsible.

Finally, I still struggle greatly with believing that I can have value in this world. I do not want to ask someone to follow me if I cannot take care of them and be certain that they are provided for. Yes, I understand that relationships go both ways, but that doesn’t absolve me of my responsibility to look out for her interests above mine. She will have great value for someone in a marriage relationship someday; I have yet to be convinced that I will do the same. Until I am, I am going to be very cautious.

Please don’t think from all this that this decision was a cold, logical one made in the space of five minutes. The truth is that I agonized over this for days. I cried. I struggled. Who wouldn’t? Carrie is one of the most valuable people I have ever met in my entire life, and I’ve called myself a fool a million times for letting her go.

Carrie knows me better than anyone. I could convince anyone and their mother that I was happy, but she is always able to know something is wrong. She remembers details like nobody I’ve ever known, reminding me of things like my brother’s birthday and CCF meetings that I was supposed to go to. She can listen forever or talk forever, whichever is needed. She has a smile that could make the lowliest of peasents feel ready to take on the world. She serves people without considering her own needs and desires, serves until it hurts, serves until there’s no reason left to serve… and then does it again. More than all that, she loves God. She loves him despite her family’s general apathy towards Christianity, despite her friends’ pursuit of other things, and despite her occasional frustrations with people in her church. She loves him despite struggle and hardship. She loves him despite pain.

Parting with her is nothing less than agonizing.

Despite all this, though, there is a beautiful side. Beautiful in that we can be proud of our relationship. Beautiful in that we never, NEVER crossed the lines of sin in our physical relationship. Beautiful in that she has made me a far better person, and hopefully the same is true the other way around. Beautiful in that God was honored and glorified in our relationship, and nobody can deny it. Beautiful in that we were a shining example of all that a Christian relationship can be. I am better prepared for life and for future marriage because of Carrie.

Looking down the road, I know that the only responsible thing I can do is let her go. I’m going to hurt, and she’s going to hurt, but it is the only way. God MUST be first, and I believe with all my heart that this decision is a reflection of my desire to make that true in my life.

The next days and perhaps even weeks will be tough ones for us, so I would appreciate your prayers. This has been the hardest decision I’ve made, and will take some getting used to. Through it all, remember this. 1 Samuel 12:24 says, “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”

God has done some fantastic things for Carrie and I, and it is incumbent upon me to thank him for that and to press on in my relationship with him because of it. Though I am in great pain today, I know God will honor this choice.

Don’t be afraid of closeness, dear reader. I would not be half the man I am if I had.

And Carrie, if you read this, I truly do and always will love you.