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Why Long Distance Relationships Never Work

Well, thanks for coming over to my blog! I haven’t written anything in quite a while, but that’s because of college term papers and life in general. Now that I’ve had time to sit and contemplate life, I think I’ve found a topic worth considering. Today, I want to write about an idea near and dear to my heart, which is the thought that – on most occasions – a long distance relationship is doomed from the start.

(A disclaimer: I am not speaking directly to any individual. I have experienced nothing but love and support in my growth and my relationship, but I have seen others who weren’t as lucky. I love the people who have been around me, and my hope is that you will see both sides of this topic and come out of it with understanding.)

Sadly, long-distance relationships are doomed from the outset.

You want to know why?

It seems like it fails because people decide to make it their personal ambition to destroy the idea that two people can care for each other from a distance.

Guys.

Really?

Why the lack of faith?

Did someone do something to cause you to see distance as insurmountable?

I’m of the mind that love can work across any distance, if it is real, and the parties who are in love are willing to work their hardest to make the relationship work. It isn’t an issue of money, and it isn’t an issue of distance. It is a matter of the heart, and if it’s right, it’s right.

I have my own opinions on what it takes to make a long-distance relationship work, and I think it takes a concerted effort on the part of two different parties for a successful experience to occur:

1. Friends and family (the outsiders) that are observing the relationship develop, and

2. The people in said relationship.

First, I want to offer three concepts to understand for the person who comes from an outside perspective:

1. Yes, the people in this relationship are gluttons for punishment. They wait for days, weeks, even months, do see their significant other, and often, those visits only last but a few days. Do not think of them as childish, because it takes a great amount of composure and maturity to keep from crying like a baby every time their S.O. leaves (I know this, because I was in a long distance relationship for two years and nine months before I was able to see my S.O. consistently). These are two people who work very hard to maintain loyalty and constant contact with their S.O., so my hope is that you will honor the fact that they are doing their best to care for a person who they find to be very important.

2. No, it is not easy for your friend to bring their long-distance S.O. up for a visit at any time. This is tough, because naturally, if your friend could have their S.O. with them at all times, they would do anything they could to make it happen. Sadly, most people are in long distance relationships because they can’t find a way to shorten said distance. Not a major complaint, just something to remember.

3. Yes, this relationship does not make sense, but try to be encouraging anyway. I know it’s hard to believe that people would subject themselves to such deep hurt every time their S.O. leaves, but I promise that the person in this relationship thinks it’s worth the hurt. If this person didn’t feel like being in this relationship was right, they probably wouldn’t have ever decided to pursue it. (Another disclaimer: if your family member or friend’s S.O. is clearly hurting them and they can’t see it, just be honest. But be loving at the same time. They will never hear you if you are a jerk in your approach. Help them to understand that their relationship is damaging in a kind and gentle way. And if it isn’t, stay supportive.)

Remember, you are key in the success of this relationship! If you do not commit to encouraging and supporting this individual in his or her endeavors, then there is a chance that their relationship will not succeed. Be good to one another. That should be obvious.

Now, I want to offer three ideas to the person who is in a long distance relationship:

1. It will be okay! Remember why you are doing this. When it gets hard, just know that your S.O. is probably feeling the same way. Long distance relationships are hard, but they are tremendously rewarding. To think that this won’t work out is to hamper your chances at success. You have to either be fully committed to the relationship, or you shouldn’t date this person at all. Half-hearted people have a hard time succeeding when hard work is necessary.

2. Understand that the people around you may not be able to make sense of your relationship decisions. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship, and I can’t even make sense of my own decisions! Be willing to explain the dynamic of your relationship, and just what about your S.O. really makes you want to press on.  Just a thought: if you are willing and able to explain just what makes you happy about your S.O., then you might find out some interesting things about that individual and yourself. For me, talking about my girlfriend actually makes me love her even more (as if that’s possible!). Communicating your thoughts clearly shows a maturity that is hard to discount, and it is a skill that helps you avoid being labelled as “immature,” or “angsty.”

3. Something my dad told me as he was going to bed today (I am writing this late at night in my living room) really struck me. This advice is multi-faceted, and very applicable in this context: Stay focused, stay on the narrow way, and avoid heartache. Being in a long-distance relationship is tough. It is like a long road race. You prepare for this race, but there is no experience like actually running it. You hit bumps and potholes and bends in the road, and sometimes it gets so narrow that you are not able to run side-by-side. When you get to those points, you can be confident in your Heavenly Father and your significant other, who will support you in different ways. A key to this analogy; however, is that you are willing to support him or her as well. Long-distance relationships do not succeed if you do not work at them, so you must understand that constant effort is key. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Be aware of just how quickly you are moving, and how quickly your partner is moving. Finding success is all about finding the right running mate.

Long-distance relationships are doomed to fail.

If you don’t have faith.

Work hard, and love even harder. Don’t give up, and know that – if this person is the one you are meant for, then you will someday find your joyous reunion.

A quote:

“Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough…”

This is the girl I dated long-distance for two years and nine months. We are now happily dating face-to-face!

This is Tori, the girl I dated long-distance for two years and nine months. We are now happily dating face-to-face!

 

What is important in a relationship? Chapter 1 of 10 – Why it is okay to be single…wait…what?

Before I write anything on this topic, I must offer a disclaimer: I am only human. My views are not universally constant, and to be totally honest, I am still figuring this relationship thing out. I just have a few ideas, small and big, that might be workable for others, so I want to present them. Feel free to hear me out, but if you think you have it all together, go ahead and move along. If you’d like. 

Well, here is something I haven’t done before; a self-help series! I want to offer you, as the blogger, some tips that might help in the topic of dating and singleness. These, as previously stated, are not umbrella concepts. They are just concepts I’ve mulled over in my own relationship, and hopefully they, in some way, might have some sort of application to your life, single or not! I have ten tips, and I will present each of them over the next few weeks, hopefully ending on December 31st, so you can start a new year with your significant other, trying some new things. 

Today, I will present my introduction, and my first tip!

Introduction: Dating is a weird aspect of human life. We dance around people of the opposite sex, hoping to impress them with some odd cocktail of pheremones, eventually to commit only to them, get married, and procreate. Why in the world do we do this? It makes no sense at all sometimes, until we go back to the beginning of time, and look at the world’s first couple. In the Bible, Adam was the first man, and he was alone – one man to name every animal on Earth. That job seems massive, right? God decided that no animal would do any good for Adam as a partner, so he created Eve (from one of Adam’s ribs – SCIENCE!), and Adam finally had a partner suitable for living with. God said that this partnering of Adam and Eve was good, so all was well with the world upon this pairing. I think if you were to look at the triune Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and the very first relationship on Earth, you would probably begin to see that it was okay to be in community with others, whether in a romantic sense or otherwise. I think God desires for us to have companionship. It doesn’t have to be romantic, but I think we need to establish that perpetual isolation is not the best option. We must pursue interpersonal relationships with other people, and I think personally that the way we think and feel will improve because of more interaction. In this series I will probably focus on the romantic side of a relationship, but hopefully, you will find that some aspects I’ll discuss will transfer over into the world of friendship as well! All relationships are important, whether good bad or otherwise, and hopefully these conversations will help us understand that a little better. I want to discuss some misconceptions about relationships over the next few days, and hopefully provide insight that might bring you all some peace, new understanding, or reaffirmation of an idea that you already had! Are you ready, because I’m not! This will be fun. 

1. IT IS OKAY TO BE SINGLE. Really. I promise. 

This post goes out to all of the friends and strangers that – like me, have felt struggles to feel right in their singleness. For the longest time, I couldn’t deal with being single. All of my friends were pairing off, and it seemed like I would move to a place of “Old Maidhood,” in which I would just be a crazy old single friend that no one wanted to be around anymore. I felt lost, and I felt lonely. It felt like, without a girlfriend, I wouldn’t be able to make it. I moved from affection to affection, seeking some sort of satisfaction, but never experiencing any. It was really hard to look at my friends who were in relationships, and honestly, I just felt like sitting alone was the only thing I could do in peace anymore (totally counter-intuitive. If you feel lonely, don’t go be alone. That does no good. Just for what it’s worth), so I would try to do that. What I didn’t realize at that time was that it is okay, sometimes advantageous, to be single. (Let me throw in another disclaimer: I am no longer single. I’ve been in a committed relationship for over 3 years, and I couldn’t be happier! I just know that this relationship only started after I came to understand the benefits of singleness, so I feel as if I must bring forward the idea that it is indeed okay to not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just for what it’s worth.) Being single has several benefits, but for time’s sake, I will choose three:

1. Singleness can, on occasion, be beneficial for ministry efforts.

This is very much a contextual idea, but if you think about it, Jesus and Paul were both single. I think Paul especially was confident in his singleness, as it allowed him issue-free travelling, with no responsibility to provide for a family while on mission. This fit his ministry well, as he traveled all over the known world, sharing the Gospel with anyone who offered an ear. It is reasonable to think that this kind of travel and punishment (several jail trips, numerous other persecutions), would have been very exhaustive/damaging to a family, so it was better that he was single.

It is not always better to be single while doing ministry, as there are benefits to doing mission work alone, or in partnership (Going to save that idea for another post). As I mentioned earlier, I think singleness fits in many ministerial contexts, if you feel called to a ministry that requires singleness for effectiveness, I would encourage you to pursue that lifestyle. It may lead to a freedom and effectiveness in ministry that you might never have imagined. 

2. Sometimes it is okay to spend time just getting to know yourself. 

Let’s be honest – do you really feel like you know yourself? Do you? When you are in a relationship, your significant other will learn things about you – small things, sometimes things you didn’t even know – that may spark some very interesting conversations/arguments, and if you don’t know things in your life that are stumbling blocks or quirks that would cause relational problems, then you should probably take some time by yourself to learn about those things. No human on this Earth is perfect, so we all could probably use a time of reflection to figure out things that we don’t like that might be in our control. Our significant other should love us for our imperfections as much as our good qualities, but we can’t expect them to be perfect either. Our responsibility is to become the best us that we can be, in order for our relationship with our future significant other to be even more special, and even more successful. 

3. Dating for the sake of dating is not the best method for success. 

Dating is fun. I get it. Seriously though, don’t date unless you have prayed about it and prepped for it. Dating is a prep for a life together, so if you date and break up many times, then I would venture to say that you would struggle eventually with a lifetime commitment like marriage. Playing games with a person’s heart is unfair to that person’s future spouse. You can only imagine what that young person is going to go through after you break up, so it would almost be better if you never dated in the first place. I am not saying that not dating is the best option, but I am saying that you need to be very careful with the heart that you do decide to pursue. If a person is willing to put their feelings in your hands, then it is your responsibility to hold tight to them, and respect them, whether or not they end up in your possession or not. If you are not ready to handle a commitment like that, then you must make sure that your priorities are in the right place. Singleness is not a bad thing in this context. Until you are ready, wait. Pray. Think. Let the Lord work in your singleness, and pursue Him in all other aspects of your life as well. When you do that, you will find that He will bless and honor your relationships in a new and vibrant way. 

Singleness is just fine. Isolation and loneliness are not. Seek out community with other people, and let the Lord work in your relationships, and if all goes according to His plan (it will), then you will experience exactly what He wants for you, which is best. Sit tight, and hold onto Him. That’s all that matters. All of this relationship stuff will happen on His timing. I hope you all will learn to become the best you, and things will improve in all aspects of life! I hope this blog held at least a little insight. If not, tell me now, and I’ll discontinue the series. If it did hold some worthwhile ideas, let me know, and I’ll keep it going! Thanks for reading this far, and I wish you the best as you look through some of the muddled thoughts that I like to present on a page. God bless!

Tomorrow’s post: Five Ideas for Application in Relationships. 

See you then! 

Jesse

Beautiful Words

Since I am in a haiku mood, I thought I would write a cycle called “What is beauty.” It took me a while to write this, and since it is late, I ask that you grant me a reprieve for anything you find particularly egregious. Thanks for reading.

What is Beauty?

Is it a social construct

or open for change?

 

Beauty is not on

the outside but within you.

Embrace what’s inside.

 

It is not defined

by someone else from outside

it’s up for debate.

 

Beautiful is not

new or pretty or showy

it is heart and mind

 

Beauty is thinking

It is moving to action

love epitomized

 

It is in small things

like roses, smiles, and hugs; moments.

little ideas

 

Big dreams, successes,

failures, and in between, all

can be beautiful.

 

I tell you all this:

If you think that you’re ugly

you are wildly wrong.

 

You are beautiful

Just as everyone else is.

Embrace confidence.

 

Find someone who loves

you for who you really are.

Not for an ideal.

 

When you find people

that you want to spend moments

with; make memories.

 

You will then see what

beauty truly is, and that

is no lie; truly.

 

Beauty is no joke.

It is not a thing messed with.

Beauty is our dream.

 

We desire beauty

like milk, keeping us awake

at night, pushing us.

 

So we go on; restless

wanderers in faithless chase

after an ideal.

 

Beauty lies within

the sacrifice of a Dad

who sent baby Boy

 

To die hard for us,

a lamb to the slaughterhouse

all for salvation.

 

That is the beauty

we seek. A life with the Son

who came to save US.

 

Young Carpenter, hung

on a wooden stake for me.

Because of His love.

 

So I sit in my

ineptitude; pondering

the grace that abounds.

 

This is beauty also.

The love of a father, too

great to comprehend.

 

I guess beauty lies

in all things, big and small; we

just have to find it.

 

The Miracle of Successful Time Management (and why I am Living on a Prayer).

Well, I have to be honest. I am bad with my time. This week in particular, I have really struggled with productivity, especially when it comes to doing homework and writing papers. I’m learning again, as I always do at this time in the semester, that time management is paramount to success as a student or even more broadly, as a human being. These are the proverbial “Dog Days” of the semester, when students decide to put down Hemingway and pick up a new series on Netflix. Every college student has felt this at one time or another, and that is almost a proven problem. In my case, my time management issue comes in my literature classes (I love these classes, and the material is fantastic. Just not staying on track very well. lol). Instead of writing papers or reading my assigned book, I’ve been killing time on Facebook, and distracting myself with anything within reach. This has not inhibited me greatly, but it will if I am not careful (I learned this lesson last year, so I am taking precautionary measures). All of this rambling aside, I am going to give you all a few ideas for battling boredom and staying on track (in a collegiate context. When I learn about adult life, I’ll blog about it too). Here they are!

(Another disclaimer before I begin this list: I understand that in the previous paragraph I mentioned my issues with time-management. I am no authority, but every pointer I am putting up here will be applied in my life at some point in the semester. Just food for thought – not the golden rules.)

 

1. You don’t have to overschedule in order to succeed.

I find that there is a healthy balance between overzealously blocking out every single minute and not keeping a planner at all. I think that if you were to keep and check a planner, you would be more effective, but you must also allow time for flexibility. As a college student especially, campus activities will take up time on a pretty consistent basis. These events are scheduled in a seemingly arbitrary way, so if you want to remain involved on campus, you must allow a little bit of wiggle room in your schedule. No need at all to be blocked up down to every minute of every day. Living that way makes life a pain.

2. Do NOT get over-involved. Just don’t do it.

I know this sounds really weird, coming from a guy who at one time was in a campus activities committee, working two different jobs, and taking twenty hours in a semester. Trust me. Getting involved is great, but it comes at a cost: time. I would submit that in order to enjoy college more, you must at least go to events put on by campus committees. You know the activities fee in your tuition costs? Yeah. You are already paying for it, just go get involved. It is a waste of money to not show up to events. My warning for you comes connected with the idea of involvement: if you do too much, you will burn out. Guaranteed. It is incredibly difficult to stay on track with homework and work (two things that are kind of important…) if you are busy at the Pizza Hodown or Shaving Cream Slip ‘n’ Slide (ficticious events). Again – involvement good, over-involvement, bad.

3. Make time for the things and people you love. After your homework is done.

I sound like your dad. I’m sorry. Seriously though, make your degree your priority. The frat boy can finish school by the skin of his teeth, saying that he networked like crazy, but friends does not a good person make. The key to success in this area of time management is a balance between social activity and academic focus. These sides can intermingle, but as long as they are somewhat evenly balanced, success should be at least a little easier. It may sound weird that I think homework should come first, but as I’ve done all the college nights out (stay at McDonalds till 4 A.M., IHOP till about the same time, etc.), I can say from experience that too much social activity hurts grades, and too much studying hurts social skills. It is good to come out of college a well-rounded student. Not someone who wasted time on any one thing.

I am not an authority. At all. I hope that these are only a short list of some pretty wonderful ideas for living a little more efficiently, and if you feel I am either off-base or lacking in my ideas, submit more! I’m always in need of more blog ideas. Just a few thoughts for you, from a college kid who is still on his way around the block. Love y’all. Keep readin’.

 

 

 

 

 

The  challenge of work-life balance is without question one of the most significant  struggles faced by modern man.
Stephen Covey

My First Published Paper…Exciting, Eh?

Well, for the first time, I am a published author! Kind of. I got the opportunity to submit a cultural reflection essay for publication on the ECU Literary Blog, and they liked it, so it is now on the page! I am so happy, and God receives all of the glory for this experience. I thought I might post it on here, in order for you to see what you think. This is a paper all about me, and what makes me who I am. I hope you can relate to some of the ideas in this work. This started as an assignment in Ethnic Literature, so some of these references are from our textbook. I found this paper pretty therapeutic, so I hope you all appreciate it. Have a wonderful day, folks. 

Here it is: 

                                                                     Why Being Lost is Okay: My Story

     To be totally honest, I am really not sure who I am, or why I am here. As I thought through ideas for this reflection paper, I was thrust into a great existential crisis of sorts. I don’t really know who I am or where I am from, so naturally, reflecting on my ethnic origins would be difficult. As far as I know, I am of both Eastern European and Choctaw descent, with a little bit of Nova Scotian thrown in for good measure. My family has been in America for a couple hundred years, since before the Civil War, so a lot of my Non-American ancestors lie so deep in my lineage that they are really untraceable. My seeming ignorance of my heritage was brought forward as this assignment was put before me, and I am sad that I didn’t contemplate what makes me who I am a little earlier on in life. As a part of this reflection, I decided to think over some family traditions that have shaped my upbringing, some major ideas that have helped me grow into the man I am today, and some beliefs I held that being in a diverse area have challenged greatly. I have learned a great amount about myself and my “culture” in the last few weeks, and I hope to make my life more transparent in the next few pages.

     In order to better understand who I am today as a nineteen year old college student, you must first understand some of the traditions and beliefs that my family adheres to. We are a family that believes strongly in the Christian faith, each and every one of us pursuing Jesus and a life full of love for Him and others. Normally, I imagine that my personal beliefs wouldn’t be very well accepted in a paper, but as this is telling you about who I am, I feel it most important to tell you who I care about the most. I have been a Christ follower for over ten years, so naturally my love for Jesus and other people really has a great influence on my life. I have really been battling recently with what I believe and how I believe it, but I really do feel like Christian faith, if expressed in love, really is a beautiful belief. If I didn’t pursue my theological beliefs like I do, I would be unsure of what to do with myself. I also have struggled recently with the idea of acceptance and love, in terms of religious v. non-religious. I am learning that people sometimes are all-too-critical of others, when they themselves are not living in an honorable way. People who are religious are okay, and people who are not religious are okay. There really are not many differences between these groups of individuals.

     As we begin to understand the faith that holds my family together, we can take a look at a few family traditions that are linked to this core set of beliefs. The first and most important tradition that our family tries to hold to is the idea that a family who goes to church together stays together. My dad is a minister, so I have been in church since I was in my mother’s womb…literally. We try to go as often to the local church as possible, in order to recharge and refocus for the week to come. Church is much more than a social event for my family; it is an opportunity to grow together as a unit and to study the God we pursue so intently. I firmly believe that without church, our family wouldn’t be as close as it is. Church is the common thread that ties our family together, and it is vitally important to who I am as a human being.

     Another major set of traditions come in the form of holiday celebrations. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any other major holiday, my immediate family and I always try to celebrate together. We believe that family unity is incredibly vital to success in life, and little things like dinner together and family moments really contribute to growth and successful maturation in each and every one of us. Our family is very strongly focused on unity and oneness, and I think my childhood and youth have been better for that fact. We have faced numerous hardships, but through it all, we have each other. That is all that matters.

     After understanding a little more about my upbringing, I think it is fair to set the focus squarely on myself and who I am. It sounds a little self-centered, but this paper is about me, so we will move on. I think understanding who I am comes down to seeing three key lessons learned in my life: first, everyone has a different story, so learn to listen before you speak, second, if an older person has something to tell you, listen; it may profound, and lastly, love is not something to be trifled with.

     Throughout my life, I have come into contact with many people of many different ethnicities, genders, and beliefs. These people all have lived different lives, yet, sometimes I would struggle with projecting their problems onto my culture, which did not help them solve those problems. As I have grown up, I’ve learned that listening and being appreciative of someone and their plight can be the best way to help them solve a problem. My intricacies are not the same as my neighbor’s, or my brother across the globe. If I were to take a more open perspective in looking at them and their lives, I feel like I would learn better how to act around them and interact with them, thereby making things easier for both parties. This lesson was hard for me to learn, having not really been exposed to the idea until my teens.

     In Robert Hayden’s poem Those Winter Sundays, our speaker is reflecting back on his time in the house with his father, and how he seemed to regret treating him rather poorly. In the last stanza he says:

 

…Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

             and polished my good shoes as well.

           What did I know, what did I know

                                  of love’s austere and lonely offices? (lines 10-14)

 

 

     Hayden seems to express in this poem the lesson that I have been learning since I arrived on my first college campus: parents know more than we think they know. My parents have been trying to instill some ideals and lessons in me ever since I could understand, but as most teens do, I resisted or rejected some of the ideas they tried to teach me. As I have grown into young adulthood, I’ve come to the sad realization that my parents were right in just about every situation where we butted heads. As times change, so do our understandings of different concepts and lessons that we learn. Hindsight really is 20/20 (forgive me for use of cliché, but it is true), and as I look back on my parents’ and grandparents’ teaching points, I see a lot of lessons and character ideas that have proved to be true in many ways.

     As for love, I don’t feel like anyone truly understands the depth of meaning held in those four letters. Love can fit in many different contexts, whether it’s family love, the love of a friend, or the love of a significant other. The relevance of love became more important to me recently, due to the fact that my parents’ relationship became very strained a few months ago. Some bad news came, and all in one week, I nearly lost both parents because of it. The depths of love were really tested as they worked through recovering from this issue, and so now I take the word love very seriously. I feel as if people throw it around flippantly, talking about how they “love that burger” or how they “love this movie.” I feel as if people have lost track of the meaning of love, and I hope that someday soon, they will learn why love is both wonderful and vital to life as we know it. This lesson, along with the two previously discussed, has had a great impact on my life, and how I have become the man I am today.

     The final area of life that has really influenced me comes down to some of my understandings of culture that have been greatly challenged. I grew up in a home of white Americans, in suburbs full of white Americans. My first exposure to diversity really didn’t occur until elementary school, when I was going to a school in the middle of the longest running desegregation in history. I was in a place where people were forcing themselves to love others of different colors and beliefs, and I do firmly believe that that experience distorted my understanding of race relations and interaction. As I grew up, I saw people who feigned love for others, only to hate them behind their backs, all because of the color of their skin. I had to learn from my family and others that true love for another individual comes from within, and that it has no skin color. I did not have any preconceived notions of how to handle people of other cultures, I was just taught to love and love unconditionally. This lesson came after leaving Louisiana, and I am so glad I was able to learn it. Another part of that lesson was coming to the understanding that racism is still alive and well in a lot of areas in America. As it turns out, we really never were truly free from the plague of hate and race frustration. I hope that lessons I’ve learned will hit others as they have hit me, hopefully helping them to understand how good it feels to love truly and compassionately.

     The idea of loving people and embracing diversity was only confirmed and empowered by my trips abroad to London and the Dominican Republic. In those places I saw a lot of elements of life that were similar to American culture, whether it be class differences, or just the way people interacted. People in other countries were very similar to the people I met here, which really caused me to think even harder about how I imagined other cultures and how the media portrays those cultures. I have really learned to embrace diversity and to appreciate people of other beliefs and upbringings, because without them, the Earth would not be what it is today. We are a diverse planet, and the perspective of the whole can really change the living dynamic of the few.

     Well, this is me. This is the reality I face: I am an American who doesn’t really know where I come from, or why I am here. I am a conglomeration; a mixing of hundreds of people and thousands of beliefs. Sure, I’m a little bit out of sorts, maybe even lost, but I know who I am. I am a man, almost twenty years old, seeking to understand my roots, and why I am who I am. I am living the only way I know how: passionately. I will pursue things that may seem out of the ordinary, only just to see if they are worth trying. I am myself, and confident in that fact. As I am writing, I am progressively feeling more confident in the identity that I am assuming, and why I am where I am at this time. My identity isn’t something that I will allow my culture to throw on to me, it is a set of beliefs and characteristics that I will choose for myself. Part of this identity will come from an acknowledgement of my past; the time of reflection that I took to write this paper has helped me tremendously in understanding some of the basic building blocks in my life, along with the reminder of why they were the chosen building blocks in the first place. This paper proved to be a sort of throwback for me, like in Mixed Blood by Phillip Carroll Morgan, when the speaker states that the back roads cause him to feel like he is “slowly changing/ from white man to indian/ like eroding wood” (lines 43-45). I did not change ethnicities as I wrote this paper, but I felt an odd sort of empathy with the speaker of this poem, as if he and I were feeling some of the same ideals. I felt a sudden connection to my roots, a sudden transformation, perhaps to what my family was, to who I am, and to what I belong to. I feel closer to understanding who I am than I ever thought I would be, and remembering where I came from has been great for helping me to understand where I need to go. In contrast to Natasha Tretheway’s poem Flounder, where the speaker feels an inner conflict stemming from her mixed-race, saying “I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,/ switch sides with every jump” (lines 27-28), I feel fully confident in who I am and what made me who I came to be. I have learned to respect others, love unconditionally, and listen before speaking. I have learned that the best way to help someone through an issue is to love them through it, and I have learned that the best hope in my life comes from Jesus Christ and Him alone. My hope is that people would see my life and find in it examples of how to love people and show great compassion, and maybe that example will spur them on to action. Maybe, as in my life, people will start loving each other and the world will see exactly what it claims to desire, change in the hearts of each and every individual. Maybe people will understand what true brotherhood really means. Maybe people will realize that being lost is okay, as long as we do it together.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” reprinted in Poetry: An Introduction 6th edition.

     Edited by Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Marin’s, 2010, p. 21

 

Morgan, Phillip Carroll. “Mixed Blood.” The Fork-in-the-road Indian Poetry Store. Cambridge,

     England: Salt, 2006. N. pag. Print.

 

Tretheway, Natasha D., and Rita Dove. “Flounder.” Domestic Work: Poems. St. Paul, MN:

     Graywolf, 2000. N. pag. Print.

 

Poems, Papers, and Peer Review. Oh my!

Hey guess what! I’m on a poetry frenzy. Today in Ethnic Literature, we did peer reviews. These are the days where other students are fully allowed to tear your paper up, and I hate the critiques on a pretty typical basis. lol. So. Here is my poem titled “Peer Review.”

 

I just wrote a darn good paper.
Lots of words, some fancy usage too.
I finished it this morning,
Now its time for peer review.
I pass it to the left,
Nerves well up inside, …
She looks at me and laughs,
I think I’m gonna die.

She handed back my paper
black and blue like Rocky after Apollo (the first time).
I slump back in my chair
“Yo Adrien! Yo Mickey!”
No luck.
I’m stuck.
Again.

Here I sit
alone
in the corner with a bashed paper
and bashed dreams.
My peer review was finally over.
I left, my “darn good paper” and me,
I knew I could recover
as my heart filled with glee,
because

Its lunch time.

Jesus, Tori, School, and Stark Naked Poetry. Sounds interesting enough.

Today marks the day I write about the day I should have written about already. Got that? Yeah. I am a little behind on blogging, and here’s why: college. A new one, in a new state, presenting all sorts of new challenges. The last few weeks have been crazy great, and I fully intend on telling you AAAALLLLLLLLLL about them. Alright. Starting now. I’ve already posted in my blog about my transfer process and how I ended up at a school in podunk-ville, Oklahoma. If you didn’t know I was here, read the other posts. I would love that:) But anyways, yeah. I ended up in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, where the sun shines bright and the people are…well…interesting. Being a city boy and moving out here to what in my eyes is southern life was interesting. There is a learning curve living here and being from St. Louis, but I love a good challenge. Just as an aside, let me give you a few things I’ve learned thus far:

1. Oklahoma residents have a line-dance for every song. Ever. If you don’t think so, just come down here and watch. This place is like High School Musical. I once watched a DJ put on a country song, and about a hundred people came out of the woodwork with an intricate, fully choreographed line-dance. Wow is all I have to say, it was actually kind of impressive/creepy.

2. These people love, and I mean LOVE their sweet tea and jacked up trucks. Not everyone in Oklahoma is like this, but a great population of students on campus appreciate a good sweet tea, some sort of fried food, and a drive in their jacked and stacked Ford 750 (being facetious).

3. Oklahoma has some very interesting town names. Just to name a few: Miami (pronounced Miamuh…I know right?), Wetumpka, Eufala, Tishonmingo, and many others. There’s also a Pottawatomie county near my school. Lol. Definitely different from Arnold or Bolivar.

4. If you come to Oklahoma, know your football. Do I have to explain myself? Its almost the deep south here. They like football alot. Well. So do I. So that’s not bad.

5. Oklahomans, for the most part, are pretty kind people. In my time here, I’ve come across some great new friends and I am feeling hospitality to spare. I really like these people alot.

So far, Oklahoma is a pretty cool place. I’ve made alot of new friends, found a great church, and Tori and I are getting along wonderfully! Guys,
its pretty awesome. I also am really enjoying my classes. I really think that I am falling in love with literature, and I find that to be a wonderful thing! In the first two weeks of school, I’ve already polished off over 500 pages of reading, but the work is worthwhile. I’m learning alot, and I feel like concepts are clicking. There’s nothing like sitting down with a good book or collection of poetry and just digging in, amirite? Oh! And by the wayI just love it. Everything feels right here. I’m proud to be an ECU Tiger, and I really think the future is beautiful here. God has been very good!

Thanks for reading if you did, if not, thanks for thinking about it. I really love you guys.

I close with an incredibly profound, tiger-themed poem:

Roar

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am the champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Yeah, I know. Katy Perry. Catchy song. Lol. Note the sarcasm in my intro. I’ll write an original poem for my next post.

image

She’s the reason I’m here. Isn’t she pretty?? I think so:)

My Summer Reading

Today is a day I would like to call “Jesse’s stream of consciousness day.” I have had a busy week, and today is the day that I am typing to organize my thoughts. lol. I hope that this post will hold some sense of continuity, but we will see.

So I have been reading alot this summer. I figure if I am going to be an English major, then I need to really dig in and read alot, just to get used to chomping up alot of pages and writing alot as well. Shockingly enough, the reading I’ve done has been remarkably beneficial to me so far! I’ve been challenged by the study I’ve completed.

One of the books I have been working through is Read the Bible for Life. The basic idea of this book is that there is an issue of poor Biblical literacy in the world today. The author of this book wanted to use it as a resource to help people understand how to read the Bible better, and how to better apply it to their lives. So far, this book is fascinating! Sometimes in my life, I really struggle with the issue of staying consistent in my Bble reading. I may lose track of time, but for the most part, I think the issue lies with me not being ready to read or understand the scripture in the book. It’s complicated, I understand, and I have to say this book has definitely given me a new perspective on the Bible and Biblical interpretation. I am looking at things in the Bible through new eyes, and already I am seeing the benefits of taking on this book. 

I want to share a portion of it with you in order to give you a taste of what I’ve read: in this chapter, the author is conversing with Professor Bruce Waltke on how to take in the Old Testament. This portion really hit me, and I hope it will be meaningful to you too: “…tension is absolutely essential to life. We grow and develop through tension. Our character is shaped by it. If God answered  our prayers immediately, relieving all of our tension in life, it would destroy us because we would see God as a tool to be used, like a genie in Aladdin’s lamp. We would become more selfish than we already are. By not rewarding virtue immediately, or punishing vice immediately, God develops our character. So tensions–living in a story in which there is a struggle between good and evil–are really necessary to our own development. In the same way,,, the tension we find in the Old Testament stories tells us something about how to live with tension in our own relationships with God.”

Fascinating stuff right? I agree. This book has challenged me endlessly. I’ve learned alot about reading the Bible, but as you can see from the quote above, there are several life lessons present in the book as well. I feel challenged and refreshed by this book, and i hope that some time you as readers will consider taking it on as well! It is very much worthwhile for religious or academic purposes in regards to studying the Bible. Read the Bible for Life is a wonderfully refreshing and very straight-forward set of methods for understanding scripture, and I hope it will prove to be worthwhile for any of you that take it up!

These studies have been good to me this summer. I am going to set my goal at finishing ten books in the next two months, and I hope you all will hold me to that! I also want to say thanks for reading. You are awesome.

Remember: No story is worth reading if it never has any tension. Hold on tight, when things get hard, the resolution becomes even more special.

Toward the Unknown Region…sounds pretty exciting, huh?

Sorry. I really am. I know its been a while since I started doing this and I’m only posting for the second time. I really do apologize. Forgive me? Anyways: life has been a bit crazy and its taken a while to format my thoughts on my last three weeks. Do you want to hear about my adventure? Sure, I’d be happy to tell you about it! 

Well, I’ll start at the beginning. Kind of. Over Thanksgiving break, myself and my family began the process of praying through our options about school. I am officially a Junior in college now, this was during my Sophomore year. At the time, I was attending an amazing school, which also happened to be very VERY expensive. I’ll get into that later. But yeah. We began to pray, and try to consider all options for schooling in regards to cost-efficiency and major, and I had the idea that I would go to school with my girlfriend, Tori. (By the way, she has a blog called “The Pastor’s Daughter,” and its pretty good.) This sounded like a great idea, so we ran with it. 

I brought the idea up to her, and she loved it! In discussion, we decided that it would be a good idea for me to look at getting an Associate’s Degree, and it ended up working out to where I had all the classes I needed to succeed. 

This is all well and good, and I felt right about the decision, but I had a few problems. I had a great job on campus, I was extremely plugged in, and there just so happened to be some insanely difficult classes in between me and my degree. 

I took a deep breath, and started trying to make dents in the issues at hand. I stepped down (Which was really hard, I loved the people I worked for, and I miss them alot already), and I really began to pray about what I could do and what I needed to do to get through. 

After a semester of scares about Science grades and chapel credits, I am proud to tell you all that I graduated! I finished my Associate’s Degree in General Studies, and I now can consider myself somewhat of a college graduate! I am not done, I will be headed to East Central University in the Fall to pursue a degree in English Education. I am aware that this is only a small victory, but with how hard I had to work to get to this point, I feel the need to relish this moment in my super comfy gown. (Not really, but I thought you would enjoy the picture of me dancing in a gown.) 

This has been a crazy few weeks, but as I sit here and think about the bright future, I also consider some of my great friend and memories made at SBU. I will really miss my first University. 

SBU is a small school in southern Missouri, only about 1,600 attendees at the Bolivar Campus. When I found out my college was smaller than my high school (Go Seckman), I was a little disturbed. Thoughts like ” is this going to be a farm town,” or “why am I doing this, I am a city boy and I don’t like little places,” came to mind when I was on campus visiting SBU. I was really worried, until I arrived at Welcome Week and all of my misconceptions were changed entirely. I fell in love with SBU from the outset. Seeing students who seemed to genuinely care about each other, and being at a school where Christlike community was stressed really became selling points in my decision to go to and really get involved at SBU.

I think about my time there, and I see moments where I really learned about myself and my work ethic. I think of times in Honors Composition where I had to work as hard as I could to pass, and when I did pass, I celebrated with my parents. I still have friends from that class today, that became my friends because of a mutual distaste for a teacher’s style. I remember moments in my dorm where friends on my hall would help me get through tough homework assignments, and the success I felt when I got good grades and brought them to those friends. I also remember moments in my job on the Welcome Week Steering Committee where I would be challenged on an idea that I had, and I needed to learn how to rework the idea to make it fit into the overall idea of Welcome Week, and not just what I wanted. These ideas and moments in themselves did not change me, but when I put them together on a timeline of my life, I came to the realization that each of those moments and many others really shaped me as a student and as a man. 

The major moments in my life at SBU are not the only things that affected me. I would say that the most vital part of my time at SBU was getting to know the group of friends that I still am in contact with. These people are too many to mention, so I won’t say any names, but as a group, these friends really helped me to understand some challenging life lessons, and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without their help. 

I am sorry if I am rambling, I realize now as I type that I had more thoughts than planned for. I will miss one other aspect of SBU, and that is choir. I sang in two choirs at SBU, and the music made in each ensemble was not even the best part. Yes, I know that I’m saying I didn’t do choir for the music, but please bear with me. I loved choir for the beauty of the words sung and the friendships made. I spent alot of time with the people in the ensembles, and I would venture to say that we became one big, dysfunctional family. We grew so close and sang so well together: I really feel like that was the difference. Spending time learning about the music in cultural and historical context makes the music more meaningful. 

In discussing choir, I come to explaining my title: To the Unknown Region. This is the name of one of the pieces we performed in choir this year, and the lyrics come from poetry titled “Darest Thou now, O Soul,” by Walt Whitman. If you read carefully, the words present a journey, a story of a life moving on from the familiar into a place of newness. Here it is:

DAREST thou now, O Soul,

 

Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,

 

Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

 

No map, there, nor guide,

 

Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,

         5

Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;

 

Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;

 

All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.

 

Till, when the ties loosen,

  10

All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,

 

Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

 

Then we burst forth—we float, 

In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them; 

Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.  15

 

The words in this bit of poetry really struck me, especially in the period of transition I am in. It is hard, sometimes, to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel when the tunnel seems so bleak. With help from friends, family, and God, I think I am rolling through, and moving on to that bright end of the tunnel. 

If you are in a period of transition, do not fret. It will be okay! Change isn’t a bad thing, and you will get through it. Don’t be afraid to seek help, because sometimes, the destination is not nearly as great as the journey. Be excited, the future is ahead, and the path will bring lessons you never thought you’d learn. Don’t be afraid to step into the Unknown Region, knowing that your friends will be there to go on adventure by your side.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you.