I started looking though old journals as I started writing my posts centering them around my time at Bethel. I found this journal entry from February 2008 that was written while I was there.
“Get close to the congregation. Have a set plan for service during the month. Be prepared for ministry, arrange to work with people, both ones I know and don’t know. Make it a goal to talk to people at meetings, don’t just go hide in the mag room. Ask to stay down on weekends if I can.”My Personal Journal – February 2nd 2008
If I could reach back in time to him, that solitary figure battling the shadows of depression and anxiety, I would offer a hand not just for comfort but in recognition. He was someone navigating the complexities of life, often feeling lost, seeking peace in distractions—yet, within him was always a desire for a life filled with joy, love, and companionship, a genuine life.
If I could talk to him, I’d reassure him that his efforts to fit into what seemed normal weren’t pointless. They were essential survival tactics at the time, and they didn’t erode the essence of who he was or who he would become. His isolation, though painful then, wasn’t permanent but a phase that would build resilience.
In his efforts to get closer to the congregation, I would remind him to choose friends who appreciate his flaws and celebrate his distinctiveness. True connection comes from resonating with those who face challenges and still triumph, who share similar journeys or can be empathetic with his pain. I’d also tell him to be willing to embrace the spontaneous moments that can lead to deep bonds.
At a party trying to be cool. This was taken the week I wrote the original Journal Entry on February 2nd 2008.
I’d encourage him to step out from the magazine room at meetings, even if it’s just a small step. It might have seemed safer to stay hidden, but real growth requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
I wish I could express my deep empathy for his struggles and the intensity of his loneliness. I would try to convey that this period wasn’t the sum of his life. I’d tell him to savor the joyful moments, brace for the challenging ones, and know that life, in time, would lead to a place where he’d find his true home, his voice, and realize he was never really alone.