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love never fails
was raised in a fairly conservative Southern Baptist environment and as a result, have had ample exposure to the bible. Bible thumping doesn't just refer to the fiery Baptist preacher, all sweaty and red-faced, using the book as a visual prop. It's also the general principle that you thump these things into the heads of the youngsters at an early age so that it informs their lives. As an adult, I've built a spiritual life and constructed a view that works for me; a blend of religious views and a more universal approach rather than an exclusive one. While I no longer subscribe to the notion of the bible being an unerring word of God like the Baptists do, I do think it offers a lot of wisdom and keys to good living. Many years ago, my sister gave me a framed knick-knack for decorating my apartment after I had gotten divorced. It was nothing particularly special, but it contained a bit of the quote about love from Corinthians. I had it hanging on my wall for years until I began truck driving, and it has since been packed-away somewhere and not re-surfaced. It had the words "faith", "hope", and "love" in small boxes in an arc over some art design, and then beneath it, it said "The greatest of these is love." With the possible exception of Matthew 7 (golden rule, judge not, etc), it's one of my favorite passages in the bible.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I love rather easily. I also like to think that I'm rather easy to love. But I am not necessarily an easy person to have a relationship with. I'm on the road nearly 300 days a year. I'm not interested in having children or raising a new family; I already have three kids of my own and had a vasectomy 8 years ago. I have some rather unorthodox views about romantic love; I don't put-out billboards with big arrows pointing at it, but a glance through my LJ bio page will tell you that I'm not ashamed or try to hide it.

When welfy and I met two years ago, she knew all of these things. She and I both decided to take the leap and explore the feelings we were having for each other. A year ago, she moved to Kentucky to live with me, yet another sacrifice on her part in addition to those mentioned above. In that time, we've explored what it's like to be primary partners in co-habitation. About a month ago she began to question the things she sacrifices for her relationship with me. She began to consider her long-held, more traditional ideas about romantic love and whether she could live with compromising what had long been a moral conviction for her. For the past month, I've tried to be patient and kind, to hope and to trust. Currently Welf is still in a complete state of confusion and indecision. I've always taken our living arrangement, that of a partnership, very seriously.

Beginning this week, I unilaterally decided to reduce our living arrangement to that of roommates. I now have my own bedroom in the house, and I've stripped our relationship of any expectation of being living partners. I hated to do it, but with no end in sight and little assurances to the contrary, I didn't see any other choice. Welf and I still love each other very much. As of this writing, we are still seeing each other romantically. Essentially, we're back to dating. I don't know how long this will last. I don't know if any sort of reconciliation can be achieved. Regardless of where things go, or where they end or begin, my primary hope is that Welf finds her way through this dark time. I love her so much, and more than anything, I want her to be happy in life; to have everything she needs, even if it means that it doesn't include me. Even if she and I fail, my love for her never will. I'm not angry. There is no record of wrongs.

But it does hurt, and it is hard. This morning, Welf posted a public entry dealing with some of these things for the LJ-Idol contest in which she has been participating all spring. It's a very brave entry for her, as she's not accustomed to having much of her personal life in the public arena. It's something I have a hard time doing even in a friends-only or filtered entry. I admire her for it, and it's one of her better entries... LJ-Idol or not.

I saw Welf's entry this morning, and I agree, it's one of her best writings. The courage she demonstrated by not only writing it, but by posting it publicly was amazing to me.

I am sorry that you are both going through this -- I have watched your romance blossom from almost the start of it, and I know that you have a connection that most of us only dream of. I hope you both find your way through this, and reach a level for your relationship that you can both be happy with. xxx

Thank you. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, we've been at this crossroads for a little while. I think it's a natural point in the progression of all relationships. The question just becomes do we pick a road to go down together or not.

And you are brave for putting yourself here.

I always look at your entries with amusement and pride. I love the way you express yourself.

You have my warm thoughts that things will improve between you and W...and yes...faith...and hope...and love.

Eh, I'm not that brave. I've been writing about this stuff for weeks now in a highly filtered circle of friends. I made "the move" on Monday and have been hedging on whether or not to inform the f-list at-large about our predicament or just let everyone think everything was ok until we knew something more certain...

...I didn't find the courage to do that until I read Welf's entry this morning.

I read her entry and I'm sorry y'all are where you are.

You're a good man, mister.

I try... but I'm no saint either. I just try to treat people decently and respectfully, unless they give me some reason to make me think they don't deserve my decency or respect. Welf has been nothing but honest with me, as I her. I can't fault her for her feelings, or fears, or doubts. I can only love her, and try to give her the room she needs to figure it out.

I read both entries, hers and yours. I'm sorry you are both at this place in time and hope things work out for the best.

You are both excellent writers and even though the situation is difficult, I enjoyed reading because you both express yourselves so well.

1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 7 are two of my favorite bible passage as well. I have quoted "Judge not, lest you be judged" many times when it was appropriate.

We're peas in a pod with concern to our decisions to study writing at the collegiate level; then do nothing accept gather a small audience for a blog and hopefully entertain or touch someone here or there.

I hope everything works out for the best, too. I haven't given-up hope and I don't view this a conclusion. It is certainly an ending, and ending to the kind of shuttered, idyllic romance we've had for the past two years. With endings though, there is the possibility for a new beginning, a new era; one that is stronger and more enduring. That's my hope anyway.

Of course the flipside of hope is fear. All you can do is not let yourself be consumed by it.

Unfortunately, romantic love is often nothing like the passage from Corinthians. A relationship based on agape is entirely different to a relationship based on eros (which doesn't get a mention in the entire New Testament) or even philia.

Eros is powerful but mercurial, swiftly found and swiftly lost. It can change the course of your life yet leave you without direction. Philia is longer lasting, but it isn't life-changing. Agape lacks the power of emotion because it is based on conscious choice rather than attraction, but it can become a lifestyle.

I wish you and Welfy all the best.

Where we get into trouble is when we find someone in our lives who represents all of those philosophical views about love. That's where she and I are, presently.

bible passage share

despite being a militant agnostic, my favorite psalm passage of sorrow and hope:

(psalm 42:5-7)

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

and the last part in latin, which i like even more:

7 Abyssus abyssum invocat in voce cataractarum tuarum;
omnes gurgites tui et fluctus tui super me transierunt

i just like the way the first part of 7 flows.

Re: bible passage share

The Psalms are definitely some of the most beautiful in all ancient literature. I wouldn't go as far as you, as to paint myself militantly agnostic; I certainly believe in God... I just haven't much faith in the religion of man. From where I sit and what I see, there has to be a God. I just have trouble believing that any one belief is necessarily correct.

I have a hard time accepting that billions upon billions of people who have already lived, are currently living, and will ever live are somehow condemned or spiritually bankrupt for adopting the religion of their parents and their culture, which is what most EVERYONE does. I prefer to think that the spiritual nature of man is universal, and that the path to understanding your purpose is different from person to person and from culture to culture. I bristle instinctively at the hint of fundamentalist thought, regardless of the religion; Whether it's "Jesus is the way" or "In the name of Allah."

That sucks. It really sucks. You guys are in my non-denominational prayers. It sounds like it was wise to back it down a level -- I'm sure it'll give you both a fresh perspective. Sometimes a little change is necessary, if only to better appreciate what you had before.

Can I ask you to elaborate on the compromises she's been making that have been giving her trouble recently? Is it a conflict between her religious outlook and the way your relationship works? What's the stuff about self-reliance that she mentions in her post? You don't need to answer these if you don't want to.

It's a combination of those things and more. It's a complex mix of things and to say it is any ONE thing would be overly simplistic; she just chose to focus on one aspect of it in her entry, and I another.

I find it to be a sign that whenever you and Welfy post on the same day...you are always right by each other on my friends page.

You both inspire me in various ways and make me understand what love is. Thank you.

That's so sweet. Thanks!

Just sending you good vibes that things turn out as both of you need.

She and I talked on the phone for like... 4 hours last night. And it was very good.. very, very good. And promising. I hope things can all work themselves out some way as well.

Soop, I've known Welfy since before her LJ days, though I lost touch with her when she left our original hang-out, and I only re-found her lately. But I have always felt about her like she's a little sister to me. We always seemed to have a good bit in common, and she always seemed so fragile to me back then. I was so happy she found you. I hope you two can work this out, because you seem so very good together.

Do you mind if I friend you?

New friends are always welcome!

I don't know if this helps but "several" years ago i made a choice, one to give up much for someone i loved. 2 years ago i had to have a hysterectomy, at that time i found out that i would never had been able to carry. All that time i sometimes resented my partner for my choice that i made. I do believe in god, and i believe god had a big hand in this choice, I never had to go through the heart break of losing a child. But i am the best aunt any kid could ask for.

I hope things work out for you and welfy, i am praying

being on the road is trying. I had my partner with me some of the time. It helped, but it ultimately led to our breaking up :( Being a trucking wife isn't easy.

Although I choose to be included on Welfy's list of readers whenever she trims it, I still don't pay close attention to what she writes; normally, I just marvel at her ability to write about her life and wish I had that ability as well. So, clearly I have little perspective on this issue. But I do hope, arrogantly and with no justification, that my outsider's perspective may illuminate the forest when you may be lost in the trees. If you'll forgive the cliché. I submit the following:

Your entry and her entry seem to be talking about completely different things. She seems to perceive herself to be a non-functioning adult, and this is causing her acute distress. (As a non-functioning adult, I'll vouch that it is indeed distressing.) Your entry talks of her wrestling with traditional values and morals.

I ask, very respectfully, are you both on the same page about this? Are you two communicating at cross purposes?

I'm the outsider. I'm not telling you what's what. But, before you answer my questions, please consider them. I will happily admit I'm wrong.

Again, I post this with the utmost respect for the both of you.

Thanks for considering my thoughts.


I meant to use "Red Sweet" (the one I'm using here), but I goofed.

(copied to soop also...)

don't be hesitant to ask for votes. your entries are great (esp that last one) and you deserve that. it's good to speak up for what you want.

i wish the best for you and soop. you're both great people. sometimes it's almost unimaginably hard to do what you need to in finding the best path of life. but find courage and love where you can. have faith in yourselves, and in God, however you may believe in Him. there are a lot of folks who are pulling for the two of you, whatever the outcome. and more of us than you might imagine have been in similar places.

keeping you in thoughts and prayers...

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I'm like you in some respects. It's not that I'm actively looking for anything... or even interested... like, when do I have that sort of time anyway? And I've been more than happy with my home life...

...but I also know that there's this part of me that has that capability. I think some people just know when they are like this. I think I knew for a very long time before I admitted it to myself.