Your closest friend, something that everyone has. Growing up I went to a lot of different schools. Because I didn’t stay in one location for school, making a close connection with someone was hard. I had good friends, but I never truly had that one best friend. There was only one thing that was a constant in my life, being at church. I started going to Spears Creek Baptist Church when I was in about fourth grade. While I switched schools pretty often, went through different things mentally and emotionally, the one thing and the only people that were constant in my life were at church. When I joined the church in fourth grade I loved it and I gained a new family. While church was always constant in my life, I never truly understood it or acted like it was apart of me at all. At one point I was getting in fights, and hanging out with people who were not the best, to say the least. Let’s just say that it ended with me getting expelled from the worst middle school in Richland Two, Summit Parkway Middle School, and worse. Moving up to the youth group was the best blessing in a long time. That same year I met someone who soon would become family, she gave me hope, helped me fix myself, and become a better Christian. Her name is Hope, her family was staying in our churches’ missionary house because her family is on a mission team in a country called Kazakstan. This country is in Central Asia, a predominately muslim country, where there are a few mission teams that are stationed in the country to share our beliefs. They come back to the states once every two years or so. That one time, they stayed in our churches missionary house, of all the houses in South Carolina, they stayed in ours. I know the Lord put them there for a reason. I would go to her house, we would have sleepovers, go shopping, go to bible studies and study God’s word together all the time. She helped me find my self worth, who I am and that God has a plan for me. She showed me that I do not need to change myself for anyone. She put me on the right path, and soon after that my life changed forever. About a year later, we got a new youth pastor named Travis who came from Kentucky. I remember that first day that they came like it was yesterday. One of the other kids in the youth group brought a friend with him named Flynn. From that moment on, I did not know it yet, but he was someone who would be special to me. We clicked from the first time we talked. The summer right after he came to church camp with us in Kentucky, i’ll never forget that year at camp. Everything was so much more fun, there wasn’t a minute I did not have a smile on my face. One day after dinner I remember we all went outside and he caught a catfish with string and the hook off his hat. It was so funny, and that was the day that we really had our first good conversation. Unfortunately after church camp, we never talked.I would see him occasionally but it was very rare. After I got home, I had to face reality again. I had to go back home, pack up and move back in with my Titi. She had just been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and I moved in with her.I took care of her for two years. At the end of twenty-seventeen I saw Flynn again at church, so I texted him after. I figured that I could play it cool and try to be friends with him. We started to talk for about two months but we stopped eventually. I thought that he didn’t like me for the longest time. So a few months later I went to HiWire with my church group and he was there. That had to be the most awkward day of my life, my feelings for him just came back up even after I through them under a rug. When we were there we looked in each others eyes. Instantly I had that feeling, like a kindergartner going to school for the first time, nervous as anything. My emotions were everywhere. In that moment, those feelings that I tried to hide came out. I could not just let it end like it did. That same night I texted him and just said hey. My hope was that he would at least be friends with me but I wanted to tell him the truth. Well that didn’t happen, but stayed up almost all night that night talking, just about everything: life, family, struggles, sports and everything in between. After that we just kept on talking, everyday I found another thing to like about him. We never really confessed to each other that we like one another, until one day this summer. I was with my best friend who took my phone for a day. She noticed that we were still talking and pretended to ask him about what he wanted, what his intentions were. He confessed to her that he liked me and then she showed me, my heart stopped. I didn’t know what to do. What could be next? Well we didn’t immediately start dating. There were many things that we had to figure out before we could make it official. For example, the idea of different schools, or the obvious fact that he was a preacher’s I kept questioning if I could live up to that standard, being a light in the community, someone others could look to and be a Godly example to others. Could I handle the pressure? What would happen? What If I couldn’t live up to it? I didn’t know how my social role would change in the publics perception of me. There were so many things that I had to think about before we could be official. In specially since I had not seen him in months. What if we felt different in person? So we talked about it and made it official a few weeks later. After we made it official, the conflicts became more apparent. We have so many restrictions on what we can and can’t do in public. We are always having some sort of problem with others because we are told so many things we cannot do. That’s just the beginning. When we are not together, the list of rules can feel longer. I knew that my role in society would change but people should still look at everything I do for others. How I spend more time volunteering, helping and leading children or elderly than being at home. But people want to focus on the little mistakes that you make. Or maybe even judge you based on the materialistic things. One time I went to a football game and I wore ripped jeans and a crop top that met my jeans. Harmless right? Well apparently it is not harmless. When I went to church that following Sunday, a member of the congregation came up to me and told me something about how I am a representative of the church, his church, and Lugoff-Elgin as a whole. He continued to tell me how my clothes I wore to the game were “too inappropriate.” I was very confused. I try so hard to be a light in our community because of my relationship and you have the audacity to tell me all of this because my clothes were, in your opinion “too inappropriate.” While I might complain about the rules, and how it is so hard to be a light in the community and role model for others, in the end, its the most rewarding thing ever. When I go to church the younger girls come to me before anyone else. Not only that, I get to spend everyday telling people, “Yep! That’s my boyfriend!” I love spending my time with him, he encourages me, motivates me, loves me, cares for me, and helps me grow in my relationship with Christ. Never in a life time did I believe that I would have the courage to go through all of this, wether its something big like taking care of a cancer patient for two years, or something as small as sending the first text. I could not even have imagined having the social role that I have to have now, and being a role model for all these kids. I have learned from the mistakes I made back when I was their about their age and help guide them now. It has taken a lot of courage and support from others, in specially him, to do everything. I do not think, even in a million years I could do what I do without the courage he has helped me find. I never expected this one person to change my entire perspective on life. There might not be anything perfect in life, but this guy is as close to it as it gets.