Greetings! My name is Fuller, a 30-something navigating this life by continuing to surrender myself to God’s great plan. I reside where the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains meet in the south-central U.S. One of my favorite things is traveling to spend time with friends and acquaintances alike. I am an avid bike rider and drink decaffeinated tea!

Throughout our lives, certain men and women make an impact on us. Their impact can happen in big or small ways, sometimes only seen years down the road. This is one of those stories.

I have known Mr. Paul for 22 years now. His impact started when I was in eighth grade at my public middle school during a weeklong program he taught on abstinence. I was in a group with three other boys. From day one, I found my teacher attractive — not in a physical sense but in how he conducted himself.

He told us, “I want you all to know that I love you. I don’t care what you may think or what others tell you, but I love you.”

At the time, I thought he was crazy to tell me that. I’d never heard such a sentiment from another man. My dad didn’t tell me he loved me, and to my knowledge neither did my church. The only other man to tell me he loved me was Mister Rogers, but he was communicating via television.

So, why did Mr. Paul say that?

I so looked forward to seeing him that whole week of the abstinence program as he shared about life. The following Monday, I cried because it was back to reality for me. Though we corresponded by email in the years that followed, I didn’t actually see Mr. Paul until years later at a mutual friend’s wedding.

Thirteen years after my teacher uttered those words of love to me, my counselor asked me about the first time a man showed me love. I mentioned Mr. Paul. To my surprise, my counselor and Mr. Paul were longtime friends! He shared some of his life journey and coming to Christ and how that had changed Mr. Paul’s life. From that moment, I saw these relationships as God-ordained.

I’ve reflected on Mr. Paul’s impact on me during that one week in middle school, how what he said planted a seed in me that I didn’t then realize. It’s more real to me today.

Oh how I needed to hear his words as a 14-year-old craving love and friendship with another man. I believe Mr. Paul’s “I love you” came from God himself! I think about the two other boys who sat at my same table when he said those three words, wondering if they fell on deaf ears.

Do they also remember what he said to them 22 years ago?

In the past five years I’ve met with Mr. Paul three times. He and his wife now live in a retirement community three hours away from me. Every time we meet, I am always encouraged by what the Lord continues to do in his life. We don’t preach at each other but talk about what the Lord is doing in us.

And at the end of our time together, he tells me he loves me.

When was the first time a man told you he loved you? How did you receive those words of love then, and how do you receive them now?

About the Author

  • Wow. Relatively simple story. But very powerful. The words “God-ordained” in this in reference to these relationship…pierced my soul. I don’t know everything. I know God’s law of chastity and His definition of marriage. But there is definitely something to be explored with love among men. Still figuring it out for myself.

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