I think that you’re right that God made each of us with our own gifts, and that part of serving Him is to use them, each individually, because He didn’t in any way make all of us the same.  I also think you’re right that overzealotry is one of the things that people hate about Christians – we don’t even bother to have a real life, and who would want to follow a life path of people who say stupid catch phrases and listen to K-Love continually?  And you’re right that some things you can love without being idols, totally.  But I think that it’s a very thin line to walk, because I think that our passions can very easily become idols.  Particularly when we think about them the wrong way.  For example, I love nature.  But I think I have to recognize why I love it.  I have to recognize that nature is beautiful because it is a reflection and work of art (and math) of its Creator.  I additionally have to recognize that my love isn’t a product of myself.  I am only able to appreciate anything because God made me particularly to be an appreciator, He made my soul to see the beauty in things, and He lets His own love for His Creation flow through me.  That’s how I guess I think about losing myself – realizing that the things I love only because I love the piece of God in them, and that I have the capability to love because of the piece of God in me.  What do you think of this idea?  I kind of use it for the denying thing as well.  Take for example, the fact that I love theater.  This can be a beautiful thing, when used correctly.  Plays can be used to celebrate the beauty of the world or point out important questions, or even address the beauty of God Himself! (have me tell you about the Mystery Plays.  They’re all about Jesus, and actually a really beautiful relic of their culture, and I kind of want to rewrite them for the modern day and have high schoolers do them in my theater classes, so it looks like I’m being historical, but really, I’m subtly filling people’s heads with God… Anyways…).  But this can also be bad:  I’ve seen people completely lose who they are, treat people poorly, and do things they regretted all because of three wooden walls.  We have to get rid of those sinful things, those things that are not God loving something through us, but us “loving” (lusting, really, in a sense) after things in the physical world.  That way, we deny the part of ourselves that isn’t filled up to the brim with God.  At least, this is the track of thought I’m on right now, I’ve been thinking about this a whole lot too.  I dunno.  What do you think of all of this garble I’ve written?

Also, another question:  how do we give ourselves up to God and what He wants and how He wants us to treat others without losing ourselves in a bad way?  Is there such a thing as losing ourselves in a bad way?

I miss you like crazy, Dan.  We just talked, so I should be less of a wuss, but still.  :/  Can’t wait until whatever time is the next time I see you!  Also, after spending so much time with my grandparents, I have a new resolve to treat you so well… My grandmother is so mean to my grandfather, and she just tortures him with guilt for every fight they’ve ever had, she makes him do everything for her, and she completely refuses to do things for him in return.  It’s terrible.  I promise that I will always forgive you, always treat you respect, always give you freedom to do your own thing (I totally back every adventure you go on, I’ll be waiting at home with food and a box of band-aids, just in case), and I will always pray for you and treat you with love.  And if we ever lived together, I don’t care how much you snore, I’d never make you sleep in another room, haha.  Anyways, that’s probably nonsense to you, but I’m just saying, I always want to show you God’s love just as much as I try to show anyone God’s love, and I’m sorry for any times I get grumpy and am a total fail.  I love you.

Yeah.  This is a very ramble-y message.  I apologize.  I need to go take a nap.  Excited to talk later, and much love!

God bless,