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Written by Deanna Martin

Timothy James

Country of Birth:

United States

Year of birth: 1981

Places of Residence:

Salt Lake City, UT; Manilla, Phillipines

Love is seemingly everywhere. But I wasn't lucky enough to have known much love growing up. My own home was abusive and lonely. But when I was 29 I met a young man who decided to love me, whether I thought I deserved it or not, not because I was a woman, but because I'm a human being. According to Tim, to be human is to be the most wonderful thing in the world. We are perfect in our flaws, and beautifully simple in our complexities.

Tim was born in Salt Lake City, UT. He was the third child and third son. Two sisters eventually joined the family, bringing the total to five children. That's a large family nowadays.

He always considered himself lesser than his two brothers who were larger, smarter, and more athletic. When he was very small his mother used to place all three boys in the bath tub. They would play a game. His oldest brother would be the captain of the space shuttle, his second oldest brother would be the pilot, and Tim was the janitor. Having two older brothers I think is what makes him so sensitive to people who want or need to feel special and noticed.

When he was 19, as is the custom of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, he left his home, suspended his education, and said good-bye to his family and friends for two years to serve a mission. Tim who had always lived in middle-class comfort was suddenly thrust into a world of unbelievable poverty.
In America people are hungry until they get up and go to the kitchen, in the Philippines people were hungry until his church offered them help. He preached and taught like any other missionary. But his favorite part of his service was actually physically doing something. He understood that you can tell someone about God's love until they are blue in the face, and they may never understand. But if you show them God's love, if you build them a home or help them plow a field, or give a little girl who can't afford to go to school a book, you in that moment are God. And God is love. I once asked him if he resented spending the what should have been the most fun and carefree years of his life serving someone else for no pay and no real thanks. And he told me, "No. It was the best two years of my life." He said that you don't have to always get something in return.

Sometimes the simply act of loving another human being, helping someone, building something with your own two hands and good intentions, is what makes life a full experience. I marvel that anyone can be so giving. Especially when there is so little of him to give. He's well over six feet tall and very slight of frame. He only weighs about 130lbs dripping wet with change in his pockets. He is fond of offering to show girls his muscles only to roll up his sleeves to display biceps that would look more appropriate on a three year old.

Tim and I instantly became friends the moment we met. We were like two little kids in a sandbox. We were ecstatic to find someone as desperate for adventure as we were. I was fragile and nervous after a life spent being neglected and hurt, and he loved me up one side and down the other. He threw me the first birthday party I ever had, he cleaned my apartment when I was sick, and he saved my life when I was in despair.

One night two years ago I called him, ostensibly just to say "Hi" but he heard something in my voice that I didn't even know was there. As I swallowed a bottle of pills I heard him at my door. He came in, got me to bring the pills back up, and held me while I sobbed. And as I wailed that he did too much for me, that I never did anything for him, he explained to me that love doesn't have to be some kind of transaction. He told me that love is the one thing that doesn't need to be an even trade.
Although I believed that he was wasting too much time on me, and I would never be able to pay him back for his all kindnesses, he believed that being there for me was the most important thing he could ever do. Sometimes I get very angry with people who treat platonic love like a poor substitute for romantic or familial love. I had family and I had a boyfriend, but it was a friend who saved my life. A skinny, scrawny, bearded, Mormon in thrift shop clothes swooped in and saved my life like he was Superman.
End chapter 1