It's amazing to see the amount of change and acceptance our world has been making in the last decade. No, not everything is perfect and we have a long way to go until the world is a completely accepting place, but we are trying to get there.

Growing up, I was always taught to love everyone for who they are and where they come from. God placed each one of us on this earth for a specific reason, and he created us in His likeness and image. When He created us, He made no mistakes. We are perfectly imperfect, but we are exactly who God wanted us to be.

When I met Thomas, I looked at him no differently than anyone else. We met in our anatomy class and I thought he was one of the most outgoing and genuine people I had ever met. We became friends, but we didn't become close until December. I had recently gone public and published the story of my illness online and his response to it brought me to tears. To have someone that didn't know me very well read my story and then reach out to me with the most heart warming message I've ever received was overwhelming.

Our friendship developed really quickly after that because we bonded over similar struggles, interests and a fondness of life.

But, Thomas has given me a lot more than a best friendship over the last year. In February I was going through a very difficult time, I had lost a majority of my friends I had made first semester and I felt alone. I was half way across the country from home and was overwhelmed with emotions due to the stressful situations I was dealing with.

Thomas knew a little bit about what I was going through, but not much. At least, not for a while. When we got back to school second semester, Thomas asked me to go to brunch with him that Friday. And, it turned into our weekly tradition. We had brunch every Friday at 11 am and talked, laughed and enjoyed each other's company.

Every week I had been stressed or sad about something new that I was dealing with. But, every week Thomas treated me with love, kindness, respect and brightened my day. I looked forward to brunch every week because I knew I had a friend that loved me, flaws and all, I had a friend who accepted me for me and made our friendship a priority.

My family and my boyfriend definitely helped me get through this rough time, but it was Thomas' loyal friendship that made all the more difference.

Thomas has been presented with so many challenges in his life, but he tackles them head on and he doesn't look back. He is assertive in his goals and he has a heart that loves people who have hurt him. His smile can seriously light up any room and his presence is a joy to be around.

Having Thomas as my best friend has taught me how to be a true, genuine, loyal and accepting friend. He has taught me the true definition in friendship. For a while, he was my only friend at school, but he never made it feel that way. He didn't look at me with pity or sympathy, he just went above and beyond because that is who he is. He is one of the first friends I have had in life, where I can say with certainly, he would never speak ill about me behind my back.

If Thomas can look at me with love and respect, out of the goodness of his heart, can't we love our neighbor the same?

No, Thomas and I don't look like the typical pair of best friends, and that is what I love about it.

Thomas has always seen me for who I am in my heart and for who God created me to be. And I have always seen Thomas for the phenomenal man who has been resilient all his life to prove, every single day, that he deserves the respect he isn't always given.

If he can wake up every single day, with a smile on his face and exude joy upon everyone he encounters, we can do the same.

"Above all, love deeply. Love covers a multitude of sin." 1 Peter 4:8

Thank you Thomas, for teaching me to love deeply. Thank you for demonstrating what a brave, sincere and accepting heart looks like. I strive everyday to follow in your footsteps to make this world a world full of love, rather than a world full of hate.