As you read this, you may be coming from a very different experience from myself. That is okay. I do not write this testimony out of judgment of others’ beliefs, or under the assumption that I have it all figured out. I really don’t. Rather, I’d like to offer a perspective that some may have not yet considered.
I always knew that I was different. Growing up, I got really good at convincing myself that I just hadn’t found the right person … that the girl of my dreams was somewhere out there, somewhere close. As high school came to a close, I was ready to move into a new chapter of life. As I saw it, college was an opportunity to shed all of my past demons and begin anew.
I was hopeful …
Freshman year came and went, a time for growth, a time for adjustment, a time for new friends. I had an incredible experience. I loved my school, I loved my roommate, and I loved thinking about what the future could hold. I never thought about confronting what was inside; for better or for worse, ignorance was bliss. I didn’t want to think about my feelings because I was terrified of what I might find.
I was afraid …
Freshman year came to a close. It was summertime now. I was getting ready to begin my summer job on campus and as far as I could tell, all was falling into place. I had no idea the conversations that were in store or the truth within myself that would be unraveled oh, so soon.
The summer of 2016 was one of the most formative summers of my life. For the first time ever, I began to come to terms with who I was … and it wasn’t easy. The first friend I ever opened up to about my sexuality was someone who experienced similar feelings as I did. For those who don’t know, I experience same-sex attraction. When I first came to terms with this, I was scared sick. Growing up, I was always taught that homosexuality was a sin and that it didn’t line up with scripture; however, I was also taught never to judge, but only to love others the way Christ loves me. So, there I was, a then 19-year-old Landon, trying to understand the juxtaposition between what I believed and what I felt inside.
Moving forward …
During my sophomore year of college, I began opening up to my close friends about the secret I had been harboring for 19 long years. Most of these conversations began and ended in tears. My biggest fear was that they wouldn’t look at me the same way, and that I would make them feel awkward, especially if they were a dude. Luckily, I have the greatest friends in the entire world, and none of these fears ever surfaced. During that same year, I began reading up on others’ stories that were similar to mine. I was tirelessly looking for a community of people I could confide in, and I wanted to hear testimonies from people of faith who also had questions about their sexuality. I learned more about what same-sex attraction was, and began assessing my options.
Affirmation or suppression, pick one. Those seemed like the only two options I had at the time. On one hand, I wanted to justify what I felt inside, but I was scared to death of being wrong, and I was afraid some people wouldn’t love me the same if they knew what I was going through. On the other hand, I wanted to bury my feelings deep inside my heart until I couldn’t hold them back any longer. If you know me, I’m an open book and I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so that second option didn’t seem ideal either. I wanted so badly to be able to share my story, but I was afraid of the social repercussions that would take place. Here I am, though, 664 words in, and I’m not turning back.
What is my identity?
Today, I still struggle to understand this part of my story. To be completely honest, the past few months have been really difficult for me. I’ve been experiencing a lot of loneliness, coupled with the desire for a Christ-centered relationship with another person. I’ve been struggling a lot with jealousy, too. When I hear about others’ relationships, I can’t help but wish I was in their shoes. Sometimes, I wish I knew what heartbreak felt like. The only heartbreak I know is the kind you feel when you can’t tell someone how much you love them. I haven’t been in a relationship since freshman year of high school, and it pains me to think about being single for the rest of my life. There are times when I get angry with God because I don’t feel like He is redeeming the pain I am feeling. I’ve been learning the virtue of patience, to say the least.
He is who He says He is. Isaiah 41:10 reads, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I am still learning to accept that verse as we speak. Sometimes, I feel like I am out of the realm of God’s grace, like I’m taking a test that I will never pass. Other times, I am reminded of the the way God’s heart broke when he watched His son hang on a cross, beaten and bloodied, for remission of all sin and suffering in the world . He did that for us. He watched His son pay the ultimate price so I would never have to feel alone. Although I forget about His abounding grace more than I should, I am in awe of what He has done for me, for you, and for all of us.
I am still wrestling with what I believe about human sexuality. Although I have decided to choose celibacy in my own life, I understand others may not choose the same, and I respect that. I have many LGBT friends who are very happy in their relationships, and I want to continue loving them unconditionally, and showing them that Christ loves them even more.
What I’ve learned …
I have learned to value friendship as one of the greatest gifts from God. I know I don’t have to be in a “relationship” to experience the love that comes from a true friend. I cherish this brotherly and sisterly love more than I ever have, and I think that explains why I get so attached to people so quickly. I believe the Lord provided us with friends because He knew that we couldn’t do life alone, and boy was He right. I love my friends and family more than words can say, and that love only continues to grow over time.
I have learned that my journey is one of high mountains and deep valleys. There are some days when it’s hard to even leave my bed because of the shame and fear I feel in my heart; however, on other days, I am reminded that I am stuck (as a good friend put it) in God’s everlasting grace and mercy. There is no escaping it! Fear is a liar, and shame has NO place in my life (or yours, for that matter)!
I have learned that I can be myself without any reservations, because of the freedom I have in Christ. My identity comes not from whom I love or am attracted to, but from the One who loved me first. I get chills just thinking about that. The victory has already been won … no matter what I am going through or struggling with, God has redeemed it. He continues to make us new every single day.
My promise to you.
I know this is probably a lot to take in. I also understand that some of you may not necessarily agree with how I have decided to approach my sexuality. It may seem like I am suppressing what’s inside, and that can be frustrating to some people. If you feel that way, please reach out to me. I’d love to get coffee and chat about my journey face-to-face. I love hearing others’ stories and finding common ground in the midst of very different experiences.
To some of you, this testimony may be very similar to your own. If you ever want to talk more about this subject, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I believe a loving community is one of the most important things we can have in our lives. Growth, healing, and joy are all things Christ-centered community have brought me in very turbulent seasons of life. I am always here for you, no matter what.
My promise to you all is that regardless of how different our stories may be, I will continue to put love at the forefront of my faith. The Lord says it quite simply in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
I want to thank you with my whole heart for taking your precious time to read my story. My hope is that it will help someone else who is afraid to confront what’s inside, while also providing a bit more context on the very complicated intersection of faith and sexuality.
Go in peace and know that you are His, no matter what.
Simply Lando ♥