a love that perseveres. ♥︎

my identity rests not in who I love, but rather, who loved me first.

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.

12440466_931635080262777_2035342589554207767_oThe 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.

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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 Yours,
Simply Lando 

 

letting go isn’t giving up

a poem about loving someone and letting them go

letting go isn’t giving up
it’s simply giving space to love
to make amends, to bridge the gap
to let the wind direct the map

letting go isn’t moving on
it’s learning how to live beyond
the boundaries that were set by man
which God can break, only He can

letting go isn’t saying goodbye
it’s “see you again,” a mere reply
a chapter we have yet to write
a love that gives its way to light

letting go isn’t giving up
it’s simply giving space to love
to make amends, to bridge the gap
to let the wind direct the map

 

a joyful heart ♥︎

a poem for joy.

a joyful heart will sing to thee
praises in the highest key
a song for you, a song for me
a song for our almighty king

a joyful heart will rest upon
the promise made to right all wrongs
to cast out fear, to see it gone
for sin has ruled for much too long

a joyful heart will sacrifice
the pain and emptiness and strife
for God has breathed it into life
a soul of which, will never die

a joyful heart will sing to thee
praises in the highest key
a song for you, a song for me
a song for our almighty king

 

you, the beloved.

put these on your mirror.

  1. you are special
  2. you are kind
  3. you have meaning
  4. you are the best you
  5. you are God’s
  6. you are strong
  7. you are smart
  8. you were chosen first
  9. God delights in you
  10. you are like no other
  11. you are capable
  12. you are forgiven
  13. you are redeemed
  14. you have purpose
  15. you are beautiful
  16. you are perfect to the Lord
  17. your presence is powerful
  18. you are not alone
  19. you were someone’s first friend
  20. you are someone’s last breath

you are loved.

all my life

a poem for Christ-like strength

if all my life can ever be
is what I see upon a screen
then maybe it’s not what it seems
the beauty we call freedom

if all my life i question you
and never let my heart renew
a single drop of misty dew
could wash away my meaning

if all my life is hide and seek
a game that I play for my keep
then how can I possibly see
the beauty of redemption?

if all my life can ever be
is what I see upon a screen
then maybe it’s not what it seems
the beauty we call freedom

 

is sleep really for the weak?

i’m no insomniac, but i really don’t like to sleep.

Hey, it’s me again.  This time, I’m writing to you through groggy eyes and a tired soul.  I literally just finished taking a nap.  Yes, it is 9 o’clock on a Friday evening, and I was napping.  That’s when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

Four hours of sleep.

That was my average this semester.  Most nights, I wouldn’t get to bed until around 1 or 2 am in the morning, and I’d usually wake up around 6 or 7, only a few hours later.  Most of the time, I was either working on homework or hanging out with friends — both wonderful things, but maybe not at that hour of the night.

A Keurig as a crutch

and a smorgasbord of K-cups.  Let me tell you, K-cups have become my best friend and my greatest enemy all at the same time.  These little devils find me at my weakest moments, and somehow convince me that I need them.  Oh shoot, here I go reaching for one now …

I’ve hit a wall.

There’s an old saying that goes, “sleep is for the weak.”  I’m sure you’ve heard this before, probably from someone who looks like they just walked off the set of A Walking Dead.  I don’t know who first pinned that phrase, but whoever they are, they’re irrelevant at this point.  The sad thing is, for many of us, sleep has become an option.  If we’re too busy, we can’t sleep.  If we’re too excited, we can’t sleep.  If we’re too stressed, we can’t sleep.  Obviously, there are health conditions that actually prevent people from a healthy night’s rest, but for so many of us, we have become a product of our own sleep deprivation.

We have to change the stigma.

Being tired or sleep-deprived isn’t cool, it isn’t sexy, and it 100% isn’t healthy.  I’m not preaching to the choir as much as I’m preaching to myself.  Sleep has almost become a nuisance to me, especially since I have had so much to get done these past couple of weeks.  That’s a strong indicator that something has to change.

So, please go get some rest.  You can bet that when I’m finished working on homework for the night, I will probably be hibernating for the rest of the weekend.  I wish you a night full of rest, and the sweetest dreams to go with it.

Don’t be weak, get some sleep.

Simply Yours,
Simply Lando 

lessons learned from taking finals.

you aren’t what your grade says you are.

Here we are, in the midst of everyone’s FAVORITE season.  That season where we cramp from holding a pen for too long, and our eyes are in pain from the endless hours spent staring at a blank word document, trying to make ideas come to life.

Will we ever find relief?

For starters, yes we will.  When we’re neck-deep in term papers, final projects, and soul-crushing exams, it’s hard to see the silver lining.  But, it’s there … I promise.

I’d like to start by telling you about my day.  I woke up, began working on homework for some of my other classes, and then studied more for my final that I would take later in the day.  We love spending Friday nights taking exams, am I right?!

I digress.

So, I show up to my exam with this confident feeling that I was going to ace it.  Everything felt like it was falling into place.  I had scored a 95% on the midterm, I had looked over all the previous quizzes and tests (made available through our Blackboard account), and I had looked over some other key terms that I thought may find their way onto the test.  I was so hopeful, y’all; I really was.

Long story short, I scored a whopping 78.5% on this exam.  My jaw dropped.  My heart broke.  I became immediately frustrated.  As in any awful crisis, I called up my mom and starting venting to her for ten minutes about how lousy I felt and how my goal of getting all A’s this semester had been crushed.  You know it wouldn’t be a venting session if I didn’t bring up grad school, and how I thought this one little exam was going to determine my whole future, or something ridiculous like that.

I also cussed a lot in that conversation.  Sorry, mom.

While I still cringe at the thought of getting a C+ on that final exam (as only two hours have passed since the academic travesty occurred), I learned a valuable lesson about self-worth through this whole process.  I put way too much of my identity into percentage points.  The first thing I always do after getting a bad grade is literally begin de”grading” myself and telling myself (and others) how much I suck.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes I love throwing pity parties.  Sound healthy to you?

Well, it’s not.

I guess I’m just afraid.  I’m afraid of not graduating with honors.  I’m afraid of my GPA falling.  I’m afraid of not getting into certain grad programs I’m extremely passionate about.  Most of all, though, I’m afraid of disappointing myself.  I put a lot of self-worth into my success, and when I don’t “succeed,” it hurts — really bad.

This is what I want you to avoid.  I want you to do your absolute best, and obviously strive to earn the best grade possible, but please don’t ever tell yourself that you aren’t good enough.

Those are lies from the enemy, himself.

Growing up, we’re kind of taught to believe that our performance in school is what will elevate us to the next level.  Now, I am not supposing that academics have no influence on our professional life, but I am saying that we put way too much stock in the tiny letters that appear on our transcript.  You know I’m right.  

Let’s shift the conversation, shall we?  Instead of talking poorly of ourselves after an exam kicks our butt, why don’t we reflect on how we can improve for the next one?  How about we focus on what we can control, rather than fixating on what’s already been written.  Don’t let this season get you down.  Instead, celebrate what you have learned and how far you have come since the beginning.  Keep your head up, and know that you are more than a silly ranking or percentage point.  You are treasure, so start acting like it.

Simply Yours,
Simply Lando