My Motivations – Thanks to Nina George

One thing I’ve always struggled with as a writer was the motivations that I have for writing. Coming from a background in Christian ministry, I felt that it was always my responsibility to have some large world-changing reason behind absolutely everything of value I did in life. At the beginning of my deconstruction, I began to flounder without this larger purpose and it led to a very dark time in my life. The church has a way of making you feel like you’re nothing without God and his call on your life, so once I walked away from all of that, I struggled to find anything left to rely on. I felt empty and aimless.

It had been a long time since I’d really lost myself in a novel. I spent so much time reading theology books and studying scriptures that I’d forgotten how much I love getting lost in fictional worlds and being charmed by fictional characters. What was the point in reading for pleasure if I was supposed to be serving God every minute of every day? It was exhausting.

Maybe someday I’ll write a blog post about the severe levels of psychological and emotional damage that occurred as a result of my faith, but that’s not what this is about. After deconstructing, I still had the notion that all of my work had to have a large cosmological meaning that would change the world for the better. I couldn’t just write a story; it had to inspire global change. Needless to say, this motivation was very overwhelming and led to burnout even before I was able to begin.

It wasn’t until I read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George that I really began to understand the beauty of novels. I wasn’t in the best part of my life. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and coming out of one of the most challenging places I’ve been personally. I found a home in the romantic streets of Paris and was charmed by the bookseller protagonist on his book barge. I didn’t figure out how to change the world. Nations aren’t being brought to their knees over the words on the pages. But I found myself lost in a beautiful world, cognizant for the first time in years of the power of novels to remind us of the beauty of life and the presence of love. So instead of seeking to change the world, instead I am seeking to bring a little bit of a reprieve to my reader’s lives. Provide an escape from their stressful lives that reminds them of the beauty of life and the prevalence of love. Charm them with words of passion and romance.

I think that’s a noble enough motivation.

Coming Out: The Aftermath

Well, it’s been just short of three weeks since I came out to the world on this blog. I’m sure some of you are wondering what these last three weeks have been like for me. It’s difficult to try and formulate everything into these posts, but I will do my best.

Before I go any further, however, let me put some uneasy minds to rest: my post three weeks ago was not how I came out to most of the people in my life. My family and close friends have all known for a while, but I needed to take that final step of declaring publicly that I am, in fact, gay. In order to help those who are like me and are suffering in silence, I needed to make a public statement. So the post was not intended to tell those closest to me that I was gay, but rather to help them understand a bit of what I’ve been through, as well as to send a message to those who are suffering that they are NOT alone.

So, anyways, back to the purpose of this post.

These three weeks have been a roller coaster. As I said before, most of the people that I encounter on a day to day basis already knew. So what was the big change? What made a difference?

Well, to start off, that post meant that, for better or worse, I was out to the world. There was no taking it back. Years and years of painful repression finally came to an end as I was finally able to open up to those around me and let them know who I am. Who I really am.

You see, up to this point, I have been acting. I’m not an actor in the sense that I would be any good in a play or movie, but I have gotten really good at acting like I am the person that everyone expects me to be. Like I’m the perfect ministry major who is going to graduate in May and go into full time ministry in the Nazarene church and marry the perfect woman and have 2 kids and a dog. This is what I felt I had to be. To do anything else would have been to disappoint those who saw what a beautiful future this could have been. So I became really talented in this particular aspect of acting.

Since coming out, I have been able to hang up my mask and costume and just be myself. Words cannot express the relief that comes from being able to just be yourself.

Let me, once, again, explain before some questions and concerns arise in the back of your minds. I am still me. I still love puns and make way too many Dad jokes. I still watch sitcoms endlessly and, most importantly, I still love Jesus. Ultimately, I am called to ministry. This is something that I can’t deny or avoid and, trust me, I’ve tried. God knew that I would be coming out when He called me to ministry all those years ago, and yet He still called me. Far be it for me or anyone else to presume God was wrong. I have not changed. I am still me. I’m just free to be more myself than I have been in many, many years.

So coming out has given me freedom. It has allowed me to breathe. It has allowed me to put the buttons that you see in the picture above on my backpack as I go to class and work, showing that I am unashamed of who I am and those who are like me. So it’s made me more comfortable with myself. Given me self respect, something that I haven’t had in a long time.

But even more than that, it revealed to me the pure beauty of the people around me. Coming out in this way was risky to say the least. I could have easily been barraged with micro aggressions or even downright hateful language, but instead I was showered with love, support, and acceptance. At the time of writing this post, my coming out post has gotten 488 views. Sure, some of these are repeats from the same people, but that is still 4 times higher than my next highest view count for any post. Nearly 500 people read this post, and yet I received less than 5 negative responses. Instead, I was showered with comments from friends, loved ones, people I haven’t spoked to in years, and even strangers. Comments such as:

“Thank you so much for sharing this. ❤️ You are a shining light!!!”

‘’You’re going to change the world, Thomas ❤️”

“So proud of you, Thomas! Thank you for being vulnerable and open with us, never stop being you. ♥️”

“You are strong, bold, and inspirational! Thank you for willing to be vulnerable! Love you and praying for you and your future ministry!”

Let this stand as a message of hope to those who might still be suffering in silence: it gets better. There will be those who do not accept you. There will be those who spew uninformed and closed-minded comments your way. But, with any hope at all, there will be those who come beside you and show you love for YOU. Those who not only allow you to express yourself and be comfortable and proud of yourself, but who are proud of you as well and will support you throughout the process. Sometimes, the most unexpected people will provide you with the most support.

One last time, however, I must address some responses to what I have just said. This is MY experience. Even more, this is representing the good parts of my experience. There are aspects of coming out that have been EXTREMELY difficult for me, and have required a lot of healing. This process did not start just three weeks ago for me. Some of these things happened months ago, or even years ago, and I have been able to work through some of them. I still have things to work through.

Don’t expect that everyone is going to have this same experience. I do believe that it will get better for them. I do believe that everyone has someone in their lives who will love and accept them. But PLEASE don’t expect someone who just came out to be as comfortable as I am. This is an extremely difficult time and the stories and experiences are as varied as the people who tell them. So be there for people. Show them love. Let them know they’re not alone.

One final message to those who have suffered or who continue to suffer in similar ways that I have:

You’re not alone. You are loved. The mountains that you face might seem insurmountable, but there are people who will climb it with you. Don’t feel obligated to tell anyone anything, because this is your story. This is your life. You alone get to choose when and how you open up. And whenever that journey begins for you, please do not hesitate to reach out (trfarmer18@gmail.com). I am here for you, and there are so many others who are as well. You can do this. You can breathe. We’re here with you.

Love, Thomas.

(Yes, that was a direct reference to Love, Simon. If you haven’t seen it, then you need to. It’s a life changer for LGBTQ+ and those who love them. That’s all. Have a great day!)

Passion

I have passion.

I have passion for painting and carving.

Singing and playing guitar.

Yet my hand is unsteady and my voice is off key.

I have passion for cooking and cleaning.

Intelligent discussion and deep introspection.

Yet my dishes are bland and my brain likes to sleep.

So I write.

All of the passion and pain and love and life that flows through my being and wishes to manifest itself within my multiple passions must find its way out in one way or another.

To hold it in would be to suffocate.

With my words I paint and carve my pain and love.

With sentences I construct skyscrapers of introspection.

Few may read it.

Fewer appreciate it.

Little to none understand it.

But I write for me.

I have passion for life, with all of its twists and turns.

And so I write.

Definitions- A Self Evaluation

Who am I?

I have been asking myself this question for a long time. Over this past semester, I have been examining myself on a level that I have either ignored my entire life, or recently discovered existed- I haven’t figured out which yet. This has been, understandably, a very long and hard process. The weirdest part is that I didn’t even know I was doing it until now.
You would think that with having been working on this for so long, I would have some idea of who I am. Some modicum of what makes me the way I am. The truth? I am farther from knowing myself than I have ever been before.
My best friend once told me that self evaluation is extremely important. I never really understood why. I knew who I was. I’m Thomas. Except at school, that is, where everyone calls me Tom. I mainly have two personas- Thomas and Tom. I act different at home than I do at school. One isn’t better or worse than the other; they’re just different. But who am I?
I was having a conversation with someone close to me. I was talking about how I was feeling that depression was what had come to define me. Ever since I opened up in a very public way, I feel that the only thing people ever see is my depression. I have come to hate the word. I am beginning to think this is due to the fact that I have given them a reason to see this. I told this person that I am so tired of being defined by my problems- my pain. That I wanted people to see me as ME, not as that depressed guy who may or may not be off his meds.
But then I thought about it. What am I without it? Who am I? It’s easy enough to say, “Oh, I’m a child of the One True King! I can find my definition in Christ!” While that’s true, and I am very thankful for the grace and love of my Savior, I still find it difficult to comprehend who I am. Without the labels.
There are just so many labels- Son, Friend, Brother, Christian, Theology Student, College Student, Preaching Ambassador, Depressed 20 year old, Star Wars fan (I mean, seriously, The Force Awakens. SO GOOD.), and so many more. I’m not saying labels are bad. In fact, I rather prefer them. It’s nice to know where I stand and where others stand with me. They aren’t the issue- except when I am trying to figure out who I am. I know my identity lies in every one of these aspects- especially Christian. But who am I really?
I have started to make 2 lists. One is entitled “Struggles/Concerns.” The other is entitled “Things I am Passionate About.”Unfortunately, the latter is quite a bit shorter. The current score is 23-2. I am not going to write arbitrary items. I’m not going to lie to myself. I am only putting on the lists what I have come to realize deserves to be on the lists. I hope that, at some point, my struggles can leave that list and be put on the passions list. Maybe it’s good to have a short passion list. Otherwise, would I spread myself too thin?
I have struggled for so long with this. I have endured a lot of pain- and I think it was because I was ignoring this. Have I had an epiphany? A Eureka moment? I don’t know. As soon as I think I’m coming close to an answer, 500 more questions surface.

I need definitions.