When I Write

When I’m overwhelmed, overstimulated, and over it, I write. Not necessarily anything of substance, not necessarily anything that will ever be posted. But I write. Sometimes it’s as simple as the Greek alphabet (so I don’t forget that always useful lifeskill), sometimes it’s a random French phrase that finds its home in my head and randomly comes up for air.
I’m not often surprised by what I write. After all, this is my brain it’s coming out of. But sometimes, I notice the words that are traced in half-assed cursive. Sometimes, I notice certain trends that to a third grade literary critic would raise some red flags. Phrases like “j’ai terminé” and “je veux mourir” sometimes spill out. I didn’t intend it. I don’t seek to scare anyone that dares to read my scribbles over my shoulder. I tell myself it’s because they’re easy to write in cursive and I love the way that the J goes so beautifully into the AI to form “j’ai” in what could, with the biggest imagination, be considered calligraphy. Sometimes I tell myself it’s because they’re some of the few French phrases that I still remember. But the patterns are undeniable and the words tattoo themselves onto my forearms and forehead and foresight because I know what’s coming.
So I silently close the notebook, resume my regularly scheduled procrastination, and shove the phrases right back into their home in my head.
Not today.

The Fight

The world is a dark place.

Sometimes you wonder if Thanos was on to something.

Maybe Daenerys was justified.

After all, the evil in this world seems to have pervaded every aspect of humanity. The government oppresses the weak. Leaders of the church abuse those who they swore to protect. Brothers turn on brothers for their own gain. World leaders murder their own people over who they love and call it morality. Political systems are built to increase the power of the few at the detriment of humanity itself.

But just as the dark seems to have won, just as the last few specks of light seem to have flickered out, you see them.

Children rising up and demanding change in the name of a better future.

Women coming forward to testify on the horrors they’ve endured at the hands of men with the hope of gaining an equal ground.

Corporations donating their tax breaks to the protection of our world.

Men with their husbands and women with their wives showing the world that love is love and only light can come from love.

What Thanos didn’t see, what Daenerys was too blinded by her own ambition to realize, was that humanity becomes the strongest when the darkness closes in. We gather together and fight for the lives and dignities of all people in all places of all walks of life. Together, as one species, we stand up and tell the darkness it won’t win. We look in the eyes of the evil and let it know it has met its match.

So even though the powerful voices in our world tell only of the darkness and our powerlessness to defeat it, we rise together and prove that we can.

Humanity is one. And we are bringing light to defeat the dark.

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!)

Why the tattoo?

People ask me why I have the tattoo that I do. Here’s my reason:

Isaiah 40:28-31 says,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

My entire life I have wished I could fly. Not just in an airplane or with an epic jet pack, though those would be great as well, but I myself, with no outside assistance, flying through the air. Not even in the Superman type of flying where I can soar through the sky at inhuman speeds, though that would also be cool. More in the way of floating.

I’ve suffered from depression for years. There are seasons of wonderful reprieve, and there are seasons of terrible darkness. As I have had to cope with the dark seasons, I have learned of the peace that can come from a long walk to nowhere particular. In my darkest moments, this is my therapy.

A few months ago, I began to process through some things that I had suppressed my entire life. All of the pain that I had hidden away came crashing to the surface and poured into the forefront of my mind. The feeling was overwhelming, and there were nights that I couldn’t imagine continuing. A few nights in particular, I strongly considered taking my life.

On one of these nights, I did what I always do and went for a walk. As I slowly walked down the dark street, trying my hardest to avoid openly weeping in front of some stranger’s house, I closed my eyes. I continued to walk down the street with closed eyes, aware of my surroundings yet no longer fully present.

I pictured myself slowly rising, my head turned heavenward as the earth slowly fell away. The pain, fear, despair, hopelessness, and desperation fell with the earth, leaving only me and my breath. I was weightless; the problems of the earth below had no hold on me. For the first time in what seemed like a long time, I was free. I slowly kicked my feet back and forth, the rhythmic sway in tune with my heartbeat. For a few seconds, in this mesmeric trance, I was free.

I know I can’t fly. I know I never left the ground. My feet were still chained to the pavement, with no hope of defying gravity. My problems never really fell away.

But for a moment…

These verses remind me that even though I’ll never be able to fly on my own, I can still find freedom. I will get weary. I will stumble and fall. But if I hope in the Lord, he will strengthen me, and I will soar. No longer bound to the earth and its entanglements, but finally free.

I may not be able to fly. But through the Lord, I can be free.

That’s why I have this tattoo.

It’s One of Those Days

It’s one of those days. Where nothing’s wrong but everything is going wrong.

Everything that comes my way is too much it’s weighing me down.

Get out of bed, go to class, eat lunch, go to class, it never ends. The sheer act of opening my eyes and facing this life is taking all of the life out of me.

I can’t see the light at the end of this tunnel because I think I’m in an endless cavern with no way out.

Mountains rise before me too steep to hope to climb and yet I must.

I must climb because if I stop…

I wish it would stop.

Just stop being sad, smile, be happy, we all have crap, just get over it.

You stop.

Don’t belittle my pain or deny me my thoughts.

Leave me alone because that’s what I need.

But don’t leave.

I need you.

I need contact.

I see you see me but you don’t see just how messed up I am.

My mask is broken but yours is in tact covering my pain so you don’t have to see.

I’m pathetically apathetic but I care too much.

I can’t find value in anything but I need value.

I need time when all the time I am wishing for less time and the time that I have I am wasting away while my body is fine but my mind is full of decay.

I can’t.

I can’t fight, I can’t move, I can’t climb up this mountain- it’s getting steeper.

It’s not that I’m overworked- I’m just under the weight of the world with nothing tangible weighing my world down.

How are you doing?

I don’t know! Nothing is fine yet everything is fine but to me the world is falling down and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

I say I’m sorry and I don’t know why but the why isn’t important as long as you’re not mad at me.

I’m a burden.

Perhaps it’s because everything in my life is more burdensome than before and I wonder how I can even stand.

I can’t give up because this life is worth more but the worth is elusive.

I pray to my God for deliverance from this but nothing is heard.

I need you, God. 

I need you to take me out of this pit and stand me on my two feet but no they fail just like everything else, can I stand on you?

But then what if I can’t find you?

I know you’re there but I can’t seem to see you; my brain says you’re there but my mind thinks you don’t care.

There’s a difference.

You see, the brain is the logic and fact while the mind is what twists everything beyond recognition.

Do you recognize me?

I don’t.

Every minute I’m awake I can’t place who I am, what happened?

I can’t. I can’t continue with this fight when the mountain will rise and the path gets so narrow and the rocks get larger and the wind gets stronger and the climb never ends.

It would be so easy to jump.

I know I won’t and I know I can’t but like Paul I feel that to die is gain.

But to live is Christ.

So I must. 

I must continue this fight and climb till I die because somehow this will help- don’t tell me this will help when right now I can’t find help.

I’m done.

But I can’t be.

My future and present are battling and all I can do is cower and wonder how will this ever end.

Because it has to end, right?

It has to end.

This pain and this fear and this weight of the world must end- for if all good things must come to an end, so should bad, right?

Yet it hasn’t.

My hope for the end is so elusive by now because the end is elusive and the fight is much too present.

But I fight.

I’m Tired

I’m tired.
I’m tired of the the fight,
the constant struggle.
I just can’t seem to get it right.

I’m tired.
I have clawed my way out
one too many times
from this canyon that keeps appearing.

I’m tired.
My mind plays tricks.
My heart falls deeper.
My soul is crushed beneath the weight

I’m tired.
The back and forth-
It’s killing me.
From laughing to weeping in one fell swoop.

I’m tired.
Always masking the pain
even though they know.
The play is too much to handle.

I’m tired.
Waiting for the end.
Hoping it will come soon
yet fearing that my hopes will be answered.

I’m tired.

Paintings, Light Breezes, and The Little Engine that Could

As many of you know, I have been struggling with depression for years now. It was only within the last couple of weeks, however, that I was diagnosed with Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. Basically this means that I will most likely struggle with depression my entire life. While this is a scary thought, and certainly a daunting challenge, this news was somewhat of a relief to me.

Yes, I really did just say that. I was relieved to learn that I have this condition. It validated my thoughts; it gave me an assurance that this wasn’t just all my own twisted way of messing with myself or getting attention. I have a legitimate mental disorder that causes my brain to throw me into depressive states and hinder my ability to come back up to a normal state of mind. It gave these thoughts and these doubts and these feelings a definition. I can’t express enough how important that was to me.

I have been trying my best ever since to shorten the depressive states and to make them less frequent. Obviously, I try to distract myself. To quote Car Radio, one of my favorite songs by Twenty One Pilots, “silence is violent.” When I find myself alone and bored, my mind quickly plunges into a depressive state. Here is a sample of just some of the thoughts that plague my mind:

Why is nobody here? Do they all think I’m annoying?
Are they only my friends because of some obligation or pity?
Does anyone truly care about me?
Why do I have to even do any of this?
What is the point?
When can all of this just end?

These are the thoughts that constantly plague me. They have lead me to some dark places, and they only get worse. I can’t control these thoughts, I don’t want them to come to me, but that’s how depression works. So, to battle that, I have decided to fill my life with as many positive reminders of the sanctity of life as possible.

To that end, let me tell you a little story. One of my best friends also suffers from depression. A good portion of our conversations revolve around this very topic. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, the importance of someone that understands can’t be overstated. Anyways, we were both pretty bogged down in life and whatnot, and I decided we were going to have what I so eloquently call “A Night of Spontaneity.” Basically, we met on campus and my friend had no idea what we were going to do. We walked to the Kroger off campus and each purchased something that reminded us of our childhood and brought up positive thoughts. She bought a Finding Nemo coloring book. I bought The Little Engine that Could. This was one of my favorite books as a kid, and still is to this day.I remember reading this book and thinking that it meant I could fly, or I could become President, or I could bring my stuffed dog to life. Now, this book means so much more. It reminds me that I can beat this; that life is not impossible. I don’t have to just wonder when this life will end, I can try and enjoy it. I can live.

The other day I went to a local park with my friend Matt. We sat down on a bench and looked out over the fields at the white, puffy clouds floating lazily across the sky. The way the light fall breeze combined with the breathtaking view laid out before us made me stop for a minute. Finally, I had a moment of silence that didn’t end with me questioning everything and falling deeper into the darkness that engulfs me. I felt God’s creation, and for a moment, I felt like I could fly.

Last night I went to an open mic night with two of my closest friends. One of them was performing (and did a fantastic job). Soon after I walked in, they had a raffle and gave away a painting that one of the artists had painted. As soon as I saw the painting, I could feel my mood improving, I could sense once again that little bit of light that was piercing the darkness. There was just something about the painting that made me feel at peace. I knew that I wanted that painting. God must have known as well, because out of about 30 people that were present, I won. This painting (pictured above) is now prominently displayed in my dorm room. Every time I look at it, I feel a little bit of peace.

You may wonder why I am telling you all of this. I mean, who cares? It’s just a bunch of odd, quirky little experiences. Well, here’s something else you should know: I am a very sentimental and symbolic person. I always have been; I always will be. These little symbols help to remind me that life is not only possible to accomplish, but worth the fight. I still have down days and I always will, but it’s the little things that bring me back up.

If you are struggling with something like this, then look around. Tell someone. Let them know. Don’t do it alone. And find your own Paintings, Light Breezes, and The Little Engine that Could. It may save your life.

The Bare Foundation: 5 Building Blocks of Faith

Struggling with faith is something that every Christian will go through at least once in their lives. It’s a difficult season of life to be in, and once there it is very difficult to come out of it. Most of the time there is no indication of when it will come or go, and it hits you like a train. I would be lying if I said I haven’t struggled with it in the past, especially when I felt I was fighting a losing battle with depression. But here’s the thing: It’s normal.

As a matter of fact, I would say that it is an important part of growing in your faith. When we are children (whether literal children or children in our new lives as Christians), we have a faith that is built on what others have told us to be true. This isn’t inherently bad, it just means that we need to at some point own our faith. At some point, we have to move on from what everyone else is telling us and come to our own conclusions about the God that we love and believe in. More times than not, that requires a crisis of faith, a return to the Bare Foundation on which our faith is essentially built.

So, for those of you who are currently struggling with a crisis of faith, I thought I would share some of the aspects of my Bare Foundation. These were put into words by a friend of mine that has also struggled with this, and I agree 100% with the statements made. So here we go.

1. The Universe had to be created by some sort of intelligent being… it just doesn’t make sense otherwise.
I know that there is a lot of argument between the Creationists, the Evolutionary Theorists, the Big Bang believers, and so on. The argument is often made that it takes too much faith to believe that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe. To me, however, it seems that there would have to have been so many random coincidences for the creation to have happened the way that it did without someone or something guiding it along. To believe that all of those occurrences just happened to lead to the creation of life is above and beyond the faith required to believe that an intelligent being created the universe. I am choosing to believe the more logical one.

2. At the very least, the Bible is a collection of stories about the Israelites and their God.
The stories within the Bible were written by many different people from many different walks of life and time periods. It wasn’t readily available for just anyone to read what had already been written to check for consistency. With that being said, the common themes throughout the Bible are staggering. Many things that are prophesied in the Old Testament come into being in the New Testament, and the stories that are repeated in the New Testament are repeated very consistently. Not to mention, the stories and histories within the Bible are consistent with the historical context of the time period in which they were written. The stories about the people known as the Israelites and their God are eerily similar to us today. Again, too much of a coincidence to ignore.

3. The stories about Jesus in the Bible can’t be a scandal… there were too many people involved.
The Watergate scandal only had like 5 people involved… and it still managed to be blown open within a matter of months. There were thousands of people that witnessed Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. If any of it was false, somebody would have noticed and made a huge deal of it, effectively destroying the credibility of the entire book. Considering no such evidence exists, there is nothing to indicate that these stories are false. We must believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life free of sin, was crucified, dead, buried, and rose again from the dead 3 years later.

4. If we are to say that the stories of Jesus are true, then we come to the conclusion that he loved humanity.
Let’s be honest. If any of us were told that we were going to be killed for something that every single person on Earth has done except us, and it would completely absolve the others of their debts, we would most likely run the other direction. Jesus could have very easily refused to be crucified for the sins of everyone but his own. The fact that he did (which we established already) speaks volumes about the amount that he loves humanity. To sacrifice yourself for the benefit of everyone else through one of the most torturous deaths known to man takes an unearthly love. A love from God Himself.

5. Jesus is fully God and fully man, so therefore God must love us that much as well.
Again, we are relying on the idea that everything the Bible says about Jesus is true. With that being established, we can’t argue that Jesus is the Son of God, in fact the incarnation of God Himself while still being completely human (yeah, very difficult to process, but we can’t understand everything). Since Jesus was so unconditionally loving that he endured death for us, we can say that God is equally loving. This love is impossible for us to comprehend, and to experience it is inexplicable.

There is still a lot of faith required for an unwavering faith in God and his unconditional love for us. However, to me, there is nothing wrong with that. If God were to give us all of the answers, we wouldn’t need to rely on Him. Whatever love we would have for Him would be an obligatory love that comes from an undeniable fact. If we didn’t have faith, our love wouldn’t be genuine. Life with genuine love is so much more fulfilling, and therefore life with faith is fulfilling.

I don’t have all the answers, but I hope that this can help some of you come back to your Bare Foundation. It’s on that foundation that God will build an amazing life of faith.

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'” -Romans 1:17 NIV