Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye

I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Sometimes I just try to avoid them all together. Running away from that tissue filled, heart pounding, tear flowing, snot running moment that is “goodbye”. I know, so dramatic. NEWSFLASH: I’m dramatic. If you’re like me that last hug is always a little more bitter than sweet, and while I get they are just a part of life, goodbyes are the worst. 

The word goodbye might be one of my least favorite words, but its often preceded by two of my favorite words- Thank You. Alaska, I have so much to thank you for.

Thank you for nights that never ended. Thank you for introducing me to amazing creatures and animals. Thank you for being a space where I was able to discern, think, find peace, and heal. Thank you for moments I will never forget, and some I will never remember. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes slowing down, going on a hike, taking in the beauty, and listening to nature can be the best therapy. Thank you for 30 amazing Instagram post. Thank you to the small, but fabulous gay community that I will miss dearly. Actually, thank you for teaching me that queers need a queer community. Thank you to the tap house, for being a place where I can both write this blog on a Sunday, and get turnt on a Friday. Thank you to my roommates for always supporting me, and constantly making me better. Most of all, thank you for bringing me and my cousin closer than we’ve ever been before. Hailey, you’re wonderful, you challenge me, and you are one hell of a good time. I will miss you.

I always say I’m bad at goodbyes because I’m so emotional. Maybe goodbyes are actually just evidence that I’ve allowed folks and places to touch me deeply. Maybe goodbyes are just proof that I let my self and people love in an honest and vulnerable way. Maybe I should stop running away from goodbyes, because goodbyes, like most things, are both broken and beautiful all at the same time, and for that I’m grateful. So Alaska, until next time. Thank you, and goodbye.

Peace and Blessings,

Jordon Friend

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Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye

Sex, Love, and a 401K

I remember being a kid and thinking I was going to have everything figured out by the time I was 25; how naive of me. To be honest, how naive of all of us. I have a whole lot of friends in their twenties and we call ourselves young professionals, but we’re really just professional snapchat users.

I’m 24 years deep into this adventure we call life and I think I’ve hit my quarter life crisis. Actually I think it hit me, like the giant yellow school bus hit Regina George at the conclusion of Mean Girls. Maybe I resonate more with Cady Harris at the beginning of the flick, scared to death about what’s next because here I am starting over for the third time since I was 17.

Whats next? Will I ever be happy? What is success and how do I attain it? When will I get a happy little family? Do I even want that? Ummmm I think so… So ya, where’s my husband, children, house, and a life full of laughter, good times, sex, love, and a 401k?  Anyone else been there? Stuck in your 20’s pulled 7000 different directions, and unsure if any decision you make is actually the right one?

You know. Am I happy in my career? Should I go back to school? Will I be in debt forever? I just honestly want to travel. I want to do what I’m passionate about. No, actually I just want to make money. Today – I’m single and loving it. Tomorrow – I’m lonely and pathetic, and no one wants to marry me.

When we were younger, by now we thought we would have it all figured out. We don’t. But honestly, I think that’s okay. So for those of you who, like me, feel like you’ve been hit by the giant yellow bus known as the quarter life crisis, I’m confident it’s not going to kill you.

So channel your inner Regina George, bedazzle your back/neck brace, go to the dance, and keep your head up. Take the bumps and bruises for exactly what they are, proof that you’re trying. Wear your scars with pride, because scars always make for one hell of a story. Accept the confusion and uncertainty. Our time in the unknown learning how to roll with the punches and survive will make us resilient AF.

Weather you resonate more with Regina or Cady, they both learn the same thing: Don’t be plastic, be authentic. Maybe school will put you in debt, maybe not. Maybe you’ll be a millionaire, maybe you won’t. Perhaps that perfect little life full of laughter, love, great sex, and a bomb benefits package complete with a 401k is out there, maybe it’s not. I’m sure if you find it, it comes complete with it’s own set of unsolvable problems. Before we know it our 20’s will be over folks, so why not just get the most we can out of these years? The good, bad, and indifferent. It’ll be fetch.

Peace and Blessings,

Jordon

Sex, Love, and a 401K

There Is a Cross In My Closet

 A note to those who feel alone.

It was about midnight. My face was against the floor at an altar. The cross above me, and a crowd of people around me. Praying for me, but not fully understanding why I was having such an emotional moment. No one understood. No one would ever understand.

 “Branded

That was the theme of the week; that we would be branded by nothing but the name of Jesus.

 To this day that is my sole desire and purpose in life. God, brand me.

But here I was, a teenager at summer camp. Face down at an altar because I literally hated the person I was, my deepest secret, my truest brand, and everything associated with it. Face down because I believed this part of me, if it didn’t change, meant I would never be part of a group branded by Christ.

It was as if my eyes turned into rain clouds and poured down a fierce storm on the chapel carpet. Every drop of rain filled with guilt, anguish, pain, and regret for feelings I had no control over. Heart pounding and heavy as ever, surrounded by people who loved me but left feeling:

Alone, unwanted, misunderstood, and unheard.

I begged and pleaded with the lord, “take this from me oh God” I prayed explaining, “God you are all I desire, this means nothing if it means I can’t be yours.” Internally I shouted: “God heal me”

The tears never stopped. I was so scared, terrified that I would not be branded by Jesus because I couldn’t stop being attracted to men. If God didn’t heal me, what brand would I be associated with?

Gay, perv, fag?

The thoughts ran through my mind as I hypothetically played out every minute of how dissatisfying my life would be if God never healed me from this plague I had dealt with my whole life. It was 2am and finally I went back to my room and went to bed. Nights like these happened often.

Growing up as a gay person is hard. Life confined to four walls of a closet is lonely and claustrophobic. My closet had even less space to breath than others. My closet, had a giant cross separating me from the door, and the only way out would be to pick that cross up, put it on my back, and break down that door. The task was daunting, getting out seemed impossible, and I was convinced I was trapped in the confines of these four walls forever.

I so deeply repressed my sexuality. My whole life I was convinced if I just experienced God more, prayed harder, dated more girls (in faith)  that eventually I would just stop being attracted to guys. Eventually I would just be “healed”. It’s that easy right?

I had heard people say things like this from the pulpit: “Gay people just need Jesus”. I had Jesus though, I loved Jesus. But I knew I was gay.  The more I heard about how gay people are so rooted in evil the more I hated my self. When I heard pastor figures and Christian peers talk about wanting to physically abuse gays that are publicly in relationships, I would emotionally and spiritually abuse my self.

Why did it never cross their minds that maybe one of the people they were making fun of, or hypothetically abusing, could be sitting across the pew?

Why did it never cross their minds that when they mocked and joked about gay people, maybe a gay person was in the room with them, and they were actually laughing in their face? 

If I was seeking God with my whole heart, and loving him with my whole life, why was I condemned to hell if this never went away? 

The questions played over and over, and with every unanswered question came another level of self hate. The cycle was viscous. And it was lonely.

Could I really be the only one? Was I really in this alone? Last year I came to the realization that there had to be others like me. People who loved God, who heard his voice, who prayed, read the bible, and believed but also were gay. Others who had tried so hard for God to heal them, but as they got closer to God He never changed them, He just held them.

I found that I was right. I actually found a whole network of people through the Gay Christian Network. People just like me, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. I wouldn’t say I have all the answers, but in the last year I have finally begun to come to some conclusions about my life.

Yes I am a Christian. Yes I love God, more than anything else. Yes I am called. Yes I strive for Holiness. Yes I fall short. Yes I love people. And yes, I am gay.

I will no longer be confined to four walls of the closet ridden with claustrophobia. I will pick up my cross daily. I will move onward. And I will seek the Lords guidance every step of the way.

I pray that no one has to experience the pain and loneliness I did.

You are not alone. You are loved. And you are indeed, created in the image of God.

Peace and blessings

Jordon

 

There Is a Cross In My Closet

The Hope of a Sovereign God

After 36 hours of travel, I had finally moved my bags into the room on the six acres of property that I would call home for the next fourteen days.  Once I was all settled in I took a step on to the grass and began walking toward the main building at the orphanage, in this tiny village of India. 95 degrees, 100% humidity, I couldn’t tell if I was profusely sweating because of the weather, or because I was nervous to meet kids with horrendous life stories and experiences, that didn’t speak the same language as me. My guess is that it was a little bit of both. Never-the-less, I took in a deep breath of the wet air, and began to venture.

I had taken maybe 3 steps and I heard him screaming loudly. “UNCLE! UNCLE!” I thought to my self, he couldn’t be screaming for me. He was yelling as if he had laid eyes on a family member he hadn’t seen in ages. As I got closer to the building the yelling got louder, “UNCLE, UNCLE!” I got to the steps of the building and there he was, standing at 4ft zero inches tall, with a smile as bright as the sun. “I am Monoj” he said as he stuck out his hand. Shaking his hand I replied, “My name is Jordon.” He took my hand, “Jordon Uncle, come.” We ran, skipped, played, and laughed, we didn’t speak the same language, but I guess the language of joy is universal. I had been at the orphanage for maybe 20 minutes, and an 11 year old boy was already teaching me something: How to experience joy in the simplest of ways. 

Jordon Uncle would be the name I went by for the remainder of the trip, and joy would be a recurring experience. Yes, we experienced joy at little flock, it wasn’t a mere feeling in a moment easily forgotten, it was an experience so monumental, the kind of experience that permeates your entire being, and for the entirety of that experience, your heart and mind are completely captivated within it.The kind of experience you never forget, an experience that sticks, forever. Sometimes at night I would stay up wondering how the fragrance of joy could be so potent on this piece of land, in the middle of a village surrounded with so much pain. I mean, if anyone had actual reason to be unhappy, angry, or simply and constantly sad, it’s these people, but they just aren’t.

One day I was painting a cottage that the kids live in. One of the boys, Cartick, was helping me and I asked him, “Cartick what was your first night at little flock like?” The young boy paused, then hesitantly, he began, ” Uncle, I have another brother. My mom can’t raise all of us herself. I come to little flock in 2nd standard, but my mom keep my little brother. When I come here I do not understand, and many nights I cried.” I had no words. Trying to avoid eye contact I continued to paint, thinking to myself: Cartick is one of the happiest kids i’ve ever met, what if I  were in his shoes? What if my single mom dropped me off to be raised by complete strangers and have a copious amount of foreigners visit me every year? Cartick broke the silence, “but uncle now I love little flock. when I am home visiting my mom, my mind, and my heart is at little flock.” I looked at him and smiled, fighting back tears, and he looked back and smiled even bigger. We didn’t exchange any more words, but we didn’t have to. In this moment I realized God is using little flock to save these kids lives. Little flock restored hope for Cartick. It gave him vision for the future, it gave him purpose. One day Cartick wants to be a police officer. If Cartick never came to little flock, he would never go to school, he wouldn’t always be provided nutritious meals, he wouldn’t have heard about Jesus or the Gospel, and he would never believe he could ever amount to anything. When Cartick was dropped off at little flock, he was scared, this was the last place he wanted to be, but now, it serves as a beacon of hope, a safe haven, a place he calls home.

The trip wasn’t exactly all smiles and laughs. Reality sank in as we began to learn more about the kids. Children, who had to witness their birth parents being burned to death, and new children at little flock who didn’t fully understand why they are even there yet. There was a point in my trip where I became overwhelmed with the brokenness of it all. Everyday I taught volleyball to the kids, we even built a new court, one of the boys in particular, fell in love with the sport, and he was rapidly improving. However, I soon came to the realization that Kumerasin will never wear the jersey, he’ll never experience the “big win”,  he’ll never have a team huddle, or the memories collected during team bonding events. All the things I took for-granted my whole life, he will never experience. I remember crying out one night, because it’s just not fair, my life is significantly easier simply because I was born in a different place.

I dwelled in this feeling of brokenness for a couple days, then I went back to my journal entry from day one, where I was reminded of Manoj, I went back to the time I experienced a sort of joy I have never taken part in before. And I realized, these kids, they get it. That doesn’t take away from the tragedy or the brokenness of it all, but God has renewed their joy, and their hope. They have a family at little flock, united in love. They definitely don’t have the best of everything, but they make the most of everything that comes along their way. I was blessed to be welcomed into their family.

I tell you the truth my friends: God takes broken situations, and turns them into beautiful master pieces. If I learned anything it is that God is sovereign, and even in the darkest, most tragic situations, He is working, He is breathing hope into the lives of the hopeless.

Little flock you will always have a special place in my heart. I have been home for two months and I can say the same as Cartick. I am home, but my mind, and my heart are at little flock. 

Peace and blessings,

Jordon Friend

The Hope of a Sovereign God

The Gay and The Afraid

I scroll through my news feed and my heart is broken. What a joyous day for America. Yet, the feelings inside of me are torn for two communities I care deeply for. As my heart longs for these communities to live in unison, the reality sinks in as I continue to scroll. Many of my straight fellow brothers and sisters in Christ responded with words nothing short of hate, judgment, and ignorance. And not even just to the gay community, or the gay Christian community (YES GAY CHRISTIANS EXIST) but to each other.

I have no doubt the heart of God is breaking at the division within His church.

My thoughts:

1) What you call truth and love, I call homophobia.

I have a girlfriend who posted a generic “love wins” picture on Instagram, and a fellow  brother in Christ responded with something along the lines of “I thought you were Christian? Don’t claim what you contradict.” I could imagine him fuming with a self righteous anger. I believe that in his hateful words and in judging someone’s personal relationship with God, he thought he was speaking truth, loving in a tough way and standing true to his convictions. In actuality, he is a scared self righteous heretic, who is calling his homophobia “love”. The love he possesses is a human love, one that cares more about his own comfort than someone else’s humanity.

In a situation where straight Christians are negating another straight Christian’s faith because they are supporting their LGBT brothers and sisters, here’s what I have to say. If you are sinless, if you have NEVER “shamed” your faith, then cast that stone of shame. But if you have, (which you have) you’re a broken imperfect human being who is in need of a perfect savior: you should put down your stone, and walk away.

Fellow beloved. The “truth” you speak of, your convictions, if partnered with the rest of the book you love to quote so flippantly and out of context, should compel you to love in a way that is relentless. Let me remind you, Jesus loved sinners, sat with the low of the land, knowing that when it got difficult, when following Him seemed crazy, they would likely turn away. Yes, Jesus loved them, associated himself with them, ate with them, and then died for them knowing not all of them would turn from their sinful ways and be followers of Him.

In the same way, you should love the gay community. Period. Whether they decide to marry or not, you should love them. Indeed, I believe Jesus is calling you to love the gay community. Not to shove your hateful words down their throats. To actually love them just as they are, right where they are, for who they are. Because they are His.

2) You will never look into the eyes of a person who Jesus did not die for.

Behind every idea you have about sexuality, behind every “conviction” and perception, behind everything you say, and behind every broad statement about every single gay ever, there is an individual, a human being. A human being that JESUS DIED FOR. And, yes, Jesus died for them knowing that June 26th, 2015  would be the legalization of gay marriage. Not only that, I believe he is in constant pursuit of them. So if Jesus would die for them, I’m sure you can live in community with them.

3) Jesus wants His people to choose Him.

Jesus doesn’t want you to force every one to believe what you believe. If he wanted that, he would just make that happen. He is the God of the universe. He wants people to come to a place in their lives where they choose above all else that they want to commit their lives to Christ. Once they make that decision, they are to work out their own faith with God, with fear and trembling. God, in his infinite love for humanity, wants his people to choose him. While so many Christians, in their fear, want every one to agree with them.

In closing I want to say this. You never know what the person right in front of you is dealing with. God calls you to love the person right in front of you. At your home, at small group, on the side of the road. And if you spout out hateful things about homosexuality, you never know who is dealing with that in their own life. Perhaps it’s someone you love, and when you make one of your homophobic remarks, you close a door to love someone in front of you. So be thoughtful, be prayerful. Love relentlessly, and live a life that is worthy of the calling He has for you.

Peace and blessings fellow beloved children of God

Jordon

The Gay and The Afraid