What Love Feels Like
My name is Landon, Benjamin, and man, I’m just a follower of Jesus. I’m also a husband, which is important. I have three kids and they’re amazing. One is in high school, one is in junior high and one is in elementary, which is bananas right now, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m an avid golfer; I love golf! Now a little bit about my backstory. I grew up in the church, my dad’s a pastor, my grandpa was a pastor, my great grandpa was a pastor, and I became a pastor as well about 14 years ago. So I’m fourth generation.
I always say I’m like 100 years old in the church world because I’ve been to that many services. We had three services growing up at a church called Shady Grove. I would go to the Saturday night service with my dad, spend the night with my grandparents and then go with them to the eight o’clock service, and then be there at the 10:45 service. I just loved that growing up, dressing in my little suit and tie – clip on tie.
But yeah, my dad was pastoring and I got saved at five but didn’t really know what that meant. I sort of went along with it all, always was in church and knew about God, and that leads up to the story about God’s saving power in my life. He really intervened in a way that was miraculous.
I was about 15 years old. A week before I turned 15, we were playing basketball, and we were going up early to just practice shooting before the game started. It had just started raining. My buddy picked me up in an ‘89 Jeep Cherokee. These are the Jeeps that don’t have anything in the middle, it’s just sort of empty space. There’s no console or anything in between the front seats. So I jumped in the front seat, and he’s driving, and he’s like, “Hey, uh, my seat belt’s broken.” – You remember those seat belts that had the arm, you know, all the way to the base, all the way to the bottom of the Jeep? So it’s like a flappy arm. – So he’s like, “My seat belt’s broken. So I need to use yours.” And I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.” We’re five minutes from the school, you know? So he pulls the passenger seat belt buckle arm over and it flops over to his.
It just started raining and we’re driving down, and it’s this blind corner. All of a sudden before we get to the corner, a fire truck, on call, is flying around the corner going about 40 miles an hour. Sirens are going too because I guess they were going to call and my buddy freaks out and slams on his brakes. He was going about 40 coming into that turn and because it just started raining, we just slid along. He didn’t have any of the antilock brake systems. So the brakes just lock up and we fly right into the corner of the fire truck. It hits on the passenger side, which is my side.
So that 40 miles an hour and 40 miles an hour impact speed just collapsed the front of the Jeep, the engine compartment. In fact, we have pictures of the Jeep, the engine compartment is in the front, in my front seat, it just collapses straight into me. The dashboard comes forward, the seats pop off the buckles, there is a big guy behind me. Our center was behind me and he flew forward into my seat. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, so I ejected it into the windshield. My head hits the glass, breaks through and the guy flies in behind me. The engine traps my leg and it pulls it out of socket, flips my leg around, breaks my hip, breaks my femur bone. And as I’m going through the window, obviously my head hits and it splits my head open. I have a scar that used to be much longer, but I have a scar that goes all the way across my forehead and through my eyebrows, down beside my eye. Head’s just wide open and I’m stuck in between the windshield. I’m kind of halfway in halfway out of the car. So obviously, major head trauma.
One of the things that was just incredible was that they were firefighters. If we didn’t run into a fire truck, I don’t know where I would be right now. But by the grace of God, they jumped out with the Jaws of Life to cut off the top of the car and were able to get me out. There was so much brain trauma punching through the windshield that my head had already expanded, and I was posturing. I guess that’s what they call it, where all my limbs started to curl up because of the brain trauma. So I’m in this state, not breathing, completely unresponsive and they’re like, we just killed this kid. That’s their, that’s their thought. So they put tubes down and try to get me breathing again, and I was non-responsive. So they call CareFlite.
CareFlite comes in. –I don’t know any of this information first hand because I was in a coma.– I mean, I was completely unconscious. In fact, I don’t actually remember the details of the car. I don’t remember anything for about six hours before this event. Even the detail of the flap and, you know, the floppy seat belts, I only know that because the kid who asked me to do that told me that because I have no memory. Now I’ve told the story so many times I can imagine it, but I don’t actually have that memory. So there I am; I’m laying there and my buddy, his name is Tim, still gets me emotional, but he told me that he remembers laying there screaming like, I killed Landon. I killed Landon! Because he knows that he told me to do that. Man, it was insane. And again the paramedics on the firetruck thought I was dead as well.
So they put me in the CareFlite and they didn’t think I was going to make it even to the hospital. On the CareFlite they’re working on me and they get me to the hospital and I’m in a full blown coma. So my parents get a call, “Hey, you gotta go to the hospital. Landon has been in a really bad car accident.” So they fly to the hospital. They get there to the waiting room and the news covered my accident. They’re sitting in the waiting room and they look at the TV, and there’s the accident. They reported three teenagers, one fatality. They knew the other two, the other two guys were okay, so they’re like, my son is dead, because they’re seeing this on the TV and going like he’s, he’s dead. Then the people at the waiting room say, you need to wait for the chaplain to come out and talk to you. My dad’s a pastor. My dad’s like, “I am a chaplain. Let me back and see my son, this is what I do. This is one of the things I do; let me see my son.” Now being a parent, I’m like, I couldn’t imagine that experience, you know, thinking about my kid.
So what ended up happening was, I was in a coma. I was unresponsive. I had major brain swelling. They had given them no hope. There was just no hope. It was like, we have no idea how long he’s gonna stay in this state. It could be two days, it could be two months, it could be two years, and if his brain begins to swell, worst case scenario. And that had already began to happen because of the trauma.
My mom is an amazing woman. My mom and my dad, they’re incredible lovers, followers of Jesus, man. She didn’t leave that room, didn’t leave it and she began to pray. And of course, then all the calls went out. My grandpa was traveling and preaching in another church, he told the church, I’m leaving. I’m not preaching and finishing this conference. He flew back. And, they had to tell people in the waiting rooms to stop coming because the waiting rooms were just so full of people just praying on site, you know, wanting to come and pray.
So my mom was there. She just kept praying and she had this vision while she was praying, and it’s in the ER, like, intensive care unit. I’m on all these tubes, and everything’s making me breathe and keeping me alive. She has this vision that there were these angels that would just come and work on my brain. One would come and just focus his attention on my brain and then it was like there was another one that came in the room to focus attention on my brain. That sounds crazy. Sounds weird. But then another one would come in. There’s this focused attention on my brain. She didn’t tell anybody about this and then there was another woman in the waiting room praying, and all of a sudden she had a vision that there were these angels coming in working on my brain. Almost like that ladder, you know, Jacob’s Ladder, that they would come down, work on my brain and another one would come down and work on my brain. So it was confirmation for my mom that something is happening.
Seventeen hours later, I woke up from this coma. And they said if I wake up, more than likely, I’m going to be a vegetable, non responsive, complete brain trauma to where my motor skills probably won’t be available. I woke up, like fine. It was a…There’s no other way to think about it. Because when they woke me up, I talked to them. I had all my, every, all of my motor skills intact. In fact, my first actual cognitive memory –At the time, I was friends with a person who we were going to the Mavericks a lot, and their brother was one of the head trainers. So we were going to the locker room.– Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, now that’s how long ago this was, they were in my room, just to come and say hi and see me. So I woke up and I was like, “Dirk, what’d you do to your hair?” Because it was when he first shaved it, you know? Anyway, it was a miracle, like, I literally woke up.
In fact, with all of my hip issues, all of my leg stuff, I didn’t have one surgery. I left the hospital in a total of seven days. Seven days after the whole thing. All of this massive brain trauma was gone in seven days! In fact, I was the quickest recovery from anybody else in that car accident. The other two guys had longer lasting issues. I’m like, God is so good to save my life like that and to look at me, a guy, a kid, who wasn’t even really saved. I was in a dark spot at 15 years old and to still rescue me, save me. It haunted me for the next two years. The doctors were freaked out.
We went and visited the firefighters who ran into us and they were freaking out. I mean crying because one of the guys had PTSD. He had frozen on the steering wheel because he saw everything happen. He saw me go through the windshield and everything. When he saw me, I remember this emotional state of him in just joy, but it was like, holy cow. I knew that it was a miracle that I was alive and yet I knew that I was in a broken place. That was like a haunting for the next two years.
So right before my accident, and I don’t know if it’s appropriate on the podcast or not, but right before my accident, I was molested and it lasted about two or three months. I was in this dark state of confusion and it kind of instigated sexual addiction, and this is part of my testimony. When I teach at our Freedom Ministries I say I didn’t spin in a homosexual route with molestation. I spun in like, I’m not that, so I’m going to show myself and everyone how manly I am. That kind of created the sexual addiction side of going towards girls and pornography and all sorts of stuff.
That’s the kind of headspace I was in, getting into that car accident. I know God saved my life, but now I’m like, “But look at me, I’m not worth, I’m not worth that thing. I’m not worth the salvation. I’m broken. I’m insignificant. I’m gross because of what happened to me.” That was the identity I put on myself and then now this, this accident where I experienced the hand of God in my life, and it was like a, like I say a haunting. That’s what I was created for, that kind of power in love that touches me right where I’m at. Then I still, it’s like, I don’t know what to do with that, you know? For those two years I’m running in that darkness, trying to figure out my life on the other side.
I was actually on a trip with my now wife, but it was a trip to the Brownsville revival. I am there and after a couple of days, I’m making fun of everything. It’s just the worst. And I remember, during worship, nobody spoke, there was no altar call. I just went to the side of this room and I kind of was done. It’s almost like I hit that wall, you know? And I just said, “God, if You’ll just take me, I’m Yours.” And it was visceral, it was like a physical feeling. I just say hug or a blanket or something. I don’t know how to explain what love feels like when it surrounds you. It was this dawning that He’ll take me just like I am. It’s almost like from that point on everything that was poured into me since I was a kid started making sense. Jesus just came alive and I was like, holy moly, He’s, He’s awesome.
Some of the old thinkers and now spiritual directors talk about the shadow. Our shadow self versus our true self. The shadow is connected to you. As if the sun, as if God’s shining on you, and you’re enlivened by this sun. But you look down and there’s a shadow and yet, it still goes to the heel of my foot or whatever. That’s the person that I don’t want to be. That’s all the junk. That’s all the pornography or the sexual addiction, or the arrogance, you know, ummm, codependence, whatever the thing is that you struggle with. That’s that shadow side of you. That really, that’s Paul in Romans 7 – But I don’t want to be this, but I am, but I’m not, but I am.
Now, I think the most transformation happens when I’m able to pick up that shadow and bring it to Jesus, and hold it and say, “As much as I want to say that’s not me, somehow that is me.” And yet I’m still loved. He loves the shadow and if I bring, if I can bring that shadow… One of the most profound moments, and I’m digressing here, one of the most profound moments of my life is when I remember bringing all of my shadow to the Lord. And He said, “I love that Landon as much as I love the good Landon.” When He loved my brokenness, then the shame started going away. He didn’t love what I did or doesn’t love the actions. He doesn’t love how it hurts people and hurts myself, but the shame of that side goes away when I can experience His love in it. So if I can bring the shadow to the sunlight, all of a sudden it’s integrated into me and now I can live through my brokenness as a healing source to people, not as a shame source to people.