Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Maker of Noses

Like many of you, I enjoy music, and I look to it for inspiration and support. My taste in music is quite eclectic, ranging from hymns through jazz and rock. My favorite Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter is Rich Mullins. His work is original, unique and thought provoking. The world lost a great soul when he was taken home in 1997, in a tragic accident, at the age of forty six.

One of his songs is, The Maker of Noses. Many song writers have written of that place and time when the world will live together in peace and harmony. John Lennon's, Imagine, comes to mind. Yet there's no answer, only hopes and dreams.

The writer of The Maker of Noses longs for, among other things ...

I believe there is a place
Where people live in perfect peace
Where there is food on every plate
Where work is rewarded and rest is sweet

Where the color of your skin won't get you in or keep you out
Where justice reigns and truth finally wins
It's hard fought war against fear and doubt
And everyone I know, wants to go there too

... but when he looks to the world for answers ...

But when I ask them how to do it they seem so confused
Do I turn to the left? Do I turn to the right?
When I turn to the world, they gave me this advice

... they tell him ...

Well, they said, "Boy you just follow your heart"
But my heart just led me into my chest
They said, "Follow your nose"
But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
And they said, "Boy you just follow your dreams"
But my dreams were only misty notions

... Finally, he turns to the One who gives life, the One who made his nose, and the One who gives him his dreams ...

But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
And the Giver of dreams, He's the one I have chosen
And I will follow Him

And, like the writer of this song, I choose to follow the One worth following, the One in whom all wisdom and love abounds, and from whom wisdom and love is freely given. Then ...

And oh, I hear the voice of a million dreams
Then I wake in the world that I'm partly made of
And the world that is partly my own making

And oh, I hear the song of a heart set free
That will not be kept down by the fury and sound
Of a world that is wasting away but keeps saying

Saying, "Boy you just follow your heart" ...

My heart is set free as it is held captive by my Lord, my Bridegroom, my Savior and my Friend. I know someday the world will be a wonderful, wonder filled place for all people. But until then, it is my responsibility to fill it with as much light and love that I am capable of. I am to be salt. Salt that adds savor. Salt that preserves. Not salt in someone else's wounds.

So in a world that says, be all you can be, while telling me I can't be who I am, I pray for strength and guidance and grace, and I look to Him who made my nose, and trust Him to lead me to green pastures and still waters. Hope to see y'all there.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The 41% - By the Seashore

In 2010, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force published the results of a comprehensive poll of transgender people. The report was entitled, 'National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Health Care', and can be found here. One of the sad statistics that came out of this poll is the fact that 41% of all respondents reported that they had attempted suicide. What makes this statistic even more sad is the thought that this poll could only be responded to by people who were alive. How many more have there been who accomplished their sad plans?
There are many reasons that suicide is so prevalent among trans-people. Family rejection, being shunned by the churches they have devoted their lives to, friends turning their backs on them, losing jobs and careers, lack of medical treatment, physical and sexual attack, ... I could go on. However, there is another factor that is often overlooked. A factor that comes from the very people who should know better. And it's the factor that drove me to the very edge of the 59%. That factor is thoughtless words from another trans-person.

In my case, these words came from a very close transsexual friend. A friend who I still pray for nearly every day. A friend I care for like a sister. What were these words? They were, "You sound just like a man."

Innocent words, and perhaps true words, spoken as a response to a post containing a bit too much advice, when silent support may have been more appropriate.

But innocent or not, true or not, these words ripped through my heart and tore into my soul like a hot dagger. First came the tears, many tears. Then, with the fresh open wounds still there, as I was driving, the thought, the little big thought, came ... "I wonder if I should just run off the road and see what that bridge abutment can do?"

My toes were being tickled by the foamy waters at the edge of the Sea of the Forty One Percent. I am fortunate. By the grace of God, I remembered who I am, and a new resolve was kindled in me.

Words do hurt! And stories like this sometimes end much more tragically. I have resolved to always strive to be gracious in word and in deed. We must always speak graciously - especially to each other. It may mean the difference between life or death.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Have Calmed My Heart and Quieted My Soul

Psalm 131:1 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. 2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.
There are some days! Some days when the windmills of my mind become buzz saws. Some days when rest seems illusive and sleep will not come. The cause can be from events in my life, or, as was the case last week, the catalyst can be the experiences of my friends. In either case, it's personal.

What I have found is that God wants us to have peace, and He wants us to enjoy His rest. He provides for our peace and rest, but it is our responsibility to enter into it.

We have peace in two ways: Peace with God (Romans 5:1); and, The peace of God (Philippians 4:7, 9). Peace with God is the foundation everything else is built on. For, while we are at odds with God, there can be no peace of mind and no rest for the weary.

Peace with God comes from belief. Belief that we have missed His mark, and as such, we are lost. We, just like Adam and Eve, are outside of fellowship with Him, and there's nothing we can do about it but believe in the work of His Son, who provides for our redemption through His righteousness. Like Romans 5:1 says, because of faith, I have been justified. That is, through faith in the work of the Righteous One, Jesus the Christ, I have been made righteous, just as if I had never sinned.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Believe I do, peace with God I have.

Philippians 4 is my goto chapter. I go to it in times of trouble, in times when I need a pep-talk. Here we can see the secret of enjoying the peace of God.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here we begin to see that enjoying the peace of God is an activity. We must rejoice. We must have a gentle spirit. We must not be anxious, but depend on God and be thankful. Again faith is the key to enjoying God's peace. We are to depend on Him. He is near.

But what about rest? Jesus tells us:
Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Yes we have rest, as we come to Him. This leads us right back to the words of David in Psalm 131. Here we see the king of Israel coming to that point when his windmills had become buzz saws. Pondering things too difficult for even the king. We see him coming to his Lord, like a weaned child returning to lean on his mother, stilling his heart and quieting his soul in the comfort he finds there. No wonder his desire is for his people to share in the hope that sustains him.

May each of you find that peace and rest that sustains me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Like so many others, I, as a Christian and transsexual person, have asked myself whether my transness is a blessing from, or a curse of God. Well, this is where I am:

Let's look at what David, a man after God's own heart (1 Sam 13:14), penned in Psalms 139.

Here we see David worshiping God for His awesome attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. He exclaims, "You have searched me and have known me", v1; and, "You ... are intimately acquainted with my ways", v3. Summing up, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me", v6. He goes on to ask the question, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?", v7; and sums up with, "Darkness and light are alike to You", in v12.

Then, starting in verse 13, he tells of yet another time and place where God exercised, in a very personal way, His everywhere present and all knowing power. A place and time that, for David, and for us, defines our very being - our mother's womb.

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb."

God made me. The same God who created the complex language of DNA, caused me to be, just the way He wanted me to be.

The next verses expound on this:

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When it was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;"

If you are all scientific and stuff, perhaps you can see Him selecting the winner of the great race which leads to conception. However He accomplishes it, He does whatsoever He wills.

Did He oversee my conception and then leave the rest to chance? No. He made me - wonderful are His works! He saw me from when I was still unformed substance, throughout the gestation period as my frame was being skillfully wrought by Him. If, as scientists speculate, there was a time when my forming brain was deprived of testosterone or flooded with estrogen, He was there, forming me to be just what He wanted me to be.

Let's go on in verse 16:

"And in Your book where all written The days that were ordained for me, when yet there was none of them."

I truly believe that my days started at conception. If you believe that the first day was when you were born, that's fine too. The key is that my heavenly Father knew me before I ever was. And there is nothing, not my birth, not me writing this, not my death, not my salvation, not even my transsexual reality that was or will be a surprise to God. What a comfort that is to me! But wait, he's not finished:
"How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand."

God cares about me. He is with me. He knows me. He loves me and called me to Himself. I was made good and acceptable in His sight, through the work of His Son. How can I not see myself as good and acceptable. How can I not worship and give thanks to Him, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!