Friday, October 9, 2015
"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."::Originally written on September 15
So, I've been thinking and pondering and wondering. Why is it important to me to put stories of our lives out in front of everyone rather than putting those things that cause discomfort on the back burner?
Years ago, I had a wart. It was BIG. It was also on my middle finger where everyone could see it. Well, they could have if I wasn't constantly putting my other hand in front of it to keep it out of sight.
One day, a little boy in church said, "Mom, what is on her finger?!" His mom, who was covered in tattoos, was so embarrassed and apologized for her son. I laughed on the inside because I had worried that my kids would do the same thing about her tattoos, but it was my wart that was loudly asked about instead.
She wore clothing that allowed her tattoos to show. I covered up my wart. In Utah, both things get a lot of attention by small children. ;)
When I was so self-conscious of my wart, I often paid more attention to covering it up than being present in the moment. I missed out on things.
Michael is a child that won't be covered up. Thank God for his robust personality that has shown me that people, for the most part, are loving and accepting. We haven't been able to take him for a quick trip to Walmart since he was 3 or 4 years old. Even though he couldn't talk, he would grab people's shirts and pull them toward himself so that he could hug them. Now, he "gets their nose". People are always telling me how loved Michael makes them feel, usually with tears in their eyes. He has been offered all sorts of gifts through the years, including a special ring a woman had gotten in Hawaii when her grandmother died. The latest present was a man's ballcap - Michael said that he liked the man's hat, so he gave it to Michael.
I have learned that things that are covered up and not talked about become huge sources of discomfort. It encourages gossip as people try to figure things out on their own. Just tell the truth! Just be yourself! Just live authentically! Just assume that even though people might be shocked at first, they just may be your biggest supporters! Just live.
A few days ago, I dropped the bombshell that Jared is transgender. That HE feels like a SHE. My blog has been receiving dozens of visitors, but no one is saying anything. It is disconcerting. It feels very much like when people at Walmart simply walk by Michael and stare and whisper. It feels so much better when people gently ask what happened. Or when they don't ask and simply start talking and playing with Michael. It was uncomfortable when a customer service worker asked Michael, as he sat in his wheelchair, if he was "playing a cripple" that day. It was uncomfortable for her when I told her his story and she realized that he has CP. But at least there was a discussion.
There are times that people that have assume that they know best for Michael though, and have told me point blank that I should be doing "x" instead of "y". That hasn't been helpful, though, since they don't have all of the information and inspiration, trial and error, successes and failures with him that I have.
Similarly with Jessica, she has been told (by churchs' doctrine and well meaning people) how deviating from the traditional sexual norm is bad, evil, a test, a trial, etc. etc. etc. and that she should put off those feelings and live as a man so that she can live with God someday - because if she acts on her feelings, she will never get to go back to God's presence because "no unclean thing" can be in the presence of God.
I call BS. She calls BS. That simply isn't the God that I believe in.
The God that I believe in is radically inclusive and allows everyone that wants to, to come into His presence. His grace is sufficient for EVERYONE. Even the harlots. Even the demon-possessed. Even the adulterers. And even the tax collectors. Jesus said that if you'd seen him, you'd seen the Father - people saw him and wrote about it. They were shocked at the company he kept! Especially the Pharisees were shocked! If you remember, though, the group of people that Jesus rebuked so heavily was the Pharisees - the ones who followed the law to a T and thought that they had everything in this life and the next figured out and often judged others harshly when they didn't/hadn't.
EVERYONE is a sinner! And EVERYONE is loved and valued and wanted by God.
I choose to believe in THAT God. So does Jessica.
I refuse to cover things up. Even if they appear to be a really BIG wart. Even if they are hard to explain. Even if it is not, as of yet, socially acceptable. God has put me in this place at this time with these people for a reason. I will bloom. I will thrive. I will celebrate.
My son did not kill himself because he felt "sinful". My son did not feel so ashamed that he buried his feelings and then tormented others with the same issues (yes, that happens). My son lived with his feelings & took those feelings out and examined them and re-examined them. He trusted Steve and me to love him and talked to us when he was 14. He trusted his siblings to love him and talked to them when he was 18. He trusted Ruth enough to love him that he talked to her. He talked to professionals about his feelings and asked them for help and direction. Now, he is living his authentic life as Jessica. Jessica went to church on Sunday. She doesn't believe that God is upset with her. She doesn't feel the need to be ashamed. For that, I am so thankful! For that, I rejoice! For that, I will celebrate!
On the wall above the staircase going to the basement of my house, we have a poster (the same picture at the top of this post) hanging up on the wall. “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.” Amen.