I think this will be the last post about Gender and Faith for a little while, because this one really gets to the heart of where my struggle is now. I’ll have to develop and learn more before I have much else to say.
Why did God make me this way?
We left off here. This is the big one. And here’s my answer:
I don’t know!
In Part 1, when I discussed “What is sin?”, I mentioned that the problem lies in knowing what God’s will is. I don’t know what God’s will is for me. I’m trying to figure that out. I’ve been trying to figure that out for my whole life! But now that I’m on this gender journey, I feel like I’m finally closing in on the answer.
Here’s what I’ve figured out and believe so far:
I was born this way.
“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way
-Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Source: Google Play Music
Looking back over my life, I believe I was born this way – with a mixture of genders. Unfortunately for me, I also learned very early on that the world (at least my world) didn’t allow much space for expressing aspects of gender that don’t match with the one you were assigned at birth. So I began a long process of not allowing any of my non-cis aspects to exist in my world. I suppressed, repressed, left them unexpressed and ended up depressed! I worked to be the best cisgender I could be. Anything that didn’t fit the gender norm was off-limits.
But as Sigmund Freud wrote, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” This is true for me. The pressure of constantly repressing these feelings just kept building and building, until I either had to release that pressure or explode.
I am a child of God
I believe we all are, regardless of whether we know or accept it.
God doesn’t make mistakes
He is benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. There is a reason for everything, even if we don’t know it or can’t see it. Even those things which we find evil have a reason, if only to serve to help us appreciate the good.
There is a reason I feel this way
I just don’t know it yet. And maybe I’ll never know it. Maybe I’m meant to write a book about some aspect of my journey (I’ve heard from many people that I seem to have a book in me, even if I don’t consider myself an author). Maybe there’s something I’m meant to do, and to be ready for it, I have to go through this struggle. I don’t know, and I’m working to be OK with not knowing.
My questions have answers
I may only learn the answers once I’ve moved on from this life. I hope I’m able to learn them sooner.
This is a painful journey
Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and vulnerability are my constant companions. I agonize over “what are my questions?” and I’m vexed by not knowing the answers. I self-analyze and talk to others about my journey (which might be annoying or painful for them). I relentlessly search for possible steps to help me uncover my path. I make a decision and then I agonize over it, questioning whether it’s the right one. And even once I’ve taken a step, I worry that by taking the step, I’ve hurt my loved ones and feel guilty about the whole thing!
This is a burden I am capable of carrying
My spouse and I have long maintained that “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” This is both a relief and a bane; we trust that we can get through whatever crisis we face, but we worry that the next challenge will be even worse (because hey, you made it through the last one, so let’s give this one a shot!).
There is hope for me
Maybe I’m an eternal optimist, but I have a sense that what I’m going through can result in me finding peace and happiness. It won’t be easy, and I will suffer to get there, but…
This will all be worth it
Because my journey is coming with significant costs – relationships are being redefined, lives are being changed, and there may be casualties from the journey. The symptoms of my condition cause me a great deal of pain (physically and emotionally), and so far have proven
difficult impossible to tame. And then there are the financial costs (doctors, therapists, medicines, treatments, clothes, etc)!
But in the past year, I’ve learned so much about myself and about others, I’ve been surprised (in a good way) at the support I’ve received (and from where I’ve received it), and despite the battering I’ve taken (figuratively), I’m feeling more connected and present in my life than I have for a long time. I had become so dead to the world a year ago that I had pretty much checked out of everything important. Realizing my gender has woken me up. I’m coming back from that dark place, and while life is really hard right now, I wouldn’t go back to where I was.
While I didn’t choose this condition, and I wouldn’t place this burden on anyone, it has been the catalyst for a rebirth of sorts. I’m here, I’m (mostly) engaged, and I’m committed to following the path, even if I can’t see more than one step in front of me.