When I first began blogging as a transgender woman, my theme was trans Christianity. I titled my blog Transgender Exodus, an allusion to my faith walk as a trans woman. Like my faith, that blog was destroyed years ago. I deleted it in a heated rage and destroyed all the files and downloads associated with it. I regret that. By the time I did it, the name had changed, as the subjects I covered wandered far and wide, seldom discussing faith or Christianity. In fact, I used the space more for movie reviews than any other topic – some really good ones too, if you do not mind my bragging just a little.
Despite its rambling nature, at the heart of that blog was a deep (or so I believed) and well informed faith. I did not study the bible – a possible downfall as a christian; but faith takes many forms, and I never found deep meaning or affirmation from that particular exercise. I read volumes of literature about the bible, and even more about faith in general. I was most interested in what it meant to be faithful in an era of pharmacologically induced emotion, in an age of information bombardment, and in an age of twenty four hour a day living. The world is a very different place than when the books of the bible were written; it is interesting though that people, their hearts, are still much the same – one of the most frequent of the many doubts that constantly nibbled at my heart.
Something happened when I moved to Texas. I changed. It did not help matters that I was a burnt out wreck. In the year or so leading up to my move, I had separated from my spouse, come out to my friends, and was trying to find a path forward. At the same time, I was enmeshed in a full time career and investing twenty to thirty additional hours a week to a church service as the “house band’s” worship leader and faux-music director. In the last few months before the move, resulting from the shocking changes in my life, I experienced the “harlot effect” – being the subject of rumors and controversy within the walls of a church I had served devotedly. I heard the murmurs of people I thought were friends. I felt the sting of retribution from people who suddenly felt they had the moral superiority to pass judgment over what I was going through. I felt the hollow isolation of being the subject of gossip rather than a welcome family member.
Moving to Texas was an effective escape from all of it. When I got here, I made virtually no effort to find a new church. My practicing faith became a sideline faith. During the first couple years here, my lack of devotion gradually evolved into skepticism, and eventually into an outright denial of my faith. As I often claimed, my problems were not with god, but with his followers. And there is truth in that. I am regularly astounded by the depth of many christians’ hate for people like me. The utter devotion to marginalizing, if not eradicating us is practically obsessive. But there was more involved in my fall from faith. As I reflect, I suspect that the bigger problem was with neither god nor his followers – but with me.
I was – still am – a mess. My life was careening toward what could only have been a catastrophic end. Everything from my physical health to my financial security was eroding due to my deep and utter depression and the destructive behaviors I employed to numb the despair. Over the last year and a half or so, I have been on a path away from that darkness. I have fixed many things. I am now officially in transition, I found counseling and treatment, I changed jobs, and am making plans for surgery. I have worked toward a better future for myself; but the scars run deep, and my progress walks a fine line. My journey is not so much on a path these days as on a tightrope.
Something is missing. I do not have it right, not yet. It is not that the journey should be easy; it is that I know the journey is far less difficult than it feels. The heaviness in my heart is about something other than the challenges of transition. My journey is a cakewalk compared to most, and yet somehow I fail to see it that way. I have been completely unable to embrace the blessings in my life. I know I am fortunate. I know I have it “easy,” yet the message never seems to make it to my heart.
A song crept up recently as background to something I was watching. While I could not immediately identify it, I recognized the tune. After listening more intently, I realized the song was one I used to sing in worship services. I have heard snippets of many of these songs over the last few years, so that is not surprising; but something happened this time. I began to cry softly as I remembered the lyrics. In the days since, I have experienced other little nibbles. I have felt nudges, and my reactions have been surprising. The bitterness that usually swells up inside me at the mention of faith is more often a sense of wonder, or sadness, or yearning. I find myself in conversations with people I do not know about things like god. I cry. Not unusual, but I cry because I feel like something is trying to get in, and I do not seem to know how to let it.
Please hold onto your collection plates and your conclusions. I have not been converted; at least, I do not think I have been converted. I do feel like there is something I need to recognize; I feel like I am on the verge of something. I do not yet know what that something is. I continue to prove to myself that I can make this journey – that I can paint a new picture for myself that actually makes sense. But I am also feeling the effects of making the journey alone. I have to wonder, when the painting is done, what will be on the canvas. Might the picture be more beautiful – more complete – if I relinquish control of the brushstrokes? And if I give over control of the composition, will the result still be me?
Good night, friends.
Good night, friends.