Here is a passage from the book of Mark that I have been pondering this morning:
Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.
And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”
So they were offended at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.
Here is what struck me this time, and I have read this passage at least a hundred or more times…Jesus Himself was unable to effect change in the lives of these individuals because of their unbelief.
Well, consider, the first thing we are told is that they were astonished when they ran into Jesus again after He had been away. He had been baptized, filled with Lady Grace, purified thru testing in the wilderness, and essentially been commissioned to get on with the job of being God Incarnate. He clearly was much different!
But: this difference scared them, made them uncomfortable, and so they played out the tapes of assumption based on years of thinking they knew Him. They recite the lines, and by doing so infer that HE should be adhering to them…and then comes the real core of the issue: they were offended!
The choice to take offense is the choice to become infected with unbelief. I will post about Offense sometime, but for now, what struck me was this:
As a transgender woman, I am quite fearful of being myself openly when I am around people who “know me”, and the longer they have been acquainted with me the more reluctant I am to be open. When I am around strangers, I am openly myself in dress, vocal tones, vocabulary, gesture and countenance. It is really a big difference.
We are guilty as humans, due to laziness mostly, of allowing daily events and regular occurrences to become the scripts and stage directions by which we live and understand the world. This is evident anytime there is a significant change but is very very commonly demonstrated when someone chooses to come out. Statistically, the longer someone has been known by others as being one way, the more violent and shattering the reaction by them to the one transitioning. In this crucible, many many relationships melt down for good.
I have written before of how shocked and dismayed I was when I realized that I was not the owner of my own gender identity, but in fact everyone around me was!!
A transgender person does not own their gender identity! No, we have to claim it, and then take it, and tragically this often means that little to no relationship will ever be present again with numbers of people in their lives.
Back to the passage in Mark: even Jesus suffered from this, and was stigmatized by the twin powers of Unbelief and Assumption, and renounced in their name.
I am encouraged, oddly, by knowing that even Precious Jesus found His hands tied when He was among the offended Unbelieving people of the past.
In conclusion, join me in choosing to first of all not take offense, and then secondly to not assume we know just because we knew! I think we will all be happier, and certainly more of a blessing to God and His creatures!
(This poor thing was dressed by assumption and victimized by offense!!! giggle!)
I am reading a book by a woman named Stasi Eldridge, called Becoming Myself: embracing God’s dream of you.
Wow. Let me tell you a little story first. Years and years ago, when my baby and me and our kids regularly attended meetings in a building on Sundays (this is referred to unthinkingly as “going to church”, church being the building and the service that is held in the building…a pet peeve of mine that church isn’t going to people, but that’s a different post! giggles), I was heavily involved in the administration of these services, both in front and behind the scenes.
As a person blessed to have been born into an intact family with strong christian beliefs and principles, I was exposed enough to the Lord to get infected and not inoculated.
chew that notion for awhile: are you infected, or inoculated?
My roots went deep, and God had faithfully and very mercifully revealed Himself enough that I hungered and thirsted for His presence. So it was a natural thing that I be tapped for that particular activity that we have labelled “ministry”.
Now, in the process of that, I was involved in small groups, home groups, bible studies…oh, and then the meetings I hated the most: Men’s Group! OMG, we had all these macho names we cycled thru, of who we were, and who we were supposed to be. I sat in countless breakfasts on Saturday morning watching these “animals” shovel food down their gullets that was grease-laden and starchy and all I could think was that I would balloon 10 lbs if I ate an ounce!
Men’s retreats, Promise Keepers, I saw it all…omg and then the books I was handed to study! Good books, for the most part, but so irrelevant to my life, and soo depressing to read. Because it was simultaneously an indictment of my failure and a curse on my being. Oh, I was good enough at comprehending what was taught, and applying it best I could as a worshipper of God and the parent of children I love and the spouse of a person I adore! But it was a curse…cus I wasn’t what they told me I ought to be…and a burden cus it went against the very warp and weft of my heart!
My honey would go to Women of Faith conferences, Women’s retreats, Women’s Tea Social and Fellowship time, and various asundry other things, and wow did I get sad! (But I got good brownie points for being so interested in what she learned! LOL).
So anyway, one author in particular that I struggled with was Jon Eldridge! Such a seemingly good man, and a fabulous writer, his emphasis was on being robust adventurers for the Lord. Being a man meant striding out confidently with clear vision, being on fire and committed, and being tough and resolute spiritually and mentally.
THAT. JUST. WASN’T. ME.
So I ended up slogging thru this stuff and learning it, so I could teach it to the men that I was thrown in with…and also so I could take my daughters aside and show them the kinds of things that men are thinking, not thinking, and being taught in churches.
Eventually, we were casualties of a split church, a nasty leadership fight, and the wagging tongues of gossip, and in the year that we lost my father in July and my baby’s mother in November, we resigned from the church and started “detox!” One of the hardest things I have gone thru, and one of the best as well! Huge lacks were revealed in our lives that had to do with having real relationships. Tragically, every relationship in our lives had been built on the sinking sand of “ministry”…so when ministry was gone, so was anything built on it! This was in 2005.
Since that time, we have attended many groups referred to as Church, some for months and some for weeks, but mostly, we have tried to live, and be kind, and we have continued in our journey together with the Lord. And of course for me, beginning shortly after Dad died, Lady Grace began to actively dismantle all my shields and walls…and set me free.
So back to the present: I am reading Stasi Eldridge’s book. She is Jon’s wife. Little did I know then that I was reading the wrong Eldridge! LOLOLOL!!
This book touches me with nearly every word. Oh, it is not complicated intellectually, or high and majestic theologically…no, this book is written from the heart of someone who for years felt the same way about herself as I feel (and this is more “felt”, praise the Lord! 🙂 ). She put things into words that I had previously lacked vocabulary for. She writes with her heart, and speaks to my heart.
I am recommending this book, pending completion of it, but I don’t think it is going to take any funky turn.
I do wonder, though…how would she feel if she knew that she was blessing a transgender woman, and providing her with the spiritual sustenance to see her through to the end of her transition? This exemplifies a far broader concern and area of a lot of apprehension…what will be the reaction of that group of people called “The Church” in our culture when or if I ever try to attend services and worship the Lord? Based on the things I heard men saying all those years, I tremble with fear and my heart quails. Based on the way I saw women in those days rip each other to shreds with their words and rivalries and competitions, I want to sink into the sea before I go into some den of lions like that.
But then there are the ladies I am meeting here…Dani who blogs here…and a new friend named Kaitie Bortell who also blogs here. They have been kind, edifying, encouraging, and have warmed my heart so with hope and joy. Maybe there are others like them in all of the “churches”?
And maybe, in embracing God’s dream for me, He will send me into those places to break down walls and to build up the broken and set captives free. It terrifies me to think on. But consider the odds: if transgenderism is statistically more common than cleft pallet, then there are literally thousands of transgender people, suffering silently as did I for all those years, fearful of being condemned and policed. And consider also: since homosexuality is far more statistically present than transgenderism, there are even more, suffering under the same fears and accusations.
It is not my place to figure out someone’s sexuality. It is not my place to scrutinize them, trying to figure out if they or anyone for that matter, is a real christian! But it is my place to be kind…to bless and not curse…to love them, freely with no expectation of return but great hope of increase…and to be merciful and sit with the broken and ooze Grace upon Grace upon Grace!
Maybe Lady Grace will call me to break down walls, and build up the ancient ruins…and maybe Lady Grace will call me to cook everyday for my loved ones and take care of our household. That is up to Father, Jesus and Her. In the meantime, I am going to keep on plowing thru Stasi’s book, and pray for the courage to Become Myself, as God would have me become.
May Grace multiply to you always with the Peace of all peace…
I saw this image, and I burst into tears. It was almost like PTSD…my heart began to race, and I had a hard time breathing. From my earliest memories forces outside me had been putting that suffocating corset over my heart, my soul…over me!
Pulling it tight!
And pulling it tighter.
I had to force myself to breathe, and beg Lady Grace to touch me and hold my heart. I quoted my older brother David son of Jesse:
“Be still oh my soul, and know that He is God!”
Bestillbestillbestill bestill bestill bestill be still be still be still
He is God.
…and then it happened, and I realized that my life is finally going the other way…Lady Grace on one tie, and Jesus on the other, gently loosening those tangled ties…taking out the intricate knots placed by fear and death…
Thank you so much, for this woman caught in adultery (we all are she), this woman at the well, this woman hemorrhaging internally since birth, this woman bent over at the waist since awakening…
…is now at Their feet, being loosed! Being untied! Being Set FREE.
Won’t you join me, letting go of whatever it is this broken place forced onto your heart at birth?
After all, my walk thru transition is amazingly parallel to my walk transitioning from the realm of death to the realm of life!
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Thank you, Dearest God! And Blessings and Grace and Peace to you all this morning.
Good Morning Constance! I am going to do some re-posting of things that I think are really worth reading and processing.
This article on friendship is good, and in the context of this blog, I wanted to repost it because there are people who have touched my life thru this medium, people I otherwise would never have known were alive. Almost certainly we will never meet in this earthly period, but I am supremely confident that we will when the King Returns and cleanses all and brings the City of God to Earth and there is no more crying or killing in all His Holy Mountain!
There are a lot of things in the article that touch on parts of what makes someone a friend…and I want to say here that Dani has done so many of those things for me, and been those things for me as well. While we do not “know” each other, her writings and her timely encouragements gave me strength and hope to not give up and sink into the morass of despair.
And of course, my family…my beloved and our children…I have been blessed by their choice to allow a friendship to grow on top of the foundational relationship that God ordained for us all in putting us together as flesh and blood…thanks guys!!!!!
…………and thanks Dani! Bless you for your heart dripping with the gusto of Grace!