“There is always more to a situation than what you can perceive from the outside ” Queen Latifah

What I Learned From Raising My Rainbow | QueenLatifah.com.

What a fabulous and thoughtful glimpse into the intelligent and compassionate soul of Queen Latifah.

Just.  Read.   You will be glad you did.

Love Always, in Grace and Peace,

Charissa

Perspectives on Procrastination

Doggerel has a certain junk-food appeal to me at times…and other times it just crowds into my head, like the Kool-Aid “Man” in the commercials, busting thru the walls of meaningful metaphors and symphonic similes and aristocratic assertive absurdly abundant alliterations!

“BOOM!!  DOGGEREL GIRL ON THE SCENE!”  giggles

Here is a poem that was inspired by comments about procrastination…I feel that procrastination is an indulgence of the lazy moment…so here is some doggerel style poetry:  Doggerel poetry is the indulgence of the lazy poetic moment!

And yet on that Day when you’ve run
the race, and when your life is done
you’ll think of lazy days and sun
and of last night and that song’s fun.

Essays live but briefly here
and haunt us pre-birth with a fear,
and dread of birthing them is near
when all they are?  Pain in our rear!

So lift up laughter as you write
and scribble smart things, neat and tight
and while you create, let your sight
fix on that Day of vast Delight!

(oooohhhh…doggerel is such sweet sorrow!!! LOLOLOL)
🙂

Love, Charissa

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4 Reasons Why We Need to Drop ‘You Must Be Doing Something Right!’

Constance…this is a great article!  Please read it, and put its advice into practice.  I know for myself, sometimes here I have made pleas for support, for a kind comment, for an encouraging word, and they have not returned fruitful.  I thought it was just that people didn’t care, and only wanted the pretty poems and love songs to God…well, maybe it was just that we aren’t very good at it.

Anyway, I found it helpful myself, and am resolved to encourage, regardless of the actions of others.

Yours in Encouraging Words…Charissa

 

4 Reasons Why We Need to Drop ‘You Must Be Doing Something Right!’

Source: Picky Wallpapers

If you do social justice work – especially if you’re vocal in this simultaneously glorious and frightening world known as The Internet – you’ve undoubtedly suffered your fair share of abuse.

If you’re in a marginalized community, it’s likely come in the form of oppressive violence targeting your identity in an attempt to silence you.

And if you’ve refused to shut up and sit down, I imagine that you, like me, have experienced the terror of death and rape threats.

And if you’ve ever been vocal to your friends and family about your experiences, I’m going to bet that at least once in your life, someone has attempted to placate you by letting you know that “you must be doing something right” if you’re making people angry.

And, okay, I get their point.

Social reform doesn’t come easy. And attempting to affect the fundamental nature of society is, of course, by definition, radical.

I may have a complicated relationship with the word “radical,” but the truth of the matter is that questioning – let alone actively working to upset – the status quo is always going to be radical in nature. Because it makes people uncomfortable.

But there’s a big difference between making people uncomfortable and making them violently angry.

Making people uncomfortable? That’s part of the job. That’s a good sign that you’re doing something right.

People coming at you with death threats? Not the same thing.

And I don’t know about you, but when people apply the “you must be doing something right” band-aid to every instance of my feeling vulnerable and emotional, it has the opposite effect that they hope it will.

It doesn’t feel comforting and inspiring. It actually feels kind of trivializing – and even silencing.

So here are some reasons why you might want to drop “you must be doing something right!”

1. It Isn’t Necessarily True

I do values clarification-based education for a living. My job, day in and day out, is to run workshops where I challenge people to question their most deeply held beliefs around sexuality and relationships.

Facilitating affective learning is a skill – and it’s a hard one. It involves very consciously and deliberately bringing people to the edge of their comfort zones to offer them alternative perspectives. It also means (at least externally) withholding judgment, which includes in its bag of tricks a very practiced poker face.

Now, if I do my job correctly, people will walk out of my workshops with a little bit of anxiety and a whole lot to think about. They should leave there feeling challenged, but safe. They should feel that their worldviews were respected while also engaging in different viewpoints.

But sometimes that’s not what happens.

Sometimes I get that one student on an already stressful day who continually disrupts my lesson to assert their belief that – most commonly – people who stay in abusive relationships must like being abused or there are conditions under which people cannot say no to sex.

And sometimes when this student really grates on my nerves, I can lose my cool and say something snarky or otherwise assert my dominance as the leader in the room. It happens rarely, but it happens.

And that is the point at which I have failed.

Because that student is going to walk away having learned nothing except that the lady who came to their class to talk about domestic violence can’t follow her own ground rules around respecting others’ opinions.

In the case where someone feels unfairly disrespected by me, I have not “done something right.” If anything – and trust me, my supervisor would agree – I have done something wrong. And telling me that turning what could have been a teachable moment into a power struggle was appropriate actually isn’t helpful.

Look. We’re all human, and we are all expected to have these days where the weight of the world is simply too much to bear and we take it out on someone whose comment is our last straw, but that is not an indication that we have done something right.

It’s simply an indication that our work is still desperately needed.

Bringing people past the brink of discomfort is not what most of us are setting out to do – certainly not if we’re trying to affect real change.

And telling us that we “must be doing something right” just because we got into a verbal scuffle with someone diminishes the good, hard work that activists and educators are doing every day.

Instead, try this: “It sounds like you had a really rough day today. I’m sorry that that conversation escalated to a place that made both of you angry. The work that you do is greatly valuable and necessary – as is evident by this story. I’m glad you’re out there in the trenches. If you need anything, let me know.”

2. It’s Misunderstanding the Issue

I have friends – many of you are probably reading this now: hi! – who I greatly respect who sometimes I have huge disagreements with. Sometimes the articles that I share on Facebook become battlefields where groups are pitted against one another, trying to prove their points.

And we get passionate. And we get frustrated. And probably for a little while, we’re not one another’s biggest fans.

But then we calm down, we remember how awesome one another is, and we agree to disagree.

This can happen with strangers, too.

Sometimes people really do want to engage with you intellectually, even if the two of you completely disagree. Sometimes people really are looking for a debate, rather than a fight. And if you find those people hovering in your Twitter mentions, it’s okay to engage with them.

A conversation can be passionate without being threatening.

And while you might feel frustrated or misunderstood for a little while, usually these conversations don’t end in your feeling scared or dejected. They don’t inspire subtweets or venting text messages to your activist friends.

These aren’t the conversations we’re referring to when we go on a rant.

These are conversations that you expect and even sometimes invite. I – as naive and idealist as this arguably is – want to have conversations and work toward creating a better world. Sometimes that means debating.

Those are the times when, yes, I am “doing something right.”

But when some asshole on the Internet is calling me an ugly slut because I wrote an article about how grammar snobbery is oppressive, that’s a problem.

And when you lump a productive (albeit stressful) debate together with a straight-up attack and apply the same salve to those wounds, you’re missing out on a hugely important difference.

In one case, there is equal power in the conversation. In the other, one person is asserting control.

And when the latter happens, it doesn’t make me feel better to be told that I “must be doing something right.”

Instead, try this: “I know that you probably already know this, but that person had no right to say that to you. It was brave of you to engage in a conversation with them, but also remember that you deserve to take self-care, and it isn’t your job or responsibility to respond to trolls. You can call me to vent if you want to!”

3. It’s Dismissive

If I put up a Facebook status that says that I had a really difficult interaction with someone, particularly on the Internet, that resulted in my feeling uncomfortable at best and threatened at worst, the last thing I’m looking for is quote-unquote “validation” from someone letting me know that I “must be doing something right.”

What I need in a time like that is support.

If I’m reaching out to you – either directly, like in a text, or indirectly, like in a general post – it’s because I need something more substantial than a pat on the back.

And while I tend to be really, really good at specifically asking for the type of support that I need, most people are not. Most people will throw a general comment out into the void, hoping (consciously or subconsciously) that someone will come along and say or offer the right thing.

Rarely is “you must be doing something right” what they’re looking for.

Unfortunately, on top of the many other ways in which society has screwed us over, most of us were brought up thinking that we’re magically supposed to know how to solve every problem. It’s like we think we came equipped with problem-solving abilities at birth, and that if we can’t fix it, we must be failures.

So, for that reason, people feel really, really uncomfortable asking, “What kind of support do you need right now?”

Well, everyone except therapists and some other human service professionals, in my experience.

The impression that “you must be doing something right” can give is along the lines of “you’re strong enough to deal with this on your own” – which I don’t think has ever really made anyone feel much better.

So often, other people (especially women, especially women with other intersecting marginalized identities) that I’ve known have shared with me something that I’ve felt for my entire life, too: that they need space to feel weak sometimes.

The point is: Yes, we know we can get through this. But if I threw out a cry for help, it’s because I need help – not because I need a reminder of my strength or righteousness.

So help me.

Throwing out a pseudo-inspirational gem is dismissive of the severity of the problem that I’m having and of my need for support.

You don’t need to have a magic cure. But it certainly helps more when you offer me a life raft than when you remind me that I know how to swim.

Instead, try this: “I really want to support you right now, but I’m not sure what you need. Just remember, honestly, that I’m always here for you. Here’s my number in case you don’t have it. Maybe we could do dinner next week? Anything you want. Just let me know.”

4. It Implies That Abuse Comes with the Territory

I know that this is going to feel like a huge jump to make, but hear me out.

Something that I hear a lot working for a domestic violence agency is the idea that sometimes abuse is excusable – or at least something that simply needs to be tolerated.

From “they’re violent because they’re passionate because they love you so much” to “you live a good life and are well-taken care of, so this is a small price to pay,” some people hold onto the notion that we have to take the good with the bad – even when the bad is abusive.

So let me be the first to tell you: That’s bullshit.

Just like I make it clear to my workshop participants that no one deserves abuse ever, I want to make it clear to you activists out there that no one deserves abuse ever.

There is not a single thing on Earth that you can do that warrants being attacked – physically or emotionally.

And the implication that “you must be doing something right” in your activism if you’re on the receiving end of cruelty and threats is a dangerous one – because it implies that abuse comes with the territory.

Does abuse come with the territory? Unfortunately, yes.

Should it? Hell no.

And you should not be expected to tolerate it.

If you want to block @MRAsAreSoCool on Twitter, go ahead. If you want to disable your comments on YouTube, you can. If you want to shut off anonymous asks on Tumblr, that’s an option for you. If you need to unfriend some annoying acquaintances on Facebook, go for it.

And if you want to complain about abuse and expect your loved ones to support your liberty to be an activist without the threat of violence, that is in your right.

And no one – no one – should make you feel like you deserve (or should expect) it for “doing something right.”

Because when I’m doing a good job, I want a gold star or something (hey, I’m easy), not someone to tell me that they want to smash my teeth in.

And (shockingly!) that’s not an unfair expectation.

Instead, try this: “No one deserves to be talked to that way. I’m sorry that that happened to you. I know how frustrating this side of activism can be. If you want to talk about it over coffee, I’m down. Just remember that block features exist for a reason, and you’re not showing signs of weakness by not tolerating this kind of nonsense.”

***

When I’m in a stable place and a good mood, I can roll my eyes and laugh off some threats, knowing that all these people are doing is proving that my work is necessary.

But there are other times when I cannot contain my anger, my fear, or my tears.

And that’s okay.

But at the end of the day, when I’m crawling into bed, I already know that I’m doing something right – or else I wouldn’t be doing it.

Sometimes what I need to be reminded of is that my friends and family care about me, support me, and will defend my right to live fearlessly.

Give me more of that.

F.I.G. L.E.A.F.

Ever lived a life of cover-up?  A life that maybe you were even hiding from yourself?

I have.  And I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I was authentic, honest, and transparent to God, others, and myself.

HA!!!  Just as my father and mother from eons ago, I had fig leaves for coverings.  A fig leaf is anything other than the glory of God that you take refuge in.  When the scripture says that Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed, it wasn’t talking about that they suddenly knew they had no clothes on!  What it meant was that the inner life of God, the Spirit of Life that Shines and gives Life had been extinguished…had died.

They had died, spiritually.  And now they were dim, burned out, diminished, and it was obvious to one another,  Thus, they sought a cover-up…fig leaf…just as we do to this day.

Thankfully, through the love and mercy of God Jesus who is the Second Adam has made a way for us to get a bulb change, and get our god-light turned back on, and gain in our confidence and faith in His work to the point where we can discard our fig leaves and stand boldly with unveiled faces.

But they are tricky…they are subtle and insidious…and of many and divers forms.  I guess I was/am sorta an expert in wearing them and hiding.  But no more!  🙂

As I was/am walking away from these, LG has given a funny little acrostic as listed below…do you see yourself there anywhere?  I know I said OUCH!

Love, Charissa Grace

F     ear
I     nsecurity
G     uilt

L     oneliness
E     xile
A     nxiety
F     rustration

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An Armful of Loneliness

As you wandered,
boppin and beboppin
to the buzzy sounds
that breathed into your ears
the codes, the messages and melodies
of the age,
your earbuds
wrapped around you,
wrapped you in snaky coils.

You were royalty,
rich in plumage and
arms full of
your booty plundered
from the aisles and
displays of the latest…
cool, collected and sure.
I smiled and nodded
with sparkle eyes and hope,
and you saw,
flared your nostrils
as you caught
my prole-parole
scent and manner.

You graciously tipped
your china-delicate chin,
white and chisled
and went on your way,
arms full, head full, ears full…

of what?  Trinkets?  Treasure?

But I followed at a distance,
careful and sideways
so you wouldn’t see,
and when you trembled,
when you sighed,
when your heart
rose unbidden and cried out
“Is this all, is this all”,
I heard your subsonic scream,
and dogs howled.

And then I knew that
what looked like
an armful of wonder
was only

an armful of loneliness.

 

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Beautiful King (Zephaniah 3:8-20, song from March 1992)

This song comes next here, for though I had written it a year earlier, I had not done it publicly, but rather worshiped it in private.  You see, some men in our congregation, influential and controlling guys who ran the congregation, got very uncomfortable with my songs…they were either too tender, or too tough, or too sappy, or too sharp edged.  Whatever.

It was very painful, and also confusing, for the sweet Holy Spirit would hover and draw so close, and when I did the songs with the downtrodden, they loved them!

So I had been holding out…but in the same meeting that Arise our God was played, this one was the song that led us upward again, and out of the trough of despondence and repentance and back to a place of hope and confidence in the Lord.

Later in the night (and after the obligatory drawing aside by the “leaders: to rebuke me for my over-emotional songs), Lady Grace drew near me, and as I cried myself to sleep She nestled over me and I knew that They were pleased, and that was enough.  (I never could figure it out…why they criticized virtually every single thing…and yet continually asked me to lead worship.  Go figure.  I guess it is evidence of the verses in Psalm 27

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”)…yeah…YES LORD.

PS:  there are 7 lines in each verse on purpose lol!

All ye who weep with hearts that are broken, lift up your eyes to your King
All who desire Holy Devotion, Bow you down, and call on His Name.
And He will give to you purified lips.
And you will give to Him purified lives.
And He will remove from you dullness of heart.
Pour out your lives to Him,
Your Beautiful King.

Shout for Joy, Oh Ye Daughter of Zion!  Shout in triumph, Oh Israel!
He has taken away all His judgements against you!  And He dwells in your midst, let not your hands fall limp!
He sings over you in joy, mighty and tender!
Victorious Warrior, gaze on His Splendour!
He turns all your shame to song, He brings us together!
Pour out your live to Him…
Your Beautiful King.

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Arise our God! (Ps 44: 23-26. A song from July 1993)

Constance…I truly think this:  if you enjoy being in a good worship service, where there is freedom to sing and not a strict order to the service, but more a chorus oriented service, basically with the purpose of fostering devotion to God, then you would have loved being in a song service with me.  For years, that was my “thing”…leading worship.  And while I was deft in leading Sunday morning services, and setting the stage for the sermon and teaching, my forte was the Friday night devotional times, where there was one agenda…sing and worship the Lord freely and intimately.

These songs…oh wow…how they bring back times to me…I have tears right now as I remember this song, written during a time of intense trouble in our congregation as one of our leaders had fallen into deep trouble in ways I won’t even mention.  But we were hurting.  And that day I had been reading in Psalms, and the song erupted from me with tears…and oh how surprised I was as LG gave me the 2nd verse, and imparted to us a sense of mission, and determination to continue to follow, and press in.

Oh Dear Reader…if you have never been in a true worship situation, I am soo sorry to you.  You deserve the chance to taste and see that the Lord is good and only good.  I am so sorry that so many services are considered a success only if you leave more sour than you arrived, so many think that holiness is not holy if it isn’t severe and stark and flavorless.  That is a lie, but unfortunately that heresy has taken control in so many churches and it ends up inoculating people against God instead of infecting them!

Anyway…Arise Our God

Why do You hide Your Face, and forget our affliction, our oppresion?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust!  And so we cling to the ground.
Arise for our help, and redeem us!   For Your mercy’s sake!
For Your mercy’s sake!

Chorus:
Arise our God!
Arise our God!
Arise our God!
Hear Your people cry!

As the purifying fire consumes all our stubble and ambition,
Our hearts will not turn back, for we have chosen the Flame,
The Cross, and Your Name, so redeem us!  For Your mercy’s sake!
For Your mercy’s sake!

Chorus:

(intercessory prayer as Spirit leads)

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A Love Song (May, 1981)

Wow, Constance…this journey I have been on the last several days, per LG’s exhortation to me to despise not my past, has been a mind blower…the things I have been thru…the growth, the reducing (both part of sanctification).

Don’t worry…I will get to some new poems I think, soon enough, but for now I am sorta sharing myself with myself, if that makes sense.

This song was written very shortly after my darling and I firmed up our wedding plans, and were officially engaged!  I read the lyrics, remember the time, but I don’t remember writing this, though it is my hand in my notebook…but omfg, the rhymes so trite, the p.o.v. so young, so callow…Ah Lord…teach us to number our days!  Honestly, I cannot even remember the melody of it.

Crappy song, true heart!!

 

The gentle touch you bring, like flowers in the spring
A twinkle in your eye, as we kiss ‘neath golden skies
These things are my love song…my simple love song to you.

I’ll sing in soft green meadowlands as we walk together hand in hand.
Yellow moon is the harmony–but you–you are the melody.
You’re beautiful, you’re the melody of my love song.

I’ve been given a priceless gift, your precious, gentle love.
A love that heals, and understands, how I thank the Powers above.
You’re more to me than just a lover true–with a love that never ends,
You’re my dearest darling–my companion–you’re simply my best friend.

Honey…

I’ll cherish you in gentleness, ‘n touch your brow with my soft caress
I’ll laugh three times, and laugh some more as I watch you and as I adore
The simple purity, the strength and dignity that is you.

What I’m trying to say in this stumbling way, is that
I love you, it’s true,
And I believe you love me too.

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All My Days (April 1996, a song)

This song was written when I was in a very good place.  I still remember the peace and comfort of Lady Grace (who was then to me, in my religious “formal” addressing of Her, The Holy Spirit. lol…imagine if someone called you “the” before your name…would be an obstacle to intimacy most likely, eh?), and how She was revealing to me the completeness and all surpassing nature of the work of the Cross…and the last words, spoken in triumph, and not in defeat or despair…It is finished.

So, I found this really flowy melody and the lyrics just jumped from me like birds to the air…I am certain that I was re-reading Song of Songs, as much of this is lifted from those verses…and again, people…read the heart of the scripture here…the Kisses of His mouth, etc, are speaking of spiritual intimacy…look deep:  as if it were a poem!  (you do look deep into poems…don’t you???   🙂  )

 

All My Days

Jesus, I love You, my Lord and my King.
My heart beats for You, my love, my Everything!
Just a glance from You, a single touch, and I am captured evermore.
Then I hear You call “Rise Up, My Love”, and I come running to the One that I adore!

Chorus:
I will sing unto you, sing a new song to you,
for You are worthy of my praise!
I will give You glory, and I will give You honor,
I will love You all my days.

Here, in this moment, Your presence is so sweet.
You’ve overcome me, my tears of love wash Your feet.
All the deepest longings of my life, my portion and my great delight
are revealed in You, Beloved King, I bow down and worship You with all my might!

Chorus:  (2x on the chorus)

Lord, as You pour out Your Spirit in this place,
Jesus, please remember that we long to see You face to Face.
Every mighty deed that You have done, for us in answer to our cry,
Cannot take Your place, for we want You, and nothing less and no one else can satisfy!

Chorus #2:
Not just the Living Water!  Not just the Oil and Honey!
Lord none of these can satisfy!

Only knowing You, Lord!  Only loving You, Lord!
Only this can satisfy!

Draw us after You Lord!  Let us run with You, Lord!
We want the kisses of Your mouth!

Not just the things You do Lord,  not just the gifts You give, Lord!
We must have You and only You!

(flow ad lib, and fade…segue into spontaneous singing and/or prayer)

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He Cares (Song from Isaiah 43, 1988)

In 1985 I got very sick with a kidney disease called Nephritis.  There was no cause that could be found, but there was a prognosis of immediate dialysis, followed by transplant at the first available organ.

For 9 months before this manifested on October the 4th, 1985, I had been getting a specific biblical reference virtually every morning during my prayer time.  It was Lamentations chapter 3.  This is a famous passage where the prophet Jeremiah is vicariously repenting to the Lord on behalf of the nation of Israel, and also lamenting his own personal hardship.  The verses that stood out, as if in flames to me, were 12-13…

He has bent His bow and set me up as a target for the arrow.  He has caused the arrows of His quiver to pierce my kidneys…”

Of course they were a huge puzzle for me, and I delved into the chapter, and had fruitful study for months, but could not for the life of me figure out what was so significant about those fiery words…

So there I was, in the doctor’s office while they laid out my future for me,  and by then, I knew the meaning of those words, in all their dread.  I knew that this was some sort of trial/discipline/classroom/reproach/something that was from God, and only God would be able to help me.  I had a deep certainty that I was going to survive this (and I was not very happy about that, to be frank.  It was during this time that I tasted gun oil on a barrel, if you get my drift), and I decided before things got too far, that I was going to seek Them and beseech Them for mercy and see what happened…why it happened…what was happening.

I refused the options they laid out.  The doctors told me I was crazy…but I didn’t care.  When they asked me what I was planning, I simply told them the verses, what God had been putting in me for 9 months, and that this was something divine that had to be dealt with on that level.  Of course they ridiculed me, sought to belittle and demean me for my stupidity.

It was rough to take.  I knew how it looked…Jesus Freak outta his mind etc etc.

But I was firm in my understanding, and knew that anything else they did would be futile, so instead I sought help through natural means and prayer and repentance.  I did intense research and found several herbs that had verifiable healing qualities for kidneys.  I prayed a ton.

And I had to work during this time.  I had no time off available, and my new wife and baby needed to eat, right?  So I went out to my very physical job picking up trash in our town, and I slogged zombie-like through the days.  I had a constant 101 degree fever.  My muscles constantly ached like the worst flu you have had.  I felt so sick, so full of toxins, and so absolutely alone.

Imagine the silence, after virtually everyday for 9 months there had been active voice in my spirit from Them.

Imagine the horror and lonely realization that I was literally dying, and I had chosen to either live or die by Their intervention, and They were not talking.

It was bleak…for real.

But in a few weeks, I began to hear stirrings, and eventually They established dialogue again with me, and then came weeks of gentle revelation to me of my own carnal dependence on religion, theology, and the word itself.  They showed me that I basically worshiped the Bible instead of Them.  I could quote the word 9 ways to Sunday, but I didn’t properly care for Their down-trodden and weak and lost sheep.  I was self-righteous, boasting in my credentials, my position as a life-long christian, and my status as a “good person”.  They showed me my dependence on my own abilities and gifts (which THEY gave me, btw), and finally, how I had put my trust in an ethic of law and right behaviour, instead of trusting Them in relationship, with an ethic coming from righteousness equaling right relationship with Them.

These revelations were in some ways more painful than the physical issues I was dealing with.  OOooohhh my pride was sooo stinky and offended!  But They were right…They always are.

There was no immediate relief, no instant healing after I got the message and began to pursue repentance…repentance:  simply a changing of the mind resulting in traveling the opposite way you were traveling.  Metanoia.  But there was a coming along side, an empowering while I was so weak, to complete each day, everyday, and slowly but surely embrace the fellowship of His sufferings (sanctification and death to self)…until finally…the day this song was born.

I was working in a neighborhood in our town, and as I was picking up trash, I saw a young woman in her mid twenties come out of her house, and walk to her car.  She had been weeping, and was bruised (literally).  She was smoking a cigarette, and was somewhat unkempt.  And above all, underneath the veneer of hurt, pain, sorrow, and slow hardening of her heart, I saw that she was incredibly beautiful.  Now…I think what happened is that They gave me eyes to see her as They see her!  And in that moment, the lyrics to the song came into my heart, and the melody out of my mouth, and basically I got the song in about 5 minutes.  I quickly pulled around the block and jotted them down, finished the day, and went straight home to the guitar and firmed it up.

I went back to that house a few days later.  I intended to sing that song to that woman…but the house was empty.  Whatever violence that had occurred had flowered into its bitter and deadly fruit and no one was there any longer.  I went back to my car and sat…and cried.  I cried for her, for whoever hit her, for the sin and brokenness we were hemmed in by, and I prayed loud and without thought for how I appeared to others or what words I used or how spiritual I sounded or looked…and I begged Them to watch over her, draw her to Themselves, and other things as well.

The tears finally stopped, and I was ready to leave…and I heard Lady Grace speak to me, and She said that what I had just experienced was why They had pierced my kidneys with Their arrows…Their discipline had at last resulted in the good fruit They desired.  She basically told me it was the first time I had ever prayed for someone else with a whole heart aware only of the person, and not of my own role as the spiritual champion, warrior, super-christian, etc. etc.  And that I was incapable of hearing that song from Them previous to Their scouring and wounding stripes.

I will never, ever forget that…and the lesson of Their Faithfulness.  “For I am confident of this very thing:  that He who began a good work in you shall be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ!”

In light of my posts taking a very sharp prophetic stance against misogyny, I think it is timely that I found this song today in the annals of my past…“He Cares”  (it is in waltz time in a country gospel style)…tumblr_n64n4yXMxA1qbc8lko1_1280

Don’t let the world steal your beauty.
Don’t let the world take your joy.
When you’re too hurt to cry, and your spirit is so dry,
oh don’t let the world steal your beauty.

When you pass thru ferocious deep rivers,
when the water is chilly and cold,
Though the floods be so grey, you will not be swept away,
when you pass thru ferocious deep rivers.

Chorus:
Cause He cares, He cares.
Jesus cares for you.
He will gently lift you up.  He will fill your empty cup,
Jesus cares for you.

Don’t let the world steal your victory.
Don’t be defeated by the pain.
When you’re wounded in the fight, when you can’t see any light,
oh don’t let the world steal your victory.

When you walk thru the lonely hot fires,
and dark flames of despair lick your soul.
Do not be concerned, for you will not be burned,
when you walk thru the lonely hot fires.

Chorus: 

Bridge:  
Do not call to mind what has happened before,
don’t ponder the things of the past.
I will make a broad roadway in the wilderness,
and rivers of life in your deserts.

What My hands hold, none can snatch away.
What I do, none can undo.
By My Blood and My Name, you are fee from all shame,
Oh!  I LOVE you, come to Me!

Chorus:
Cause I care, I care!
My people, I care for you!
I will gently lift you up, I will fill your empty cup.
Oh My people I care for you!

Don’t let the world steal your beauty.
Don’t let the world take your joy.
He will gently lift you up…He will fill your empty cup,
So don’t let the world steal your beauty.

Yes. All Men. | Consent Culture

Yes. All Men. | Consent Culture.

Constance…I am pressing yet another fabulous piece on misogynist culture and our responsibility to take our courage in hand and root out this evil mode of being.

I believe it is more than thought…it has become a lifestyle.

The language and spirit of this piece is tough, but so what?  Plow thru it anyway…and men, particularly note the mandate you are issued towards the end of your responsibility to go to work specifically in “men-only” spaces.  In my life of consignment to men-only spaces, I was not the only one protesting the treatment of women precisely 4 times, and that is in my lifetime so far to the best of my recollection.

It doesn’t take courage to beat up a girl…but it does take courage to stand up to other men and say no more.

Yes. All Men. | Consent Culture.

Misogynist Extremism part 2:

Another scintillating article,  from http://vampmissedith.tumblr.com/post/86760365640/when-i-was-a-freshman-my-sister-was-in-eighth

 

Read it and weep!

**************************************************************

When I was a freshman, my sister was in eighth grade. There was a boy in two of her periods who would ask her out every single day. (Third and seventh period, if I remember correctly.) All day during third and seventh she would repeatedly tell him no. She didn’t beat around the bush, she didn’t lie and say she was taken—she just said no.

One day, in third period, after being rejected several times, he said; “I have a gun in my locker. If you don’t say yes, I am going to shoot you in seventh.”

She refused again, but right after class she went to the principal’s office and told them what happened. They searched his locker and there was a gun in his backpack.

When he was arrested, some of my sister’s friends (some female, even) told her that she was selfish for saying no so many times. That because of her, the entire school was in jeopardy. That it wouldn’t have killed her to say yes and give it a try, but because she was so mean to him, he lost his temper. Many of her male friends said it was “girls like her” that made all women seem like cockteases.

Wouldn’t have killed her to say yes? If a man is willing to shoot someone for saying no, what happens to the poor soul who says yes? What happens the first time they disagree? What happens the first time she says she doesn’t want to have sex? That she isn’t in the mood? When they break up?

Years later, when I was a senior, I was the only girl in my Criminal Justice class. The teacher, who used to be a sergeant in the police force, told us a story of something that had happened to a girl he knew when she was in high school. There was a guy who obviously had a crush on her and he made her uncomfortable. One day he finally gathered up the courage to ask her out, and she said no.

The next day, during an assembly, he pulled a gun on her in front of everyone and threatened to kill her if she didn’t date him.

He was tackled to the ground and the gun was taken from him.

When my teacher asked the class who was at fault for the crime, I was the only person who said the boy was. All the other kids in the class (who were all boys) said that the girl was, that if she had said yes he would’ve never lost it and brought a gun and tried to kill her. When my teacher said that they were wrong and that this is what is wrong with society, that whenever a white boy commits a crime it’s someone else’s fault (music, television, video games, the victim) one boy raised his hand and literally said; “But if someone were to punch me and I punched him back, who is at fault for the fight? He is, not me. It’s self-defence. She started it, so anything that happens to her is in reaction to her actions .It’s simple cause and effect.”

Even though he spent the rest of the calss period ripping into the boys and saying that you are always responsible for your own actions, and that women are allowed to say no and do not have to date them, they left class laughing about how idiotic he was and that he clearly had no idea how much it hurt to be rejected.

So now we have a new school shooting, based solely on the fact some guy couldn’t get laid, and I see men, boys, applaudin him, or if they’re not applauding him, they’re laying blame on women as a whole. Just like my sister’s friends did. Just like the boys in my Criminal Justice class did.

This isn’t something that’s rare. This isn’t something that never happens, or that a select group of men feel as if they are so entitled to women that saying no is not only the worst possible thing a woman can do, but is considered a form of “defence” when they commit a crime upon them (whether it be rape or murder-as-a-reaction-towards-rejection).

Girls are being killed for saying no to prom invites. Girls are being killed for saying no to men. They are creating an atmosphere where women are too scared to say no, and the worst part is? They are doing it intentionally. They want society to be that way, they want women to say yes entirely out of fear. Even the boys and men who aren’t showing up to schools with guns are saying; “Well, you know, I wouldn’t do that, but you have to admit that if she had just said yes …”

If you are a man and you defend this guys’ actions or try to find an excuse for it, or you denounce what really happened, or in any way lay blame on women, every girl you know, every woman you love, has just now thought to themselves that you might lose your shit and kill them someday for saying no. You have just lost their trust. And you know what? You deserve to lose it.

Misogyny: A virulent doctrine of demons

Misogyny:  The mistrust and hatred of women.

That is how the dictionary defines the word…and it is a real thing.

I know.

I was “undercover” in men only spaces virtually my entire life, and the things I heard were appalling, chilling, infuriating, depressing, and maddening.  Words laced with violence, and then passed off has humor or jokes…words that objectified women, and even worse.  Words spoken with literally no awareness at all of what they were actually saying, and when challenged, the challenger is immediately attacked and dehumanized as well…I know that from experience also.

I heard young boys talk about beating up girls who didn’t dance with them in middle school.  I heard older boys/young men in high school tease one another about not “getting any” from their girlfriends, and then urge one another to take what they want because “the bitch is holding out on you and wants you to take it” (literal quote).  I heard men at work tell each other that they needed to back hand their uppity wives who nagged them or spoke out to them.  I heard men in church (God please have mercy) speak of women in ways that were as demeaning as any of the things I listed above, just minus the language…men who told their wives to shut up, in front of other people (and then get praised for it as being a proper head of their wife), men who rebuked other “men” who didn’t constrain their wives or daughters (happened to me all the time, except that I argued back…these are the fellows who will curse me as a hell-bound demon possessed sex crazed pervert when they find out that I am transitioning…I dread that time coming up, and hope I survive it).

We need to fully wake up as a society to the virulent cancer that is amongst us and rots at half the human population indirectly, and often kills the other half often while constantly doing them spiritual, emotional and mental harm.

The roots of this hatred are ancient.  It seems to be present in all eras in all places, with few exceptions.  I hate it…with a passion, and I have absolutely no agreement with it.  I believe that this hatred is demonic in nature, certainly metaphorically if not literally.  It is informative that Genesis 3 has words about the “why” of misogyny, but this post is not about that for now.

We just had a massacre, an orgy of violence occur, and it seems that the main response has been that it is a tragedy perpetrated by a crazy man…except that it happens so often, and across so many racial and cultural lines, that to excuse it as the act of a crazy man is just not a sufficient explanation.  Because it implicates vast scores of men as crazy.  Even a cursory examination of crime files and stories reveal case after case after case after case of men who use violence to act out against women, and typically in rationality, knowing full well what they are doing.

It is time to wake up:  Men!  This is not in anyway shape or form okay, and it is not acceptable any longer for you to excuse these acts by the liteny of magic words continually used “…but not all men are that way…”  D’rrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!  That misses the point!

Women!  It is not okay any longer for you to enable this behaviour and mode of thought with “Stockholm Syndrome” behaviour (if you don’t know what that is google it).  It is not okay for you to empower this attitude and practice in men in the hope that your own deal will be a little better.  The life of a collaborator is a pale shadow of fulfillment, and is the epitome of lukewarmness.

The article I am re-posting is full of anger, grief, rage, and a little fear as well…consider it carefully.  Let it hit you in the gut.

And then remember that the statistics of violence and murder against transgender women are exponentially higher than those regarding the cis-gender population of women…to the order of this:  proportionately there would need to be over 2.4 million violent acts ending in medical treatment or death  per year to achieve equality as a ratio with the number that occur against the transgender female population per year.  Chew on that number!

Every single reader of this…stop and ask for a scouring of your heart, soul, and mind.  Is there a vestige of this horrible cancer within you?  If so, beg for it to be rooted from you, and your thoughts and attitudes cleansed, and your determination to eradicate this evil grow, soaring and firm!

Do Justly.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Charissa Grace

 

Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism

For some time now, misogynist extremism has been excused, as all acts of terrorism committed by white men are excused, as an aberration, as the work of random loons, not real men at all. Why are we denying the existence of a pattern?

A shattered window at the crime scene in Isla Vista. Photo: Getty
A shattered window at the crime scene in Isla Vista. Photo: Getty

It’s time to call misogynist extremism by its name.

On Friday night, a young man went on a massacre in Santa Barbara that left six other people dead and seven injured. In the hours before the massacre, the suspect, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, had uploaded a video to YouTube titled “Retribution”. In this, and in a 140-page manifesto published online, Rodger claimed that he was going to prove himself the ultimate “alpha male” and take revenge on all the “sluts” who had sexually rejected him:

“Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge . . . you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male.”

This is not the first time that women and unlucky male bystanders have been massacred by men claiming sexual frustration as justification for their violence. In 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine shot 28 people at the École Polytechnique in Quebec, Canada, claiming he was “fighting feminism”. Fourteen women died. In 2009, a 48-year-old man called George Sodini walked into a gym in the Pittsburgh area and shot 13 women, three of whom died. His digital manifesto was a lengthier version of Rodger’s, vowing vengeance against the female sex for refusing to provide him with pleasure and comfort. Online misogynists approved.

“When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need . . . to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate,” wrote “Roissy in DC” of the Pittsburgh killing, as reported by Jezebel in 2009.  “At least it is implied that feminism is to blame and he is taking a last stand,” said another. “I had been waiting for this (almost thinking I had to do it myself) and I am impressed. Kudos.”

The ideology behind these attacks – and there is ideology – is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”, in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence – stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power.

Capitalism commodifies that rage, monetises it, disseminates it through handbooks and forums and crass mainstream pornography. It does not occur to these men that women might have experienced these very human things, too, because it does not occur to them that women are human, not really. Women are prizes to be caught and used or hags to be harassed or, occassionally, both.

Violent extremism always attracts the lost, the broken, young men full of rage at the hand they’ve been dealt. Violent extremism entices those who long to lash out at a system they believe has cheated them, but lack they courage to think for themselves, beyond the easy answers they are offered by pedlars of hate. Misogynist extremism is no different. For some time now misogynist extremism has been excused, as all acts of terrorism committed by white men are excused, as an aberration, as the work of random loons, not real men at all. The pattern is repeatedly denied: these are the words and actions of the disturbed.

“All I ever wanted was to love women, and in turn to be loved by them back. Their behaviour toward me has only earned my hatred and rightfully so! I am the true victim in all this. I am the good guy. . . I didn’t start this war.” 

This is how extremism works. It takes the valid and substantial anger of the dispossessed and tortures it into something twisted. It promises the lost and despairing that they will have the respect and sense of purpose they have always longed for, if they only hate hard enough. And often it starts as a game, as shadow-play.

I make no apologies for the fact that this piece is full of rage. When news of the murders broke, when the digital world began to absorb and discuss its meaning, I had been about to email my editor to request a few days off, because the impact of some particularly horrendous rape threats had left me shaken, and I needed time to collect my thoughts. Instead of taking that time, I am writing this blog, and I am doing so in rage and in grief – not just for the victims of the Isla Vista massacre, but for what is being lost everywhere as the language and ideology of the new misogyny continues to be excused.

Why can we not speak about misogynist extremism – why can we not speak about misogyny at all – even when the language used by Elliot Rodger is everywhere online?

We are told, repeatedly, to ignore it. It’s not real. It’s just “crazy”, lonely guys who we should feel sorry for. But as a mental health activist, I have no time for the language of emotional distress being used to excuse an atrocity, and as a compassionate person I am sick of being told to empathise with the perpetrators of violence any time I try to talk about the victims and survivors. That’s what women are supposed to do. We’re supposed to be infinitely compassionate. We’re supposed to feel sorry for these poor, confused, vengeful individuals. Sometimes we’re allowed to talk about our fear, as long as we don’t get angry. Most of all, we mustn’t get angry.

We have allowed ourselves to believe, for a long time, that the misogynist subcultures flourishing on- and offline in the past half-decade, the vengeful sexism seeding in resentment in a time of rage and austerity, is best ignored. We have allowed ourselves to believe that those fetid currents aren’t really real, that they don’t matter, that they have no relation to “real-world” violence. But if the Isla Vista massacre is the first confirmed incident of an incident of gross and bloody violence directly linked to the culture of ‘Men’s Rights’ activism and Pickup Artist (PUA) ideology, an ideology that preys on lost, angry men, then it cannot be ignored or dismissed any more.

We like to think that violent misogyny – not sexism, but misogyny, woman-hatred as ideology and practice, weaponised contempt for one half of the human race – isn’t something that really happens in the so-called West. No matter how many wives and girlfriends are murdered by their husbands, no matter how many rapists are let off because of their “promising careers”, violence against women is something that happens elsewhere, somewhere foreign, or historical, or both. So anxious are we to retain this convenient delusion that any person, particularly any female person, who attempts to raise a counter argument can expect to be harassed and shouted down.

As soon as women began to speak about the massacre, a curious thing happened. Men all over the world – not all men, but enough men – began to push back, to demand that we qualify our anger and mitigate our fear. Not all men are violent misogynists.

Well, there have always been good men. Actually, I firmly believe that today there are more tolerant, humane men who recognise and celebrate the equality of the sexes than there have ever been before. Today, what I hear from many men and boys who talk to me about gender justice – decent, humane men and boys of the kind the twenty-teens are also, blessedly, producing in great numbers – is fear and bewilderment. Who are these people? Where do they live? And the unspoken fear: do I know them? Might I have met some of them, drunk with them?  If the wind had changed when I was growing, if I had read different books and had different friends, might it have been me? If any man is capable of this, is every man capable of it? 

Well, those are the correct questions to ask. What I hear more often, however, is “not all men”. I hear that age-old horror of women’s anger drowning out everything else. Not all men are like this. Don’t look at us. Don’t shout at us. Please, don’t ask us to stand up and be counted.

One thing I’ve found, when talking to people involved in the savage end of the “Men’s Rights” community, the Pickup Artist scene, or both, is that to a chap they are keen that I understand the difference between their grouplet and the next – those guys over there hate women, those guys over there have a broken worldview, we’re the reasonable ones. And before the charges of book-burning and censorship begin: interpretation does change everything. There are certainly men out there who engage with the ideas of “Pickup Artistry” without absorbing the contemptuous misogyny at its core, much less pursuing it to its conclusion. One of my best relationships, in fact, was with a young man who swore by The Game as a handbook for shy boys who wanted to be able to talk to girls at parties, whilst mocking the sexism at its core.

So no, it’s not all men. But then it never was.

But if you think for one second, for one solitary second, that demanding tolerance for men as a group, that dismissing the reality of violence against women because not all men kill, not all men rape, if you think that’s more important than demanding justice for those who have been brutalised and murdered by those not all men, then you are part of the problem. You may not have pulled the trigger. You may not have raised your hand to a woman in your life. But you are part of the problem.

This is not the time, to use the refrain of apologists for bigotry, to play devil’s advocate. The devil has more than enough advocates today. On most days, I can put up with aggressive faux-objectivity being used to shout down women’s experiences and silence gendered trauma, but not today.

“Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence . . . Women have more power in human society than they deserve, all because of sex. There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.”

I know for sure that just by writing this I will have exposed myself to more harassment, more threats, more verbal assaults. The comments below this piece will be stuffed, as they always are, with rank sexism, along with by a few brave souls trying to counter their arguments or maintain some pretence at tolerant, adult debate. I have clear memories of a time when I really looked forward to engaging with people who commented on my blog, even when we disagreed, when online politics was an exciting, dynamic space of living conversation. I remember it, and it’s in the cache, so it must have happened. But many young women at the start of writing and digital careers today have no such memories.

I didn’t experience violent misogyny as a child –  sexism, yes, but my early years were free of direct experience of woman-hatred against me or my loved ones, except as an abstract concept, the fear that gets taught to all girl-children as soon as they can stand unaided: don’t walk down that street, don’t wear that skirt, don’t speak too loud or upset the men. You’ll get hurt. You could get killed. For today’s girl-children, that has been expanded to include: don’t go on the internet. Bad men are there, men who will hurt you.

Many of us choose to ignore those warnings. We choose to act instead like we are real human beings with a right to take up space, like almost all women and girls who have managed to achieve anything throughout history, because that’s what those warnings are for, what the violence behind them is for – to scare us into submission. We make that choice again every day, and somehow it does not get easier – because the older and stronger we get, the bigger and stronger the new feminist movement gets in all its glorious variety, the more vicious and committed the backlash becomes. The backlash is real. There is ideology behind it. It hurts. Sometimes, it kills.

For the countless women and girls who have come to live with harassment as a daily cost of being in public and productive while female – let alone while feminist – the tragedy at Isla Vista has been a chilling wake-up call. I know I will never be able to tell myself in quite the same way that the men who link me to two-hundred-post threads about how I ought to be raped can’t actually hurt my body, no matter how much they savage my peace of mind.

We have been told for a long time that the best way to deal with this sort of harrassment and violence is to laugh it off. Women and girls and queer people have been told that online misogynists pose no real threat, even when they’re sharing intimate guides to how to destroy a woman’s self-esteem and force her into sexual submission. Well, now we have seen what the new ideology of misogyny looks like at its most extreme. We have seen incontrovertible evidence of real people being shot and killed in the name of that ideology, by a young man barely out of childhood himself who had been seduced into a disturbing cult of woman-hatred. Elliot Rodger was a victim – but not for the reasons he believed.

Misogyny is nothing new, but there is a specific and frightening trend taking place, and if we’re not going to accept it, we have to call it by its name. The title of the PUA bible belies the truth: this is not a game. Misogynist extremism does not exist in a mystical digital fairyland where there are no consequences. It is real. It does damage. It kills.  And this is no longer a topic where abstraction is anything approaching appropriate.

Laurie Penny’s Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution is available for pre-order.

Dialogue: the key to kind acceptance of another person

Think about a time when you met someone, someone you instantly clashed with, without a word being spoken…go ahead, I will wait…we have all had that happen.  Now:  think about someone that happened with, and then as time passed and you got to know them you discovered you were totally wrong about them, that your reaction had been all within you, and was unrelated to them completely.  I am not going to wait on this one, for these sorts of endings are more rare…at least in my life they were.  Sadly, far too often I just avoided the person and then lived…until I forgot about them, and went on in my cushy-comfy zone of complacency.

Wanna know the basic root of this phenomenon?  I think it is Xenophobia:  fear of the unknown.  A person will look different, or act different, or some other factor about them is something unknown to us…so we clench up, clam up, and withdraw…and then make up all sorts of rationales to justify our low  and venal rejection of a fellow creature made in Their image.

Generally, at least for me, dialogue precedes the change of heart and mind that I undergo when I have been in this boat.  After talking with the person (not at, or over), I discover that we have so much more in common by virtue of our shared human experience and reality than we are different.  Especially when I was firmly locked away in the christendom ghetto…I dared not talk with different people, unless I totally dominated the exchange in a monologue “devoted to evangelism”, but in truth designed to shield and protect myself from having to stretch and include someone in my world.

I think this is why so many so-called “evangelistic-efforts” end fruitless, and at times even exacerbate the divide between we who call ourselves “saved” and they whom we designate as “needing to be saved”.

Genuine dialogue bypasses all this.  Trust me, if your faith is living and genuine, and you are in relationship with Jesus more than with His book, then you will not be able to miss the chances to give an account for the Hope that is in you…they will beg to hear why you seem different (you do seem different…don’t you???).  You will find that connection…and begin to learn that the things you hid behind as reasons to not connect with people have become touchstones of punctuation in the quilt of common experience.

This is one of the main reasons I post essays on a lot of topics, and other people’s interviews of interesting people…and it is why I recommend reading the interview with Janet Mock that I post below.  It originally appeared at http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/05/janet-mock-interview/ and it is a fabulous window into the existence of one of the most influential people in our times.  Janet is uniquely positioned to touch a lot of spheres in life, and she is articulate enough to create that dialogue.

Dialogue is not something that is sorta like the old “I won’t hit you if you don’t hit me” game…that is stasis, and dead waters.  No…dialogue is living, interesting, and often the very vessel They can get into to reach our hearts and minds.

Check out the interview…I am pretty sure you will be glad you did.

Love always, and Grace upon Grace…

Charissa

 

You Can Be Free: An Interview With Janet Mock

In which we talk about her feminist icons, how teenagers are way cooler than the media thinks, and why she identifies with Tracy Flick.

Photo by Aaron Tredwell.

Pardon the hyperbole, but Janet Mock may be the best person ever. I felt this way after reading her 2013 book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, a beautiful, powerful memoir that follows Janet from her childhood in Hawaii, where she grew up as a transgender girl, to her current position as a high-profile (and still young!) writer and activist who inspires people everywhere to live exactly as they want to live.

She decided to come out as trans in a 2011 essay in Marie Claire magazine; since then, she has worked hard to increase the visibility of transgender people, including starting the hashtag #girlslikeus, which encourages trans people to share their stories on Twitter. (She is also very good at social media.)

My feelings about her greatness only intensified when I actually got to talk to her on the phone last month, when she’d just returned home to New York from one of her many college speaking gigs. You know how sometimes you’re talking to someone and they’re just so on it that their voice crackles with electricity? That’s how Janet was.


JULIANNE: So much of Redefining Realness is your very specific memories from your childhood, some of which are so wrenching! How did you remember all of that, and how were you able to get it all out in your writing?

JANET MOCK: I started by writing journal entries. I made a commitment to myself to write 500 to 1,000 words every morning—to just catalog every memory, even if it was just a fragment, on paper. Once I really got into that space and got disciplined, I was able to re-imagine what happened and to mine the feelings and the details of that time period. That’s why there are a lot of pop culture references, because I watched so much TV! I would try to remember certain things by asking myself, What song lyrics was I trying to memorize? What type of dance moves was I trying to learn?

But then you have to remember the pain, too, and that was the hardest part—the wrenching part, as you say—having to revisit that, not as an adult, but going back as a child and feeling it again as a young person who didn’t have much agency over their body and how it felt to go through those traumatic events. So I just had to be very kind to myself as a writer, but also kind to those who wronged me, kind about the mistakes people made and how they contributed to my pain.

As a fellow writer, I have found when you’re accessing those painful things, there is an instinct to lie to yourself, in order to protect yourself. How did you avoid that?

There are certain moments in the book where I call myself out for wanting to soften things or exclude things, and that was part of being transparent. I was committed to being transparent not just through the stories I chose to tell, but throughout my writing process. I talk about my mother’s suicide attempt, and about not wanting to [write about it] because I didn’t want to see her that way. Also, some of the details of the sex work I went through as a teenage girl—sometimes I wanted to erase those from the record of my life. But being honest about that actually helped me. It relieved me from my silence and shame, and hopefully it can help other people feel that sense of relief about something that may be heavy that they’ve been holding on to for a long time.

Was wanting to find that relief one of the reasons you started writing the book?

Yeah. At first I wasn’t writing with the intention of making a memoir—I just did it ’cause I wanted to have a record for myself. It was a selfish project—there was no sense of intersectionality or social-justice jargon or anything like that. It was just about me, this girl, and her story and her pain. I was trying to get it as raw as possible on the page so that I’d know that it was real.

But when I stepped forward publicly in Marie Claire, I was like, Wow, there’s a powerful story here that I think I’m supposed to tell. I don’t mean that in a boastful way—there just aren’t many books by young marginalized women like myself who did what I did, the way I did it.

Since that Marie Claire piece came out, social justice ideas and words like intersectionality have become way more widespread, especially for young people, partly because of Tumblr. Have you seen a shift?

Ooh, Tumblr’s powerful, yes. Those words are very powerful tools for describing this oppression. And it’s great that some people have access to them—but most people don’t. For me, it was super important to not use those terms in the book, because they exclude a lot of people who don’t have educational access, or who may not be engaged in social-justice stuff, but who want to be enlightened about things, to have their political consciousnesses raised a bit. I wanted to write the book for everyone—including that girl who I was in seventh grade who didn’t even know the term transgender. I wanted to give her a book so she could also feel like she was in the know, without being talked down to or made to feel like she has to aspire to something “higher” when she already has all the knowledge she needs to define her own experience. It’s not for me to define it for her. So I wanted to use words and language that she understands.

Your book has done a lot to help trans people be recognized in the larger culture. Did anything help you feel recognized that way? There aren’t that many books out there like your book.

My reflection of myself has always been a composite of many images and people that I have met along the way. I talk a lot about Beyoncé and Clair Huxtable and Toni Morrison, and I talk about the trans women who were in my life as a teenager, and the women around me when I was growing up, my father’s sisters, my grandmother, and my mother. I saw all of these women as mirrors, and made them into my own little mirrored mosaic.

But regarding the whole genre of “trans books”—I guess they would call them “transition stories” or “transition books”: So many of them do not have the intersection of youth, and that’s pretty important, because young people oftentimes don’t have much body agency in our culture. Like, your parents can literally pick you up and take you somewhere and put you wherever they want and tell you want clothes you can wear and what clothes they’re willing to buy you. All of these things are what make finding yourself and expressing yourself and your own authenticity difficult [when you’re young]. That’s one of the things I notice when I speak to young people, that sense of struggling with their lack of agency. I just tell them that, yes, you do have agency, despite your parents. Live your life on Twitter, put up some selfies! Reblog some things! That sense of self-representation is so important.

In terms of trans women, I’m happy that there are more of us visible in mainstream media. Platforms like Tumblr and YouTube allow people to create images that they don’t see in the mainstream media—and to also talk back to mainstream media when they fuck up. Rookie is a testament to that!

Thank you, we’re trying! You’ve talked about how reading the work of several female authors of color—like Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison—helped you get to a place where you could “just be.” As you were reading them, did you feel like you were being seen?

I think the first one I was exposed to was Maya Angelou, in probably eighth- or ninth-grade English class, when we read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Being the only black student in class I was like, Oh god, we have to read this? I knew everybody was gonna look at me and think this was my experience. But then I read it, and I was like, Oh my god, this is my experience! It was powerful to read—specifically the parts where she talks about sexual abuse as a child. That was something that I had never told anyone I had gone through, so seeing that someone had written it down in a book that we were reading in class, I was like, Oh my god—this exists in the world?

So that was one of those things where I was like, I need to go to the library and read more books. Because I also didn’t have access to books, unless it was school. (I always talk about my youth struggle of never being able to order anything from the Scholastic catalog that was passed around in class, and always yearning for those books delivered to me the following week!) [Reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings] prompted me to get a library card and just sit among those stacks and read books by women who looked like my self-image. That was important to me, because [those women] lived the life that I saw myself living one day, as a black woman. In my own reality, that didn’t exist for me yet. I was this trans girl who wasn’t out, who wasn’t revealing herself to the world or even to herself. It was so helpful to be able to look into those books and be like, Wow, this is what life could be like for me.

But the top one would be Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. For me, that book was everything. The idea of this woman on a quest to find herself and to find the right kind of love and fulfillment and identity and not being smashed into her community’s fantasies of her—that gave me so much agency. It pushed me to dream of greater possibilities for myself. It just blasted my mind open! You can be free!

What were you like as a teenager?

By the time I turned 13, I had met my best friend, Wendi. When you have a pivotal bestie, you kind of become the same person but you also complement each other. Wendi was so unabashedly unapologetic about who she was that no matter what I did—even when I started transitioning—I could never seem as “out there” as her. I was always slightly in her shadow, which gave me safety. From 12 years old all the way until we were 18, we were like close close close tight. So when you ask me what I was like, I can’t talk about my teenage self without talking about Wendi, because we’re so linked.

But I was very internal, if that makes sense. I think I was a deeper thinker than my best friend was. I enjoyed the library. I enjoyed quiet space, because I didn’t have that at home. But I also wanted attention, right? I was always kind of seen as a natural leader—people listened to me, and what I said mattered. So I never felt as though I was dismissed.

I loved school, and I was someone that people would ask for style advice. I always seemed like I was with it. I wasn’t a popular girl, but people liked me. I wasn’t ever going to be the prettiest girl in school, because I was a girl that wasn’t even supposed to exist. But I hung out with the popular girls, and they were my friends, so that gave me access points. It was almost like I was tolerated because I had these cool friends. So I always felt like I was internal, but I bet a lot of people from high school would remember me. I felt like I was invisible, but I knew I wasn’t, because I was so visible.

I think that once you’re out of high school, you start to understand that the way people see you does not necessarily line up with how you see yourself.

Mm-hmm. I had this sense of like…oh my god, I was such a victim. But then I realized that I’d internalized what people think trans people go through in high school. Like, it was tough, but high school was tough for a lot of people! I’m sure that my multiple layers of identities that I inhabit made it more difficult, but to be honest, I enjoyed high school. I wanted to go every day.

It wasn’t my peers who gave me problems—it was mostly teachers who didn’t understand how I could thrive, how I could be so liked, how I could be in marching band and debate club, how I could be captain of the volleyball team and be elected a student leader and become a peer mediator. They didn’t understand how a trans girl could do all those things, so it’s almost like they didn’t want it to be true.

When I was in the eighth grade, me and Wendi started a petition to get the intermediate school to allow us to wear makeup. [Laughs] I didn’t include this in my book because it’s something I forgot, but other people remembered us going around with a clipboard and some notebook paper and getting people to sign a petition so that we could wear makeup. In my memory [Wendi and I] just walked into school wearing makeup. I don’t remember ever getting in trouble for wearing makeup. I was that student, though, that’s who I was. When I watch Election, I’m like, Oh, I was soooo Reese Witherspoon!

Related, the times I’ve seen you speaking on TV, you seem to have so much grace and poise. Where do you learn those things?

In the mirror!

Do you think [poise is] something you can learn, or do you just embody it?

[Laughs] I feel like because I’ve had to juggle so much, that there’s not much that bothers me. There are a lot of high-pressure things that are stressful—especially live TV appearances! They’re so stressful, no matter what. Even if it’s a “safe” environment with a host that you really like, it’s still super stressful. What grounds me in this idea of having “good composure” or being eloquent or graceful is over-preparedness. Over-preparing puts me at ease and allows me to be present when I’m there. I can control how I act, how I react, how my face looks, how I sit, and what comes out of my mouth, which allows me to appear as though I’m totally at ease. It call comes from just growing up, juggling a lot at home, family dynamics, my own struggles with identity—wanting to be great, you know? Daring for greatness. Juggling all of these things was the boot camp. But preparedness is what grounds me. Knowing your environments so you can expect them, and even knowing the failings of your culture. Like, if you’re going into a racist, capitalist, sexist corporate environment, and you know what it is and its failings, then you can know how to operate around it. You kinda seem like #unbothered.

What do you do when you are suffering, and how do you help your friends when they are suffering?

The space of suffering, I struggle with, because I’m part of a community that’s so steeped in trauma. A lot of people talk about trans women of color and the violence that we deal with. But when we’re together, we don’t talk about that. Because the world will remind us of that. We know that when we walk in the world, we are under attack. We understand that. And so when we get together, we wanna talk about Beyoncé and have a couple cocktails, you know? Hang out and just be. Just be happy. Being happy together builds our sisterhood, but it also builds our resolve and it’s just like, This is revolutionary for us to be in this world and its suffering and to deal with suffering, but be fucking happy, too. We don’t need to sit in it all the time, because we exist in it.

Do you keep inspirational Post-it notes around your workspace?

Well, I do have one that my boyfriend, Aaron…he was listening to an audiobook about the I Love Lucy show—it’s random, but he loves inside-Hollywood stories. The head writer who helped them create that juggernaut of a television show said the two things that matter in Hollywood are ownership and perception. So I have a Post-it note that says ownership + perception.

The work that I do, it really informs me. I want to own the content I make—I don’t want to just be a subject on someone else’s show. I want to be leading those conversations. “Perception” is the idea of definition–I can create the image of myself that I allow others to see. And I can maintain my boundaries in a public world.

Also, I have a sticker on my planner that says It’s your turn to change the world.

Speaking of, I read that you work with Youngist, a platform for young people to do citizen journalism and have an amplified voice in mainstream media. What do you do there?

I mostly just giving editorial advice, but I think it’s so important for any silenced group of people, like young people, to have their own platforms. Everyone loves to talk about millennials—I guess that’s you guys!—but it’s important to give them power to have their own voice. Everyone always asks me, “What advice would you give young people?” and I’m always like, young people know exactly what they wanna do! If they want advice from me, that young person will come to me, you know? They know their experiences. They know what they’re going through. They know who they are. And my job is not to talk down to them, or to give them some aspirational message. It’s just to let them know that they have all the power to determine their own lives, to define them, and to declare them.

Youngist takes the political and pop culture news and really gives [millennials’] take on it, instead of older people always being like, “The millennials are taking selfies! They’re so absorbed with themselves!” It’s like, uh, no, look on YouTube, look at what they’re doing.

It’s nice to hear you say that—those selfie articles are so make-fun-able.

It’s always like, some 50-year-old cisgender white hetero man talking about young girls and what they’re doing. It’s like, this is so pervy, first of all! [Laughs] It’s these people who think all young people are the same. No, they’re not! It’s really simplistic and reductive, and I think young people can just, like, grab their computers and blow shit up. ♦

Arise Our God (song from Psalm 44: 23-26, 1992)

Around the same time as “This Desperate Prisoner” was written, this song came to me.  I think it precedes Desperate Prisoner, and carries the same desperate cry.

 

Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction, our oppression?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust, and so we cling to the ground, arise for our help,
And redeem us for Your mercy’s sake, for Your mercies sake!

Chorus:  Arise our God, hear Your people cry! (2x)

As the purifying fire consumes all the stubble and ambition,
Our heart will not turn back, for we have chosen the flame, the Cross and Your Name,
so redeem us for your mercies’ sake, for Your mercies sake!

Chorus:  Arise our God, hear Your people cry! (2x)

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This Desperate Prisoner Song from Psalm 69 July 1992

I remember the season that I wrote this…one of the worst of my life.  A parent of 4 marvelous children, married to an amazing and wonderful woman, successful, respected…and absolutely terrified constantly inside, haunted by feelings of suicide and alienation, and carrying the deep shame that I was not really a man at all.  And what I was I had not been allowed to think of since I was 6 years old.

The pressure would build, to almost intolerable levels, and then somehow They would give me grace, carry me, and another period would pass where I could tolerate the pain and sorrow.

I didn’t think I was gonna make it thru this one.  I thought for sure that I was gonna lose heart and kill myself, and there was no one to talk to about it, for I was ashamed that I was not “strong enough!”  And then I ran into Psalm 69, and this song was born.

Looking at it now, I can hear that I, Charissa, was beginning to shout…I was the desperate prisoner.  In many ways, we are all that desperate prisoner…and He is always the Liberator…for I was set free, and never have I known such peace and contentment.

Thank You Father…thank You Jesus…thank You my Mama Lady Grace.

I love You all!

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Save me oh God, the flood o’er whelms my broken heart, my throat is parched!
I’m weary, Lord, from crying, my burning eyes fail while I wait for Thee!

Oh God You see my every folly, and all my wrongs are know to Thee.
May they who seek Thee be not dishonoured, because of me, because of me!

Reproach has broken me, and I am sick and shame covers my face.
I look for sympathy, but there’s no comfort there, no life for me.

Answer me Lord, and have compassion, and do not hide Your face from me!
Deliver me from the deep waters, draw near to me, please draw near to me!

O ransom me, my God, set me on high and I will sing Your song.
Zeal for Thy House consumes my soul and I will ever seek Your face.

The humble see, and they are filled with gladness, and those who seek Him, He will  revive.
For Jesus sees our every trouble, and sets the desperate prisoner free…
Oh Set This Desperate Prisoner Free!

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Open My Heart (October 1997, a song of desperation)

(Often I mistook the existential agony I was in due to feeling null, as a sinful and hard heart.  I have always wanted God from my earliest memories…and have always felt so puny and wanting in His sight.  Now, I have learned that what I was feeling mostly was the horror of dysphoria, and “not belonging” in either gender.  But those feelings drove me to Them…I mean, when it gets down to it, where else was there for me to go??

Anyway, I am thankful for Their love, Their unending compassion and tender mercies…and above all for Their unending grace.  They brought me thru the fires and floods)

 

Open my heart dear Lord,
Open my heart dear Lord.
For I am hungry Lord
for Your living Word.

But my heart is hard, oh Lord!
Tattered and Scarred, oh Lord!
Spirit please soften me,
let Your Love set me free, to love You in purity.

Capture my heart, dear Lord!
Capture my heart, dear Lord!
So when my race is run,
my heart would be found in Your Son!

Just one thing I desire,
the baptism of Your Fire!
Come set my heart aflame!
With passion for Jesus’ Name, forever Amen.

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The Black of Night: A modern psalm after David

Sometimes, in the black of night, haunts and ghosts of long ago
return and bite me…in the heart.

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Their teeth, no form or body, sound slashy and ugly dull discord
and pierce me, hurt me, haunt me and my soul runs panicked and stampeded.

Their corpusant claws, red wreathed and skin-ister
slash my gut and leave their venom of panic and despair.

I groan, under decades of their torment, and futiley
stopper my ears with torn fingers and tears.

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“Miscreant!  Blight!  Dark Blemish on dark night!
You are nothing!  You should die!  You are ridiculous and alone!”

And they also say other things much worse.

I writhe, squirm, and cry out in desperate agony,
and have never known anything else but to stand and endure.

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Even when it is poison-pitch-black, I remember You Mama,
Your promises and Your comfort, which has preserved me.

And in the morning I rise, exhausted, defeated, and torn
but still, my “no-matter-what” is intact and strong.

Jaws aching from grinding anxiety and heart  dripping
the blood of wounds and the sweat of grim life, I tremulously sing

You are my refuge and my strength, and as the troubadour sang
I will follow you…and see Your goodness in the land of the living!

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Sarah Hoffman, author of new children’s book, speaks with GLAAD about raising a gender non-conforming child and education through storytelling | GLAAD

Sarah Hoffman, author of new children’s book, speaks with GLAAD about raising a gender non-conforming child and education through storytelling | GLAAD.

 

Good morning Constance…another really fabulous article about Parenting Gender-nonconforming children.  The strength of this article is how it brings out that the gender non-conforming behavior occurs thru nothing the parent has done or failed to do!

That means that a lot of guilt, and therefore shame that many parents of gender-non-conforming children experience can be laid to the side as trash to discard.

Any reader who is a parent:  think about the things with your children that “just were”, and you had to accept them or divorce from your child…those were tough things…

…and then think about all that, and add in the whole Q of gender identity…

…and let your compassion and kindness grow.  Perhaps even reach out parents in your area that you know have this responsibility laid on them…let them know that they are accepted and loved and affirmed.

As you do to the least of these, so too you do to Him.

Sarah Hoffman, author of new children’s book, speaks with GLAAD about raising a gender non-conforming child and education through storytelling | GLAAD.

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Judge Me Not

This poem (or is it more just verse?) is attempting to say that if you ever find yourself looking at the outward actions of someone and coming to a conclusion about their motive or heart, it is a dead giveaway that you have unconsciously or consciously begun to trust in your own self as the source of righteousness and goodness, and have poised yourself as the standard of measure…otherwise how would you come to such a conclusion about the person’s heart??

A wise man told me once, “We judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions.”

Wow.  So true, right?  No, instead, when you are filled with the wonder and majesty of the glorious work Jesus FINISHED when He became our sacrifice and ransom, and when you truly grasp that when you say Yes to Them it is no longer you who live, but Christ in you, and that ALL old things are passed away and you are a brand new never have been creature that is a human being incarnating Very God…well, then…you are free, to simply be Their Ambassador of Love and Mercy and Kindness.

Love Mercy

Do Justly

Walk Humbly.

Love, Charissa Grace

 

Judge me not by the deeds I do, e’en if they tower tall
Or if they glower and echo failure and show all the ways that I fall
Judge me not by my actions, for actions only tell a part,
Judge instead the Deeds of Them whose works show the True Heart.

The True Heart gives, in lavish ways, compassion, joy, and grace,
It knows our frame, that we are dust, and knows we lost our face,
It responsibility takes for every step astray
And makes a way for us lost sheep to run from night to day.

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When actions you look only at, you show the god you trust,
Your own soul’s will and naming good, your own judgement…your lust
To at the core be your own captain, commanding your own soul
And God’s Name becomes vanity as you crash on ego’s shoals.

So judge me not, for I will fall beneath your scrutiny
But look instead at Lady Grace, at Jesus, at the sea
Of Love unceasing, perfect and fulfilling all the law
Indwelling life in me…judge Them…and then kneel down in awe.

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Some thoughts on Homophobia and the definition of sin

I was just now thinking…it seems there is a huge virulent reaction to homosexuality in most of conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical christendom.  It is thought to be immoral and sinful to “be homosexual”, and if you act on that orientation, regardless of how chaste and monogamous and full of integrity you might be, you are doubling down on your sin quotient.

Hmmm…let’s consider this:  First of all, for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume for the moment that being homosexual is sinful in and of itself (I do not think it is, btw).  That said, can we grant that there are many many many MANY other sins present on a regular basis in the people who comprise the body of Christ?  I believe even a brief moment of thought will reveal this is true.  And I would furthermore assert that these sins are even present regularly right smack dab in the middle of the congregation on Sunday Mornings during meetings!  Sins of gluttony, gossip, greed, lust, lies, and I don’t really need to go on do I?  THEY.  ARE.  ALMOST.  ALL.  THERE!!

And yet I have heard sermon after sermon which gently and compassionately reaches out to the so called sinner with grace…while at the very same time a virulence and abhorrence of homosexuality is railed out the likes of which is almost shameful in its implications…that perhaps even the precious Blood of Jesus is not enough to save a gay person!  They have to get clean FIRST, and then…just maybe…suspiciously…we may accept them.

Why is this?  Are not all sins of equal moral weight in the eyes of God?  (yes, they are)

Here is my theory:  so many things that are egregious failures of God’s good standard of whole relationship are interior states of being, or thoughts, or hidden attitudes, and not actions.  It is quite possible to live in christian communities looking beautiful and white on the outside, and yet within be a tomb of death.  But “no one knows”, so it is “okay.”

Homosexuality on the other hand, or for that matter being transgender, is something observable, visible, and obvious, and it is also something that can be hidden…either by not talking about things, or living a full life, or engaging in the cross-dressing that a trans-person is forced into when they are policed and othered for dressing as who they truly are.  And thus comes the judgement.

The heart of this approach considers sin to be defined by actions:  wrong acts = sin, and those acts defined by a list that is derived from a selective reading of behaviors spoken of in scripture…in the OT it is a capricious selecting of things from the law that one desires, and in the NT it is usually behaviors that are mentioned in descriptions of what life is like after we have an existential encounter and transformation of our being! 

In truth, sin in the large and most deadly sense is simply separation from God.  Period.  Last word.  When this is understood, one sees that no matter WHAT one does, or refrains from, it does not address the fundamental issue, which is restoration of our relationship with the Ones who made us.  After that relationship is restored, the word for sin changes and means simply “missing the mark”.  Once we are truly adopted and resurrected within with Jesus, we are set free from law…completely free.  If you do not accept that, you need to re-read Romans and both Corinthians and Galatians.  Paul makes some very bold statements about law and spirit and sin.

When one is in the very common error of attributing moral status based on actions, one is in grave error, and I think this is the root of the hatred of homosexuality above all other “sins” (again, it is not a given to me that it is sin)…because it is an easily identified behaviour and one can consider one’s self “sinless” merely by avoiding that behaviour!!

Here is a suggestion:  let’s get our own house in order.  Let’s spend our time and our zeal within ourselves seeking deeper connection with Them, deeper character development, deeper sacrificial attitudes towards all we meet…ok?

Love God.

Love yourself.

Love your neighbor.

Amen.

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When The Well Runs Dry

Sometimes, when the ache of the world
conspires with my own, and twines with terrible tedium,
my faith is stomped into a mudhole and kicked dry
and left for dead.

I lay, limp and without vigor,
dull and without sparkle
and I watch the forest denizens draw near hopefully,
wanting to drink of clear and glittery waters sweet and cold

But something smells off…me…fetid wounds and sores clotted and festered
smelling of fever and sorrow…and death?
So they slide away as if to not be seen, nor ever to have known
this well once so lively that is struggling and ambushed by thieves.

But I see them go, having crossed the road first
to avoid being sullied by the silly and sick well
that is failing to provide accustomed sustenance.
And I wish for just a drop…of water from another well?

My Samaritan?  Are you out there?  Can you follow your nose,
endure the stench of sweat and sorrow and despair?
Can you take me to That Inn, and pour oil in,
Just a kind word, when the well runs dry…

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This song gets to some of the longings of my heart

Constance, perhaps you could take the time to watch this video…it’s lyrics also apply to me and my situation.  I am soo very lucky, in that my beloved loves me, from the beginning, and now, and to come.

But so many people are outcast from the circle of love and affection by the ways our culture has formed expectations and unspoken rules and allowances, based on specific understandings (or lack thereof) of moral codes, on binary gender expectations that do not even come close to fitting the wide expression of actual physical expression of gender, even down to the DNA…

As you watch, won’t you please resolve to be kind t everyone you meet?

Oh…and here is a clue:  being kind does not mean “hating the sin but loving the sinner”!  That is a nice and neat idea, and yet it is designed for the sake of the one who fancies themself not a sinner…it unconsciously creates a barrier, and regardless of how nice you are then?  You will be condescending, and you will undercut your message, and ultimately fall woefully short of the example of Jesus.

Remember Him?  Yunno, the One who drew so close to sinners He was accused by the conservative religious crowd of His day of being a sinner…and let a prostitute wash His feet with her tears (oh, you sin-haters and sinner lovers…have you ever cried such tears at the feet of Jesus, and then dried them with your hair because you were so grateful for His kindness to you?  Just wonderin’…), the One who ate lunch and dinner and celebrated with sinners everyday.

I know these things to be true…because long ago, when I was still deeply dissociated and yet drawn by Their love for me and thus had said Yes to Them, I was a staunch practitioner of that glib maxim above.  And I recall how finally it dawned on my how haughty I was, how like the man in the temple who was thanking God that he was not like the sinner over across the way who was weeping and howling and crying out for mercy as he beat his chest in agony and desperation…

A kind word to those in need.  Such a small thing really, and yet it is the biggest thing under the sun.

Becoming

Dirty with me,
dirty with Your love for me,
You plunge Your tender hands
into the messy miry clay I am.

You grip,
grab,
grapple, and
pedal,
whirling me,
spinning and scattered
becoming
moving from
Your heart to me.

…becoming…

Becoming?
Mama,
with pain pulsing, and
Ache throbbing and
that void crying within?

Becoming?
Mama, with
the spin and
the pull…

And WET! Ugh!
You drench me, and
drown my
Objections
(which meander forth like mewling kitty-cries)
in floods of word,
of blood-sacred and red,
of water alive…

Til I am soft and tender too,
and moldable by You.
I cannot but trust You,
Mama, Faithful Potter,
busy and intricate,
tender and tough,
Teacher and Creator.

Yet Fire awaits, I fear…
no, I know.
Fire to dry,
to bake,
to cure,
prepare…
And then use,
filling and pouring,
and all the while

Feeling
Your hand on me, and
Your life in me,
and seeing flowers
bloom and blossom…

so my Mama,
take me in hand,
and redeem my days
in Your Becoming.

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When Will I See You Again? (Psalms 42, a song from 1997)

When will I see You again?
When will I see You again?
When will I see You again, my Friend?

How can I come before You,
When my heart is broken in two?
How can I come before You again?

My spirit cries out night and day!
But the heavens are brass when I pray!
And the songs of Zion have all turned to dust in my mouth!
Hey-yeahhh (soulful singing groan)

Father please do not forget me,
Please see me, I’m broken and empty.
My heart has been blind and deceived by my pride.

I come to You wretched and lonely,
I’m lookin’ for life in You only,
Oh Father please gather me safe to Your side!

My soul longeth hard after You!
Let Your Loving-Kindness break through!
And the songs of Zion will all rise again in my heart!
Hey-yeahhh! (soulful triumphant sung note)

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Like a Rose (Come Holy Ghost)…song for Mama from 1994

As you know if you read here regularly, I love to refer to the Holy Spirit as Mama…and back in the 1990s I started calling Her “Lady Grace”, based on the stories my baby was writing back then “Tales of the Blood King.”

I have always had a very deep interest in and affinity with Holy Spirit.  As a child, I used to be scared of our orchards, because I was certain that I heard a “ghost” calling me to come out in the orchard and meet her.  It frightened me because it was so unusual, not so much because I thought harm would come to me.  When I tried to talk to my parents about it, they just laughed at me, and marveled at “the imagination on that kid!”  Yeah, that sorta hurt…but why would they think or do otherwise?  It certainly is not “normal”!

In college, thanks to my beloved Dearest Darling, I met Holy Spirit very personally face to face (in my heart of course…the literal face to face is still to come!).  And since that time, She has been very present and with me…with the exception of last year in the autumn, when They strategically withdrew to break me out of dry dock, and launch me on a voyage.

This song was my attempt at conveying the beauty, the blessing, and the healing of Lady Grace’s presence.  Whenever I played it, the reaction was dramatic…some people were transported into a deeper realm of devotion and union with God…and other people literally at times tried to stop me from playing it, to the point of threatening to kick me out of church if I persisted.  I persisted…

Take a look for yourselves…and may you always find a door to open in your heart to Lady Grace, the most gentle and comforting and powerful of beings!!

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Like A Rose (Come Holy Ghost)

The fragrance of Your Presence here is all I need.
You fall on me like dew on thirsty ground.
You pour out golden oil on my hungry heart,
I will drink of heaven’s love come down.

Chorus #1:

Holy Spirit come (echo).  Holy Spirit come (echo)
Come and pour the Wine of Father’s love.
Holy Spirit come (echo).  Holy Spirit come (echo),
Come and fill our hearts with Love again.

The fire of Your Presence here is like a Rose,
You blossom in the dark night of my soul.
Your steadfast love surrounds me and You melt the snows,
And I am set aflame by First Love’s coal.

Chorus #2:

Holy Spirit Fall! (echo)  Holy Spirit Fall! (echo)
Fall like Holy Fire from Father’s Throne.
Holy Spirit Fall! (echo)  Holy Spirit Fall! (echo)
Come and set our hearts on fire again.

Burning Love (Song 1992 fr Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Found this in the stuff from the past I am going thru…it is a song, and seems appropriate to this lil stretch I am in when all tastes flat, and my heart hangs heavy in my throat and I want to cry all the time…

 

Burning Love

Even if the fig tree fail to blossom, and the fruit not come forth from the branch,
Even though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields bring forth no food.
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I exult in the Lord my God.  Still I will boast in the Lord.

The Lord God is my strength, I rejoice in His salvation,
Even so I sing of His great Love.
He will make me stand, and I will walk on His High Places,
He surrounds me with His Burning Love…His Burning Love.

All of you whose hearts are barren, lift ye up your eyes unto your King,
And you who weep with broken spirits, lift ye up your hands unto your King.
For He has pruned you with His favor, and He has purified you with His Love,
Cast away all your filthy rags!  Run to Him and find your life in Him!

Worship Him in Broken Beauty, Crown Him with your tears,
Lay your contrite spirits on His altar.
Let His fire consume your song, sweet aroma to Him,
Give Him everything you have, you are His Bride…you are His Bride.

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My Heart’s Dirge

I woke today,
again,
and sad.

Fingers clenched,
toes curled, and
palms scarred

by my fingernails’
cruciform
crescent tatoos.

Another day of longing…
wash, rinse, repeat.

I had hoped
that someone
would notice my pain,
feel my heartache,
care for my sorrow.
But no one did,
lost in their own
worlds of hurt.

I was glad and sad
when I declared in faith
and many liked that.

To encourage others is good.

But when I was open,
transparent,
silence held court and
there was nothing…
no words,
mute embarrassment at
my open vulnerable mewlings?
Distaste for naked cries?

No hand to take,
no smile to receive…

My Daddy told me,
when I was little,
and mourning

“Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Weep, and you weep alone.”
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I always hoped
he was mistaken,
but I think
he must have
been right.

I’m gonna press on,
give my smiles,
my words,
my hands,
such as they are…

I’m stubborn that way,
I guess.

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Song of You

(this was written in 1979…and I just found it, and I was struck that it might well have been written to myself, hidden and lonely and imprisoned in all the things that I was bound by…shame, loneliness, distrust, abandonment, alienation…and all that in the midst of a life that appeared to be vital and outgoing and faithful and fruitful!

remember Constance…be kind to every single person you meet!  You never know what burdens they carry, and what the pebble of one word might do, with eternal effect.)

 

Song of You

I see you
not with my eyes
but with my heart
a face no darkness can consume,
no light can outshine,
with me always through-out time.

I hear you
not with my ears
but with my eyes.
I hear what lies behind the syllables
I see them, feel them deep inside
words you could never speak or hide.

I am touched
not by your hands
but by your thoughts,
feelings caution can’t erase
nor careless caprice…
you give me peace.

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Declaration

In the midst of pain, lonely ache and terror,
in the midst of the grasping clingy gloom and
thistley despair raining in cold fire around me,

I choose to lift my eyes up, lift up my heart,
lift my lips up and again resolve to sing and give my
pearls of praise in offerings of trust…and faith…and standing.

Resolved: to stand, weeping though I may be, but not to turn back,
not to be silent, stand and wait.  Wait.  wait.
For the Goodness of the Lord to rise again, and again.

I recall the old song:

“We’ve come this far by faith!  Leaning on the Lord, trusting in His Holy Word,
He hasn’t failed us yet!  Oh, we won’t turn back, we’ve come this far by faith!”

This is my boast…that They are faithful, and will work and will and do
in me to Their Good Pleasure, and I shall not be left bereft
come what may.

Amen.

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Hymn in the midst of Shame and Sorrow

Hold me close, I beg Thee.
Never let me go,
though I pull like wild horses at Your tether.
Wrap me in Your love please!
Tender, tough, and total
as it presses me and puts me back together.

Father, You have reached me!
Taken me back home, into
Your house that is the essence of Your Heart.
Jesus, You have breached me!
Leapt the walls and plumbed the gory
depths of death and caused shame to depart.

Oh Mama, my Help and comfort,
You are healing, changing,
breathing in me Hope and Joy and Grace on Grace,
So hold me close, I beg Thee!
In Your wonders and Your Love,
so someday I will look upon Your Wondrous Face.

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Can’t Cry Hard Enough

The shell is brittle…
like dry bones fallen like leaves
from the table of bone.

It clasps,
grasps, and
feeds on my
gristly gasps
with my every breath,
every sob…

…and I can’t cry hard enough.

They must be pierced,
these bone-shield
prison walls that comfort
and secure me safe.
She is knocking…
knocking over my defenses
and my usual.
But it hurts so…

…and I can’t cry hard enough.

Discovery’s pain is surpassed
only by the pain of hiding,
and what terror there is
as She sees,
and knows.
She reaches,
and grows,
and tears me
out of myself
into Life…

…and I can’t cry hard enough.

“Today’s tears are tomorrow’s treasured triumphs, ‘Rissa!”
shouts my Mama,
Lady Grace,
Queen of Grace,
Heart of God
to God & man.
She promises victory,
and being,
and glad Joy…

…and I can’t cry hard enough.

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Why Do So Many Folks Hate Transgender People? | The Bilerico Project

Why Do So Many Folks Hate Transgender People? | The Bilerico Project.

 

Constance, I have not pressed this right away, as I am really in a hurting place for reasons that are unrelated to this topic…just aching, longing, missing what never was, and finding it difficult to believe that it will ever be…trying to hold onto Jesus hand and be drawn thru this valley of the shadow…trying to hold onto Mama’s waist, and hold tight as She crashes time and space, and makes a way for me…birth is HARD!

 

But the topic needs to be looked at…posted and reposted so that you can see some of the basic things faced by transgender people.  And, you know what?  Hate of anyone really boils down to these areas.

Think about it.

Love God.

Love yourself.

Love your neighbor.

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I Heard the Moon

I heard the moon today,
amidst the clamour
inside my face,
behind my heart.

It was spinning,
spinning, lost
and dark, flashing
between earth and sun,
baking, freezing,
baking freezing.

She had no green, no gold.
She had no food…but
worst of all…she had
no voice.

No voice,
to tell of
endless sojourn
hours, of blazing
hot and ever-cold
and only moments
in between, on the cusp
of congruence

and…
and…
and,
well,
she had
no way
to tell
what the
and is.

But I heard her,
the moon, today,
in my bones’ ache
and in my throat’s clench.
I heard her in my teeth grinding
and biting my lip bloody
to stifle my own
absurd and
desperate
groan.

Like the moon,
I circle, spin, and
move from pole to pole,
and find moments when I am
on the cusp of congruence.

My pain
her voice…

I heard the moon today.

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Stuck in the ruins

Today dawned golden, blue.
Birds sang up the sun and
grass gracefully beckoned time
to snuggle in
for the day.

But inside me
Dawn hid
her apple cheeks
and a wind
howled thru the hollows
of my sad soul and my
heart ached like hungry teeth
gnawing on glass,
and rock
and foil.

And time?
Stomped in,
laid down
and settled over me,
raptor
piercing air
in screaming dive
to lay claim
on me
its prey.

I am aching and
stuck among these ruins,
and yet

I must press on.

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A very difficult return

Hi Constance…

We travelled last week to the East Coast, for the graduation of our youngest child from Villanova University.  He graduated with honors from the humanities department, with specialities in Philosophy, Theology, Classical Literature, and History.  We are so proud of him, of the growth and maturity it took for him.  I will write more of that later…

…but for now, if you are a regular reader here, then you will know the waves and cycles, ups and downs that transition entails.  It is a lot like regular life (I imagine, I have never known “regular life”), for we all have these moments I suspect.

But I am in a real hard place today…my insides ache so fiercely, and I mourn the return to my place of _____.  I can hardly bear it on good days, the constant stress that I am going to be blindsided by some new betrayal, the worry that people at higher layers will pass blame down the chain and in such a big ______ having no forum to present a different picture.

But on bad days…like today…I want to just die and get it over with.

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Don’t worry…I am not going to do anything precipitous.  I know that my life is not my own in that sense, to take as I will.  And I also know how awful the consequences would be for my beloved and my precious children.

But the time away was so wonderful, so freeing, with no 8 hour plus days of going back into the cell of other people’s gender expectations lest it create such a havoc that we not be able to get _____ done.  And havoc it would be:  the men that I _____ with would freak out.  They already use gay slurs and transvestite slurs regularly as humor…this does not offend me, but it does let me know that I don’t stand a chance of acceptance there.

They have no concept of the difference between a Transgender person and a transvestite. And the few attempts I have made to educate have been thoroughly rebuffed.

It is impossible to explain…the belief would be that I was on some sexual perverted escapade, or “into some freaky shit” (a phrase I once heard to describe someone who had some relational issues shatter them and in search of themselves, they made some pretty bad choices).

My insides are churning.

My soul aches, and is frantic within me to escape, and I want to just have it all over…and in sadness, as now, I don’t “care” how it ends.

Emotion always exacerbates situations…and I choose here, this day, to draw close to Mama, to let my heart pour out to Her as I beg Her to keep me safe, and not let the bullies have at me today.

Most likely, it will be as other times…the day will pass and I will gradually feel better, relieved when nothing major happens…but it seems that the more I taste of the life and freedom that is available to me…the more I experience the joy and wonder and miracle of wholeness, the fresh intimacy with Them, the harder it is to go back.

My worst fear is that I will burst into tears in front of the crew.

Oh God…I am sick inside with dread.  So…if you pray, please keep me in mind today.  I stand in the need, particularly acute this day.  And if you don’t pray, any positive thoughts or good will wishes you have to spare I will gladly receive…I know LG will gather them up and let those petals of positive regard fall upon me today.

Today’s hurt and pain and agony will be the building blocks of Tomorrow’s Triumphs…but for now…I am at the stake, and no where to go.

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The Mountains of Myrrh (from Song of Solomon, 1992)

There is a tremendous subtext in Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs as some call it.  Like so many other parts of scripture,
this book is like a rose, and peels back layers of meaning and potentiality as you dig deeper into it.
One level that it has always intrigued me on was the allegorical level,
where it is speaking with poetry and metaphor to talk about a rich and fruitful inner life of devotion.
In relationship with Jesus, I have always been feminine, and thus the parts about Him being the Bridegroom, and me the Bride made sense to me.
Language that could be interpreted as sexual in nature is very effective to describe
the kind of connection that I have been so blest to receive from Him.

This song, taken from the Song of Songs, was written at a peak, devotional time.

I will lay down in my Lover’s arms.  I will lay down and open up my soul.
Draw me so close to Your heart, let me know Your sweet caresses,
My spirit yearns for You…and my heart burns for You…
I am lovesick with desire!  Your kisses fill me with Your fire,
the fires of love for the Lover of my soul.

Chorus:

Draw me after You!  Let me run with You!
Jesus, kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth.
I will go with You!  Giving all to You!
You are altogether lovely, my God.

I will say yes when He comes for me.  I will say yes, when He cries “Open for Me!”
Let us go out in the night to the mountains of myrrh,
I give my life to You, Lord I will die for You.
Jesus breathe upon my garden, so that my heart will never harden,
may the fruit please the Lover of my soul.

Chorus:

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We Return To You (song, 1992)

This song is revealing now…I see the cycle, as I would swing down into the trough and the horror of dysphoria would rage in me like a flood.  And then the manifestations of Their comfort, Their mercy, and the wholeness that They would bestow, and my heart would be restored.

In the trough, I wrote songs of repentance and cries for mercy…I thought that I was displeasing Them, or failing Them, or not numbering my days wisely.  While that likely happened some, it is far more the case that I was dis-integrating and desperate.  And on the peak, I was carried by Them, as They healed me and got me ready for the next battle, the next workout and time of war… so I wrote songs of devotion, celebration, exuberance…and lots of songs about the Bride and Bridegroom (a topic I was obsessed with!  More on that later).

This is a trough song.

(Oh…and PS:  the wording is almost straight from the OT, thus the words about His anger, wrath, and the “Thou”s and “Thee”s!)

 

From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.
Days pass like flowers fading in darkness but You remain.

Your Holiness unchanging, Your purging fire consuming all our ways,
because our fading flowers are countless wasted hours cast away.

Chorus:

We’ve been consumed by Thine anger!
We’ve been dismayed by Thy wrath!
Our secret sin is revealed in Thy Presence,
we have worshipped the works of our hands!

Oh Lord, we cry out to You for forgiveness!
Oh Lord, we cry out to You for Your grace.
Oh Lord, we ask that You would show us Your mercy!
Return to us, as we return to You.

Teach us to number each day You give us to worship Thee,
That we can give You hearts full of wisdom, and Your ways.

Restore us in the morning and let Your Loving-Kindness be our bread!
Let mercy fall upon us like dew from heaven’s storehouse…make us glad!

Chorus

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More Than I Have Known You (a song of desperate longing, 1995)

This song is from my life book, and specifically my life passage:  Philippians 3:8-12 (do you have a life book and/or passage?  Something to think on).  I remember that the nights were getting worse…nearly unbearable, and my poor beloved who suffered beside me, holding me as I shook and trembled and cried and suffered in the dark.

I remember getting up around 2 AM one morning just a few weeks after the first of the year.  The thought of enduring another year towered over me like King Kong over Faye Wray!  Suicide was not an option, as it is so unfair to the ones left behind, and it is the ultimate self-oriented act…but going on was not an option either.

I longed to just simply “never-have-been”…because it was as if I wasn’t there anyway, and yet horribly and terribly aware and having being…rough.

I got out my guitar, and began to strum softly in my favorite chords, and just hum…and a lil melody bubbled up inside, and the chord changes manifested themselves to me, and then I spontaneously started singing these words…but I actually believe that Lady Grace sang them for me, for I was without mouth, without tongue, and screaming…

It got me thru.  They are enough…always, always enough.

(I am crying as I recall, in total and complete gratefulness)

When my life is shaken in the storm,
You are there…and You draw me near You.
In Your Arms my heart is made secure,
as You kiss my tears and call me Your own.

Chorus:

I want to know You, I want to know You!
Deep in my heart, Lord…I want to know You!
I want to know You, I want to know You!
More than I have known you Lord…I want to know You.

When the dark night presses in on me,
You are there, You’re shining so brightly.
Then Your sweet love brings the dawn again,
and my heart is filled with only one cry…

Chorus

So I come and kneel at Calvary.
You are there, and You draw me near You.
Then Your Blood, Your River washes me,
Jesus, I surrender my life to You

Chorus

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Hear, Oh Lord (Song from 1990)

Another devotional chorus from years ago…as I read them now I understand so much better that dark desperate despair that I had to battle constantly…and I am also more impressed than ever by the mercies and faithfulness of our God!  Thank You, again and again and again!!!  🙂

Hear, Oh Lord and answer me!  For I am poor and needy.
Guard my life oh so close to Thee, for I am devoted to You.

Chorus:

You are my God (3x)

Save Your servant who trusts in You!  Let me drink deep of Your Mercy.
I cry out to You all night long!  Oh Father I must have You!

Chorus

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Absolutely FABULOUS article by a super mom!

OMG…Constance, my heart soars with hope as I discover these amazing people who have left fear behind and have embraced raising their transgender child with the same love and compassion as any other child…and they have the guts to stick up for and defend their child as well against insidious policing efforts.

Just read!  It is informative, simple and easy to comprehend, and deadly to anyone who desires to feed their ignorance!

Love, Charissa

 

The Lord Looks at the Heart: When My Son Became My Daughter

I am the mom of the little girl called A.J., who was recently profiled in the Kansas City Star. As surprised as I was to find my family in the paper, I am also incredibly proud.

 

stormy rainbow

 

 

Credit Image: Jessica Keating Photography on Flickr 

My daughter is six years old. She transitioned—which means she changed her outward appearance from male to female and started living full-time as a her true gender—when she was four. Until that point, she was quite a rough and tumble little boy with a buzz cut and shark-tooth necklace. But when she was three, she asked her dad and I if we could buy her a princess dress.

We didn’t buy the dress. We thought she might be going through a stage of liking bright or sparkly things and didn’t want to waste money on something she would grow bored of in a week. But she kept asking and I found out that she had a favorite princess dress she wore at daycare. “What the heck?” we thought and took her to the store to pick one out.

Things didn’t stop there. Over the next few months, she started to wear that dress every single minute she was at home. Then she asked for more: dresses, nightgowns, headbands, sparkly pink shoes and eventually even girls’ underwear. We allowed some of those things but drew the line at the undies. There were just some things we weren’t comfortable with during this “phase.”

But then I noticed her pushing down on her genitals a lot and asked her what was wrong. Not having those parts, I assumed she might have a rash and was itchy, but her answer shocked me. She said that they bothered her and were in the way. She wanted them gone.

Thank God for Google because I immediately jumped on the computer and typed in a search …”Four-year-old boy says genitals should be gone.” What came back was a very short list of results, but they all pointed to one thing: My child might be transgender.

I had never even heard the word “transgender” before and really didn’t know what to think. We made an appointment with our pediatrician. She recommended a child psychologist. But before we could even get an appointment, my daughter—then my four-year-old son—said these words to me, “Mom, you know I’m really a girl, right? I’m a girl on the inside.”

That moment changed my life. In the following months, she became more insistent. We saw the psychologist and an endocrinologist to make sure there wasn’t a hidden medical issue. She became more determined to express herself by wearing those pink sparkly shoes to daycare. She wanted to go out for ice cream in a fairy dress and wings. Eventually, we couldn’t hold her back. She was showing signs of depression and refused to leave the house dressed as a boy. The day I let her go to school in girl clothes, she was happier than I had seen her in a very long time. The kids were great. The teachers were awesome.

But then the kids went home and told their parents, and things weren’t so great after that. Adult bigotry influenced them. We lost most of our friends and some family. We basically went into hiding for about a year while my daughter grew her hair out to look like the girl she is. When we emerged again, it was with a very happy and confident daughter.

When I tell our daughter’s story, I hear the same uninformed comments over and over again, so I’d like to address a few of those now.

1. We are liberals pushing a gay agenda.

Nope, sorry. I am a conservative Southern Baptist Republican from Alabama.

2. We (or at least I, because they always blame the mom) wanted a girl, so we turned our child into one.

Again, no. I desperately wanted boys. The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scares me to death. I’d much rather be responsible for raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well than to be responsible for raising a girl who might only be interested in dating bad boys.

3. “Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog. Should I let him?”

Well, that’s up to you, but I wouldn’t. There is a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and in declaring who you are insistently, consistentlyand persistently. Those are three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.

4. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.

I agree, so it’s a good thing that being transgender has nothing to do with sex! Gender identity is strictly how a person views him or herself on the inside, and it is completely separate from whom we are attracted to.

5. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with “normal” people.

I don’t know what you go into a bathroom to do, but I know what my daughter goes in there for… and it isn’t to look around. It’s to go into a stall, lock the door, and pee where no one else can see her.

6. God hates transgender people. They are sinners and going to Hell.

My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those that others rejected. Some people choose to embrace Biblical verses that seem to say being transgender is wrong. I choose to focus on verses like First Samuel 16:7, which says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. That’s good enough for me.

Stuck in the middle again…(rant alert)

Hi Constance…

…a quick note this morning to comment on some thing on my heart.

I know a lot of people over the years who are very drawn to me because I am open about the relationship Father, Jesus and Mama have forged with me.  They get all the credit, for this is true:  there is none righteous, not one who has even sought after God!  That means that if you are in relationship with Them, it is Their doing, and none of your own, save the assent of your will.

And in the openness of our relationship, these individuals find a self-affirmation of their own faith, relationship, etc.

But here is the kicker:  I am also open about my struggles, my failures and flaws.  I put on no religious airs, and when They expose any that have crept in quietly when pride was crooning its deadly lullaby, I renounce those pretensions as quick as I can.  I try to boast in my weakness, and not in my strength, as Father promises that the Strength of Jesus is made perfect in my weakness.

So…it is just a matter of time before the people who are drawn to me are repelled by my lack of performance, my lack of keeping up the appearance and doing the things that signal that I am “orthodox”, saying the things that signal I am “safe”, and practicing the things that signal I am “one of us”.  Soon, there are judgements, accusations, demands that I toe the line and not use my freedom to “make them stumble”.

Huh?  I thought Paul was talking about someone who was weak in conscience and in their relationship, who might fall away completely from the life of someone strong in the faith, so the strong one should bear with the weak one patiently.  These people twist that word, are strong in their conscience and faith, and boast that nothing could pull them away.

No…they are simply using faith words to try to keep me in the christian gulag that they run.  And, as I know in my deepest knower that my Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness, and that all other ground is sinking sand, I regretfully, but purposefully ignore them, and thus end up branded a heretic.

You know the old maxim:  if you don’t tick like I tick, you’re a heretic!

So…that wouldn’t be so bad in itself…in many ways we are known by our enemies as much as our friends.

But here is the discouraging thing:  There are many others, who are deeply spiritual but have for one reason or another excluded Father, Jesus and Mama as spiritual possibilities in their world view.  These people are amazing, compassionate, loving, etc.  And they flock to me because in me they see someone who does not practice “religion”, and doesn’t try to pretend by actions to have a superior standing over anyone else, who doesn’t believe that being in a church building every Sunday makes you a christian any more than being in a hen-house every day makes you a chicken!

And so there is an initial attraction and excitement of possibilities…until we come to that One thing that sticks in the craw always, in all times and all places with all people:

“Who do you say that I am?”

Those words were spoken long ago by the Incarnate God…by Jesus, to His beloved disciples…and they are asked of every single person who is ever born.

This is not a fairy tale, or fantasy.  This is reality.  And I am incapable of not knowing it is so…

…not a boast.  Not dogma, or a dogmatic refusal to be ecumenical or inclusive…it is simply true.

Jesus came in the flesh, God, to restore all things to the Father, and build a temple for Mama to live in (that is us, by the way, and all of us together).

That simple truth is my absolute essence and core.

And thus, a stumbling block does often rise, the Cornerstone upon whom we should all be so blest to fall and be broken.

Inevitably, there creeps in a distance, and the assumption that I am just another right-wing fanatic christian looking to control and kill everything that ain’t me.

And that is sad to me…it is hard for me to not feel as if there is something so wrong with me, and that I should just say fuck it and throw my lot in with one or the other…right?

But I can’t.  Because I can never ever not know the Ones I know, and I can never ever not know the futility…the

UTTER. FUTILITY. of my own works and deeds and ability to stay close to Them.

So…Constance…

Chances are you may find yourself in one of these groups…initially you might have been drawn to my writing because of the raw emotion and undisguised struggle that my life is…our life is…you may have loved a poem that touched on some longing or need or similar experience.

I am a desperate woman!  Absolutely desperate in every sense of the word, and far more so because the body that I have poses a lot of…hmmm, let’s call them opportunities…for Mama, Jesus, and Father to sanctify me, teach me grace and humility, and create in me a soul that loves and oozes mercy as one who has herself been fed mercy as mother’s milk.

Or…you may have been drawn here by my bald-faced and open and unashamed conversation about Them, Their history in my life, involvement with me and refusal to ever let me go.  You might have read a poem that earnestly cries out to Them, or one that is ecstatic in utter praise for Their Love!  You may have seen words like Grace, Faith, Hope, Redemption, Sanctification, and been drawn to those words like moths to a flame.

But sooner or later there may be something that sticks in your craw, in your throat like a sideways chicken bone, and won’t go down.  Can I just ask you one thing?  Please don’t judge?  Please don’t assume hypocrisy where there is only very fallen and flawed humanness?  I can never ever deny Them…and that is not a boast of my greatness!  It is simply a truism, and it would be like denying that I drink water everyday, or that I breathe every 5 seconds or so.

But neither can I ever deny the absolute reality that literally nothing I do save saying YES and yielding to them results in anything other than utter vanity.  And I will never pretend otherwise.

Dearest Christendom dweller…you who sits back and reflexively filters every word thru your fruit detector lenses and doctrinal code breakers, and then marks red lines in your mind all over everything that doesn’t match up with your current understanding of the magisterial magnificent word of God…you will not like me when I tell you that you are in greater deception than the ones you judge!  You are in greater judgement than the ones you have consigned to your “love” (the affectations of behaviour that you manifest towards those you dislike or disapprove of or judge but know that they “need to know Jesus” so you will essentially brown-nose them into the kingdom)!!

Oh, oh how my heart longs for the day when we would take our eyes off each other, quit inspecting each other’s fruit as if we are Jesus, and simply open our hearts in joy and allow Perfect Love to fill us…to overflowing…and eventually to flooding the lives of those around us.

Constance…it is so simple and pure, really…just be kind…just do justice…just love mercy…just show compassion always…just let the abundant exceedingly great and abounding Grace make a “Grace-mess” everywhere.

You who just cannot swallow all my blabber about Jesus, but you like my poems?  IT.  IS.  OKAY!  🙂  I am ok with that!  Here is the truth:  if They had not laid hands on me and taken me, I would not belong to them at all!  Why would I?  Because of the wonderful comeliness of Their kids???  Because of my own towering faithfulness???   NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT!!!!!

And you who find something stirring, some deep calling to deep in my writings of Jesus and Mama (ok, ok…since it seems a matter of dire import, HOLY SPIRIT), and Father, but you just shake your head as I openly share my life as a transgender person, as I openly share my life as a person in process of moving from trusting myself to trusting Them?  IT.  IS.  OKAY!  🙂 (And it is even OK that I call Holy Spirit Mama?  I can make a stronger case for Her femininity than you can for Her masculinity, if you wanted to go there…but why?  Then we are fighting and satan laughs!)

Sorry Constance…that has been brewing in me for a good while.  Some email comments, and some other things I had to write out of my heart so they wouldn’t fester.

Your regularly scheduled mewlings will commence after She feeds me this morning!  🙂

 

Love always, with the Magnificent Love of Father shown in Jesus and revealed by Mama…

Charissa Grace, the glad, golden and grateful (and sometimes defiant) daughter of Them

2

A morning stroll in my neighborhood

I was noticing
the rows, the order,
pretty enough…
splashes of
purple and pink
and blue and red
and yellow…
but the order
made me dizzy!

My mind
tried to smear,
to blur,
to mix them
again
ordered
but not in
order
rank and file.

Yet her furious
digging and stabbing
at everything that was
“not order”

distracted me,
clods flying
as if from between
a gopher’s brown legs!

Her mouth
grim as Patton’s
as he intently
urged Rommel
to the grinder,
she stalked
and tracked weeds,
rocks and sticks.

I scurried by
with my head low
and eyes straight,
lest she start
on me next!

Around the corner
I was back
to my yard,
a sprawl of
Western Oregon tangle
and blackberries,
wild strawberries
and everywhere
ferns ferns
FERNS…

The tweeties
flit and dart,
the robins rule
with bright wakefulness
and the stray cats
wallow in daubles and
puddles of warm
golden light
(seemingly somnambulant
but staring steely
thru slitted eyes)…

and beds here,
tousled and frumpy made,
and beds there,
letting any rooted thing declare
if it be flower or weed
(this bed knew
that “weed”
was a label made
by “Dictator Order”)

and tall oaks
gathered round
the fire ring
to watch their
cast-offs become
the wine and bread
of many a bonfire.

I know
she hates my yard.
She tries to
shame with sarcasm
and damn
with faint praise.

I get it…I do.
She gets unsettled
when control frays.

But I love it.
It comforts me
in its balance,
in its flavour

and in its eversong of liberty.

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