…the application of Grace to life as depicted in words.
Relationship Wisdom Notes:
In life there are a number of truths to live by. Some are obvious, while others require a little bit more thoughts and life experiences. At the end of the day these are the things that make life easier, and make life more enjoyable in the long run because you’re spending less time being focused on things that shouldn’t have your attention in the first place. This is especially the case when it comes to understanding other people, especially when we’re talking about a relationship. Here are 5 pieces of wisdom that everyone should know in relationships.
1. If he doesn’t answer a text message, he probably doesn’t care.
If he wanted to talk to you he would, and you would be receiving more than – at best – 2 to 3 word responses. If someone cares about talking to you they will be genuinely interested in sparking, and maintaining a conversation with you. They might make it obvious that they’re trying to keep the conversation going, or maybe they won’t – but either way, the conversation is kept alive, and you’re not wondering where you stand.
2. People will make time for you when they care about you.
This goes for friends, and potential significant others. If he says he’s too busy, or is constantly dodging hanging out with you then you should have a fairly good idea where you stand. And that might seem blunt, but ultimately it’s the truth and it isn’t a secret that people make time for others that they care about, and that they genuinely want to make time for. Don’t take it personally. Learn and grow from it.
3. Don’t let him physically touch you on the first date.
Maybe a kiss at the end of the date, but if he’s looking for something more, or something that you are not there for – particularly a hook up – then the date was happening for the wrong reasons. Understand what you want out of a date, and keep yourself at those limits. Someone who actually cares about you will understand your own boundaries and limitations.
4. You can learn a lot about someone from their favorite book.
If you ask them what their favorite book is, and they say “none,’ or “I don’t know,” then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing, or who you’re investing your time in. A book tells a lot about a person’s personality, life experiences, and what they want out of life.
5. Ask questions that are uncomfortable.
Ask about really bad experiences, and really great ones. Ask about regrets. Ask about their childhood. Ask the important things now and open that door before it closes. Connecting with a person goes far beyond just running through typical legs of conversation.
Constance, I have decided to give you here at Grace Notes a taste of the kind of thing that gets flung at me via commentors and other uninvited contributors to my experience of life.
I want to ask you to carefully read thru what has been written and said, and weigh it in your hearts.
I particularly want to appeal to my readers who would call themselves Christians. You all are important in a couple of different ways:
1. First of all, you will know the culture that this comes from, and the “type” of person who slings verses around to proof-text a prior assumption. I would ask from you all, given that I have never actually met any of you (phone calls with some), and given that how I report my marriage, fidelity, and my pursuit and daily relationship with God is true (and it is, btw), and given the overall whole of Grace Notes, from poetry to worship songs to devotionals to teachings to rants to naked sharing of hurt and sorrow to open insistence on following after God in the face of all, to spending long hours with people who actually know me and are here to see my life and thus have some standing upon which to desire an accounting of my decision to transition…
…given all those things I ask rhetorically:
A. Is it appropriate from a biblical perspective to communicate to someone you literally do not know in anyway or have any actual experience whatsoever with in such a way as these individuals have with me? Is that like Jesus’ actions, either to sinners, strangers, His friends or His enemies? Does that activity follow Philippians 2? In light of the givens, would it be appropriate to wrench Matt 18 out of context as a pretext?
B. Am I in sexual sin? Am I in immorality? I have had sex with one person in my life, and am married to that one person. This is TMI, but in the interest of full disclosure, neither of us has much interest in sexuality right now, and thus we are living a loving, close, tender celibate life together and have never been closer or more “married” than we are now.
C. Given the thing I just said, if someone then said that I was lying and speaking from deception, would that be a claim either appropriate from a christian conduct perspective or from a truth perspective? Would that comment reveal more about me, or about them?
D. After careful filtering for the rainbow of reasons someone may be on my path (including the one that one of my dementors listed as her own driving obsession and burden to be freed from), is a genuine medically verified transgender person sinful or immoral simply by being thus? If yes, on what biblical basis? If no, is a person who chooses to avail themselves of the medical technology which has a verifiable efficacy in addressing the horror of dysphoria sinning? If yes, on what biblical basis? If yes, is someone who pursues medical help for any of the myriad reasons extant in this world of woes also in sin? On what basis? How does one know which ones are permitted and which ones aren’t?
E. In light of the spectrum of plumbing and wiring varieties, and in light of the fact that each of these people has a sense of what gender they are, where does gender reside? In DNA, which can be both or almost even neither? In genitalia which can also be both or neither? In the brain and heart and soul which cannot be measured or weighed? Does the Bible say where gender resides? If in the cases of people who have a physical range and blend of both genders, or a DNA that mismatches their genitalia, we allow them to “choose their gender”, is it wrong to allow others who very strongly do not identify gender wise with their body to choose their gender as well? Why or why not, and again, from a biblical basis please support your answer. Be prepared to properly exegete the passages cited.
F. Is it a common thing, as the argument of extremes states in alarm, for people to discover in a liberty to identify gender wise as they know themselves to be, for bunches and bunches of people to just shift back and forth, hither and yon like people do in sports teams allegiances, or food preferences, or clothing fashions? Set aside the question for a moment of if this shifting back and forth would be a sin and unbiblical…I think there would be difficulty in making any case for or against strictly on the abstract question if it should or should not be…the more relevant question is this: do the majority of people in the world want to change gender (the answer is emphatically no)? If no, why not? Is it because gender identity is wired so deep that the thought of being forced into the opposite gender role is so repugnant as to be unacceptable? Is it because the majority of people in the world believe it is sinful to do so (which would assume that the majority of people in the world also read and studied the bible and held it authoritative and that the bible spoke authoritatively and clearly on the issue)? Or is it because gender is so hard-wired into our beings that they just will not do it…and thus granting freedom to identify one’s gender orientation represents not a threat to all but liberty to the ones it applies to?
G. When the bible says that God knew us in our mother’s womb, is it defining us by our physicality, or by our eternal status as a soul? In being intricately knit and wonderfully and fearfully made, what was God up to in the case of humans who suffer from innate deformities, syndromes, failures of DNA to form properly, etc. etc? And in the burgeoning number of such conditions that we have been gifted with the grace to medically address and literally fix, are we allowed to do so? If no, on what biblical basis?
H. When we read someone’s posts on the internet, someone somewhere in the world who has some life unseen and unknown, unseeable and unknowable, is there any biblical basis for us to claim knowledge of their faith and its veracity? From a biblical basis, would one who did this be exemplifying the actions of a wise person (a topic that the bible is quite vocal about), or a foolish person (also a topic heavily addressed in biblical literature)?
I. What do loving actions look like? From a biblical basis, what is loving correction? When is it appropriate, and to whom by whom? Would it be biblical for me to administer corporal discipline to a stranger’s child because my own interpretation of the bible said that the child’s actions were endangering them of going to hell if I did not “beat the foolishness from their heart?” (Yes…sigh, the Proverbs do indeed say that…see how tricky it is to take eternal words and truths which were spoken and given in specific cultural times and practices that are not eternal or true and distill them and then apply them in totally different cultural times and practices that are no more eternal or true just because they are ours and current)?
J. Is it appropriate to speak harshly, painting in broad brush to a person you have never met, do not know except by a few words online not even written to you, and then to say things that are flat out judgments that given the lack of even a scintilla of relationship are impossible to make with any integrity, and then conclude by saying that these actions are the most loving because they are “speaking the truth?”
K. Remember Constance…all I just wrote is for readers who think of themselves as professing christians who are serious about wanting to live a Christ-like life full of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (yes, I do remember that I call Holy Spirit Mama, and no, I do not receive accusation that it is sin to do so…at worst it is the action of an air headed child that causes the parent to give an eye-roll and shrug, and at best…well maybe I am right and She is quite pleased to have half of humanity step up into an equal access of the divine image and thus be that one step closer to the whole earth being filled with their glory?
Now…to all readers who do not identify as christian but still are drawn here to read, by my heart and love of people: do you act the way these people have acted…? Is this how civilized people dialogue and arrive at truth and consensus? Would you want our teachers to treat your children this way, your employers to treat you this way (well, not a good example for me…sheepish and hurting chuckle), our government officials to treat you this way?
Would you like to be in a congregation of people who wanted to pursue true religion and spiritual growth and have some person like these there to “help you” and “speak the truth in love” to you?
What does “speak the truth in love” look like?
Okay…the preface is here…go to the next post for what I experienced and why I wrote this post!
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk Humbly.
Back in late April I posted here about a book I wanted to recommend…
This book is by a woman named Stasi Eldridge and it was so challenging to me, so ministering to me, so full of life and hope. It took me 5 months to read the whole thing, as I had to stop often to digest and even more? I had to figure out how what she was writing translated to a transgender woman like me. Many things she wrote about assumed riches and legacies that are part of the given riches that accompany a biologically female body, and may of the trials and resulting insights arose from dealing with the particular conditions that being biologically female present too.
I want to say right up front how I admire Stasi’s vulnerability and humility. From years and years in leadership in various churches, and from some travelling ministry as well, I am all too familiar with the tendency of humanity to set people up on pedestals and elevate them improperly into lil demi-gods. I continually resisted that effort, using self-deprecation and humble vulnerable openness about my own failings and issues as the ways to avoid being elevated into something I am not. Stasi does this too, and does it well.
I read most of the book as “a colleague”, understanding a lot of subtext in technique and approach…but I received the book as a gigantic deposit of wealth into my bank account of womanhood…and then I got to thinking…about the other women like me, who could benefit so greatly from these kinds of ideas…which got me to thinking one step further:
What kinds of books is the church writing to christian trans-women, trans-men? Stasi’s husband writes books to men (I have read them and taught from them, btw…they are very good too). Are transgender women openly invited and welcome to christian women’s spaces and events? If not why not? Do transgender women have hearts that need touching from Jesus, from their Father, and from Mama…and sisters too…sisters who know how to do make-up, who know how to skillfully handle when men act like, well, men…would transgender women benefit from the fellowship of sisters who would receive them into corporate worship together as half of God’s Divine Image in humanity and thus help them to be more fruitful?
What about…what about…well, if you read here you know Charissa’s lil pea brain when it gets churning.
So I had the bright idea to write to Stasi, and short email telling her thanks for the book, a bit about myself, and my thoughts regarding trans-humans and the church. Oh, I was so excited! I checked in with Mama, and got a nod and a kiss on the forehead and She shooed me away on the task, and I was so bubbly and excited as I sought to locate a means to communicate with Stasi.
A pretty thorough search was fruitless in obtaining an email address to write to. Oh, I found plenty of Contact Us forms that are administered by others, but as the topic is delicate for most Christians because they assume a priori that being transgender is evidence of sexual sin somewhere, I was reluctant to use those forms. I eventually did give it a shot, but was quite general in what I wrote in the desire for discretion and giving no occasion for someone to take offense.
It is important to know that I did do this, as you will see later…a dementor “knows” that I didn’t and “knows” that I ended up writing where I did for nefarious reasons that she lists…it is illustrative of the way of functioning that I alluded to in part one, and the deleterious effect of such way of being. More on that later though.
I eventually found a blog that Stasi writes for and thought “Bingo!” I can leave a comment and then she will contact me if she is interested, or merely not post the comment if she is not. I did what Heather tells me is a great quality and a weakness: I looked for and expected the best in people, and then foolishly expected they would act or speak in similar good faith. See…that happens here at Grace Notes all the time. People get in touch, want to correspond, and so I take it off the blog with them and we do our best to connect and build relationship or discuss concepts. Right?
Obvi that is what would happen.
So…with Stasi alone in mind, not even thinking about anyone else who reads, I went ahead and wrote the message that leads the next post…and then in chronology I will copy the entire comment flow.
I will tell you why…I want to expose to a different audience the way of functioning that goes on in christendom…the insidious and hateful way that othering and policing operates and all in the name of love, or speaking the truth. It is neither loving or truth telling…and often the perspective that the dementor type comes from is not even true in the first place, except to them in that it is their truth.
I wanted you here to see for yourselves the use of ad hominem attack, straw man arguments, and about as many other formal fallicies in argument and rhetoric as their are. Sadly, the biblical truths that all souls are equal at the foot of the cross and that all biblical truth belongs to everyone and not just privileged clergy sets many people up for these errors. They do not invest the time and study into the topic, or if they do, they do so in the effort to prove an already assumed point of view, which does not make one an expert on a topic but an expert on their own view of that topic.
Generally, when resisted or disagreed with the reaction is to other the disagreeing point of view with judgment…either of heart, of motive, or or status as “in the light” or “in deception”…and that othering is not based on any biblical teaching regarding ways of discerning truth and dealing with controversies but in the person’s own emotional investment in the topic.
And lastly, I share it here because it also is exemplary of the kind of comment that comes to my blog a lot and that I simply have kept to myself as part of the price to be paid in being transgender in a cisgender world that is being dragged into a paradigm shift kicking and screaming…Some trans people have a different style: they post every hateful comment and nuke it with their own emotion and experience. I have a different sense of what is effective and what I am called to. But know that I deal with the bullying and trolling and threats mostly by just trying to be above it.
OK…read on for the comment flow…
All of this was previously written over the last couple of weeks and posted at http://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/stasi/beauty-secrets-free-be-me
It is possible to click on hyperlinks and see things about the commenters.
I ask you to look for the following:
Identify the ways that love is shown
Identify the truth that is supposedly spoken in love
Analyse the claims made
Search for the specific, authoritative biblical teachings on gender orientation, gender location in a human being, God’s involvement in an intricately and wonderfully made person who suffers in this world where evil is permitted to occur, from evil deeds to variants defined as illegal or not legitimate.
Note the verses used, what they say, and pay particular attention to ones that have whole lists which include many other things that are given a different weight and place in the sanctification process than ones related to sexuality
And also note ways that they apply to me and those like me who dealing with gender issues in ways completely apart from issues of sexuality and immorality.
Pay attention to mentions of obedience, walking in obedience, and ask from the context of the writer what exactly is it that constitutes disobedience…and then find the biblical teaching on obedience, what it is, how one is obedient, and who it is who knows when one is obedient and disobedient…and then the silly but obvious glaring question of how based on the short post I wrote anyone could know anything about my level of obedience or even if I am obedient. If I am not, what ways specifically am I not obedient? (Yes, of course it is evident that in the writer’s mind I am disobedient because I did not do exactly as she has done, and that she believes her own life and experience the template for all issues of gender orientation and sexuality in relation to being a follower of Jesus).
Find the ways that the story one commentor presents of her life apply to my own situation and thus assume authority in my life as prescriptive commands or even wise exhortations/loving reproofs.
Look for ways that the commentors seek to police me, and ways that they other me. Know that this sort of thing goes on in christendom on such a tragically frequent basis as to explain why the apostle Paul said that christians were biting and devourning one another.
Identify anything that I said that was similarly cruel, illogical or unreasonable, or lashing out…if it is there, please let me know, as I endeavored to keep my comments free of such pollution and agenda.
Find ways that I attacked and vilified “the church” (as opposed to christendom, the collective aggregate of christian culture and cultural expression in history that is often wildly divergent from the actual biblical teaching regarding the spiritual organism known as “the church”).
Identify my agenda for posting here at this place…and then identify any way there would be to accurately discern that agenda to be anything other than what I said it was…and then consider the proclamation by these dementors of what they have decided my true agenda is.
Watch for things that would be illustrative that I dwell in a victim mentality…particularly in this thread, but then, if concerned, in my entire blog here at Grace Notes.
Thanks Constance, and by the way, the things written are hurtful…hurtful words and indicate a hurtful state of being in each one. Of course I wonder if one of the commenters protests too much and is still in dysphoria hell: the statistics concerning the efficacy of reparative therapy in conjunction to transgender issues are not good.