If You Are A New Reader…

…I want to invite you to look back thru the months to dip into prior posts.  There is a plethora of plenty there!  Poetry, posts about a wide range of the issues faced in life that are poignantly illustrated by gender orientation, theological musings and spiritual experiences recounted.

You can discover who “Constance” is…and you are invited to join her if you wish.

You can definitely see growth and development in me, as I live and breathe in transition from a not-out but self-aware very dysphoric transgender woman who is perceived as a white male of power, position, and privilege to a more congruent and out transgender woman who is now regularly othered, policed, and yes occasionally even perceived as who I actually am and received in joy.

You will see the journey of nearly every transgender person who endures the loss of so many things, so many people, in the desperate quest to gain themselves.  You will witness how this quest is defined by the defenders of the paradigm as selfish and self-centered…when it is far more about finding a fort of safety from suicidal ideation and death.

But above all…hopefully…you will find a person who is making the transition that every single human being must find a way to make:  that transition from death to life…from works to grace…from self-centered ego-oriented pursuits to other-oriented sacrificial service.

And maybe, just maybe?  That life motto of mine can at the end of it all be found true:

Yielded Vessel Yielding Blessingtumblr_nlflo6rI7y1rrvadyo1_1280

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.
Much Love, 
Charissa Grace

PS:  The best way to investigate the archives of Grace Notes is to use the calendar at the bottom of the blog page…or utilize the search function in the right hand margin.

Why I’m Tired of Talking About The LGBT Community… And Why I Won’t Stop. | john pavlovitz

I want to make beautiful ripples.

via Why I’m Tired of Talking About The LGBT Community… And Why I Won’t Stop. | john pavlovitz.

Me too, John, faithful friend and brother in our Precious Lord…me too.  Constance, be sure to stop over at John’s house and read…and would you also just tell him Hi, and give him a pat on the back, a hug…and tell him this:

Charissa says hi and loves him very much.

Scars

Here on this side? See our scars.
Our wounds (both bloody and bloodless),
slashes (from sword-edge and word),
stand here stark, and they testify
in agonized aching hushed voices
of terrified troubling stories…

we hear them tell extreme tales
of widespread violence, of rape
of torture, and we the lost subjects
imprisoned in darkness and sadness
bear these wounds in our bodies, how long?
Permanent markings of violence?

These black tattoos left by oppression,
calligrified by sorrow’s stylus
that’s gripped in grief’s bony cold hand
to engrave deep its ravenous history
on our lonely hearts, carved here for…how long?
we’re identified by these curt scars.tumblr_n9ivwxEsoW1rvi7nzo1_400

Standing so quiet and still,
solitary smack dab
in the middle
of all that was, is,
and will be

the broken body of Jesus
the gushing stink of His spilled blood
but present with us now (like scars)
in the bread and the wine understood
to be broken and shed for our Good.

Jesus bore wounds of violent oppression
in His very own body forever!
Even after that morning so wrenching
that tilted this world on its axis
Heaven’s ringing eternal endorsement!

In that glorious bright resurrection
He stood there…just bearing those scars
in His hands, in His feet, in His side
and He showed them to all who would look…
He identified with us…in Scars.crown_of_love_by_phatpuppyart_studios-d8mgo73

There, on that side?  New Creation
began with Resurrected Jesus
and included those scars that He suffered
by nail and by spear and by word
and the wounds of the Glad Risen Lord,
the reminders of the crucifixion
take on new light and meaning and joy.

They shout of the Power and Glory
Of God dirty with History’s story
and triumphing now and forever
over evil and death, over sorrow
and a work of redemption that’s reigning
now begun in us, marked by our scars
here with us now in our wounded world.

So the present time is streaked with mercy
acts of justice, creation of beauty,
celebration of truth kissing grace on the lips
deeds of love and forgiveness and kindness
and such generous Grace over all!
Resurrection gives us such relevance
and a future where meaning is possible!tumblr_nahvy3d0Lf1t091kco1_1280

meaning made possible in resurrection
of a torn body still marked by the scars
like diadems, medals
adorning the Sacred Heart
Faithful forever and ever…

That’s the reality of resurrection
as displayed by the scars that He bears
as our Hope, as our Joy and our Glory
that shines in our darkest lost places
giving us reason to live.

We work and we toil, perhaps
even pour out our blood, sweat, and tears
to tend woundings of others,
and our labor is far from in vain
for Christ has gone on ahead

and He beckons with smile that is glinting
with towering majesty cloaked
in such Kindness, such glad jubilation
He scarce can contain His good will
He is on His Throne, Alive and Well.tumblr_nlqo0aoI0k1thfeewo1_1280

12 Transgender Christians Share Their Journey… | Believe Out Loud

12 Transgender Christians Share Their Journey… | Believe Out Loud.

I think I will go ahead and press this.  Constance, I haven’t read these links yet…but Ima take that small risk and put them up here for your perusal.

Let me know how it goes?

Charissa

Why “What Would Jesus Do?” Isn’t Exactly the Right Question

To put it another way, I don’t think we’re called to imitate Jesus, but I do think we’re called to follow Jesus. There’s a subtle difference. Following Jesus implies an ongoing relationship, not merely imitating a really good guy who lived and died 2,000 years ago. Following Jesus implies that we might end up somewhere new doing things that are new—things that aren’t reflected in scripture because we inhabit a very different world than Jesus did. Even if we believe that Jesus was fully God, that doesn’t mean that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection tell us all there is to know about God. God is still working, God exists beyond the limits of history (even Jesus’s history as a man), and God promises to do a new thing within us.

Following Jesus implies forward movement, striving for a destination, which we might call “the kingdom,” as Jesus did. And as you know if you’ve ever taken a leisurely Sunday road trip or cross-country adventure or European rail journey, there is far more than one way to travel to get to the same destination.

via Why “What Would Jesus Do?” Isn’t Exactly the Right Question.

An Unfolding Revelation

A crucial facet of biblical revelation is its complexity and nuance AND its unfolding nature.  As human beings differentiated from their culture around them, influenced by the salt of the Word of God over centuries, changes occurred.

Christians have historically walked in fear and sought to make God in their own image.  Human beings in general do not like change, and want a static and unchanging picture.

But God is infinite, and so much greater than our momentary glimpses…the faith journey involves trusting Them as They unfold the next glimpse…and to center in on those things that endure and abide and never change, among which are faith, hope, and love.

The graphic below illustrates how this has taken place, on just one topic:  marriage.  If you try to make each one of those biblical references theologically binding, you end up in prison…sadly, that prison of theology most christians lock themselves into and call a palace.

I assure you that other graphics that would look similar could be fashioned and would have the same message:  God is greater than the revelation of God, and God can be trusted to bring us to that place that shows faith, hope, and love along with the character traits of this God who Sacrificed all for us…this God in whom Justice and Mercy kiss.

In Hope of Dust and Ashes

We start this life filled with bright expectation,
each sunrise morn of discovery and eventide of hope,
our lifetime passes and time flows like tides constant in waves
that wash in over us, the same and ceaseless and yet we,
in ever-new anticipation of a new day different, something
yet to be discovered in the next bright shell-pink dawn,
we lift our hearts up cheery with bright song.tumblr_nkijfepxvE1s6fchho1_1280But there are ashes from the desperate fires
that we assemble in the long sloe nights
so cold upon those yawning yearning shores,
when stars hide behind black clouds of unknowing
and oceans hide in mists of dank despair,
and we are forced to burn all our Hosannas,
those palms fronds of our hopes so optimistic
waved innocent and arrogant and prideful
because we hadn’t seen the moon’s dark side.tumblr_njh7l88RC31tsumipo1_500We built frail fires from those brittle branches
and clutched at weak warmth, bathed in dim wan light
and marked ourselves with those imposéd ashes
and mourned those days we sang truimphantly
unknowing of the coming loss of all our innocence
in suffering and sorrowing and death and…

Ashes…ashes…
we all fall down…

and we are mindful
of our common crown,
our destiny of dust
wreathed round our foreheads,
that destiny of dust around our hearts,
that destiny of dust
from which we came
and thus departed,
that destiny of dust
and our return…to

dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
dust returned…tumblr_mvt5wq6eGf1suq7neo1_500And it is only at this place, in ashes
after our hopes and dreams have burned to ash
and we have lost our hope and optimism
that we can finally see that stoney path
and squinting, see the bloody foot-print outlines
left by the One who goes before our hearts,
the One who walks the Via Dolorosa
the One who, living, there lays down His Life,
the One who shows the way of self-denial
the way of sacrifice, relinquishment
entirely unnatural, the opposite
of every longing of our liquid hearts
that want to feast upon self-preservation
and turn from bitter cups of self-denial…tumblr_ne0li72EJb1qgk7mfo1_1280And we must choose the place that we will walk:
the ceaseless shores of our naked ambition
and never finding ending place or home?
Or…walk the path of ashes with this Shepherd
and lose our lives completely to His care
and thus spring from the ashes like a phoenix
leaps from the golden flames to live anew!

Ashes are the opposite of owning
the mirror image of self-preservation,
the sign-post of the way of life He offers,
the insignia of the lifestyle that He models,
the mark He makes forever on His own
writ large in His own blood mixed with the ashes
of hopes consumed and dreams become dry dust!
This is the downward journey to the highest place victorious,
the deeps of Sabbath Rest and Victory Won.tumblr_njn61sFcPS1tsumipo1_500Regardless of the gods you say you follow,
we all share in a common destiny:
“From dust you’ve come, to dust you shall return”.
Like Him, we too shall die, Life’s pressing question
thus becomes, how shall we live?  How shall our lives
this day respond to death’s reality,
and answer to Life’s strident invitation
to leave all of our privilege and status,
and turn from lives marked for success and promise,
and turn from some potential undefined,
and turn from false things that we think are true,
and let go of wealth and power and consumption,
and deny that false god of accomplishment
and dare to love our enemies with candor
and dare embrace the heady risk of peace
without one stray thought of self-preservation,
and take courage to live for the sake of others
and for the sake of Him who shows this way,
the way thru death, the way of blood and ashes,
will we walk in valiant hope in dust and ashes?

We can sing our songs
of life in dust and ashes
and thus return to God
our dust redeemed.tumblr_mujjr2KMSj1sohz2fo1_500

 

How to Respect a Transgender Person: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

How to Respect a Transgender Person: 9 Steps (with Pictures).

Good Morning Constance!  🙂  I hope all is well in your life today.  If you are facing obstacles, may our wonderful God provide you with the Grace needed to transform obstacle into opportunity, resulting in the joy of having overcome.

I am linking to this article today, because I think there are many people who read here who are allies, but still learning how to demonstrate that alliance in fruitful and effective ways.  It is simple and direct without being buffoonish and reductionist.

Please take these things seriously…they matter to us.  I will never forget how small I felt when I was told by someone who claimed to love me that they refused to compromise their faith and they were compelled by their conviction towards God to tell everyone they interacted with about me and that they considered me disobedient to God and in sin and deception because I had decided to transition.

To this day, I can feel that sharp sting, followed by that numbing zing like powerless electricity thru my bones…not good for anything but hurting…

I think the thing that really strikes me is how many things are done in God’s Name that are really a mere reflection of an individual’s own attempts to prove to themselves or to others that they are really and truly a Christian.  In my case, it was as if this person was worried that someone would think ill of them if they did not make sure and let everyone know first of all that I was transitioning and second of all that they “knew” that I was “sinning”, but most importantly that they themself had sought to warn me and were thus the heroic rescuer who had valiantly attempted to save me…and their efforts were “unsuccessful” but only because of my deceived, rebellious and unsubmitted state.

That interaction left its marks.  It showed me, sadly, that love is too often only word deep, and is forced into the template of self and put under the pressure of self-serving agendas, and what is extruded from that certainly is not love.  And it is interesting that I have not heard from that person since…I think primarily because they were “shaking the dust off of their shoes” after warning me of what was going to happen to me:  I was going to be outed at their own discretion, and then each person that I was outed to was going to be fed a version of me that came from another person…not from me.

But God is faithful…God is good.  They have added people into my lives of such amazing quality and genuine heart!  I have acquaintances now who I see a lot, present in my life and feeding in encouragement, truth, goodness, and love.

So it is not really so much about me, whatever “ruination” is come my way reputation-wise…but rather, it is about the words said about someone to someone else and then repeated again and repeated again take on a “telephone game” quality.  Eventually they will come to someone who has gender issues themself or knows someone who does…and the full implication will communicate to them that they are not okay and loved, valued in and of themselves for who they are…and bam.

Another Leelah Alcorn.
Another statistic.
Another life tragically lost…

…and in the name of “love”.

So:  head on over, read…get educated…and resolve in your heart that God is God and you are not, and that loving someone with kindness in word and deed is never going to sully Them or yourself.  This would be the “walk humbly part.”

Do justice.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly.

Charissa

7 Reasons the Church Should Be Afraid NOT to Affirm LGBTQ

7 Reasons the Church Should Be Afraid NOT to Affirm LGBTQ.

Okay, so this post is startling in its implications.  The author relates a Q she was asked by a friend, who was fearful for her.  Her friend asked the author “What if you’re wrong affirming LGTBQ people as loved of God and worthy of being received as part of Christ’s Body”…

She turns that Q on its head in her post, and asks “What if you are wrong in fearing and rejecting LGTBQ human beings?”  And then she goes on to list 7 potential consequences of that wrongness.

Her plea?  Just love.  Since you really aren’t the Holy Spirit, you are off the hook in correcting anyone and you are free to just love and trust that God is big enough to get the message across.

I mean…hey, They got it across to you, didn’t They?  If They are powerful enough to get it across to you, well then They can get it across to anyone!  Right?

Right!

Loving LGBT People Well, 12 Suggestions for Traditional Churches | A Queer Calling

Loving LGBT People Well, 12 Suggestions for Traditional Churches | A Queer Calling.

Good Morning Constance!  🙂  Once again I want to thank you for being here, on Charissa’s Grace Notes with me, and journeying in your own ways from works and death to Grace and Life…your presence here, your comments, your shared humanity brings me hope and adds ammunition for those lonely times in the night when all are sleeping, all is still, and I watch…awake on the walls.   ❤ Thank you ❤

So the link above is from an interesting blog that is worth perusing.  It lists several suggestions for Christian people to love and serve in ways consistent with the gospel, and likely far more congruent with the heart of Jesus Himself, the Great Friend of Sinners.

We have all heard the old saw “love the sinner and hate the sin”…heck, prolly a whole lot of people who read here have even said that.  I have before…much to my great regret…I have indeed.  When I did, I didn’t really realize what that said and implied about the person I was speaking to…and even worse what it said and implied about my own heart and self evaluation.

Alas…what I and others were usually saying is we think the loving thing to do is make sure the person knows they are a sinner.  And quite simply, this is just not the way that Jesus did things…oh wait!  There were times that He outright called people out on their sins!  I forgot about those!

Yeah…it was to the Pharisees!  Ya know those folks of that day who were the ones who loved to point out how everyone else was a sinner!  He ripped them a new one over and over and over again because who they were in their own eyes was more important than who their neighbor is in God’s eyes…and that is fatal.

Of course I am not advocating “loving sin” by opposing the use of that phrase!  Don’t be ridiculous!  What I am saying is you ought to major in people, and minor in sin management.  After all, your skills at sin management must suck, or Jesus would not have felt the need to descend from His state in Heaven, take on human flesh, and then suffer and die for you (ya know, a sinner).  Right?  If you were capable of managing sin, well then He would have just encouraged and taught you until you got it right!

Jesus never said “love the sinner but hate the sin”, and no one believes that meant that Jesus was compromising, prevaricating, or condoning anything evil.  No…Jesus understands one crucial thing:

Saying Yes to Love is far more effective and powerful than saying No to sin.

The true YES renders the no moot.

And that brings me to why I link to this article, because if we are going to discard futile harmful platitudes, then how to we pick up effective and edifying alternatives?

They list a dozen, and they are “process oriented” and not items that you can check off on your daily righteousness list.

They demand that you see the people in your life as your moral equals.
They demand that you give the people in your life the same standing as worthy of God’s love as you have.
They demand that you understand that your perspective is extremely limited and insufficient by definition, as you are a very finite, very imperfect, and very limited being.

As you go, take with you my lil motto that I have pulled from Micah 6.  It is a superb guide for keeping it simple and loving.  And it has an order of listing for a reason.

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.
Love, Charissa

tumblr_ngs5owtcyu1s2z59jo1_1280

A Meeting, A Foreshadowing, A Banquet of Friends

Dear Constance…

Jane and I had the absolute wonderful honor to get together with John and Jennifer Pavlovitz and some people they knew via their blog and Facebook.  They were out here from the East Coast for the Gay Christian Network Conference.  John had posted on Facebook that they were holding an informal 2 hour meeting in Portland, and as we are only an hour or so away, we just knew we had to go.

The event was set up by a lovely woman named Diane, and we met Bridgit, Jessica, Terri, Steve, Gordon, and Ken.  We had never met any of these people before, and yet somehow we all felt as if we knew each other for years.

It was a foreshadowing of eternity.

It might also be a foreshadowing of another sort, a blogger convocation that I have my lil pea brain churning away over, but that is months if not years away yet.

I cannot tell you how edifying it was to us.  We are in a season where people are falling out of our lives faster than the speed of terminal velocity…being transgender is worse than being a leper, I guess.  Constance, not to worry…it isn’t contagious…though the hatred that swirls around it sure seems to be.  In its own way, the season of abandonment is a good one, because I have always had this deep question that has haunted me:  am I loved because of what I do, the gifts I have and the things I contribute?  Or am I loved just because I am me and I am alive, regardless of what I do or say or write or think?

I know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people who are friends now, few as they may be, are here because they really love us, and not just what we do.

Well, the other part about this meeting that was amazing is that it foreshadows the time coming, when Mama begins to add people back into our lives, and I know She will because They are good.  And these people will be people who see us.

Last night was such a time…we saw…and we were seen…and love waxed thick and comfortingly delicious!  Words fail me, because it wasn’t some grandiose profound thing!  It was just a bunch of ordinary dorky human beings who love an extraordinary and Lovely God, and in that meeting with us all and Them, we were beautified and overshadowed with grace, glory and gladness.

I wrote a poem for my new friend Terri…you can see it a couple of posts back right here.  All the imagery and conversation has direct integration into the evening together.

Constance, do yourself a huge favor and head over to John’s blog and prowl around.  He is all heart with a mind awake and a ready laugh so freely infusing the tears of the world.

I guess the best thing I could say about him is that he is safe and I trust him.

To John, Jennifer, Diane, Terri, Ken, Gordon, Steve, Jessica, and Bridgit:  if you find your way here, Hiiiiiii!  BIIIIGGG  Charissa smiles and huggz!!  I love you all and we just met!  If I see you before, it won’t be soon enough, and if I don’t see you again here in this vale, well then I will see you on That Glad and Glorious Day Eternal Bright and Fair!

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Charissa

PS:  we ate at a place called Killer Burger.  Jane and I split a hamburger with peanut butter, bacon, pickles!  YUMMMMMM

wpid-wp-1421006052826.jpeg

Mama Comments on Charissa’s Comments on Leelah

Dear Constance…

Nights are not good.

Almost every night of my life since I was around 4 I wake up in the night, and I am petrified.  Skert stiff, and I mean that literally.  I don’t know why.  And inner voices that say horrible things that crush…flat, inflectionless, as if I am so worthless that those voices will not even waste their powers on one as meritless as I.  No need to tell you what they say.tumblr_ng9ytraHch1rznwtzo1_500

In 1966 I was exposed to a horror movie that really hooked into my dysphoria and an extremely traumatic event that had taken place a few months earlier, and since then, I have bad dreams, too.tumblr_lyzkcoRLuB1qc0cxpo1_500

That’s a lot of years.
That’s a lot of fears.
That’s a lot of tears.

As I grew, I discovered that talking with God helped…some.  And after I had grown some more, I learned to recognize Their voice back to me…each one distinct and each one full of Love.

Well, if you have been reading here lately you know that I have been in a rough patch.  A bit challenging in fact.  And those voices?  The ones that say crushing and horrible things?  They have utilized the raw materials in my life of trial, betrayal, abandonment, loss, and sorrow, and added that weight and depth and breadth to their curses…and I could not escape their toxin.  I had to just listen…and endure.tumblr_lzo2uhPk6v1r1kan8o1_1280

Until last night…after waking, freezing, cramping, clenching, crying…and ripping apart again…

I heard my Mama’s voice quiet and sure, certain underneath the Mordor doom-drums and orc snarls…and we talked.  A long time.

At the end, She exhorted me to write some of what She told me…here on Grace Notes…as a faith step and an exercise…an attempt to call myself into fullness and being, because I have languished for so many years encased in roles, expectations and binary bondages.  I have even torn myself in two in my desperate attempt to perform and thus be worthy of love and acceptance…and so all those voices whispering all those years are like a gravitational pull to be overcome.tumblr_nhh7fcE3RD1twprg3o1_400

So here is a bit of what Mama told me…translated from spirit/soul/heart talk to written words:

I am Charissa Grace, and I am not the person everyone thought me to be (including myself).  tumblr_nhf6qrQfda1rpe84qo1_1280

I am made sensitive and tender…so I feel the pains and sorrows and hurts and worries of everything and everyone around me…in the same way that a tuning fork hit with vibrations will itself vibrate in frequency, or a crystal goblet will sound when it is circled with a finger.

It is not a function of something wrong in me when I feel all of that…it is a function of how my Mama created me, and so I am to stop calling myself names and blaming myself for things that are not my fault…they are simply the things that I feel because of how I am made by Her.

I am made to drink cups and drain dregs…many of them bitter and some sweet.

I am made to transform things…to catalyze their becoming into who and what they are destined to be, but I myself am not made a part of that…rather I remain apart…alone, and in my Mama’s Hands.mamas hands

I am precious to Her, and She watches over me in such Joyous Jealousy, having purposed to allow me to experience pain in order for Her good riches to be birthed into this world.

I am Mama’s womb of Life…having no womb of my own and born so barren and lonely.  She intentionally formed me intricate, delicate and robust, so easily woken but desperately determined to hang on…hang on…hang on.

I am Her Instrument and She delights in my unique and utterly singular voice, and so She tunes me…constantly…to be sure I am in tune to Her song, Her heart…She tightens me, She loosens me.tumblr_nh5lyiVPc31qgk7mfo1_500

Above all…I am not evil.  I am not “wrong” or “null” or “nothing” or a “monster” or a “freak”.  What I endure is a function of Her goodness and intention and not a function of my flawed-ness and failures, and there are many of those by the way…flaws and failures.  But to Her they are akin to the chiseled away wood or stone…they are like the clay She pushes away as She makes me into Her Own.tumblr_mg1b54JLRN1qbwkv3o1_500

I am the daughter of Holy Spirit, Great Lady Grace…my Big Mama…and I am good.  She has said it and my Precious Merciful Jesus has made it true in His own Love dripped completely over me and washing totally thru me cleansing me and making me Their Righteousness.

I will live, and still pine and long…grieve and mourn…but I will also see the Dawn morning by morning and I will keen under Her loving caresses to my hair and cheeks as She wipes away travail and gives…

…gives me Beauty for ashes…and the Oil of Joy for mourning…and She clothes me in Songs of Praise glorious and radiant and She disappears the spirits of heaviness…as She plants me in Her Own Orchards of Righteousness and calls me Her Very Own…and I will indeed day by day glorify Her Name and call Her good and only good as She brings me to the Father of Lights from Whom every good and perfect gift comes.day_50_by_secrets_of_the_pen-d4qb4z8

I am a prophetic declaration to a world that is spiritually cross-borned, just as I am physically thus.  Yes, each and everyone of us is “transgender”…walking around with this knowing inside us that we were not destined for death and dissolution and destruction, knowing that we are victims of time, knowing that who we are in our hearts is somehow choked down and held down and thrown down by something that ought not be…

…and so as I live and love, as I trust and talk, as I weep and write, I am becoming a living word of love to whoever will listen, and let their own hearts awaken the dawn.Image 001

These things I say in faith…believe me, they are not said in boast, or even really anything that I think about myself.  But I do know that I have heard from my Mama…and these sorts of things, the things I have written here?  They aren’t even remotely like anything the voices have ever cursed at me, and like nothing I tell myself…wait, correction:  told myself…so I know that they must be Her.

Mama said She was so thrilled when I picked out the name double-grace…She promises She will make good on it.

I am Charissa Grace, and I am in my Mama’s Hands.  May my song ever be sweet and my tune ever triumphal, even in tears.tumblr_mv2tt5HQEw1rybem6o1_400

 

True Beauty

Constance, I know one of my biggest struggles in life is feeling like I should not be.  Just…not be.  And this has a whole list of corollaries that flow down from it, and one of the most serious is that I think I am tremendously ugly.  Physically, I was told that I looked okay for a biological male, sometimes even being told I was good looking.  But I never ever thought so…because that is not how I look to myself inside of me.

Inside of me?  I am small, light boned, neat and petite.  Not on the outside.

And now…as I transition, my looks are changing, getting better…but there is something else happening.  There is something inside me that comes out when I am most completely unaware of myself and when it does it feels wonderful.  And I am told that it is radiant and beautiful.

I still struggle with being.  A lot.  Especially during times of isolation and abandonment, because my quick relentless mind immediately fills that absence of people with reasons…”they are not here because you are ****, or ****”…fill in the blank, yeah?  Stupid, or ugly, or unlovely, or a pain in the ass, or a bother…it doesn’t really matter because they are all accusations and they are toxic as arsenic.

This morning I saw this quote, written in French, and it expresses a thought that represents hope to me.  If true beauty comes from within, and is based on a beautiful soul, then I have a shot at beauty, yes?  Because Mama and Jesus and Father are the Architects of my soul and it is the desire of my heart to look like Them.

Now to learn to live in the long absences as one full who deserves to be…instead of as a homeless person who is a blight.

“Chacune de nous a besoin de se faire dire qu’elle est formidable ! La beauté d’une femme n’est pas dans ses vêtements, ni le joli minois qu’elle affiche ou la façon dont elle se coiffe. La beauté d’une femme doit être vue dans ses yeux parce qu’ils sont les portes de son coeur, là où l’amour réside. La beauté d’une femme n’est pas dans un grain de beauté bien placé sur le haut d’une lèvre. La vraie beauté d’une femme est réfléchie par son âme. L’amour qu’elle donne, la passion qu’elle démontre, les années qui passent l’embellissent.”tumblr_n00r52eSqi1r7fsa9o1_500

“What Do I Have To Do To Get You Into A Relationship With Jesus?” (Selling Christ In The Evangelical Megachurch) | john pavlovitz

Constance, the whole thing…here is an excerpt…and this is why I delineate between the building where American religious christians go for meetings, and the living organism.  They both have the name “church”, but only one is a church.  The other is sticks and stones, in divers ways.

Before the Church was ever an institution, before it was a massive entertainment compound, before it was a weekend mountaintop destination, it was a community; one whose lifeblood was true relationships. The idea in those early days, was to live together, to bear one another’s burdens, and to work out together, how the words and ministry of Jesus translated into the lives of those who sought to follow after him.

They came together daily to share stories, to break bread, and to encourage one another. “Church” was the bi-product of Christians living together and knowing each other.

via “What Do I Have To Do To Get You Into A Relationship With Jesus?” (Selling Christ In The Evangelical Megachurch) | john pavlovitz.

Myths About Transition Regrets | Brynn Tannehill

Myths About Transition Regrets | Brynn Tannehill.

Constance, I have pressed several articles by Brynn…here is another scintillating one, very informative and helpful in educating those who wish to learn.

As to those who don’t wish to learn, don’t waste your breath there, that is what I am learning!tumblr_nfyhwvKKif1sym2bco1_1280

The main reason that I am pressing this:  it gives me opportunity to talk about regret.

Regrets…oh how they haunt me.tumblr_mumeduCow21qiz3j8o1_500

I regret that some how some way I am distanced from the ones I love most (except for my baby and Them, thank GOD!).
I regret that I have a different understanding and experience of what love and relationship is than they do.
I regret that I then blame myself for this.

I regret that I no longer have any idea what it means to be a friend…the things that I think it means are so vastly different than the things that other people think it means…at least, in the language of deeds…

I regret that there are people who have turned on a dime and cut me out of their lives because they found out I am transgender…and even more who have simply faded away, carrying on as if I have died.

I regret that my pace and that of the rest of the world are so out of sync, so different.  In some ways I wander lands so free and boundless that they seem to never come to an end…and in other ways I am so chained and static and marooned behind prison walls that bar me from my true north place.

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I regret that I feel like anathema to some, and a trophy to others…these two groups are mirror images of each other…neither of them likes me, knows me, but each of them loves to have my pelt mounted to their heart’s wall.

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I regret that I am not a better person.

But transition?  Come out?  Be honest with myself and the world?

Well, I will never ever regret that, and only wish I had found my moment sooner.

God knows the timing of that moment, and just as when the Child came to us “when the moment was perfect”, so too did my moment come.

Listen to me Constance:  if you know someone who is transgender, and they have chosen transition, you can either be a cause of gratefulness, or a cause of sorrow…but your reaction and choices either way will not make them “un-transgender”.  So wouldn’t you rather have it on your eternal resume that you brought joy and gladness, kindness and comfort to the lowly and hurting

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…than have it written of you “this person kicked them when they were down, and helped them to kill themself”?

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This Advent…be a bearer of tidings…

…comfort and joy, Constance.
Comfort and Joy.

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The Hologram of Thankfulness: my Thanksgiving list

I am thankful for Mama…Lady Grace…The Great Holy Spirit and creator of the Universe.  Her comfort, Her protection and Her Wisdom have altered me, transformed me forever.

I am thankful for Jesus…my older Brother and Great High Priest…the very First God in Human Flesh and the maker of the way for me to also be “God in the flesh”, in that His life has lifted me in the power of His Love…He has chosen to take up residence in me by the Spirit of Christ, and oh the indescribable wonder of this.

I am thankful for Father…tender and tall and the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift.  All I will say about Him is this:  if you want to know what He is like, get to know Jesus, cus they are just alike…

Try this out:  Consider…what if the Bible is a “self-correcting” book?  Or what if there is a motive in the unfolding revelation, from the beginning of the book commenting on humanity at a certain point of progress, a certain revelation of truth and understanding of the essential core of love and spirituality?  A species, benighted and backwards, suspicious and superstitious?  What if communication was forced to take place in degrees, in baby steps, modulating in a direction, always the same one to the same place, the same Person, until finally, when the time was right, the Face of God was manifest in a manger…from a cross pronouncing forgiveness, and then at the core of all things making intercession ever for us, saving us, preparing us, and then ushering us into Eternity?

Now for other humans (Jesus being the First One I mentioned):

I am thankful for all the really quality people I have met who read here and also who I read.  You are all so ordinary!  And that is the most extraordinary thing of all.  Such ordinary people, bearing burdens, swimming in triumphs, surfing trials, and daily just plodding along waiting for the next amazing sunset miracle and sunrise promise after the dark night has passed.  To all of you…I am truly grateful.  You inspire me, with your style, your perspective…but most of all with your love…it staggers me, the love that Kat has for Kris, that Lori has for CJ, that Hunter’s mom has for him, that John has for his flock, that Karen has for becoming and overcoming, that lil mama has for life and living (big blanket there cus big heart and big power)…these are the ones coming to mind now, but not the only ones…emblematic of the larger whole, you each and every one have become a star in the night of my life and I lay out on Mama’s grassy hillside and stare at you all there…shining in my night.

I am thankful for my children, and on that I will say no more…words fail to express who they have been to me, who they are to me and who I hope they will be to “you”.

I am thankful for my bff, and she knows the depth of this.  Heart…how?  Why?  Such joy, such challenge and wonder, such passion and purpose and intention…and such silly poofery and laughing.  Have you ever reflected on how much we laugh?  Someday those coffees and cocoas and shopping, and reading novels out loud chapter by chapter and sitting in some sunlight nook in the mountains or by the sea, you rattling away on your keyboard and I the same as our heart unfolds into words and the words spool out on the page and we dream that pages would become people as they read and take in our words…I love you very much.  May Mama grant you fullness…in spirit, heart, and…there.

<Many other things and people insert here>

Last, because most:  I am thankful for God’s Gracious Glance…God’s Gracious Gift…my baby.  My heart of hearts, my very blood coursing thru all my hopes and all my fears and all my tears and traumas…you have held me in the night as I lay in towering agonizing fear, you have wrapped around me and held on as death assaulted me and sought to devour me…you have laffed with me…and do you know how much WE laff?  Me and ddh laugh like loons but you and me laff like all ducks in all times and all places flying north and south and landing and taking off and scolding and clucking for always now and forever…in shimmery feathers and pure brown and violent green.  We laff.

Darling, I cannot ever find the right words and I cannot ever stop myself trying, throwing myself heedless on your cliffs beautiful and daunting, your beaches gentle and inviting…I am compelled and drawn and desire you in your all YOU-ness, and so I will the tide run at you to you thru you always.

I am so thankful for you that my tears now run onto my lappie…I love you.

Constance…today…even if it is just one small thing.  Find that nugget, and be thankful at least for that, okay?

Thankfulness is like a hologram:  one small piece contains the entire picture.

Today, thankfulness can be summed up in this:
Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Much love, and deep grateful thankfulness,
Charissa

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The Practice of Grace

The Practice of Grace.

Constance…I am in tears right now (I know, I know, I can hear you sigh and hear your eyes roll and say “What’s new, Charissa!!”  giggle…always in tears)…

but it is true, I am.  Because this devotion by Margaret Manning is about grace.  And as you know, I picked that for my real name.  Charissa…grace.  Grace…grace.

Grace for me has always been about the power to do what God requires.  It is the power given freely to us, and it is given to us regardless of what we “deserve”.  And this power has two vital expressions:  the power to overcome the challenges we face in our lives, and the power to be forgiven for the ways we fall short morally and spiritually, for the times we hide and cower in fear instead of walking with our heads high and our eyes clear, for the times we are petty and cruel, or mean and insensitive, or dull and totally unaware of our blundering tromping of toes and hurting of hearts…

Grace.  A golden coin with a Heads and a Tails, spent as needed, and replaced as soon as it is spent.

Wanna hear something amazing about Grace?  A writer long ago was inspired by Mama to tell us this:  everywhere sin is and triumphs, Grace is as well, and is there in quantities and amounts that increase in availability exponentially relative to the presence of sin in those moments and places!  If there are 10 “sin units”, then there are 10 x 10 Grace units!  If there are a hundred sin, there is a hundred times hundred grace…and so on!  The more sin there is, the more grace there is too…but not just coin by coin, but gold mine of grace for farthing of sin and diamond mine of grace for shilling of sin!!!

It’s just like light:  the greater the darkness, the more power even one tiny light has!

But Margaret brought out something that was soo salient to me right now, right here…in the midst of extreme anxiety and distress and inner turmoil that really pushes hard against me to give up and leave forever…she spoke of Grace as a way of life!  OH!  How my spirit BURNS with those words!!!!

Grace…as a way of life.  The way of Grace.

And that is why I am crying.  In the midst of all the absolute falling apart of everything (except for me and my darling, ddh, and a few friends who know who they are cus I told them), I found myself looking at the betrayal, the accusation, the defamation, abandonment, judgement and malicious savage written and verbal attacks…looking at all that I “once had” disappear and in its place piles of pain and heaps of hatred…I had fixed my eyes on that.

But Constance…am I not gifted with opportunity most miraculous and glorious?  Seriously:  for one who has prayed for decades to be a person of grace and mercy, how can this come to pass without opportunity?  And thus the onslaught…yes?

Grace as a way of life…the way of Grace.  Because of her article, my eyes are lifted up again and onto the source of Grace, the one who’s Name is Grace.

Here is the takeaway for me, to whet your appetite:

If the grace-full life of Christ is the intended goal for those who claim to follow him, each day presents the opportunity to practice—to grow in the very grace Christ embodies. Instead of fear, there is empathy and hope. Instead of pride, there is humility and hospitality. Instead of bitterness and resentment, there is forgiveness and laying down one’s life. There is always a choice. And thankfully, there is always one who extends flawlessly the very grace we need ourselves.

I am in the oven.
Baking in the heat.
But I am also becoming a loaf of the bread of Grace.
May Grace ever abound in me and thru me and add to the superabounding of grace wherever wrong is present.

Charissa Grace

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Too Many Gods: Jill Carattini does it again

Constance, you all know I am a bit partial to the devotional writings of Jill Carattini.  She is bright, thoughtful, technically very good, and she has a heart that is living and courageous.  She inspires me, because she is not afraid to let questions about God be unanswerable…and she also approaches a side of God that I am familiar with, the side of drawing near cus God is love…first, last, and always, and that all things here in this earth have a different meaning and application which we will one day be let into from That perspective…

…and we shall Laugh on That Day.

So this morning, Jill confronts the multiplicity of gods, of questions, of troubling insanities and absurdities abounding…and rather than seeking to tie them up neatly into a lil box with a cute bow, she just lets them hang there.

If you can…read thru her post, and let it soak your heart.  Really try not to let your knee get hit by any hammers and kick out with its own mind before you even realize it has…really try to just be still and surrounded by clouds…

…because sometimes we can only get our bearings when we get still when everything else is moving.

In Much Love, and thankfulness for Jill Carattini,
Charissa Grace

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Too Many Gods

“I am a former Christian minister who is now an agnostic—not an atheist, not a theist, not a sceptic, and certainly not indifferent.(1) So begins the story of Charles Templeton, one time rousing evangelist, friend and counterpart of Billy Graham, turned renounced believer, professed agnostic. He is quick to clarify the meaning of such a title. “The agnostic does not say, as is commonly believed, ‘I do not know whether or not there is a God.’ He says, ‘I cannot know… He asserts that a combination of historic circumstances has made Christianity the dominant religion of the Western world but that it is not unique, there being a host of other religions and a variety of other deities worshipped or revered by millions of men and women in various parts of the world.”(2)

In his final book, Farewell to God, Templeton describes the unraveling of more than twenty years of ministry and a faith that was steadily besieged by doubt. His objections range from scathing frustrations with biblical stories to pained confusions with the ways of the world and the God who supposedly cares for it. One question in particular remained with me throughout the book: “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” he asks.

The question isn’t new to me, and like Templeton, I can rattle off an explanation based on a scriptures I know by heart. But the picture that comes to life within this question is far more personal than any routine answer would satisfy. Many wrestle through this question similar to the way we had to wrestle with the presence and absence of our own parents.

Elsewhere, Templeton critiques the world and what he sees as its “abundance of gods,” though he treats each one with the curious requirement of unquestioning obedience as if it was the only god that mattered. He describes it a point of contention—even a point of absurdity—that in the vast sea of divine beings on this planet, Christianity proposes the idea that there is only one God. Across history, there are more gods than any of us can keep track of, and they seem to come with as many descriptions as the people who created them. On top of this, he argues, a great number of these gods come with qualities that leave much to be desired in the first place; they are jealous, hierarchical, vengeful, and demanding—and very much a product of our predecessors.

Many of these observations are troublingly undeniable. I was listening recently to a collection of interviews on the subject of spirituality. They asked hundreds of people the same question: simply, “Who is God?” But the answers were as diverse as the patches on a quilt, and the finished product was not at all a comforting blanket of great divinity, but little more than a mat of troubled chaos, gapping holes, and contradiction. Coming to the end of that message, I sighed deeply—how can anyone muddle through such a mess? We seem to make gods in our own images as fast as we can get them off the assembly line.

Templeton and the many who echo him are absolutely right to point out as troubling the sheer number and seeming characters of these divinities, who “hate every people but their own…[who] are jealous, vengeful…utter egotists and insist on frequent praise and flattery.”(3) In fact, the prophet Jeremiah made a similar point. He called it a “discipline of delusion” to chase after these gods and their demands, but particularly as if it were all a matter of preference and not a matter pertaining to what is real. “They are altogether stupid and foolish,” he wrote of these individuals. “In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood” (Jeremiah 10:8).

The world of gods is indeed a chaotic place. And yet, isn’t it somewhat hasty to reject every divinity in the room simply because there is more than one? In doing so, it would seem we use our own complaint against Christianity (it is arrogant to say there is only one God) as the reason to reject it (it is ridiculous that there is more than one god).

But the description of angry gods in abundance brings me back to the question raised at the beginning. “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” The reason this question demands more than a pat answer is because it deals with disappointment, neglect, silence, and heartache. The question pulls on the very shirtsleeve of a vital relationship.

Perhaps it is subtle, but the question itself seems to point to something inherently different about this God—something that sets this Father significantly apart from the sea of divine and impersonal chaos. The gods Templeton and many others describe do not at all seem like gods we would miss if they were far away. They are not the kind of gods we would be saddened by if they were silent, or dare to be angry with if they disappointed us.

Like all children with parents that we do not always understand, sometimes we ask questions that aren’t entirely fair (or even sensible). And sometimes we ask questions that give away the relational presence of the one we wrestle with under the surface.

I believe it is more than helpful to recognize the human capacity to create gods and chase after delusion. But so I think it is vital to recognize that not all gods are created equal, and there is reason to believe there might be one who isn’t created at all.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996), 18.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid., 22-23.

The Courageous Debi Jackson

Constance, I am posting here a speech given by Debi Jackson…it speaks for itself very well.  Debi is a woman who loves God, loves people, and has a transgender daughter whom she is championing in a way that I am totally certain makes Mama proud.

Please check it out and let your heart be encouraged that hate can never ever conquer.

Debi…from me my deepest thank you’s and admirations for making a way for your child.

If only…if only…

Love, Charissa

Debi Jackson PFLAG Speech

Twins

This Drifty-Floaty Timeless Moment

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Hanging here,
this moment,
this drifty-floaty
timeless moment,
timeless

like the moment just before
a leaf decides to let go
but the tree doesn’t yet know it,
so it waits, the leaf, it waits
to leave and never return.

It’s this moment, still,
between determined faith and action,
between sharp heart felt questions

(like whether God loves me or tolerates me, or cares or hears my prayers or is even near?)

and dark deep-felt screaming
despair unquestioning running
ragged and burning in flames
undulating from faith to action
shoving hard against paralysis.

This drifty floaty
timeless moment
lingers, lurches,
lunges, becomes

that drifty floaty
timeless movement
torn loose,
tossed down
spinning down
pinwheeling down

and it drops, it drifts,
it breaks and crashes, it dashes
into a thousand brilliant colors
and a million diamond drops
each and everyone shouting forever

I was!
I was, in my birth,
and I am!
I am in my courage
and I will be!
I will be

in the sea
and its salty desire, in the dirt
and its brown gritty tang,
in tree roots drawn up liquid again
from the ground to the limbs thru the leaves there to breathe

and to fly up and shine
in the glowing deep night
in the twinkle and tingling cold there to
glitter and shimmer like silver elixir
for seraphim thirsty in splendour…

slaking the thirst of angels…

stoking desire in God…

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then, now
someday, now,
hanging in this moment
midst the fragrances of hope
and stormy lightening-strike ozone
stark and fresh and scintillating
in the stillness of the moment,
of the drifty-floaty moment
before movement,

this drifty-floaty timeless moment

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Charissa and the Dementors (Part 2)

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.

Why?

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…

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Charissa and the Dementors (Part 3)

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.

Read on………

Continue reading

Why Not Mama?

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic—the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
— Charles de Lint

Constance…what a great quote.

NOW:  here is Charissa’s lil pea brain whirling round and round:  there is a sweet and awe inspiring privilege in being caught up in this mystery, awake.  And there is no loss, is there, if that is all we have…that connectedness inexplicable and synchronicitous. If there is only that, when we die we will be glad for it and made the richer as we found courage to dive in to the Mystery, the Mystic, the Hidden and the Made Known Without Words.

But my Q:  Why is there such resistance to the idea that there would be a Personal God, Infinite in power and presence and horribly wonderfully finite in its involvement with us…and that God is so personal that it chooses to manifest itself in 3 persons, so as to be available to everyone of us…and then in that availability and pursuit, in that Quest for communion with us more arduous than lovers, why cannot They be the magic, the connectedness, the whispered voice, the presence?

I have never met anyone with a problem with the God who talks to me…literally.  Either they love Her-Him-Him, or they think my God is just part of me, but a creative and wonderful and fairy-tale ought to be sort of “Charissa Imagination”.

Every person I have met who has a problem with God has been raped and abused and dehumanized by a god presented by evil people wearing masks and a name that their heart violently murders in each beat.

Constance…would you do a favor for me?  Would you read the quote, and then imagine, what if God was just like that, and would talk with you, dialogue with you, listen to you, and then connect you with magic?

What if….

….well, then you would have met my Mama…my beautiful and wonderful blessed Mama Holy Spirit.

Deepest love, and written in tender crushed pain right now but bleeding gratefulness to Mama, who loves me

Charissa

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Though none go with me, still I will follow

Dear Constance…I have a heavy heart today, and my eyes are red and throbbing from weeping.

The second wave of “loving wounds from friends” is occurring. I got a letter in the mail from a man I spoke with several weeks ago, one whom I have known for years and had thought was open and interested in my fate.

Well, the letter showed that while he thinks of himself as a friend (and make no mistake, he truly thinks he is “doing the right thing”), he does not believe that I am of my right mind and walking properly with the Lord. He makes this clear.

And I am so conflicted! Because on the one hand I know that it is not man who grants righteousness or will be able to ultimately label me, but God who has given me righteousness as a free gift and my beloved Advocate the Holy Spirit (whom I adore and love to call Mama…a poetic, intimate and informal expression of heart connection that is underlaid by foundational theological teaching and underpinnings)…and yet on the other hand to be told by someone that I have known for over 35 years, lived with for a few of those, and then worked with for our entire working career, someone who has not been intimately involved in my life for the last 25, has rarely come to the house, did not check in when Dad died, failed to notice my rampant and extreme despair, to be told that I am under a spirit of deception and not rightly choosing for life…

…well it is shattering in a lot of ways.

I am going to post the letter here with my reply…and my comments to you all here, not anywhere else  (My comments are indented and in blue).   I am deeply convicted that Mama does not want me to argue about this with people. If they are open to learning what being transgender is and is not, then I will spend whatever time it takes…but if they want to “a priori” judge me as wrong and in sin simply for choosing transition, then it is pointless to argue, for the evidences that I have biblically and scientifically and philosophically are moot to them! They have already made up their minds based on feelings, cultural traditions, and a few verses wrenched from context to bolster their weak arguments.

I think what breaks me most…shakes me most…is the awareness that this same process is going to keep happening. And it is painful.

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I could take the easy road…simply post “No Trespassing” and let them talk…but then again, how does that potentially educate? How does that maintain openness to relationship on my part? How does that lend any legitimacy to gender transition as a Christian?

I think that I am called to a higher purpose than just transition, and “fixing myself”…I think that I am called to speak for those who cannot speak, to run for those who cannot walk, and to stand for those who would shatter in the wind. So many individuals who are trans are so very broken, outcast, alienated…and I…true child of blessing and privilege even though I suffered as trans…I am relatively whole, and gifted with writing skills and speaking abilities.

No…I do think Mama has a different road for me, a road that will end up on the mountain top, but only via the lowly and lonesome valleys of the shadow of death. I hear Her singing to me “You gotta walk that lonesome valley…”

As you read below, I am going to add in comments of things I would have said, could have said but chose not to. Perhaps this intimate look into the life of a transgender Christian woman who is in the trench warfare that only Christians seem to be able to wage with such exquisitely kind cruelty will illuminate to you ways in which you may have failed to truly love your neighbor…or barring that will inspire you to simply “not go there”…to the correcting stool…at least not until you have walked side by side with someone for at least a hundred hours for every minute you plan to correct.

Interesting how Jesus spent very little time correcting anyone…oh wait! Except for the religious leaders and power mongers who corrected everyone else and were the final arbiters of who was holy and who was not!

I am still Charissa Grace. I am still seeking to do justice, and now in particular I am with all my being hungry to love mercy…but I am so sorrowful, how do I know if I am walking humbly? Well…Mama knows, She knows…so Ima stay close to Her always.

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*****Handwritten letter to me dated October 4th, 2014*****

I want to write this to you in order to respond to our conversation that we had on your front porch on Sunday afternoon three weeks ago. My thoughts have taken awhile to distill within me but I believe that they have settled into an understandable form.

My heart is heavy as I write this and just as it has been since I was made aware of your public display of being transgender on a Monday morning as I was (Charissa comments:  insert work activity here). From that shock I have been praying and have arrived at these few points that I hope you will be able to receive not as arrows of judgement or religious diatribe but as my response and call to Truth.

Interesting to see here that the very first things he communicates to me put the onus on me to “receive”…rather than the onus on him to speak edifying and encouragingly. He has done no study since we talked, asked no questions, or really even interacted with me at all.

An arrow of judgment is when we infer a heart condition based on an outward manifestation of behavior. You have judged someone when you think you know who they are based on what you have seen them do, or fail to do, with no other evidence. Jesus called it taking a speck out of someone’s eye when the speck remover’s eyes were full of logs.

A religious diatribe is when a deeply held belief is held over or against someone who is seen as violating that belief or invalidating that belief, and the said diatribe will not have any authoritative teaching accompanying it…it will simply be an emotionally laden coercion moment. Sometimes religious diatribes will be accompanied by some form of authority, but nearly every time they will be things taken out of context or twisted to serve the purpose of the one making it.

The goal of both of these forms of interaction is to control another person.

For me personally, you have crossed over a river which I will not be crossing.

This comment was confusing to me…is he telling me that he will not be transitioning beside me? Um, duh? Who would want to transition if they were fully themself? Or, is he telling me that we will no longer be friends, associates? And also, why will he not cross? Because he is happy as the gender he is? (again, duh)…or because I am in sin and he does not want to be sullied? Which is antithetical to the example that we have in Jesus by the way, who came in the flesh when we were yet dead in our sins and active enemies of God.

And now I am aware that you made that decision some time ago and I was not aware of it. And I have not ever been aware of your struggle with gender. My shock and surprise indicates a weakness of relationship and lack of transparency and openness that I assumed had existed in the past and present between us. Neither of us am I blaming for the weakness but I am sharing a feeling of loss because of the way I ended up finding out about your life change.

I simply must explain here…this man has not been a true part of my life on any consistent basis that would earn him any authority to speak like this to me. He was not there when my dad suffered…he was not there when my children went thru various trials…he was not there when I wanted to kill myself…he didn’t hear me when at work I tried to talk to him about the despair that overwhelmed me…

…and of course, he was not there when I at last admitted what I am. Because how could I dare talking to anyone about it? Seriously…look at the response he is having. Tell me how that makes him a safe place to pour out my heart and make my very core vulnerable at the most defenseless time of my life?

Weakness of relationship…lack of transparency and openness…assumed existed in the past and currently present.

Hmmm…first off, notice the assumption there, that everyone be all up in everyone else’s business. Somehow either he or I owed the other one this “transparency” simply because we had history and were both Christians. There is a devious and poison doctrine that got loose in the church in the 70s, and it assumes a heavy authoritarian leader to whom all others are “submitted to” and demands an accountability to that leader, or group of leaders. This was most clearly seen in the Shepherding Movement and in the teachings of a man named Bob Mumford among other men. As time passed, it was repudiated but managed to metastasize and mutate and the authority figure became something seemingly more benign called various things like “accountability partner” or other similar names.

While there is definite wisdom and benefit in having someone close that you trust who is there for you and who knows all about you, this practice usually devolves into various forms of bondage and control in its best forms and flat out spiritual abuse in its worst. Deep study of New Testament behavioral codes place about 99.9999% of the emphasis on removing specks from ones’ own eyes, and looking for ways to defer to others with them being more important than one’s self.

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If you had shared your struggle and the reality of what you were dealing with in your heart with me or someone, perhaps things would be different. I am hoping that I would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord.

As I made clear when we talked, during the time he knew me most, I had no conscious idea that the source of my despair was gender dysphoria…and yes, as a victim of that Christian culture during those years, I had “accountability partners” who knew that I wrestled fiercely with depression and despair, and they had affirmed the nobility of this struggle.

I also had one friend in particular that I was open about gender feelings with, though we did not know at the time what the dealio was.

He ignores the presence of my amazing spouse and her complete sharing of my horror, her encouragement…and then he says he is currently hoping he would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord…WHAAAAAaaaa???????????

Did I read that right? Let me see if I am tracking: so far I have been warned that there are arrows coming and words that may be resembling religious diatribe…I have been told that I am across a river that he will not be crossing…he has implied that I have been secretive and dissembling over the years and has flat out stated that I had not shared my struggle…

…and then turns around to say that he is currently hoping that he would have cared enough…

Here is an idea: how about caring enough now, enough to be around me and see for himself that I am still the very same person I always was but more whole and healthy? How about getting over the fear that I am perishing, and getting over himself that he is somehow the knight riding in on the charger to save the day, and simply coming along side me as a friend with no agenda but to love me?

I have a few things to ask you to consider and to see my understanding of things.

OOoohh…his understanding…okay, I thought, here is where I will see some information, indication that he studied a bit on this…alas I was sadly disappointed. His understanding is just that: what he thinks in himself, and for reasons either explained poorly, weakly, or not at all.

First I am concerned that you have made these life changing decisions without any submitted relationship and dialogue with the people in the Body of Christ closest to you and who have known you. Any one of us becomes vulnerable without being in submitted relationships that are mutually held in open and honest accountable communication. Is there anyone you trust that could say “(Charissa comments:  he used my deathname here) don’t go this way your (sic) making a mistake” and you would wait and not keep going? Left to ourselves we are alone.

Where do I start on that? See, the term “submitted relationship”…that is code, and means that anytime you want to do something you have to run it by other people, especially if it is something unusual. It is not enough to be submitted to God, and daily seeking Them, daily being in the word looking for guidance…it is not enough to be submitted to one’s spouse, and together daily seeking God in prayer together. No…there is a different dynamic, one in which someone else…a human being(s)…serves as an intermediary between you and God.

Hear me…there is nothing inherently wrong with doing just that…but neither is there anything inherently wrong in not doing that. A Christian who considers God’s word authoritative would search scripture for any broad stroke parameters that would include or preclude the considered direction, and if it was not prohibited would then pray and ask for guidance and insight regarding a looming decision. They would also consult with the people any such decision would directly affect, so as to defer to them humbly and understand the impact a chosen course may have on them. Then they would consider any science, technology, teachings etc that would further illuminate the possible outcomes of a choice…special attention would be given to any testimony of people who had experienced similar things.

Ideally, if one wanted to, they would share this with the people who are rooted and woven into their hearts and souls, just out of friendship. There is wisdom in counsel, and counsel from those who truly know you is priceless.

If the considered action was clearly prohibited by scripture, the counselours would be sure to point that out…but if it wasn’t…if it was a matter of choice…free will…then the preferred course of action might or might not be received, and it might or might not end up profitable…but it would not a priori be a matter of sin or rebellion or deception!!

It would simply be a choice, one if made foolishly would result in a bad end, but a bad end not due to inherent sinful action simply because it was different than the “submitted relationship” people want.

In my own case, by the time I actually confronted my being transgender, I had also pretty much divested myself of all controlling relationships and was seeking to draw close to God everyday. In fact, as depression tore at me, and dysphoria grew worse, there was not really anyone I trusted who would not immediately say I was under demonic attack or try to “buck me up”. It was insulting and hurtful that they would think that I had not already recited every encouraging verse in the bible…I know them all, literally…it was painful that they would think me vulnerable to demonic influence given that I was daily interacting with God and crying out desperately for help.

Besides, I do think there are quite a few theological issues involved with another modern doctrine that I find specious (the notion that a believer can be demonized after they have been united with the Spirit of God) a doctrine built on a few instances from the days of Jesus in the flesh.  New Testament teaching regarding who controls one’s body, and who lives in that body when relationship with God is sought is full and pretty directive so as to infer that wrongs and sins would be the responsibility of an individual free will choice to deviate from clearly stated scriptural exhortations which are properly understood contextually and culturally.

I was deeply saddened when I read his rhetoric, that were I to confide my journey in someone trusted their immediate response would be to warn me of error and then I would be bound to cease and desist. It revealed that he considers transition to be wrong and a mistake and sinful in and  of itself…but without any biblical edict whatsoever, no scriptural authority at all, and absolutely zero examination of the science side of things to see if my decision is sound medically and practically.

Tragically, such an attitude does indeed preclude him as a potential consultant for life matters, for in taking the next steps after examining God’s word, I discovered that there are a plethora of wise reasons to embrace transition…and in light of no forbidding authoritative bible teaching, and nothing checking me in daily prayer, and nothing checking my spouse, and the presence of positive affirmation of this course via wholeness and health and a more robust and joyful life experience, transition seems to me to very much be an answer to prayer.

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There are three things that are alarm bells to me that I have been considering since our conversation that day.

One is the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. As we talked you referenced the Holy Spirit as “She” and “Her”. And you mentioned that you were now most often talking with Her (the Holy Spirit) and not the Father or the Lord Jesus. I do not see this sexual gender in the persons of the Godhead. Feminine attributes yes but not the exclusivity of specific sexual gender. I believe even our personal dialogue with God should be in accord with God’s word about Himself in scripture.

Okay…stop right there. First off, I did make it clear to him that I use those words for the Holy Spirit as part of my own personal relationship with the Holy Spirit…but I want to make a stronger point:

There is an assumed perverting of who God is by “feminizing” the Holy Spirit! Do you see that? As if calling the Holy Spirit the feminine expression of the Godhead to us somehow dirties God, and that only masculine descriptions are legitimate descriptions of God! What if over the years we have lost touch with the overall richness of the expression of God, and that restoring feminine pronouns to talking about God is needed and in order? I won’t bore you with the specifics, but just for example, one of God’s best names in the Old Testament is “El Shaddai” which means among other things “many breasted God”.

Really?? So we are to imagine a masculine god with many breasts? Or are we directed to instead consider a nursing mother dog, who has multiple food sources for multiple puppies, and the message is that God will nurture you and care for you like a mama dog her puppies! What is so bad about God having feminine attributes? And talking to God using feminine names? Is God that small and small hearted that God would shut His ears to avoid being besmirched?

I see arguments regularly which assure us that God is beyond and/or above gender…and thus saying “She” is inappropriate…

but the fact remains that “He” is still considered “appropriate” and correct!!!  What a freaking contradiction!!  If God is “beyond gender”, then logic tells us that either ANY pronoun is inappropriate, OR that God is big enough to not be offended by ANY pronoun one uses.

Frankly, I find anyone getting offended at the use of She for God is simply manifesting the internalized misogyny bequeathed them by the evils of the patriarchal paradigm that has imprisoned us all.

Also, notice how he characterizes gender as “sexual gender”…and that is one of the huge issues is that people reflexively associate sexuality and gender.  It was telling to me that he did not have the wherewithal to simply say “gender”.

Here is the kicker: God made humans in Their Image: male and female, which means that God is possessing qualities that we see revealed in male and female humans (and countless other ones I am certain)…but we are only permitted to use the male ones to talk about or to God, or God will get offended and smite us? Or somehow if I talk with the Holy Spirit and use “Mama” and “Her” as I do, then I will be ignored and even worse turned over to evil spirits and deceived? That simply doesn’t make any sense at all, either logically or theologically…and it certainly assumes a very mean view of the Nature of God.

“God’s word about Himself in Scripture…”

I dare you to make a study of divine gender terms in the old testament…

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Secondly I cannot agree with what you are doing with the body God gave you. I know you know 1 Corinthians 6 well but it does make clear that our bodies are not our own to do with as we please. They are made for God and belong to Him. Making such severe changes as you feel compelled to do and are doing certainly muddies the waters if not plain challenging the Lordship of Christ and His ownership of you.

*Charissa face-palms here*  Constance, you can explore that chapter for your ownself. Volumes are written that explain proper exegesis of it…in a nutshell, it is addressing visiting harlots for sexual contact, and even more specifically as a carry over from the kind of religious practice of that day which involved sympathetic magic, and sex in temples with priests and priestesses as acts of worship of the gods of the various cultures who required such activity.

The apostle is teaching that you belong to a collective spiritual entity called the Body of Christ if you are a Christian, and as such you are not to unite yourself with anyone or anything that would lay claim to that allegiance.

It also easily generalizes over to sexual conduct and the use of the body…but to say that these verses prohibit anything specifically other than sexual acts deemed to be illicit and out of bounds is ludicrous!

Can you see how one could use this verse by itself as an arrow to seek to enforce control of anyone for doing or being anything? It could apply to those who seek to keep others from piercing, or getting tattoos, it could apply to those who seek to enforce eating rules, or activities deemed harmful to the body such as professional football, it could be used to prohibit someone from getting surgery on a cleft palate, or on a leaky heart valve, or the removal of cancer-ridden breasts, and it goes on and on and on…(as an aside, I do indeed view my unwanted and wrong genitalia as a sort of “cancer to my soul, to my heart”).

No, Constance…we can be guided by what is specifically addressed, whether to do or to not do…and then we are in the wonderful arena of maturing in relationship, sharpening our ears, and growing in wisdom as we walk, doing our best to be kind, listen to Mama (Holy Spirit…just listen!), and apply the wisdom we have gleaned. At the end of the day, the one and only measure of the success of that is how much our heart looks like Jesus at the end of the quest.tumblr_ncjrcmD9gI1qczwklo1_1280

The third alarm for me is your decision to change your own name. This is very troubling to me and I am feeling strongly that this will be a point of departure from which any return will be most difficult. The authority to name belongs to God and our parents not to ourselves. To rename yourself seems to me to be a very serious thing to consider doing.

*Double face palm* First of all, I do believe that I was directed by the Holy Spirit to take this step, both in the name I settled on and the process of doing it.

Having said that, I would again encourage you to read every instance of a name change, and you will see that my friend has revealed his own belief and preference, but has not given any evidence to back that up. I would give my evidence, but I am sure I would bore you more than I have already!

The last thing I have to share is one I know personally very well. It is that it is definitely possible to be displaying the “fruits of the Spirit” and yet at the same time be deceived and strongly influenced by a spirit of the enemy. This was me and my life for quite a few years.

Classic double bind here. My only defense is that the fruits of the Spirit are in my life and growingly so…and Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits…I deny that I am deceived. The fruits of deception are not there. There is no teaching that I would be distorting or seeking a way around regarding transition! This is just an agenda driven double bind, and leaves me no way to “prove” I am not deceived.

I lead (sic) worship, was kind gentle, loving, patient, and joyful in varying degrees. Yet I was being deceived and influenced by a spirit that held me addicted and subject to pornography and the selfishness of sexual sin. It was not until the day I repented and confessed with as complete a transparency as I knew that Jesus delivered me through His Spirit. That spirit left and never returned. But in retrospect, I was deceived even while displaying some good spiritual fruit.

Ok, Constance…I was privy to this time. I can tell you that there is a very different take on these events, but in the interest of confidentiality, I am remaining silent on that.

I do want to point out an obvious issue, though: Sexual sin, sexual immorality, and pornography by extension are all things that are directly addressed with biblical teaching. As such, it would not be up to any one individual to decide for themselves what was right and what was not if they wanted to remain true to the core of what being a Christian is…

This is a huge difference between what and how the bible speaks in these areas, and what and how the bible is silent in transgender areas in general and transition issues in specific.

I can also assure you, that if one is capable of reading the bible, practicing the things being practiced, and having a “clear conscience”, that this is far more a signal of a so called spirit of deception.

I tend to view it far more practically…anything we feel bad about that we keep doing will eventually de-sensitize us to its harmful impact. It is not so much a spirit, as it is a habit of our heart and thus a tremendous bondage that we soon are in thrall to.  In this case, there was never a pretense that such activity was okay or sanctioned. There was no open display of this unashamedly, such as when I dress as myself freely and without sin, but rather it was hidden behavior, with great planning and scheming and sneaking around at work to keep it hidden and thus available for indulgence.   There was no knowledge by other people who had a stake in the relational implications…

In short, there was nothing whatsoever in common with his situation and my situation.  I find no scriptural prohibition or direction, on either gender change or transition. I have been open completely with my spouse, from the first day of our marriage til now, and she has been fully in the know and walking united with me in love. We have studied out every bit of information we can find for over 18 months. I have a fabulous therapist, to pursue all avenues. I have not “consulted” people from my past…frankly what happened this time was exactly what I thought would happen if I tried to.

At every turn, doors opened…this was after we started asking for doors to either open or shut as a partial way to receive guidance…

Classic double bind again, right?  tumblr_n0uodj4yHY1sids82o1_500

Now I am praying for you.

(Now? NOW??? How does one take this?)

I would love to see you take time to get a second opinion.

What he is referring to is the counseling approach called reparative therapy. Basically this is a belief that all issues we have are due to experiential wounds we have endured. The assumption here is that I am transgender due to things that happened to me after I was born, and if I got healed of those wounds, my issues would resolve and disappear.

As a former counselour, uncertified but very active and informed and pretty good one, I can assure you that all the techniques there are to be healed of past wounds I have embraced…inner healing, deliverance, inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit to heal…what ever you have, I have tried it…and while there has been wonderful healing from wounds, and true growth and health, my dysphoria was never addressed, and since I had no idea there was such a thing as dysphoria, I was left feeling abandoned and condemned, not good enough.

The general literature regarding the reparative therapy approach is mixed at best and fruitless at worse. It has no great success rate, any more so than any therapeutic approach.

What does have a solid track record is transition. The results of transition are measurable improvements in mental health, quality of life, and general well being. If you wish, do a google search and discover on your won.

I am sure your counselor is caring and inciteful (sic) but without the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer even she is unable to bring the depth of healing that is needed. Relief possibly but probably not wholeness.

Again…notice the assumption? That healing is what is needed (does a cleft palate need “healing”, or surgery?), that I am broken and not whole, and if I was whole I would not be transgender.

I don’t accept this. I say that as I get the hormones my brain and mind need I am growing into wholeness like any other woman. Any one of you, Constance, if you began to have your body flooded with hormones that contradicted your own internal sense of gender and self, why you would find yourself dysphoric. It is that simple!

And the clear inference that I am seeking relief…oh Constance, while I am so blessedly becoming right, there is no sense of relief when people that have known me for over 35 years begin to speak this way to me. And the prospect of more looms…

Lastly, the assumption that my counselor isn’t a christian and that the Holy Spirit is not big enough to use any means and/or tool to accomplish the will of God…tumblr_nau64oDG9d1t3jjjyo1_500

Your childhood stories are hurtful and I know the wounds are real. I just can’t see the path you are choosing as leading to real true restoration for these woundings. There is a dissonance that is unavoidable and hard to make peace with in this gender switch.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to restate that “real true restoration” is good, necessary to every human being, and unless accompanied by the proper sex hormones needed for that person is powerless to address gender dysphoria.

Evidence? Buehler? Buehler? Dissonance with what? Unavoidable where?

Get this: I AM NOT MAKING A GENDER SWITCH!!!!!!!

I am embracing the miracle of modern technology that allows my body to grow into my already innate sense of who I am, what I am…Charissa, a woman, and lover of God and people.

You have in so many ways been a faithful and generous friend. There is a scripture stating “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.

I could enumerate them, the ways that I have been a faithful and generous friend…I won’t. Rather, I want to take a look at how in the midst of all the verses about friendship he chose to talk about that one which discusses wounding. I agree with the verse…the wounds of a friend are faithful…but now we must establish what a friend is, does, looks like, acts like, etc.  Sadly, it is my far more common experience to be a good friend to others than have them be a good friend to me…that is changing, thanks DDH!!!

If my writing has caused any more “wounding” please forgive me and know I am speaking from a heart that loves you and truth too much to remain silent.

You will take note of his assertion that he loves me and loves truth too much to remain silent…so let’s look at a few things there…first of all truth. What truth has he shown that he loves that I am not also loving? What truth has he laid out there as true truth that is authoritative and I am bound as a professing Christian to embrace? I contend he has not done this.

Thus, the truth he loves is his own truth. And wowsa do we all love our own truth, yes?

Next, I want to mention that he says that he cannot remain silent because of loving truth too much to do so. Quite simply this is an inversion of New Testament behavior in situations where there is no authoritative guide from scripture to give specific help…in those causes we are exhorted to put our sister, our brother and their own needs and wants over our own. Philippians 2 speaks well about this, and many other places do too…it is the habit of “Preferring others over ourselves”

Lastly, he claims he loves me too much to be silent. I am not rhetorical here. Where is the love again? Where has it been? What does it look like? Since we spoke last, where is the evidence of such deep love? And what will be the path going forward?

In faith.

Always your friend,

XXXX

Wow…just wow. So now comes my response. I kept it short and sweet. You will notice that I did not include a word of what I have written to you, as I truly think it would be fighting a tar baby. His mind is made up, and his heart is closed up…

…but I have written to you, Constance, because you just might read this, and get it in a new way, and be kind to someone and save their life…you just might be that cup of cold water to that one person who needs it or dies. And you just might find that I am speaking truth regarding the absolute certainty that God loves transgender people and is far more interested in their heart and character than They are their gender!

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Dear XXXX…

Thank you for taking the time to write your letter. I appreciated how you characterized my “public display of being transgender”…that statement is accurate in each respect: display, and being.

Please know I receive your intention and desire for my best. Your arguments are very familiar to me, things I have asked myself and worked through until I was at peace in a biblical sense. I spent sleepless nights in thought and prayer. I counted the cost of gender transition, such as I understood it to be. I am capable of engaging on these matters with eloquence in depth, detail and evidence.

However, I disagree with your conclusions, and I think the most fruitful option is to refrain from defending myself in a debate that is not likely to touch the heart. I do not think there is anything I can say that would cause you to feel better or rest easy in knowing that I am still okay with God and God okay with me.

I choose to be silent because I believe this best sets the stage for the possibility of continued whole relationship. I have found the courage and the grace to simply stand in the face of charges and accusations. Those things say more about the ones who make them than they do about me…as time passes, God will be shown true.

I know my hope lies in a life exonerated in choosing eternal transition from works to Grace and death to Life…my gender transition is very much a subset of that. I walk unashamed and covered in the precious blood of Jesus which is my birthright as God’s offspring…for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until That Day.

I want to state for the record that I am submitted to God, to Jane, and to trusted friends. To the very best of my knowledge I am not in rebellion and I utterly reject the assertion from both you and George that I am under a spirit of deception. I stand with a clean heart and conscience before God and man, and daily welcome the Holy Spirit in all of the Holy Spirit’s Divine Wisdom, counsel, conviction, and comfort.

I do want to say I am sorry to you for being so informal, poetic and intimate regarding what you called the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. This verbiage is to me in my heart and soul a prayer and relational “shortcut”. I was open with you that way in the spirit of our history together. I assumed you would recall my being a student of the word, committed to fidelity, one who has sought to be a workman approved…in these areas of my life, along with the bedrock areas of Christian Faith and Dogma, nothing has changed!

Our conversation was about the issues of being, gender and me, not about the nature of God, the use of gender referencing God and what we should or should not call Them. It was sloppy of me to add the burden to your heart of unnecessarily using feminine pronouns for the Holy Spirit and unwittingly placing a stumbling block before you. Please forgive me that unwise conflating of 2 things, either of which would be “an issue” by itself.

I will close by saying thank you for your letter, and that I will always do my best to be myself with you, open hearted and grateful to know you. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will manifest the will of the Father for us and bear the fruit in us and through us commensurate with that Life.

Remaining silent in Hope, refraining from speech on most of these things in Faith, and deferring to the Holy Spirit in all of them in Love…especially Love…

Charissa Grace White

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

If you are still here after all this, you are diehard indeed!! Thank you for reading.

Charissa Grace, who is heavy hearted, mourning, and still not ashamed of myself, of the Gospel, or of God in whom I put my Hope.

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UPDATE:  2 years later…this individual has not had any contact with me whatsoever…has not spoken one word to me.

This man who claimed to be a friend, and a follower of Jesus, whose professed life mission is to seek and save “the lost” has not even seen me since then or in any way, shape, or form even sought me out.

This says less about him as a person and MORE about the horrible lies and bondages he lives under inside his evangelical ghetto.

It has been painful escaping…I rejoice for the pain…and the gain.

UPDATE:  3 years later…still not one word from the dude.  What a Christlike witness…HAH!!

 

Charissa’s Grace Notes: One Year In

Welp…it seems that the obligatory post has thrust itself forward, or rather time has thrust it forward as it rolls on.  Today is the date of my first blog post here, one year ago.

Grace Notes is One Year Old.

It’s funny…way back then, I hardly knew what to write about, I hardly knew anything, really (now, I don’t know much more, but I much more know what I don’t yet know).

I knew that my life had been shattering inside…tumblr_mq79zdd0zQ1rad4udo1_500
I knew that I had admitted, out-loud with words, the deepest secret of my life, one that I had kept even from myself…
I knew that I wanted to die, but could not bear the thought of my darling finding me, or worse yet, not finding me…
I knew that I did not know who I was, and yet I knew very well who I wasn’t…
I knew that I had to get some help, and had searched the internet for counselours in my area, and been led to Heather…

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…and that was it.  Heather suggested that I start a blog, and so I sat down, a year ago, and asked Mama (Who at that time was still Lady Grace to me…I had not yet given up deep enough to discover the surface of the depths of Her Great Love Personally for me…for me.)…

It was early, at the usual times I have been haunted since I can remember, and I was up…coping…just coping, using all the ways I had developed over years to push the pain down, to put up some sort of layer between my insides which thrum to even the slightest breeze and jangle with the unfathomable ways of others who say and do things that literally flummox me.

I said out loud, “Lady Grace, here I sit in the night, awake again (naturally), and Heather says to start a blog…what in the world shall I call it?”

You know that feeling when you undress for bed, and the room is cold and you know that under the blankets will be cold too but will warm quickly, and so the moment you are undressed you just snik straight into bed quick as can be lickity-brindle?  And then the first rush of cold covers, followed by that delicious bloom of warmth and you have never felt so snuggly-cozy?

Well, that was what it was like when the title, in whole cloth, snikked into my mind and was bracingly clear and then started to glow warm…as I saw it, and then began to love it…Charissa’s Grace Notes:  Transitioning from works to Grace and death to Life.

And in that year…

I survived a family member not speaking to me for 4 months (4 months!!!  I freaking thought I would die!!  How do you go 4 months and not talk to someone you love?  Heck, I would talk to my bff every 4 minutes if we lived in paradise lol!!)…

I survived major betrayal and blame shifting at ____ …from multiple sources (and I was not even close to being out then)…

I survived suicidal feelings that got so strong and scary that I made an attempt, until She snatched me up (thank you Mama)…and Constance, I think about that day, that horrible day of weeping until I was dry and still couldn’t stop crying, and how words lost their power and I was reduced to literal babbling in the woods as I thought to myself I am insane, I am truly having a mental breakdown, and how close, how awfully close I was…tumblr_ncjrcmD9gI1qczwklo1_1280and if I had, none of the poetry that I wrote would be now…I would not know my bff, or my Sissa Kat…my darling would still be unsparkly and shriveled inside and utterly shattered…

 

I walked into a wonder-ful moment when Mama showed up…and that I will keep to myself…tumblr_naayt7L3AA1qc91i1o1_500

I continued seeing Heather, and somehow someway together I began to grasp that I am worth something, not a monster or pervert of freak (yeah, those words will likely echo in klaxon intrusion til I am resurrected and set free)…

I discovered that I am a real person, always have been, and have been fighting for the life of the “man” that I portrayed for all those years and I developed a “resilience” (thanks for that word bff) that simply would not give in…I found me…tumblr_nc8zw1O12y1rr74i9o1_1280

I found out that I am sort of a cool person at times, and have something to offer thru my poems…

I found the courage to start transition!!  The courage to tell Dr. Jessie (who laughed and rejoiced and said “Oh thank God you finally figured this out, we here knew 6 months ago!)…tumblr_ncriliyBsU1t96d7to1_500

I started going to a spoken word poetry group in Portland, one that I didn’t know a soul there, and no one knew me either…and I went there as me…me…Charissa Grace, and in faith I spoke my self to them, my name to them…and they received me, and once in a while they think my poems are good…

I wrote 2 very significant (to me…it didn’t create much of a furor to anyone else) poems…they marked some sort of a turning for me somehow…I think it was after my HRT had had a chance to extinguish the testosterone poisoning I had suffered from for 54 years…

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Those were written at the end of the first quarter of the year, and in hindsight I see that quarter was a detox time…detoxing from the awful assaults death made on me the year before, and the year before, and the year before…the declarations there in those 2 poems are still ringing…

I began to dress as me, out of town and openly, and how can I ever ever ever find the words to tell what that is like, because as you read if you are cis-gender you literally lack the ground of (non)-being to feel this.  If you dressed up as the gender you are not, and went about, seriously, for a day or two…then you would know just a poor facsimile of what dysphoria is…well I began to experience time lived in a non-dysphoric experience…tumblr_me80pisMV81qgk2yao1_500

I further integrated, and regained a ton of childhood memories…and Mama showed me the true reality of “that event”…the one that tore me in two for the next 5 decades…and though I cannot unhear that woman shrieking in fearful angry horror and I will never not hear the epithets she hurled into my fabric, I at last can hear Mama, and Her whispered words tenderly telling me who I am…and She knows cus She is the One who made me…

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I began to spontaneously sing worship and praise songs again…and I was shocked when one day I heard myself, and knew I had been singing over an hour and not even knowing that I had…tumblr_nbooffw6JI1sl0gcwo1_500

I began to pray again…oh I had always “prayed” cus that is what a good christian does, right?  Pays the Lord their bribes? (Yes, I went there…and if you are honest you will admit that you have done this, bribed God with your deeds and prayers…)…but I began to pray for real again, pouring out my momentary heart (and ddh you think I talk a lot to you…giggle!  Mama knows…)…

I rode bike with my darling…together…and those times are better than all of my years of riding alone…

…and thru all of that…I wrote here, most everyday, but not always…and I began to discover I have a voice, and a name…

…and 4 days ago, that name became legal…all things are made new, the old has passed away behind me.

Along the way people connected to this blog, and it tickles me that there are actually people who follow these mewlings and musings…and tickles me even more when I see blogs that have thousands of followers!!  LOLOL!!!  How the freak does that even happen, since I really don’t get it how I have any followers at all???  But really?  The only followers that matter are the ones who read each post, and invest it with life, dress them up and let them live far beyond the page…to you is my blood grateful thank you!

And I am still Charissa Grace…God’s Grateful Gleam of Grace displayed…if She and They love me, I know They love you as well and more so.

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life!

Dear Constance…it is official!  At 1:15:15 PM yesterday, the judge said the words…and I legally became me.

Charissa Grace White

I guess I am out there now…still have yet to do the entire company sit down and talk, which will be about 15 minutes…but things are moving along.

And yes…I did wake up this morning and feel totally different.  Not some massive quantitative change, but rather a deep and profound qualitative change.  I have often jokingly sang to myself “I Got a Name” by Jim Croce…well, now for real I do.

I went out to my car to leave work around noontime, to go home and get ready. I see a yellow legal pad with writing on the seat…and there is a vase with 6 beautiful lavender coloured roses!.  They were from my darling darling DARLING!!

CGW Flowers

 

I dressed nice, in a style that gets me lotsa compliments (Scorpio-Patrol I think you have seen the outfits??), and arrived walking straight and tall and in the right sort of way proud.  I looked everyone straight in the eye and smiled.  I was treated with deference by this old man there…I honestly do not think he realized I was transgender!  He was kind and interactive.

The clerk office opened, and within 5 minutes I had my papers and was on my way to a teeny courtroom.  It had 5 rows of benches, and felt like a mortuary funeral service chapel.

In the back, there was an advocate for battered women talking to a woman about a very very scary sounding man that she had been involved with.  I thought about how I had been treated by the old man.  I prayed that I would not have to sit through that case.

When the judge arrived, she walked forward…slim, serious, no nonsense, and appeared highly competent.  I was equal parts afraid and excited.

She called for me, and I stood, and then…

…she did this thing with her eyes and face that told me non-verbally “you are so brave for being here!”  I just know that is what she was saying.  I turned in my papers, and she read them over, the ghost of a smile playing at her eyes and hovering at the corners of her mouth…and then she took her pen, and brandished it!! And then she signed…announced that I was now Charissa Grace White, and openly congratulated me.

I walked out and down the stairs, and then in a rush I began to weep, overcome in the moment with the monumental implications of one loooonnngggg journey at last drawn to a close, and a new one well and truly begun.

The clerk was moved by my tears and much nicer…mayhap she figured out that this was a big deal?

I was alone.

Oh, I know you were there, but Mama had distanced everything, everyone…it was just me…and Her.  I went home and stood in our house, raised my hands in the air and upturned my face, and I prayed out loud to Her, thankful, grateful, supplicating…

…aware that I had started the first life ignorant of Her…and was beginning the second in relationship with Her, the most amazing indescribable being ever.

Later in the day, I was able to have a short conversation with my bff, and her words of life just laid down right beside the prayers I prayed, and then later in the evening, my darling and I opened a bottle of pink champagne and toasted many things.

I am out.

I am free.

I am Charissa Grace, my Mama’s daughter of grace and sister to the Great Precious One.

I am at last glad to be alive.

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Never Again

Constance, I want to write here my commitment to myself and to you, and also state ahead of time that I recognize the result of this commitment will be quite a bit of ostracization from many people who call themselves Christians, but want to use that name to police me and my life decisions.

First of all, let me state that I am not removing myself from the scope and majesty of the wonderful word of God.  When read and understood properly, it is a document of collected writings that show a God of love and advocate a relational ethic, not a legal ethic or a behavioral ethic.  Right standing with God is found in right relationship!  Not right deeds or right thinking (though each will likely result when you focus on maintaining a whole relationship first).

Given the pre-eminence of my commitment to this relational ethic, I am fair game for being called into account for anything that violates this ethic…things like committing adultery, committing murder, stealing, cheating, assaulting another physically or verbally, harboring hatred in my heart, and other things such as that.  See the thing in common?  All of them involve a relational breech with either myself, my neighbor, or God.

But:

BUT:

I am no longer going to subject myself to the inquisitions that I previously felt I owed anyone who wanted to “correct me” or “express their concerns” to me about who and what I am.  For the record:  there is nothing in the Bible that is prescriptive on the subject of being transgender, and there is less than that on the subject of whether or not a transgender person should pursue transition.

Therefore, anything beyond genuine questions seeking to ascertain what I face in order to stand with me and help my life to glorify God is off limits.  I am not going there again.

Here is why:

In my recent encounter with a man that I have known for about 25 years, I spent 4 hours of my life in the attempt to reach this individual’s heart.  Truth is?  I never had a chance.  He listened to me about an hour and a half, with a few questions, and then began to interject with a list of “concerns” which he had written before he even heard my story!  He began by saying that he might (might!) modify what he had written if he had heard my story first…but since he was soo upset, he felt justified in going ahead.

He then proceeded to list for me several concerns that ranged from things that simply were not true factually about what being transgender is, all the way to accusations that I was under the influence of a demonic spirit!

He thinks that transgender people are victims of the fall (we all are victims of the fall…whether or not being transgender is a direct result of the fall or not is moot, as the Bible simply is silent on the topic).  He also thinks that transgender people are bound by the words of Jesus that we “take up our cross and follow Him”…meaning that verse prohibits us from pursuing technological help and remedy which is readily available and so swiftly brings about such immediate change emotionally and spiritually, and is documented in so many places and in so many ways.

(Constance, I am very capable of nuking this proof-texting rape of these words, if you are interested, please let’s pursue that in the comments or via email, but trust me, it is not about transition specifically!).

Clearly, this man had seized upon this verse and wrenched it to fit his preconceived judgement that transition should not be undertaken…an opinion of his, not a biblically given command.  He did not think it was wrong for someone born with a hole in their heart to seek surgical repair, or someone born with a cleft palate to seek surgical repair, or any other number of examples…just transition!  he was intractable in this opinion, and I was considered by him to be indulging the flesh.

Next, he told me that I was under the influence of a spirit of deception that he called “the impostor”, and that this spirit opposed my becoming who God wanted me to be (which was code for him saying I was not becoming who he wants me to be).  When I asked him if he thought I was bearing more fruit in my life in the last year than he had seen before, he affirmed that this was noticeably so, and so I then pointed out that it seemed to me the impostor was doing a pretty counter-productive job, as I was becoming more, and not less like Jesus…reminded me of the Pharisees who accused Jesus of casting out demons by demonic power!!

Then he told me that I was going to lose out on the blessing of being a patriarch of my family (nope, didn’t touch this…it would have been like telling a fish that it is in the water).

Next I was informed that he had never been so devastated since he was divorced from his first wife and that marriage totally fell apart…that he was just barely more devastated by that than he was by my decision to transition!  When I asked him how many times we have had dinner together in 25 years, he answered none.  When I asked him if we had ever done anything…anything socially together, he said no, never.  When I asked him if he had ever come to my house, reached out to me when my father died, or when my children experienced growing pains, when I was injured and couldn’t do chores, he said no.  When I asked if he agreed that we had not truly been a part of each others’ lives with the exception of the occasional church activity and our seeing each other at work where we casually interacted, he said yes, he agreed…

…so when I pointed out that this seemed to indicate a judgement of me made from the outside with no real knowledge of me what so ever, and thus would point to his devastation being far more his own issue rather than my “violation”, he denied it!  He said that the Holy Spirit was laying it on his heart!  That my claims that Mama had been gently leading me, confirmed by my wife, by my therapist whom I have opened my entire life to, by my naturopath who knew I was transgender at least a year before I did, and by a few close friends who lived everyday with me…that all of that was purely subjective and his own subjective “feeling of conviction” had just as much weight and legitimacy!

I kid you not.

When I asked him to show the biblical passages upon which he rested his “concerns”, he confessed this: “the bible is silent on this subject so I can’t actually say this is sin“.  Shocked by his terminology, I asked him “Do you want to be able to say this is sin?”  He got offended with me, and said that I was being harsh to him (!!!  Yes, he went there).  I said “no, not at all.  I am so struck by your word choices.  They reveal so much to me, for I would have phrased it something like this ‘Since the bible is silent, I would never say that someone was sinning in their pursuit of transition, absent knowledge of the relational parameters between the person and God, and friends and family.'”

He sought  many times to other me and police me, and I gently and firmly rebuffed every attempt.

And then at the conclusion, he said that I had shocked him, because he thought I would blow up at him (“blow a gasket” is what he said)…Constance, when I was dissociated from myself experiences like this were very threatening to me, and I did tend to react very strongly and vehemently when accused unfairly.  But I was calm, peaceful, and sorrowful far more for him than for myself…this bothered him, because it didn’t jibe with the picture of a demonized deceived person who was in rebellion to God.

But it wasn’t enough…he told me that he (and this is a quote) “had to obey his conscience above all else, and that when people asked him about me it was his duty to tell them his opinion and concerns regarding me”.

Yes, Constance…he has elevated his own conscience even above God, for when I inquired what he would do if God told him to remain silent, he said that God would never ask him to deny his conscience!  I think you can see the problem with this…essentially there is a conflation of his conscience with what God wants!  If he feels something strong enough, and labels it his conscience, then it is the same as God talking!

I did not have the heart to point out to him that even a cursory examination of biblical teaching regarding the conscience commands us to put the conscience and behaviour of our brothers/sisters as preeminent to our own…besides, it would not do any good.  He considered it his right to out me, to anyone, in the name of conscience.

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(Now here is a little secret, Constance…part of the reason I agreed to meet with this person is that I suspected this might be the endpoint of things…and the truth is that I am ready to come out…I want to move on, get it over with and get on with an effective and fruitful life lived free and without a mask.  So I sort of planned to use him as a stalking horse.  If I wasn’t ready, I would have not met with him.  Nevertheless, it was staggering to me…the arrogance that he so blindly bathed in, wallowed in…oh, and by the way, he has no “official ecclesiastical authority” in any denomination, or for that matter in my own life!  He is simply a fellow follower of Jesus…and make no mistake, he does indeed love God and love people…just within the boundaries he has chosen to call legitimate.)

He specifically said his conscience demanded it of him.  I didn’t even bother to ask him what he thought would be the consequence if he decided to not speak, to be silent and urge people to come to me if they had questions…I already knew his reply would be this:  if I am not true to my conscience, then your blood is on my head…a phrase that indicates he considers me blood guilty of something or other, and also believes he is both qualified and called to be the bringer of correction to me, never mind by what credential or authority…there is an old testament comment in Proverbs that uses this phraseology…people who have adopted this as a moral code use it to justify all kinds of things including bombing abortion clinics and other heinous acts like that.  The people at that crazy church who are so virulently anti-gay use this idea to justify their own evil deeds.

So his conscience is more important to him than I am, than the lives of the people who he talks to that may have been open to actually getting to know for themselves where I am at and what I am going thru but after he gets done will almost certainly avoid me…and the lives of the people who may have been touched by newly open-hearted lovers of God who would reach out to transgender people in love because of knowing me, and who I am, and my being transgender makes it not as weird as they thought it was…

And lastly, he said he would never ever call me “Sister”, or a woman…that this would be him empowering my lie and participating in it by proxy!  What does one do with that…besides just shake off the dust and move on?

Constance:  I had no chance of persuading him that this was a good thing, a fruitful thing, a blessing.  None.

Everything I said to counter him was evidence of my deception and was a regurgitation of the evil that the deceptive spirit had spoken to me…and everything I was silent to I was silent to because I was incapable of refuting his great convicting words (he is wrong…I was silent because I didn’t want to destroy him by stripping him of every vestige of intelligent discourse and exposing his xenophobic foundations…when someone says they read about transgender issues for a few minutes the night before, and really don’t need to do any more research because God is speaking to them…well, there is nothing to be said there, is there?).

So here is my resolution:  I will never again submit to such so called “expression of concern”.  I will seek to find out ahead of time why someone wants to discuss my transition, and if it is for right reasons I will go ahead after giving the caveat that if they begin to “correct me” I will shut them down and leave the situation.

This is not evidence of my not being correctable…it is evidence that I am finally going to not be a dormat and put myself in harms way…which I have always done before (ask my wife, she can tell you of years and years…)

This man right this moment thinks me in error…nothing I said made a difference…and the others who will be coming, and many far worse than he, for he is at least merely passive aggressive, so his demeanor and voice are calm and pleasant…well, they will be even less persuadable!

They will do this (and it is a fact…ask any of your church friends, they can tell you):  they will conclude that I am deeply deceived and in sin…because I won’t let them befoul me with accusations…so why should I even try to persuade them?

My therapist said something very powerful…she asked me what would be the result of my refusing to allow them to savage me so…and I said if I don’t, they will think me a heretic and not a true christian…and she then asked me “and what will happen then?  Will you become a heretic?  Do you care what those people think right now?  Does their thinking anything change you or effect you in any real way?”

and I laffed!!  Cus the answer is “no”.

This I resolve:

To do justly

to love mercy

to walk humbly…and love Them with all my heart

to be kind and gentle and full of Grace…upon Grace.

Love, love always,

Charissa Grace, beloved of her Mama the Holy Spirit, joint heir with Jesus the first fruits of the resurrection, and a daughter of the Father of lights, from Whom comes every good and perfect gift.

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Baker Who Wouldn’t Serve Lesbians Burst Into Tears On Gay Marriage Panel

Baker Who Wouldn’t Serve Lesbians Burst Into Tears On Gay Marriage Panel.

Dear Constance…

If you are white, cis-gendered, “normal”, and you want to be the biggest blessing you can be to those in your life, please head over and read this heartbreaking story of a person who is experiencing some pain and sorrow…simply for being who she is, for standing up for her beliefs…

and the irony that she is just now feeling a little pain that people who are NOT “normal”, or heterosexual, or cis-gender, or white experience every day simply as a matter of being!!

Sincerely, it breaks my heart for her…but what is even more heartbreaking?  It still has not opened her eyes to those all around her, who live this everyday! Whose every single moment is surviving under the burdens imposed by governments and laws and also the burdens heaped up by religious hypocrites and bigots who take the Precious Name of God in vain when they do.

It is my prayer that she can hit bottom, and jolted there the scales will fall from the eyes of her heart and she will finally realize that her role as a child of our Great God of Love is to Love her neighbor, be openhanded in charity, and let God be who He is, the One and Only judge of the heart of man.

Note this:  your policing of others in the name of “standing up for your beliefs” is never, EVER going to have the impact you want it to.  It doesn’t change hearts.  Think of your own self…before you came to know Jesus…you were dead in your sins and an active enemy of God.  Oh yes…you were.  God Himself says so.  But where did you meet Jesus?  On some crusade where He was resolutely holding the banner of truth against the evil onslaught of pagan hordes, stark and alone but prevailing anyway due to His great and noble resolute resolve to stand up for His rights?

Um…no.

You met Jesus at the place where He stood up for His greatest principle, and set the ultimate example for us:  at the cross upon which He was nailed.  And then later, in the garden by the empty tomb…

Jesus doesn’t need your fighting, your zeal.  He needs your surrender and your soft and resolute commitment to kindness and open faced love to everyone you meet!  THEN you have set the stage for Him to take over and do the work that only He can do anyway, and that is the transformation of the heart.

And you never know…you just might find that yours is the heart transformed, yours are the eyes opened, and yours is the life transformed.

Scenario:  Constance reads article…gets inspired…starts a wedding planning business specifically for gay and lesbian clients that offers the best ever service at the most reasonable prices ever, and even donates services as acts of charities and tithes and offerings…when asked by amazed clients why she does this, she answers simply…freely I have received, freely I give.  God loves you and so do I.  And as you go on in your marriage, stop by and see me.  If there is any way I can help for anything, it would be my honor…

Now, THAT is transformative!

I will never tire of saying it, Constance…Do justly.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Charissa Grace

Intentional Unknowing

Constance, one more quick post, and then we are off on the bikes!  Yippeeee!!!

So…I am learning to not call my body/soul/mind/emotion clash a prison, or sentence, or monster, or any of those other things…Mama has been quite active and specific in calling me into account and showing me that far from being the result of the conditions of the fall, and something that went haywire as I was formed, my being was very intentionally and soberly purposed by Them!  Ever single last aspect!

oh, I was well acquainted with the Psalms which tell us of Their involvement and intricate knowledge of us…but I had pushed these things to a comfortable place theologically…as in there are many things that the Fall mars and wrecks…things that They have not intentioned, but have indeed accounted for with Their Grace.  And I had classified my transgender being as one of those things:  a result of the Fall and something to be redeemed and eventually cured when all things are made right. In the meantime, I despised myself.  My body and its awful clumsy and large power covered in blechy hair and muscle…and that.  And my heart…”weak and overly emotional and on my sleeve at all times side by side with streaks of snot”…and my soul…unwilling to hammer down on someone who needs correction but instead draw close and win them over, much to the ire of all the males in my life…I despised my swings from knowing I could do all things thru Jesus to thinking that They literally despised me for longing to have the body I felt I was denied…

…and worst of all?  I thought, in my most secret thoughts, that They had done this to me, to punish me for being so bad…They had made this as scourging.

I am so thankful that They are overcoming all my evil with Their good!  Truly…

…but this latest round of talks…She has been very specific, and letting me see some of the backstory of what things I have said, or done, or written which have been helpful and life-giving and of service to others…and She has shown irrefutably to my heart of shame and self-loathing that not one of those things would have been possible were it not for the unique balancing of all the various aspects of my being which are seemingly in conflict but are in truth the warp and weft of the very tapestry of life and grace They are making me into!

My experiences in male roles, and the accompanying policing and disciplines (used in a putative sense), the intense efforts made by men when I was young in efforts to “make me tough” or “teach me to be a man”…and later being in male spaces in our culture hearing the naked expression of men to one another, witnessing the truly unconscious taking of privilege and the aggrieved hearts when denied…and hearing men talk, when one on one with me and thinking me male…just different or weird and yet strangely comforting to talk to…

…and my experiences on the outside, excluded by minds and bodies and actions…female roles and spaces and bodies…which heightened my observational skills, and sharpened my inductive and deductive abilities…and gave me an ear to hear…

…and the null…the razor place of horror and emptiness where everyone else had a place and a person, and I had nothing, like literally nothing…and my lil mind heard about the God shaped vacuum?  and assumed that was this (it isn’t, by the way, that space is where our spirits are still born and in need of resurrection)…and so pursued God and was pursued by Them,…hey, it was either that or kill myself.  Those were my options…

and now…to see…to feel the wisdom and the divine risk They took in intentionally availing themselves of the developmental processes in human biology to make me…and then make me…Charissa Grace…so see that They gambled on Their love and grace and mercy being enough, and They gambled on me to be so slayed by one glance that I would be hopelessly in thrall forever??

No…never again will I call it a prison…and thanks to my bff who asked me once if I could choose one or the other, would I choose that?  Giggle…most of the time the Q is which would I choose…but wise wise DDH asked more would I choose, if I could.

I choose Them.  I choose Their glory and Their Plan.  I choose Their Indescribable Comfort and Joy.

And now to my topic:  I believe that God intentionally has chosen Unknowing in regards to relationship with us!

Yes!  I KNOW, right????  That sounds heretical, and sounds insane!  I mean, God knows all, sees, all, etc etc…They are freaking GOD!  And when the One God in 3 Persons and the 3 in One God decide to manifest in Their Oneness, Their THEM-NESS…why then we see that fantastical and indescribable Entity referred to by those who have been in Its Presence as “Lord God Almighty”…and it is too too TOO to the extent that the people who see this fall down as if dead, and their eyes perceive “monsters” with multiple wings and legs and eyes and mouths that fly around the Entity Lord God Almighty and scream at It louder than all loud “HOLY! HOLY!” (and other things…shiver).

So where do I get off saying that God chooses to not know vast portions of relationship with us?

Well, Ima tell ya a story…years ago, I was out and about on a rainy dark clammy morning, soaked to my bones and chilled, and miserable beyond words.  It was Oregon rain, and my baby who grew up in Wyoming swears to this day that 38 degrees and rainy in Oregon is a million times worse than 20 below in Wyoming…and I was out in a loud, smelly, noisy truck!  Driving it, using it to work with my body so I could provide for my darlings 5.  I hate trucks.  I hate machines, and they hate me too.  They bite me almost everyday and leave me bloody and wounded…and they hurt my heart too with their bellowing and caterwauling.

And my mouth and mind were with God…hey, I had nowhere else to go, it certainly wasn’t because I was any paragon of virtue or spiritual giant!  Lol!  No…I was more like the bum at the off ramp of God’s freeway with my sign and tale of woe to elicit a few coins…

but I was trying to talk to the Father that morning…and getting no where, because I was so despairing and so frustrated…and Ima be blunt honest with you, kay?  This is how I talk to Them, cus I figure They know my heart already, so if I fake it and talk all pretty then not only will I have the regular failures and sins to deal with but the additional sin of lying to Them!!  (Cantcha just hear it?  “Don Pardo, tell Charissa what she just won!!” <Pardo’s unctuous voice>”Charissa…you just won LYING TO GOD!!!!!!!!  No new car for you, girl!  Nope…you get the nannygoat prize!”  lol)

So, being bluntly honest with Father that day (and you here)… I finally had the following conversation:

Papa, why the fuck do I even bother praying!!  It is just a litany of the same fucking complaints, the same awful feelings, the usual puking Pity Party! And the most frustrating things about it is You already fucking KNOW EVERYTHING!”

(yes, I f bombed to Papa…not proud of it…but you all know yo have done this, whether you have said it outloud or not…cus our hearts ARE F bombs, in their deceit and wickedness apart from Their Redeeming love)

Now, this is the distillation?  Perhaps this rant went on just a bit longer?  Long enough that I was hoarse and in a wrack of sobbing tears pulled over in a wide area beside the road because I couldn’t see?

And then as my sobs subsided (as they always did), as the tides receded and there was still the beach walk with Them to continue, I heard Papa sort of clear His throat and make a very gentle sound…so I listened.

“What makes you think I already know everything?”

“PAPA!  Please!! Don’t fuck around with me today…I am not up to Your jokes and tricks and double-back hidey-behind pranks which result in your Wisdom being spoken to this fool!  Everyone knows You know everything!  It’s in Your bible, even people who don’t like You or believe in You know that You know everything (and by the way, I get super pissed at those idjuts who say they don’t believe in You, and yet ignore that You must be in order to not believe in…but that is a different rant!)!

“Does it?  Does My Word say that?”

Constance, I have learned that when They ask you a Q like that it is best to shut up…and re-listen!!  For the Bible is living, and so are we…and as we live and grow, so too the Word unfolds to us heights and depths and breadths that are there always, but visible only when we are in just this place…at just that time!

Papa said “What if I made a deal with Myself, with Jesus and Mama (Whom back then I referred to very impersonally as “the” holy spirit, and objectified Her)…and in that deal I decided that I would agree to “not know” vast territories of you and your life and existence…so we can have the Pleasure of joint discovery?  After all…We have “unknown” all of your sins and iniquities in Our gifts of Mercy and Grace and Redeeming Metamorphosis…

“Think about your own self, with your own children…which is better…when you drag something out of them, or when you spy from a distance and figure things out…or when they come to you, unexpectedly and all on their own…in just that moment when you are feeling lonely and unnecessary to them or their life…and they begin to tell you their insides!

“The way that feels…the joy and gladness…the sense of miracle and wonder…and the way those things are your treasures and in your forever treasure box?”

and as soon as He said this I was PIERCED!!  Whole volumes of reality clicked in for me…experiences lined up, and a whole new way of looking at Them was before me…so I laid down my f bomb boxing gloves, and instead asked in my open-faced and heart showing way…

“..Papa, is this true?  How can You not know…but it FEELS true to me!!”  And essentially He spoke to me about something I have called since then “Intentional Unknowing”.  They chose to limit Themselves in many ways in regards to us….They have given us Free Will, and given us many other things that They have the ability to take back, but because of who They are, They never will, and thus “cannot” take back!

When it comes to our lives…our fears, our hurts, our joys and hopes?  They can only know the depth of our specificity if we tell Them!!

Well, the rest is very funny, cus as soon as I grasped all this, I told Papa that I was gonna chirp and chirp forever and He was gonna regret ever telling me He wanted to know me! LOLOL (Hey DDH, can you relate??? giggles…or my baby out there??  or my own Daddy long dead…he is nodding in heaven and knuckle-bumping with the Father in solidarity, having endured the never ending Charissa chatter-flow!  lol)

And I leave you with this:  God has filled His word with countless exhortations to pray…and we in our foolishness and religious dumbassery have turned these pleas to talk to Them into duties to be performed in order to merit Their activity on our behalf giving us what we think we want!

Well, see it a bit differently…see Them, as you would your own children, pleading with us to talk to Them!!  Let Them into our lives, into our thoughts and heart!  They are hungry to know us!!  They long to be given something that They cannot have in any other way, than that we give it to Them!!  And then when you go to pray, do not think of Them as big know-it-alls who are checking things off Their list and tallying our score and computing our “answer to prayer effectiveness quotient!”

No…They are moms, hearts bleeding joy that Their babies are speaking to Them! They are dads, who so deeply yearn for the sharing of Their children and that dialogue which makes every sacrifice an honor and every blow a privilege!

And you wanna know something more?  You yourself will come to know yourself better…and Them better too, cus They actually like to conversate!! They will talk back, you know…you did know that right?  Right??

“Pray without ceasing” can be read as “Whaddya do t’day ‘Rissa???  Huh?  Huh? TellMeTellmeTellMe!!)

Okay…I’m outta here for now…so how bout this?  Shut off the computer…go for a walk…and chatter like Charissa!!

All my love and heart to you, and I can’t wait to hear your stories!!

Charissa

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A Dhé le Caitlín Maude – Translation

A Dhé le Caitlín Maude – Translation

Aistriúchán ar an Dán
(d’Adrian Radu i gCluz na Rómáinne)

A Dhé
le Caitlín Maude

Neither blood nor flesh
God
your conjured image
-the dreary mouthful of soil-
but I clasp it heart-wards
until it fuses into life.

The questioning is no comfort
(nor is the answer).

Why should I adore
the lifeless image
that will not explain away
and you
who felt my deepest pains
the way I do now?

And if it’s not the questioning
(nor the answer)
that’s the problem
(nor is the answer)
Oh no God.
I don’t understand.
I don’t know.
I’m convinced only – so far
Of that.
There or not
I am drawing towards you

and if you are
I call for one enchantment
to be saved
from those
who speak of you as
the cold man of the skies.

God,
my heresy is boundless
but would you not prefer this
to some intriguing lover of the world’s plenty
Who would fail to pay heed to you
from one end of the year to the next?

God,
The answer is far from the solution
There is no new mysterious revelation
You still have to travel the path of the thorns
No respite or homecoming at the bottom of the sea
Better the water on the forehead now
than after
My time has come to sow my blind pattern
on the gaping canvas.

I attack the contentious issues of the day
(body, heart and mind).
The temptation calls me
‘Don’t’.
What good is passing beauty?
What good?
But remember
that the answer is far from the solution
But the unsightly remains –
dead ashes of the night –
dirty dishes in the morning –
signs of my own death
and
constantly cleaning them
(dishes, heart and mind).
Forget for a while, God,
the dreary mouthful of soil.

(Worse is forgetting).
What can I do
but worship this bleak life?
I press towards me the curse.
I cannot say how long it will last.

But God,
I sneak, I comb, I tend to.
I hide in the fragrant cloth the ugly wounds.
Concealment is my specialty,
I smile
I stretch,
I kiss your lovely side.
There is hope in Spring.
I covet its pulse.

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Clues

Okay Constance…I am gonna confess a lil indulgence of ego:  I really like my new poem “Her Door, Her Red Door”, and frankly I am a little disappointed there have not been very many likes on it…but I am also not surprised for it is inference, symbol, veil, subtly blatant while blatantly subtle…

I actually and for real think it is one of my most skillful poems to date.

But I get that it is not necessarily appealing…but consider, if you would, the poem itself in the context of the work of the poet:  I once said “The poet is a desperater man than most. He must get it all down before the ages are up. Which, as any poet will tell you Is A BITCH!” (waaay back in 1982)…

…I was trying to say that there is a “job” in poetry, or perhaps a better word is quest?  No matter…if you consider yourself a poet (and I do) then you find this inability to see life as any other thing but a poem and events/circumstances/happenings are all snapshots into the heart of the poem.

Thus, when I write I try to emulate the layers, hidden and revealed, that comprise this Mystery we swim in.

In “Her Door, Her Red Door”, you find me operating on a few very intentional levels…I do not want to just lay it out there.  That is a bit too clinical, sort of like the difference between sex education class in Middle School Health class, and the wonder and poignant pain of Love’s First Kiss.  But I do want you to have some sense of the structure, the themes and the interplay of them.  I can be obtuse…lol.

First of all, consider that it is a poem written by a trans-gender woman who is in the midst of transition.  This overall context puts the other elements in perspective and frames the picture.

Secondly, it is a poem dedicated to a person whom I have openly spoken of and the role she has in my life.  That role has permutations and multiple facets when considered poetically.  What is her “business” with me?  What is mine with her?  What is our mutual end?  And more fundamentally, Constance, what is your position in all this as well?  Are you somehow about the same things, in the salient areas of becoming that you face?

Next comes the unfolding of my view of our essential business:  becoming.  She is a facilitator of mine, and as I participate in her provisions I aid hers as well…and each of you, as you become day to day, may perhaps find touchstones in this poem’s point of view and approach to that becoming.  You will, of course, have to make inference and feel your way under the sheet to the true bones of your own transitions in this life as a sentient, conscious being stuck between the macrocosm and the microcosm infinities, and with eyes…

I choose a physical aspect of her and invest that with meaning far other than the expected trope culturally in our pornography laced times…there are only three capital letters used in this poem.  That is on purpose.

There are obvious references to musicians…why specific ones?  Why them?  What are the specific characteristics of those humans?  (Remember to ask this inside the “frame” of the picture I mentioned earlier).  There are single words that link back to lyrics, and those lyrics in turn echo back the essential business of this magic woman, which echo back to my own quest of becoming.

There are many puns laced throughout, intentionally slanted in relation to the core…that way they can make the connection and then…like leaves in early autumn, gracefully drop away once their purpose for the tree is completed, and reveal the strong and vital branches of the tree beneath that leafy veil…

The door:  resist the temptation to skim over this, thinking it is obvious…no?  Perhaps, like usual with me, it is a sonar reading on a larger diamond lurking in the dark of unknown knowns…but if you will try, you may very well enjoy letting those things bubble up inside you…from your heart.

Lastly, and remember that I have said before that wine and the process of creating it is for me the central metaphor of the universe, think about the poem again, in entirety (which means you can reinterpret the words on the 4 layers of existential being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)…and once you have that palate built?  Start to pull elements from one read through, and combine them with elements of the other…sensual elements mixed with sacred elements…becoming and unbecoming mixed with living and dying…

…and always, always:  Communion.  Bread…Wine…in the presence of knowing knowers broken and shared.

We are given our birth…but we have to achieve our being, and enter in.

I will literally be grateful to Heather for eternity.  She is truly one of the best, and I beg Lady Grace that I am privileged to share space in paradise with her…Be blessed, dearest friend.

You too Constance…I hope these clues assist you into at least understanding why I am so proud of this one.  It was “easy hard” to write down and weave, and it tested my limits at this stage of my becoming…as a poetess, as a prophetess, as a woman, and as a lover of God.

In heartfelt passion,

Charissa Grace

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A Prayer, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Good morning Constance…today I ran across this prayer by the amazing Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Won’t you take a look with me…and then set your spirit to be committed to becoming!  If you profess Jesus, then join in directly to his prayer…and if your conscience leads you otherwise, uncover the intention and will within the prayer, and align with that.

The world is always a better place when our sin is diminished, our struggle to overcome evil is assisted, and God is near!

Love, Charissa

 

“Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God. Be my brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death. Come with me in my death, come with me in my suffering, come with me as I struggle with evil. And make me holy and pure, despite my sin and death.”

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Please…make my dry bones live

Good morning Constance…

I awoke this morning after a short sleep.  It was deeper than it has been recently, thank goodness, and full of dreams.  In these dreams, I was congruent, I was bodied the way I am “soul-ed”.  My own perception of myself is that I am somewhat smaller than average in build and frame.  I am guessing that I am around 5’6″, and 115 lbs inside my own sense of self.

This is very awkward for me now!  LOL!  As I become more and more comfortable within my skin I also have periods that are longer and longer where I forget what I really am physically…how I am physically…and I will move in such a way that the clash becomes immediately apparent!

So…having dreamed all night that I was properly bodied and graceful at last, it was especially defeating to wake up and find that I was still in this skin, this 6 ft 2 inch 190 lb skin.  I lay there, feeling conscious wash up on me in waves as I came awake, and felt connection…integration…dissolve, blur, and then collapse like the walls of a sand castle in the breaking waves lapping and licking at the shore.

I got up, quietly, so my baby could drift off back to sleep for more rest, and took care of my morning vitamins and HRT and then came to the computer, to begin my work day supervising truck drivers that collect recycling and garbage in our county.  Our first guy starts at 3:15 AM…I think I should be up then, too, on the watch with him.

Once the initial checks, calculations and messages are attended to, I have time to check email and jot down any ideas for poems that Lady Grace has dropped into my spirit.  But this morning, I was not thinking of poems.  I was hoping to read something encouraging, hoping for emails of life…spam, ads, sales, more ads (how do they get our email addys???), but no personal messages (sob).

The black bold lines of the inbox diminished…until I was on the last one, “A Slice of Infinity“, the devotional I have quoted here before…and as often is the case, it was actually become a personal email from Lady Grace, to me, thru Her servant Jill (bless you Jill…I eagerly await meeting you that Day).

I repost it here in its entirety, and you will see why…it asks the same question that lamented and clawed inside me this morning:  “Lord!!  Can These Bones Live?”  May it bless you as well this morning, meeting you all in your own Valley of Decision, your own boneyard, and may you live…

…truly live,

Charissa

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Speaking to Bones

My experience with the oboe had magnificent beginnings. In fact, it was far more magnificent than I realized. I was in high school and had played in our orchestra for years, but I had never heard of the double-reeded instrument, much less the haunting sounds it made. Yet here in front of me was a woman with an oboe, a friend of a relative, offering to play for us.

The sound was rich and beautiful. It was exactly the sound I imagined Mr. Tumnus playing on his flute for Lucy, the Narnian tune that made her “want to cry and laugh and dance and go to sleep all at the same time.” I came home and immediately asked our director if he had any interest in adding an oboe to the mix.

I (and my family) soon learned the oboe was capable of sounds in great distinction from the ones I had heard that day. I spent no more than a month struggling with the nasally, often out-of-tune notes on my borrowed oboe before I turned it back in, completely defeated.

I have no idea why I thought it would come so easily. Perhaps it was the ease with which the instrument was initially played before me, its seeming similarly with the instrument I already knew, or my imagination of magical flutes in stories I loved. I had heard the tune of a master and convinced myself that I could mimic it. But the music was a gift that required years of labored mastering. The oboist I had met that afternoon was a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, yet this never seemed to enter my equation.

When Ezekiel was brought before a valley filled with dry and broken bones, he was immediately consumed by the vastness of it all. “The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1-2). One imagines Ezekiel walking among bones, weary of the vision, and despairing of his helplessness to change it.

There are some scenes in life we approach with utter dismay and fear at our ability to make a difference or accomplish the charge before us. Others, like my attempt at the oboe, begin with a skewed impression of the thing itself and our aptitude to hold it. I have approached the gift of Christ both with the dismay of one looking into a valley of impossible tasks and the foolishness of one not interested in practicing any of his words. But neither has forged me nearer to the gift himself.
Still, such approaches to Christ come naturally to many of us. Who can not tremble at some of the things he says? “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The charge to live as one made in God’s image seems at times futile, like bones in an open valley dreaming of wholeness.

And yet, I was startled once—as if it were a foreign thought—at a friend’s inquiry about my practice of life by the Spirit, and the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control that come from walking by the Spirit. We are at once both the child terrified at failing and the child who refuses to even try. Yet neither identity is set forth in Scripture.

In the valley that tired and overwhelmed him, Ezekiel was questioned by the one who put him there. “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know’” (Ezekiel 37:3). His answer is both evidence to his wisdom and perhaps also a glimpse of his skepticism. Ezekiel doesn’t respond that God is asking the unthinkable; he doesn’t comment on the great number or dryness of the bones. Yet, he doesn’t approach the question pretending to know less than he does about bones and biology either. Instead, he offers a reflection on the one who asked: “O Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel gives the task back to God and then proceeds to follow God’s instructions to speak the bones to life.

I believe my fleeting moments with the oboe had much to do with my fleeting motivation to practice. But I think similarly, I failed because of my underestimation of the accomplished musician before me. Seeing her for who she was could not have made me an oboist, but it might have shown me the way. How much more so this is true for the one who invites us to follow him and offers us the gift of his hand.

In his life, death, and resurrection, Christ transfigures the impossible for us, giving us in his vicarious humanity a way of holding it.

Christ takes us, dry and lifeless, and gives us both the words and the way to make our dry bones live.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

Words Echo For Eternity

{In preparation for reading this, I highly commend to you a post by the incredible Dani over at bloomingspiders…it too considers the power of words, in an examination of one of their offspring.  http://bloomingspiders.com/2014/08/03/what-forgiveness-is/  }

Yes.

When we speak, we actually create living entities that never die.  We give birth to thoughts, and then they emerge out of our mouths and live in the heart, in the mind, in the life of whoever hears them.

Think about that.

The hearer is an eternal creature, as is the speaker.  And so what we say, what we hear, goes on henceforth now and forever.

How many words have been spoken?  How many have been spewed forth from hearts aflame with rage, or sorrow, or despair or bitterness, or cold with hurt and implacable with divorce…

…or how many words have been nurtured, brooded over until ready and then spoken timely and certain for just…that…spot?

Each situation, each word is a forever thing.

Words of forgiveness, reconciliation and release are also forever words.  Countervailing forces set, like artists, sculptors, like rescuers and shock troops of liberty and goodness, to surround those words that have wounded, rent, and cursed!  They take those things which can never be unsaid, never be unheard, and they uproot them, transplant them, reshape them, and redeem them.

The horror of unconsidered words can be mitigated!

Consider:

A woman decided that her pastor was not a very nice man.  See, the pastor had gently but firmly confronted her about her gossip and her sharp poison tongue.  Of course this woman was hurt by this faithful wound from a friend.

She gave in…decided to prefer the company of an enemy’s thousand kisses…and began a whisper campaign against the pastor.  She commented on how the pastor had touched the young unmarried woman’s shoulder as he prayed with her for a husband…she insinuated as he held the grieving mother yet-to-be who had lost (yet another) baby mid-way through pregnancy,  that his arms were around her too tight and that it was shameful the way he wore her mascara on his suit coat, her lipstick (her mask thrown up over the face of her ineffable sorrow) on his shirt collar, and still preached that Sunday morning, just like that…   “with another woman’s make-up on his clothes” (spoken in hushed horrified whispers)…

…and eventually wormed these thoughts into enough of the congregation’s mind that he began to lose the hearts of the people.

Discontent set in, and as is the way of these things, a vote was taken and he was out, and whoever was the next one was in.  Oh no, there was no candidate…just a certainty that the decision makers would choose someone who wasn’t a secret womanizer.

Time passed, the new pastor was months into his tenure, and the gossiper actually was benefitting from the new pastor’s ministry!  She had grown, shrunk, and been transformed a bit more thru the new leader’s emphasis on “Transformation thru Devotion”.  The notion is that your “Yes” to Jesus is greater than your “No” to sin, and that a true and unfeigned love of Him was the power which fueled that yes.  The corollary was the assertion “you become what you behold”, and so the new leader emphasized the focus on Jesus rather than the focus on what is wrong, or bad or in need of being overcome.

And one day, Mama struck!  Bam!  Conviction surrounded the woman in a mercy-cloud, and she realized what she had done.  Her heart broke, as the full realization of the hurt and horror she had authored crashed in on her with the force of a holy hurricane!

Weeks passed before she was able to find the courage and the strength to call the old pastor and ask if he would meet with her…just the two of them (which was like salt in the wound to the righteous, besmirched servant of Jesus)…but he said yes, in fear and trembling, terrified of being torn further but steadfast in the absolute unshakeable conviction that mercy triumphs over justice.

It was quiet in the coffee shop, and they took that lil nook off to the side often inhabited by canoodlers or late night students studying…and there she made her confession.  He listened, grave and tragic, with spirit hurt and open faced and set like flint to not only forgive, but to release redemption…power…transformation.

The woman was relieved, yes…but not free.  And liberty is the ultimate goal of the act of forgiveness, no?

So the pastor, being wise and tenderhearted and in touch with Mama, asked her if he could give her a quest to embark on, which would help her find the peace and healing she desperately desired.  He promised her that it would bring opportunity for her to rebuild and restore and make restitution for what she had stolen with her pride and anger and spite.

“Anything!” she exclaimed!

“Take this money” he said, and handed her a folded sheaf of bills.  “Go to Macys and ask for their very best goose down pillows, and buy 5 of them.”

Five?” she burst out, incredulous and confused?  “Five…why?  Five?”  But he merely smiled and asked that she humour him.

“After you have bought them, drive to Bald Peak Park, clear at the top, and go to the view point looking out over the valley.  Do this in the evening, when the winds have picked up and are blowing fresh and clean.  And then take a knife…a sharp one with edges serrated and jagged…and slash open the pillows, one by one…and then shake them, hard!  Be sure that the down is caught up in the eager hands of the breeze so that every last feather can be born away on the breeze, gone and never to be seen again.  Still there…somewhere… but no longer reachable, touchable, collectible.

“And then wait 5 weeks, one week for every pillow, and then meet me here, at 5:00 PM, and the matter will be concluded that day over our latte.”

Puzzled, a bit tremorous, but not just a little relieved that she had gotten off so lightly with not so much as one harsh word or even a tearful recounting of the pain and suffering and sorrow the former pastor had endured, she thanked him, gave him a proper handshake to show her gratitude (!), and left straight to Macys where she did as she was told.  In fact, that very day serendipitously was quite breezy, in the late summer/early autumn bracing breezy preparation for the serious efforts of losing leaves.

The entire valley yawned before her, from the small but somewhat daunting precipice that the viewpoint was perched on…her knife was a silver serrated carving knife saved for special occasions of celebration, and she thought that was appropriate, for she was celebrating her freedom from her own heinous and bitter poison actions…

…slash…shake…slash…shake…

Five times the process was begun.  Five times it was finished, and when she was done with the last pillow, there was not a feather to be found!  Her sense of freedom was incredible!  Her release was jubilant, and she was flooded with gratitude to God for the forgiveness of her sin, and was believing that what she had just witnessed was God blowing her sins from her “as far as the East is from the West”, and she left rejoicing.

The weeks slowly went by, and when 5 had passed, there was a crust of early snow on Bald Peak.  And the day arrived…

that day…when at last the matter would be laid to rest at last.  She was early to the nook, and looked up in relief when the former pastor crossed the threshold precisely at 5:00 PM, and slid into the booth across from her.  Before he could even say hello, she burst out with her litany of accomplishment and completion and said that it was done.  And she looked at him, expectantly, waiting for the last completing moment.

The pastor looked at her with soft eyes, glistening eyes that were completely aware of the implications of the moment…for the past, for the present…for eternity…

…and then, in soft and tender tones, he said that to set the matter forever at rest, she needed to drive back up to Bald Peak, that very night, and go to the viewpoint, and from there start…gathering…feather by feather…until she had gathered every last one she had sown to the wind five weeks earlier, and put them in a pillowcase and then put them in her attic as a token and memento of the power of words.

She sat, stunned…horror slowly dawning over her countenance like a sickle moon over a cold and bitter night…and then helplessness, and finally despair as she stuttered and choked as she tried to form the words “but…that’s…that’s impossible!!  They are gone, and who can ever find them again??”

The pastor wept silent and gentle, implacable in the confrontation with the power of words, and prayed as he carefully considered his…tears rolled down his cheeks like word-pods, liquid dandelions of possibility and power…

…and he said “Sister, you have said rightly.  Those words can never ever be undone, nor the history they birthed.  But they can be found once again!”

She looked at him in disbelief and simply shrugged her question of impossibility, and waited as he continued…

…“send words out, your hounds of heaven.  Give them the scent of what they are looking for…places of hurt, places of despair and defeat, hovels of pain and lonely sorrow, dungeons of despair and penitentiaries of hate…and then let them off the leash!  Set them baying and alert the heavens ‘the game is afoot! And then think not of them once they have left.  Look instead for the next one, and release it, and the next one.

“Words echo for eternity.  Words live forever.  The power of life and death is in the tongue.  Words can be spoken, foolishly,  like the piercings of a sword, or your tongue can become the medicine of grace, and wisdom, and health…and eternal transformation in whomever you speak to.”

She sat, stunned, silent herself (and for perhaps the first time ever, silent within her own heart, a holy hush into which the Spirit of Grace could speak), tears finally at last streaming as she understood the true reality of liberty and forgiveness…self-limitation on behalf of another, made out of love and grace.

The pastor wiped his eyes, took her hand again (chastely), and simply said “In the words of our Lord so long ago, I do not condemn you or accuse you…I forgive you.  Now go your way, sin no more, and speak life!  Give birth to children eternal and thriving, and contagious with grace.”

And with that, he left.

**     **     **     **     **

Perhaps that story is true…it is an old tale, but many know it, and perhaps someone who knew it actually tried it as an object lesson, and witnessed the events I have related to you this night…perhaps in another life, another skin, another age…

…the caterpillar stage is there for us all, and then comes the chrysalis, which seems like death…

…and then comes the butterfly.

Please.

Know that your words have power, presence…to kill and steal and destroy if spoken in thoughtlessness and quick reaction…or to heal, and restore, and build up if spoken in union with Mama, the Holy Spirit of Wisdom and Grace and Healing in Her wings.

If you have harmed someone…chase not the feathers in the wind.  Rather, send out heaven’s hounds, and let freedom bey and bey!

the game is afoot!

Love, Charissa Grace, chaste holder of hands

(in gratitude, Sis…your words have taken residence in me, and have pushed and poked and settled in…this post is an outgrowth of their power!  Me)

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Editorial Comments on “Haunted By A Lovely God”

Constance…I can tell from some of your emails and contacts that you are feeling good about this poem, as an awesome and metaphorical take on life, a means by which I am communicating my point of view regarding spiritual things…

…thank you for the kind words…

BUT…

This really happened.

Every.     Single.     Word.

I really am, Haunted by a Lovely God

I really do…feel such guilt that They have haunted me, and I am always so torn at why they singled out this fickle girl when there are so many so much more deserving than I.

It is an absolute fact that when I hear someone speak of how God wasn’t there, I grieve sorrowfully and sit, silent and still.

I am also going to be editing a lot…for rhythm.  There is a thrum and pulse in this poem, and it wanders in and out of it, and when I read it aloud more of it comes into focus for me…so check on it a lot, if you enjoy it…it is going to be changing faster than Charissa Grace on her miracle HRT!

Love, lots of love and great puzzled thankfulness for being haunted,

Charissa Gracetumblr_n8x88dliys1r2zs3eo1_1280

Haunted by a Lovely God

(NOTE:  If you wish, you can click here and be taken to a page where I emboldened certain words to try to convey the rhythm and meter of this poem, which is literally essential to it.  But:  if you wish to just wade in, first time thru and let the rhythms and meters rise and fall, fade and disappear and then come back, well that is ideal because that is literally written into the work as its own “poem of rhythm”.  In either case, I hope you are able to read thru it…the things in this poem literally happened to me, with me).

Okay.

I get it.  I do…in spite of what you might think, maybe
several of you, maybe dozens of you, maybe
hundreds, or thousands or millions of you
have endured deserts and mirage oasises
vanished in life when it comes to the subject of God.

I hear your stories, the bitter rants of some, the tired futility
of many others, I have taken venom, been covered in acid,
as I lead face first and I listen to tales of one
thing held in desolate common.

“God’s not here”.
“God wasn’t there”.
“God isn’t real”.
“God doesn’t care”.

I bleed when you cry in anguish, and weep as I
hear your recitals, and then in dark rage, and then
finally in grief, that pools on the dark other
side of the desert, in that null empty kingdom of
Ozymandias the great ruler of Vanity.

You might think I weep sanctimonious, sorrowful
supplicant of righteous standing, who’s crying for
those destitute and benighted, the distant, the stranger and
other, from my tower of ignorant pie in the sky…

You’d be wrong.

I weep in guilt.

Yeah…guilt.

For my tale of dark woe is so anti-tragic,
a Mysterium Tremendum, of a wretch so
shattered and shipwrecked in this desert island

…my body…

My story is different, and I feel so guilty,
confused as to why even in existential
despair I am still on the outside of
the common narrative swirling around me?

Contrary to you, in your longing and noble long
struggle to live, and to surmount desertion and
lost lonely silence by God in Their Heaven above…
I have always been

Haunted by a Lovely God.

When I was little and in my first dawning awareness,
and ageless, I recall that I always heard This Voice,
and at first I thought it outside me, I thought the wind had a
voice, or perhaps it was Trees, but it
never was dirt under my feet, no,
dirt is a tongue-tied dull mute.

As I grew I realized that the voice was inside me…in my heart, and I came to
treasure its company and the glad beauty of thoughts, and of musings. Then
I told my parents what it had told me, and,
flabbergasted, they asked where did I hear that?
And I told them “God.  God told me”
(for that is Who the voice told me They were
and …Jesus like a Shepherd led me).

They laughed!  LAUGHED! And while they were
not mocking, they merely thought
I was mistaken, had fantasized wonders.
So I cried then, and thought that
maybe my parents were right.

And then came the break, the thirsty sword stroke
that cut me to ribbons, my soft girly heart left in shreds…
then the slavery started with harsh words resounding, those
prison door words…and God was still there, holding
me in my tears, wrapped
around my hurt heart…and I longed for death, wanted to
jump in the river from that tall steel bridge I crossed
over each day but God asked me “please”, and…

well…

who can say no to God when They ask “Please?”

Then They would give me a joy for that day…and They
gave me a dog! Oh!  How she and I bonded!
But you have already heard some of the tales of Millie…”Good Old Dog!”  No…
this is the story of me being Haunted…

Haunted By a Lovely God.

One time, I was alone outside our house

(the one in the Pear Orchards down
near the cold creek where my Millie and me chased those
skimmer bugs and slippery pollywogs all live-long day…)

and it was warm in the soft early evening and dusky and glowing ethereal gloaming,
the good dusk…and wind softly rustling thru fruit trees so
heavy with life and the sounds of the living earth echoed around me…

…and then all was silent…

Suddenly, and it caught all my attention immediately! Slowly I
walked to the pear trees and stood, just to listen…and I heard it…something!
The call of a Mourning Dove

(or is it Morning Dove? I can’t distinguish the
One from the other, it seems to shift
back and forth always and ever).

It cooed and it called, and it seemed to me as if it spoke to me,
saying…”Come out to Me, Baby… Come out to Me.  Come home to Me.”

(Lady Grace, She calls me Baby now, here today)

I was so skert! I thought it was a ghost!  And this ghost it was longing for
my tender spirit and if I went out there, it would get inside me and
I would belong to it, always and be its flesh, its living body for
it to inhabit, its dwelling place then and forever.

I wasn’t far from the truth… I look back, I think it was Her, Lady Grace,
Dove come down, Her Voice was calling me, claiming me even then as Her own…
I wonder what would have happened, my life had I heeded Her,
gone to Her, run to Her heedlessly on that first day?

It’s not coincidence that our trees now, all around our house are filled with
Morning Doves (Mourning Doves too), calling, cooing…and pestering people in
our neighborhood, but so comforting to me as totems and emblems,
reminders of Mama’s first call to my hurt lonely soul and my soft tender heart.

Then: it was Veteran’s Day, fall, 1969.
We went to town several miles from home for the parade…I insisted that
Millie come with us, and after the music and marching had ended, we
went to the movies:  “The Love Bug”.  But Millie was left in our Volkswagen van.

(the one that was faded red
with canvas roll back top
and that relentless bamboo pole that
Dad used to poke us and hit us with
when we were clear in the
back and too rowdy and rude.)

and when we came back to the van…
she was gone.

I cannot tell you what that was like. I nearly fainted.  I ran in the
street screaming her name, as cars screeched stop and Dad chased
me hollering “Get Back Here!”

We drove the streets hours and hours, me, head out the window, her name become
my tongue protruding and flapping and desperate in the cold wind.
I screamed that name loud, again and again until I was hoarse, and I kept
screaming, my grief-expiation for killing my dog with my stubborn insistence that she come along.

I tried to bargain with Them…in the sibilant cold and the darkness, I lifted my face:

“I will scream her name until I pass out and can never talk ever again, and then
You
 will receive my burnt offerings of me and give me what I earned with
desperate grief, what I bought with my service…my heart, Millie come back safe home.”

They remained silent, aloof (and I wonder if this is where They were in your tale of sorrow…).
Finally Dad said “she’s gone”…so we had to go home, in that cold rainy dark night of loss
on that day that we remember and honor the valor of
those who faced their fears and endured for me.

I threw up. I do that when I get distraught…I always have done…I cried, and
cried and I cried, and when I had no tears I groaned and keened, inconsolably moaning…
crying til dust poured from my eyes in place of the tears long drained empty by
grief so stark it was a terror strong, threatening to crush me forever.

My folks were hurting for me, so they used what they always had carved me with,
thought was the best for me, raw in my towering emotions and gaugeless deep passions…
words, stern and cruel, words so full of dark violence, and those words’ incarnated beast,
gawd…the spanking…well…yeah, the Red Raving and Hungry Beast.

I was forced to eat my dinner, and I threw it up…on the table, on all the food
laid there for others to eat. Then I got spanked and sent straight up to bed…
where God was silent and no where to be found… but hey, Ima talker, right?
So I cried out to Them into the darkness thick…

(now get this, and understand that I’d been thru the
wringer of Sunday School, Hellfire Sermons,
Damnation Devotions, and I knew enough to be good or the
devil would get me. I once was told: “I will not spank you…
I’m just gonna let satan get you”…and I roamed behind my mom
hours, and wailed agonizing in fear and stark terror, and
begged her to spank me, deliver me from evil on the cross
of my butt, and her hard paddle the hungry
propitiation for my sins and my wrongs…and
I knew that so many times I had done things,
hell-things like say “shit” or steal cookies, or
sneak out the window to sleep with my Millie and
her wriggly puppies though I was forbidden to,
or watch cartoons on a Saturday morning so
early and low before  anyone woke up and caught me at it…and I’d
never been sent to hell…God had not bothered to notice or
even to thunder at me, or make trouble over me, and I
knew lots of people thought God was a fairy tale, which, frankly,
mystified me cus They talked to me so much when I was so little.)

That nite…I cried in a jagged blood whisper, my voice bleeding raw, and the
words, still they linger there, seared deep in me to this very day, now, here with you.

(and now, in this moment… I feel so damn guilty!
Why me??? Why did They talk to me of all people?)

I cried out “God…if You’re really there, real…bring my doggie home…PLEASE!”  Then…
somewhere, somehow, I moved past bargains, and buy-offs and bribes…I had cried my way
thru the stark castle of filthy rags and entered into the place of no exit, the
inner sanctorums of grace, where there’s nothing to buy there with money, and
there is no bargaining, no supplicating, no pleas, there is just the
beginnings of Mercy Free…

and crying out the word please in that dark night, eyes
gummed shut with sorrow and tacky tears I at last faded off into sleep
dreamless as I grieved and wished I was dead, like I did every night, and at
last I knew nothing, released and insensate and absent within the lost
shoals of sleep’s gift of respite from my agony, sorrow and grief.

Until I woke, instant and on point, into an electrical dark of night
black  glowing bright-black that cast light and filled the still air with a
presence, thick, substantive knowing, and threatening to
rend plain reality like the quick ripping of shrouds in the
hands of the dread faced and tall grim deliverers….

…and I heard scritching, and

(oh oh oh)

her whine (that lil ki-yiy-yiy she always used to call me heart to heart)
and I jumped from the top bunk with a thunderous thud loud enough to wake
even the dead and I got up and ran thru our house in that miracle moment:
“GOD BROUGHT BACK MY DOG!”
“GOD BROUGHT BACK MY DOG!!”

Babbling over and over again like a babe, Bartimaeus had nothing on me!
Shattering slumbering sundering darkness and giving voice
to that One Thing that I am:

Haunted by a Lovely God

Fumbling feverishly I rolled the gravestone away in my heart and threw
open the back door where she called me eagerly whining in joyous returning at sunrise…
she’d jumped a 6 foot fence out of obedience so she could come in thru the
Eye of the Needle: the back yard garage door.  She limped and jumped on me
and I went down to the ground, I was crying and kissing her and she was
kissing me too and I ran my hands over her, scarcely believing that she was real,
she was returned, she was home and alive, and my heart was restored unto me.

Then she rolled over, so I could scritch her tummy like she loved
and when I ran my hands over her precious side, my fingers slipped inside
her skin and I drew them back from her side which was pierced and torn open…

(I swear!
I  know, the metaphor seems so damn cheesy, right? It really
happened this way!  That’s the kind of thing I feel so
guilty for… it’s like They shouted it from the Bright Heavens that
I was not ever escaping Their Undying Love never ceasing and
new every morning.  I’m telling you that I have always been
Haunted by a Lovely God).

She had torn open her side, and I’d thrust my hand in just like Thomas and drawn it back,
bloody and warm and changed and I collapsed,

(cus I can’t handle blood, even though it has
handled me, covered me, branded me,
marked and commanded me
forever Under the Mercy)

I murmured brokenly “God hear my prayers, God heard my prayers, God hear my prayers,
God heard my prayers”.

Later, my parents made sure I knew that this was highly unusual, God has more
pressing concerns than my dear dog, or listening to me scream and demand…
yeah, there are all kinds of other prayers over the years, that went up and bounced off…

you know the kind…yeah, those

…and life went on…went on…until

Puberty hit and then hell came home hard to stay…in hair and voice and a
horror-beard (and oh god oh god, oh god down there, oh god please no).
And life required again its cruel ransom, and I wanted, longed to lay me on the gears and cogs
that turned in schools and the church groups that seemed to me incomprehensible
strangers, in their innate knowing of how to move and how to laugh and to be… again
I longed, desired to do away with me…this gender-joke…absurd and ugly mistake, just an
ironic blight on “There” and “Here” because I was neither…here or there, just a null thing

…and then…

…I had another time, deep in the darkness of night and numb tears and dumb talking to Them…

…Them…

1973…14 and awkward and lonely and numb from the bashing I gave me to
un-know who I was and was not supposed to be, allowed to be, allowed…
On that nite, cold and alone in the darkness I told Them that I was not going to follow Them.
I was resigning from being a christian and that I was leaving Them once and for all.

“No offense”, I said. “It’s not you, it’s me”

(I’d yet to discover how this trope is used when we
want to abandon an unwanted suitor or
how its thrown out…to hurt and to wound a familiar dull
lover become coarse and rank and too shrill)

“You have done nothing wrong, You have not failed me, no it’s I who’ve failed You, and
what’s worse, I cannot BUT fail You…always, because I’m a

“horrible boy, I’m an
absent mute girl, I am
nothing, and I count for
nothing and I live on
nothing and I mean more
nothing, just more black
horrible, lost empty nothing.

“I am not going to church anymore,”

(for in those days I, like others around me, assumed that if
you went outside and climbed into the
chicken coop then such a fat happy bird you’d become.)

“…when school starts up again, I’m going to say yes instead of
no thanks when they offer me pot, and offer me drinking, and
offer me bodies and no clothes and company there in the darkness and then I’ll be
numb and feel wanted at least…

“I cannot do it, walk blameless and upright, for
I am a constant habitual wallower in my sin
all the time in my heart, in my mind as I fail ceaseless,
besides, I don’t even desire to be in on this world full of Leavenworth walls…

“I will not fake it!  I refuse to be like them, sitting in their pews…

“with hallelujah on their lips and wanna screw ya in their hearts!

“I’ll stay alive, take my medicine straight and deserved and so bitter…and
maybe if I try I will even manage to conjure up a hearty yummy while
I drain the draughts of despair bone-dry…

“I know You’ll send me to hell…I deserve that, and even more so…I don’t
hold that against You, for You are and You always have been so Beautiful…
no, it is me, blight and curse, it’s just me, a disease in this world and pure poison.”

Fountains of sorrow again welled up, even as I wondered why they could
never be fountains of joy? And I cried and cried…softly so no one could hear me…
my brother sleeping…as always in these cut-off times…and

Millie was newly dead, gone to run free in the fields of her dreams, yet another cruel
tribute collected by Usurper death…that left me so empty,
so cold, so cut-off and bereft.

Until I heard it…the Voice!

Calling me gently (as always), so I held my breath, listened to be sure it was Them, then
I heard a soft quiet question asked so plaintively…

“What would it take?”  (Ummm…whaaa? I didn’t get it)

“What would it take, Precious One? Child, what would it take for you to not check out,
not go away, but to come here and spend time with Us everyday?
Talk to Us, listen and just be for Us… just be Ours always,
just as your dog, Good Old Millie was your friend, and she belonged
only to you?”

This was a careful and startling question and it was quick,
coming at me curving sideways!  So I had to really think!
Something absurd, something so damned unusual, that there was no way it
ever could happen, I mean, don’t get me wrong…I still wanted to be with Them,
wanted to share in Their sweet soft communion, cus I LOVED my Jesus, my Shepherd who
I always dreamed someday would leave the 99 and come to rescue me, I dreamed that
He was my Jester to make me laugh joyously, dreamed that He was my best Friend

…I just wasn’t…His best friend…and I couldn’t fake it. Nope.
So it was crucial I create conditions that even the Almighty God couldn’t meet

…you know…

God cannot make a rock so big that They cannot lift it, but They can do anything
so They can make this rock so big that even They cannot lift it…wait…

I was searching for that Rock that God couldn’t lift… right?  So

I said to Them “If, when I wake this morning, and my dad says ‘Kids we are moving’…
if there’s a strange town so distant where nobody knows me, and no one has
seen me, and I can start over, start fresh and anew, then I’ll choose you forever and
give my heart freely…lock, stock, and barrel, completely to You… I’ll be Your Millie,
all of my days till I die and my sentence is over.”

Silence gave answer…then after a bit…I drifted away breathing
deeply again as my tears crooned soft lullabies
to my hot cheeks, they ran down in such ancient deep
canyons of sorrow…down my face, down my heart,
down my soul to end up glistening in sorrowful streamers.

When I got up the next morning, things didn’t sparkle or gleam, and I didn’t
remember the Voice, the Epiphany…I was just staring at breakfast my mom used to
“cook” me in those days…Shredded Wheat with skim milk…and feeling
…that gulf, that dark feeling. That feeling. Yeah… The relentless sharp
razor slash cutting inside my soul, forever aching and Constant.

I wasn’t list’ning, as Dad droned on talking of somethingorruther… until I heard
him say the word…“moving”…something about that word…
why did it stick out?

Then in a quicksilver windstorm of memory-shredded, each piece was
hitting me, sticking, unripping its way to become one
coherent experience, and I recalled my reply to Their inquiry…
so I turned quickly and asked my dear father what did he just say…and he
said it again! He confirmed it! Just as I’d laid forth, to a T!

Haunted by a Lovely God.

(I feel so guilty… why am I treated thus?
Why me? Why not the prayers of parents
whose children suffer and die in horrible pain for
nothing that they ever did?
Why not the prayers of wives for soldiers
Cain has already marked for death’s dark
gaping foul maw, prayers supplicating
deliverance, protection, but
they go unheeded and
Death eats again?)

And of course, we moved, and I did…commit myself to Them…
once all for always…yep, I was in…And I’ve hated it sometimes, and loved it at others.
I’ve grown and I’ve changed, seen Them change before my eyes as they were
opened and I could see other than my own idolatrous self and that
small god I fashioned, so stunted, blind, deaf and so mute in the
vanity of my self worship when my box, my image of Them I had
made was so gloriously broken!

I’ve sorrowed and railed… I’ve been outcast by mean so called
spiritual family, been stunned by the towering cruelty of those who should
know better, done blindly in the Most Wonderful Name of Them…

Lovely God to me, and so ugly and coarse, buffoonish in their mocking mouths.

I met my darling, and we had our babies…
she/they are amazing miracles…I watch the
lives of my college acquaintances shipwreck, their
marriages foundering on the black jagged rocks of their alluring
careers and blood money…and I watch the children of
hard working salts, such dear people around me, more worthy than I, better
people than I, quaff drugs like their hearts are on fire, and join themselves
numbly to anyone there in those earthquakes of loneliness,
wreckages strewn in their wake and their orphans tossed
careless like litter abandoned.

And I have prayed with these people, so passionate, supplications far more
suitable than my own bumbling tongue-tied petitions and tall ebenezers…
and seen them bounce off, with dust poofing, dry-cloudy in
dull drifting mockery…

…and I feel so guilty.

Such.          Guilt.

Because They have haunted me… They’ve apprehended me… taken me…
They have not let me go, not let me drift… and I,
transgender woman held in such derision by
most of the offspring of the Blood of the Lamb…
The Holy Spirit has even shown me Her Name and Herself, Lady Grace,
and She’s drawn so near to me, to be ma Mère…my Mama, and teach me
my secret heart and my self, so young and emerging.

And yet still I ask myself why am haunted?

I could go on, forever recounting the
stories of Their faithful presence and meddling hands…of

Yosemite Sacred, cathedrals where mountains became the
Triune God, and I fell asunder to claw at the dirt in despairing blood-guiltness and
crying for mercy… and wonder of wonders!
El Capitan: Papa…Half Dome, cut asunder became My Friend Jesus…
Yosemite Falls: my Lady Grace, flowing and washing forever until I am pure…
Bridal Veil Falls was me, shifting emotions and prevarications blown
lacey and wandring across rocky faces but always to Them…
rising up from the ground, clean and unsullied as
Waterdeep sang for me They have been nothing but
Good in my life!

Each time I hear someone’s tale of woe filled with despair or with cynical bitterness flowing,
or just fatigue and futility…I am worse than any teller, and merit less than the askers, more
toxic than anyone else whose had issue with God, or
issue with Their present absence, or make issue with Them because

“there is this construct God which has come
out of nowhere, seemingly and thus doesn’t exist
(unlike anything else which its knowing of testifies to its being)…”

I have not told you this tale to shame you… I who am shame incarnate for so long.
Nor to claim privilege or power, position… I do not have an iota of that.

…I have not told you to lobby, convince you… or
proselytize, or evangelize you. God No!
I have made my expiation to you, my confessors…
The sin I am guilty of? Of this I Charissa Grace stand blood guilty:

Being

Haunted by a Lovely God.

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Suzanne Grossman Writes: “Why I Chose Grace as a Gay Christian”


Suzanne Grossman

 

via Why I Chose Grace as a Gay Christian.

I love this young woman’s faith, courage, and orientation to grace!

Hang in there Suzanne…there are fellow believers who realize that Faith thru Grace in Love is the winning recipe for connection with Them!

Please…read the article, and then think if you had those obstacles in your faith journey, in addition to the common difficulties we face.

Grace and Peace…

Charissa

Christianity and being Transgender – Why I won’t justify my transition

Christianity and being Transgender – Why I won’t justify my transition.

Hi Constance.  I was delighted to run across this article.  It is a decent essay regarding relationship with God and being transgender.  It speaks also of the pain and sorrow of the religious reflex which kicks in and then kicks us in the butt when the fearful and narrow-minded and deeds-based church culture people decide to be judge, jury, and executioner over other’s faith status.

I am posting it because I am hopeful that if you find yourself in this place, as a person of faith who is weirded out by a transgender person, or if you have always assumed that a transperson is mentally ill, trapped in sin and sexually perverted.  Hopefully you will see Meggan’s heart, hear her voice, and realize that she has a life lived in the Redemptive Arms of Love.

Me?  If you really want to know?  As far as being judged by other christians, I don’t give it a second thought.  The presence of the Lord is simply too “there” everyday for me to even entertain the notion that They do not like me.  They draw near, each morning and the conversations of our hearts is edifying and encouraging.  Sometimes They are silent…and Their world sings to my heart of Their beauty and truth and love.

Besides…I have already been judged soo often in the past by people over basically everything you can think of!  Sometimes on the same Sunday morning I would be judged for the very same thing by people who saw it from the opposite stand point!  Sometimes my sermons were too full of scripture!  Sometimes my sermons were not full enough!!

I got to know Abe Lincoln’s famous saying about pleasing people very well…

The last straw for me, the one that set me free, was when we were in the midst of a vicious power struggle as leaders with a spiritually abusive pastor who was far far FAR past his “pull date”, and knew it…but just…couldn’t…let…go…and I was one of the very few who refused to back down in the face of his rage and anger and horrible ways of making people pay.  Many times the wrath would flow…the congregation was about 85% solid on moving on with our new leadership team (leading by plurality), but about 15% were the old guard…didn’t like the new fangled ways like playing guitar and singing choruses and raising hands and waving flags…yunno, really evil things like that.

So…during this time, my father suffered and died from frontal lobe dementia, a rather nasty variant on a nasty phenomenon.

It was so trying, so painful for me.  I loved him so, and still do.

And…after he died, someone sidled up to me in order to “comfort me”, but managed to tell me that he was certain that the Lord would not have killed my father if I had not been in rebellion against the old pastor!!!!!

Yeah…that is why I really could give a rip whatever people think…except for God, and my family, and my friends, and those I serve everyday.  Haters gonna hate…and show their black hearts like simpering socialites at the Cannes film festival.

Just remember…unkind words are never ok, for any reason…especially from those called to speak in the Name of Love Himself.

Love, Charissa Grace

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.

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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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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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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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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Song for the Prodigals: Back in Your Love

When the dark night surrounds me, and I can’t find my way thru
Across the breakers like a beacon–You call my name and bring me back to You.
In the raging storm You calm me, with a pure love like I never knew,
Like a tree, You give me shelter, You comfort me and bring me back to You

Chorus
Back to Your Love, Back to Your Light
Back to Your arms, You make it all right!
Back in Your Love, Back in Your Light,
Back in Your arms, You make it all right
when I come back to you.

In the heart ache, in the sorrow, it seems like there ain’t nothin true,
And I can’t even face tomorrow, but there ain’t nothin else to do.
That’s when Your sweet sweet love comes tumbling down, tumbling down,
to resurrect me from the tomb
You light the flames of Holy Passion, and then You draw me ever back to You.  (Chorus)

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A note to my Dear Friend Heather

Constance:  I have written before about Heather Manning, my friend and counselor.  See my poem Heather, and Her Door, Her Red Door. Well, I just wrote her a loooong newsy email and decided to post parts of it here to give you a flavor of how cool a counselor she is.  I esteem her so highly, and wish the world was such that you could all meet her.  Trust me…you would be blest beyond belief!
Love, Charissa
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Hi Heather,

Hope all is well, and your health and strength is doing good.  I would be happy to pray any specific way should you desire that.  I don’t know how much my prayers get answered?  But I am pretty good at BUGGING Lady Grace all the time, pestering her and pestering her…”Guess what Mama??  I went here, and I did that, and Heather said this and Oh could you please bless Heather and give her strength and heal her and make her laff lots, and oh by the way whatchya doing?  can I do it too…Huh? huh?  Pleasepleaseplease OH A SQUIRREL!!!!”

giggle…I think that is how my prayer life sounds to them!!

I have taken to calling Lady Grace Mama…it just feels soo right, and it feels like She likes it.

So check out the post I wrote while reposting another person’s article on parenting a transgender child.  I thought of you as I wrote it, and the intentionality you bring to the table is awesome

https://charissagrace.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/its-a-baby-red-typewriter-bless-this-parent/

Heather, one of the most salient conversations I ever had was with Father, after my son  made some really poor choices and hurt many people including himself very badly (not physically).  I felt like a failure, of course!  If I had only done this, if I had only done that, if only…etc.

I carried on for a bit, until Father gently began to remind me of free will, of the awesome liberty and sober responsibility of being a choosing-being…and then He said this:  If anyone were to judge the quality of a parent solely on whether the child made mistakes and bad choices, then I am literally the most heinous, worst parent in the entire universe, from the very start!  After all, everyone of my born children save one have not only made mistakes and poor choices, but also rebelled against Me!  Broke relationship with Me!”

That is when I saw that far from being sources of torment and lament, mistakes can be and usually are the seedbeds of fresh revelation and growth, if you have people of grace in your life to love you thru and accept YOU regardless of the mistakes!  In holding you accountable for a mistake, there is also a deep form of acceptance…but that is a far cry from blaming and shaming.

I recall how my son was able to experience in deep deep ways the Love of God from a brand new place and in a new essential way:  His Mercy, His Compassion, Her Grace, Her Comfort, Her Presence, His Deliverance from his awful sadness over what he had done.  I remember how we spent the entire spring and summer that year, meeting in my office 3 times a week, for 2 hours, just talking and studying the Bible together (which is an awesome distraction, btw…put the book in their hands, have them read a few Proverbs out-loud, and ask what that means to them, and before you know it VOILA!!  They are talking of what they need to, and usually saying out-loud the solutions and encouragements they need).

He told me recently that during that time was one of the most incredible experiences of his life, because he actually thought I would disown him!  And when instead I burst into tears with him, and took him on my lap and rocked him and held him and just cried with him, spent literally the next 32 hours straight with him, he knew that it was him that was loved, and not what he did or did not do.  And then he gave me the greatest compliment I have ever received:  He told me that I showed him the Father.

That simple.  He said “Dad, you showed me the Father”.  (I think I was channeling LG, but hey, don’t turn down a compliment!! giggles)  We studied the awesome book of Colossians, and unpacked the literally revolutionary words of Colossians 1:19-22.  When this is parsed in the Greek it reveals such a love and literal freedom that it amazes.)

I wonder a lot these days, if I had known the things I know now about myself, how it would have been different…or if I had known gender issues better how it would have radicalized my teachings regarding parenting skills.

……………………..i have no idea why i went off on that!!!  LOLOLOL!………………………………………

So what I wanted to write to you about was the poetry reading last night!! It was amazing!!!!  There were 25 people there, and I heard that it was the largest group ever for them!

SO check it out:  I wrote a spoken word bebop poem (sorta) that was called Poet Stew.  This poem was a recounting of the meeting 2 weeks ago…how I felt coming in, what happened as people read, and the yummy vibe that ended up happening as this funky amalgamation of people and poems and ideas and weird funky glory.  I riffed on the old tale of Stone Soup, about the guy who convinced a bunch of selfish neighbors to create a soup together, but in my poem’s case, I referred to each one reading as giving an ingredient for our Poet Stew we were making.  It was super fun to write, and seemed to be well received.

But the amazing thing was that I decided to make this vegetarian butternut squash-black bean-chipotle chile!  OMG it is sooo yummy and so easy to make too.  It is not strict vegan because I often use a teaspoon of lobster stock in it.  But I take all fresh ingredients, say the magic songs and prayers and dance the magic sissa dance and shake my bootie and presto!  Instant tastebud bomb!

So I brought up a whole crock pot full, with the lil crostinis like I brought you.  Cilantro and scallion and avocado and cheese were the garnishes.  They scarfed on it!!!! LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!

They meet at 7 PM, and usually just bring snacks and drinks, but they just gobbled it down to NOTHING!  Of course I was delighted.

I think it is literally my favorite thing in the entire world to make amazing food and have a ton of people and give them the food (but laced in the food is magic joy bubbles)…give them wine just right, with no drunkenness…and then hear the sound…the hubbub of many voices laughing, loose, free, and making their own beings as a toast to God whether they know it or not.

TO create a ship and take that journey…omg I wish I could just do that constantly.  I don’t think it is the food so much, though I love to take textures, and types of food, and spices and techniques and add them together just so (and in the proper order)…but I think it is more the actual voyage itself…that wonder-transporting of souls in the presence of food and wine and joy.

I told them I would consider doing that occasionally, and they just freaked!  So I have a good place now to serve in that way and be blest to boot!

I read a couple other poems, and I didn’t do Spitting Bones, mainly because all of the other people’s poems were very intense…now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t offend me or bother me…but I just write differently, I guess.  Even in bleak poems, I feel a sense of creativity and beauty and the wonder of a world oozing pain that is still so beyond incredible…and I have this inner drive to somehow chronicle that.

I want to take my highs, lows, my wonders and my crap and put it all in context of a life lived in faith and hope and love fueled by grace and kindness and compassion…so that the goods recede into the Great of the whole, and the crap is transformed by the whole and becomes highlights and star-lights.  I guess I think that it doesn’t take much to just wallow in my crap, right?  Been there, done that, and all that was different is that I had crap on my outsides as well as on my insides!  LOL

So it is with making poems…looking at things sideways, out of the corner of my heart, so I can see movements that disappear if I stare straight at them.  It isn’t a reluctance to avoid hard things or dark things, but rather it is an assertive application of a resolute determination that this is my Father’s world and it shall someday be and fill that ache and longing that inhabits us all, regardless of class, caste, or cluster.

Thus…I chose other things, and read the sister poem to Spitting Bones, called Many Paths and Peace.  This poem is about many things (which of my poems isn’t!! LOL!)  But specifically, it uses the metaphors to discuss my gender journey…where I was, where I will be, and the process itself which is the actual true destination!!  Paul says in one of his letter “Be renewed….” and it actually translates into “Be BEING renewed!!”  Thus shifting focus from some nebulous achievement, to a realization that it is the actual process of becoming AS A STATE OF BEING that is the real secret to life.

I am so struck, reading Spitting Bones and Many Paths and Peace back to back.  They are sorta the same poem!  Except one is heads, and the other is tails.

Gosh I love that poem.  And it was sooo medicinal to write!  I was wrapped up and worked up from Spitting Bones, and from reading this book called Becoming Myself: embracing God’s Dream of you…by Stasi Eldridge.  It is written to women, and has a ton of good stuff, but some stuff that I felt so cut off from and rendered powerless to access.  What with the content of Spitting Bones and that part of her book I was …uuunnnnfffhhh!  Just aching and no words…until Many Paths and Peace calmed me, refocused me and ultimately helped me transcend.

Hey:  I am trans, so that means that I can TRANSCEND the woes, I don’t have to change them or fix them.  I can’t anyway, so just  transcend, right?  Sorta a new superhero, Super-Transgender-girl!

And I also shared one more…and I freaking love this poem because it is ridden with multiplicities, and intricate weavings of levels and metaphors…and yet is completely accessible and wonderfully fierce like a good taco on its most surface and carnal level (carnal used descriptively and not as a moral evaluation).  Everyone sat spellbound as I read.  It was so cool…and actually Heather, it was like my poetry came alive when it was heard by the listeners.  They were like wind beneath the poem-kites wings and oh how it soared and tugged on the line as I read!

DAMN I LOVE THAT POEM!!!!!!!

(omg you will LOVE THIS!!!  Mama just said into my heart that when I write these sorts of poems to my lover?  At a very deep level I am writing it to myself!!!!! omfg!!!!  That means She is wanting me to love myself and receive myself as I do my baby!  And…um…hmmmm….must think!  Ditz-meter on TILT! TILT!)

But yeah, Harvest (metaphor), Vineyard (metaphor), Wine (metaphor), Crush (metaphor), Lovemaking (metaphor) and finally Communion (Ultimate  Summation Metaphor)..

There was a transgender woman there besides me…further along than me.  She was sooo nice.  She was incredibly welcoming, and I felt my spirit interact with her and that was really new for me, meeting someone else who was trans and feeling a sense of kinship and likeness.

There was a young woman there named Rose, and…

She. was. amazing.

She read a poem about gender written by someone else that tore me open, and then she read one she had written about a spirit of a young woman named Suzie who had appeared to her pleading for someone to tell her story.  Rose gave herself to that task and as she read the poem Suzie, Rose turned me inside out!  Somehow the story of that lost lonely abused soul just gripped me, and I identified with it so deeply.  I told her after that I was touched and had a fab convo.

It was a great time.

Omg Heather…where have you been in my life?  I am meeting people so often everyday, and throughout my life I have this recurring  waking dream/visualizing that I have always done…if I could build a community somewhere, and choose who would live there in my tribe, who would be there?

It is not a very big list surprisingly, probably less than 30 people…but to get in it has to be one of those frissons like when I met you, like the recognizing of an ancestor, or the bond of a tribe mate.  In my visualizing of this, your house would be near ours, but on the other side of the Wise Woman’s hut (which is and alsways has been at the center of the village which is laid out circularly…no one is going to live around any corners in MY village!! LOL).  We have adjoining big gardens, and they adjoin on my left hand and thus on your right.  There are no fences or boundaries, and yet the delineation is marked and distinct in that we have complementary crops and plants…and lots of the herbs needed for healings too.

Our lil niche is for the people who are of the same bent, what with the builders and the shakers and movers in other parts of the circles,occupied with enterprise and commerce and the like, our part is engaged with inner-prize, and becoming.  The priests and teachers of the way are near, but in a different place than this place of transcendent sacredness and down to earth homeyness.

Our families are very companionable, but you and me and often my baby and other women that I have deeply admired over the decades regularly get together in the Wise Woman’s Hut…and we never know if She will be there when we meet.  She can have been away for weeks, and yet we walk in and THERE SHE IS…having somehow gotten home without our knowing.  Sometimes She shows up in the middle of things, and sometimes She is there, and summons us.

I cannot see what we do there, but whatever it is it is SUPER COOL!  giggle.

How I go on!  LOL  My wise beloved laughingly tells me that I have bff-itis!  And she regales me with tales of her girlhood of developing crushes on friends that had nothing to do with sexuality but everything to do with wanting that friend that connects in the heart.

Ordinarily I would be quite reticent to express such sentiment to “my therapist”…transference and all that rot, right?  Keep that client-therapist relationship clear and above board.  I remember all the teaching regarding how the very healing relationship can become toxic and upside down if great care is not exercised…but omg, I never saw you put on that freaking “I am the therapist doing my thing” Hat!  You Eschewed it from the start…and in that regard I think you made such a choice of wisdom.  Let me elaborate:  (whaaaa…??  ME??  ELABORATE??????)

My own sense of self was that I was mentally whole and spiritually whole, flaws, failures and blind spots not withstanding.  I didn’t feel like I was a mystery to myself so much, or even a threat to myself…but the wrenching I had undergone for years from some unknown planet exerting such gravitational force on my life orbit had suddenly begun to change, because that planet was identified!  I wanted to talk, and learn, and explore.

However, I was so desperate at last and had been humbled enough to even ask for help that I wanted to keep everything on the table, including the possibility that I was deluded and actually crazy as an outhouse rat!  So I was not going to kick if you HAD donned that hat!

But no!  You looked at me, and said HI CHARISSA!!!  With your eyes, words, not words, and smile.  It was waaay more like ok girl we gotta get you out there!  Never once the jargon, the jingle-jangle of “sessions”…but instead a dialogue resumed from whenever it last stopped and from wherever it first began.

So, I don’t think this is transference or any such sort of thing.  SO I am just gushy to ya!  Ya gonna get the ‘Rissa Rap!  lol.

Whew…I am typed out I think…for now!  LOL!

Bless you today and always.  May LG be at your side and opening the eyes of your heart to the issues and opportunities that lay resident in every single person you meet, and may your faith be strengthened that not one meeting with anyone is pure chance.

Love Always,

Your sister and grateful friend Charissa

It’s a Baby! – Red Typewriter (BLESS THIS PARENT!!!)

It’s a Baby! – Red Typewriter.

Just wow…a great example for parents going forward.

Hint:  should you and your beloved decide to create the Image of God fresh and new from the joining of you two into one flesh, be mindful that if you are fortunate and blessed, you will become the parents of a healthy Baby Image Bearer of God!

Remember Them?  The Ones in Whose Image we are created?  And as Image Bearers, we are Image Sharers as well, and thus find as our Quest the high and important journey of becoming!  Loving, Joyful, Peaceful, Kind, Gentle, Good, Faithful, Patient, and in Control of our Self (ruling our spirits wisely and with comeliness).

We share another quality with Them:  we possess gender, received from Them, the Source of Gender.  We share hearts, received from Them, and some of those hearts will look like the Father’s, and some of those hearts will look like Jesus’s, and some of those hearts will look like Lady Grace’s (me, me me!! oh PLEASE LG!! Me too???)

So as a parent of this brand new, fresh, and yet to become Image Bearer, do yourselves, others and above all your child a huge favor?  Don’t give them any cause to stumble!  Including a gender stumbling block, okay?  Trust…they will know themselves far better if you are not parenting from fear, and will become the person God has created them to be.

Let that be your dream and goal:  God, help me to see my child as You made them, and help me to vision with you in assisting them to become all You have gifted them to become in this amazing sphere of creation.

Love and Grace to you always,

Charissa

A l’il word about gender and morality

**************UPDATED****************

corrected spelling from bionically to biblically!!!  Oh those flying fingers!

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Hi Constance!

Confession time:  in the dark years, between the severity of the events of early childhood and the death of my father in 2005, I dwelt in Christendom.  Pretty much the down the middle, fairly conservative and fundamentalist, adhering to the Apostles’ Creed variety.  We believed that the Bible was God’s inspired word and contained guidance for our lives.  We believed it was “literally true”, but well understood the use of literary devices so that often times passages had to be understood metaphorically when context demanded it (literary, cultural, and theological contexts).  Example:  when Canaan was referred to as a land flowing with milk and honey, it was clearly taught to me that this was a poetic way to speak of it being a place of promise and fruitfulness.

I was taught that the Bible is also an unflinching record of human beings’ tragic brokenness, and how existence for beings created in the Image of God plays out when the vital union with their spirit and God’s is severed.

We believed that Jesus was God Incarnate, come in the flesh to manifest that great transaction of eternity past by which He redeems all things and sets the clock ticking on the final coming Someday when the City of God descends to Earth and the cleansing scours all rot away and we step into that Ever-Morning.

We believed in the Holy Spirit, but denied the power of the Spirit in any way that was considered charismatic.

And we believed that sexuality was sacred and reserved for a monogamous marriage relationship.  In that context sex was beautiful and condoned for any purpose the couple mutually agreed on, with the caveat that God be glorified.

I still believe all of those things…with a lot of caveats now, and many adjustments made due to maturity, growth, and encountering God more personally as I grew (and that thanks to THEIR insistence, not some great spirituality of my own!).  My understanding of the Bible has increased in depth and scope, and I am far less dogmatically attached to many peripheral teachings that used to get added in as axioms.

I have experienced the Holy Spirit and (Her) ministry in a very personal and profound way.  If you read here frequently, you know I am not shy about identifying Her as Mama…She…and come on:  God has no gender, God is the source of gender!  He has chosen to reveal Himself as Father, and as Son, for reasons that I frankly do not fully understand anymore than I understand that Mama is revealed as feminine. (I know this about Her the same way I know the other about the Father and the Son:  the language!)

But this I do understand:  Jesus came to break down all dividing walls, to set every captive free, and to remove anyone who exerts power over another from that Throne.  Thus, in Him there is no slave or free, no greek nor jew, and no male nor female.  This is not a denial that these things exist!  Rather it is the repudiation of the inherent positions of privilege and power, putting all on level ground before Him in liberty.

But the biggest area of adjustment:  Sexuality and morality.

I confess that I knew nothing about “alternative lifestyles”, as I was taught to classify them, except that they were bad, and that if you loved God, you simply didn’t go there or associate with those who did…unless you were ever so magnanimously showing up to oh so sweetly let them know they were sinning and going to Hell but you would be tickled pink to lead them away from their sinful ways.

Gaaakkk!!  I look back on it now, and mourn.  I was totally blind to how I came across to others, how judgemental I was a priori, and how deeply I practised “othering” as a lifestyle and even worse evangelism technique!

I think it is this unique history of mine that has positioned me as potentially one who might help others in that ghetto of christendom begin to find the bones and blood of their Faith, and become again the “Little Christs” that we have lost sight of.  See…like Paul, I could match my pedigree with any one of you.  Educated, saved for 51 years of my 55 here on the planet.  Married to a woman who likewise is a believer devoted all her life as well.  Educated to a high degree.  Decades in Sunday Schools, first as a student, and then as a teacher.  Leader, elder, pastor, conference speaker, travelling ministry…I have pretty much done it all, in terms of the categories of “bona fides”.

I had no outside sexual interests…my Beloved is my all, and I was smitten literally in the first instant I saw her.  I have lived (by all ways these things were outwardly judged) an acceptable and moral lifestyle.  While I have seen pornography (in this age, sadly, who hasn’t?), it has never had a grip or hold on me like it has gained foothold in so many.  I never had any sexually deviant habits, practices or thoughts really.

An aside:  I am using the term “sexually deviant” referencing the point of view I was brought up in, and the possible point of view for lots of christians who wrongly assume that being transgender is an inherently immoral choice.

In short, what I am trying to say is that in a way similar to the Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 3, when he sought to give his credentials and qualifications for boasting in the flesh if her were to boast, I too could say that I was a “Hebrew of Hebrews”, in the sense that I am nearly positive that if any of you believers met me then you would have assumed I was a “with-it, has it all together, successful and committed christian!”

Now…that is not a boast!!  Because inside that person was this hurting, lonely, fractured and parasuicidal person!  Every ounce of spiritual discipline I had was dedicated and devoted to hanging on for dear life to the One who had saved me and brought me thru many waters and fires.

The desolation, the confusion and outright despair were palpable and dark.  I went thru counseling, inner healing, let the deliverance bunch have a go at me (though they all agreed I had no demons!! LOLOL!!  I find that so funny in light of how immediately I was judged demon possessed by the fearful who had known me 30 years)…it was the faith that Jesus gave me, and the manifold abundant Grace of Mama that kept me alive.

When Dad died, the person I am on the inside somehow “knew” it was now safe to go out, and for the first time in my life since early childhood, I got some women’s clothing and dressed properly!  From my perspective, I had cross-dressed as a man for nearly 50 years!  So to dress in women’s clothes, from the standpoint of outside judges, would be called cross dressing, but for me it was stopping cross dressing!!

I was open with my darling about it.  We walk step by step together, and hand in hand.  Her first concern was that it was some weird sexual thing!

It is always that way in those circles, sadly…if we don’t understand it, it must be perverted or sexually immoral!

But she quickly realized that this wasn’t the case whatsoever. It was physically evident to her that I did not get a thrill from this (use your imagination), and she very soon sensed the greater peace, happiness, joy, and bubbly person that I am.  She used to lament…”Why are you this amazing person for these short periods and then you get so sad, and you put yourself down so much?”

It’s true…I used to say that I thought nobody loved me, and that I was bad (could never give a reason, I just felt I was bad for existing at all!), that I should be dead, and other horrible things like that.  She would ask why, and I simply said, with tears streaming, “I don’t know, Baby, I don’t know, I just should be dead”.

But as time passed, she truly saw the vital and essential nature of who I really am coming forward.

Time passed, and we did more and more reading, and began to be educated as to the difference between gender identity and sexual preference and practice.

Thus, for us the major hurdle was over…I am not sexually immoral as a transgender person.  I am not a transvestite, or any of the other pejoratives that get painted on us.

So what I am trying to say is this:  if you are a conservative denizen of christendom, and you automatically assume that transgender people are inherently immoral or bent or deviant, what do you do with me?

(and by the way, I have met and know of several transgender christians who are lovely lovey people and probably better people than I!!)

I can easily keep up biblically with you.  I had fabulous bible teachers who taught me hermeneutics and the proper rules of exegesis.  I studied the major theologies of christendom.  I studied the liberal higher critical models.  I read the bible daily and talk openly with God constantly (in fact I am prolly a pest to Mama!  “Hey, Mama, whatchya doin?? Huh?  Whatchaya doin??  Can I do it too??? etc. etc!  🙂   ).

I counsel others, I pray with the lonely and hurting if they are open.  I serve others and delight in kindness…I feel the pleasure of God in my soul!

And I have never ever, by the testimony of my family, friends, and acquaintances, been nicer, or happier, or more content.

No, friend…the morality involved here is on the part of the fearful, who lack the courage to let themselves become informed, and then practice the essence of their faith to love, and love freely and without judgement.

Do us all a favor:  read the articles I post.  Consider reading other things.  Volunteer at the local LGTB center, and hang out with some transgender people.  You just might be shocked to discover they are actually regular people just like you and me…and that God loves them.

 

thanks for reading, and thanks for considering my point of view.

 

Love, Charissa

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