I am reading a book by a woman named Stasi Eldridge, called Becoming Myself: embracing God’s dream of you.
Wow. Let me tell you a little story first. Years and years ago, when my baby and me and our kids regularly attended meetings in a building on Sundays (this is referred to unthinkingly as “going to church”, church being the building and the service that is held in the building…a pet peeve of mine that church isn’t going to people, but that’s a different post! giggles), I was heavily involved in the administration of these services, both in front and behind the scenes.
As a person blessed to have been born into an intact family with strong christian beliefs and principles, I was exposed enough to the Lord to get infected and not inoculated.
chew that notion for awhile: are you infected, or inoculated?
My roots went deep, and God had faithfully and very mercifully revealed Himself enough that I hungered and thirsted for His presence. So it was a natural thing that I be tapped for that particular activity that we have labelled “ministry”.
Now, in the process of that, I was involved in small groups, home groups, bible studies…oh, and then the meetings I hated the most: Men’s Group! OMG, we had all these macho names we cycled thru, of who we were, and who we were supposed to be. I sat in countless breakfasts on Saturday morning watching these “animals” shovel food down their gullets that was grease-laden and starchy and all I could think was that I would balloon 10 lbs if I ate an ounce!
Men’s retreats, Promise Keepers, I saw it all…omg and then the books I was handed to study! Good books, for the most part, but so irrelevant to my life, and soo depressing to read. Because it was simultaneously an indictment of my failure and a curse on my being. Oh, I was good enough at comprehending what was taught, and applying it best I could as a worshipper of God and the parent of children I love and the spouse of a person I adore! But it was a curse…cus I wasn’t what they told me I ought to be…and a burden cus it went against the very warp and weft of my heart!
My honey would go to Women of Faith conferences, Women’s retreats, Women’s Tea Social and Fellowship time, and various asundry other things, and wow did I get sad! (But I got good brownie points for being so interested in what she learned! LOL).
So anyway, one author in particular that I struggled with was Jon Eldridge! Such a seemingly good man, and a fabulous writer, his emphasis was on being robust adventurers for the Lord. Being a man meant striding out confidently with clear vision, being on fire and committed, and being tough and resolute spiritually and mentally.
THAT. JUST. WASN’T. ME.
So I ended up slogging thru this stuff and learning it, so I could teach it to the men that I was thrown in with…and also so I could take my daughters aside and show them the kinds of things that men are thinking, not thinking, and being taught in churches.
Eventually, we were casualties of a split church, a nasty leadership fight, and the wagging tongues of gossip, and in the year that we lost my father in July and my baby’s mother in November, we resigned from the church and started “detox!” One of the hardest things I have gone thru, and one of the best as well! Huge lacks were revealed in our lives that had to do with having real relationships. Tragically, every relationship in our lives had been built on the sinking sand of “ministry”…so when ministry was gone, so was anything built on it! This was in 2005.
Since that time, we have attended many groups referred to as Church, some for months and some for weeks, but mostly, we have tried to live, and be kind, and we have continued in our journey together with the Lord. And of course for me, beginning shortly after Dad died, Lady Grace began to actively dismantle all my shields and walls…and set me free.
So back to the present: I am reading Stasi Eldridge’s book. She is Jon’s wife. Little did I know then that I was reading the wrong Eldridge! LOLOLOL!!
This book touches me with nearly every word. Oh, it is not complicated intellectually, or high and majestic theologically…no, this book is written from the heart of someone who for years felt the same way about herself as I feel (and this is more “felt”, praise the Lord! 🙂 ). She put things into words that I had previously lacked vocabulary for. She writes with her heart, and speaks to my heart.
I am recommending this book, pending completion of it, but I don’t think it is going to take any funky turn.
I do wonder, though…how would she feel if she knew that she was blessing a transgender woman, and providing her with the spiritual sustenance to see her through to the end of her transition? This exemplifies a far broader concern and area of a lot of apprehension…what will be the reaction of that group of people called “The Church” in our culture when or if I ever try to attend services and worship the Lord? Based on the things I heard men saying all those years, I tremble with fear and my heart quails. Based on the way I saw women in those days rip each other to shreds with their words and rivalries and competitions, I want to sink into the sea before I go into some den of lions like that.
But then there are the ladies I am meeting here…Dani who blogs here…and a new friend named Kaitie Bortell who also blogs here. They have been kind, edifying, encouraging, and have warmed my heart so with hope and joy. Maybe there are others like them in all of the “churches”?
And maybe, in embracing God’s dream for me, He will send me into those places to break down walls and to build up the broken and set captives free. It terrifies me to think on. But consider the odds: if transgenderism is statistically more common than cleft pallet, then there are literally thousands of transgender people, suffering silently as did I for all those years, fearful of being condemned and policed. And consider also: since homosexuality is far more statistically present than transgenderism, there are even more, suffering under the same fears and accusations.
It is not my place to figure out someone’s sexuality. It is not my place to scrutinize them, trying to figure out if they or anyone for that matter, is a real christian! But it is my place to be kind…to bless and not curse…to love them, freely with no expectation of return but great hope of increase…and to be merciful and sit with the broken and ooze Grace upon Grace upon Grace!
Maybe Lady Grace will call me to break down walls, and build up the ancient ruins…and maybe Lady Grace will call me to cook everyday for my loved ones and take care of our household. That is up to Father, Jesus and Her. In the meantime, I am going to keep on plowing thru Stasi’s book, and pray for the courage to Become Myself, as God would have me become.
May Grace multiply to you always with the Peace of all peace…