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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A book I want to recommend…

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…

Charissa

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