My last blog post was in 2014. Well. Here I am, writing again.
I teach a thing called Responsible Transparency. I believe it is essential to the life of a Christian because it shows others where the broken places are; it shows our weakness. Responsible, because there is such a thing as oversharing. It happens when we share out of a desire for attention or to further our hypocrisy. We are all, after all, hypocrites.Hypocrisy is just the unit of measurement between the face I show to the world and the face I know to be true that stares back at me from the mirror and haunts my sleeplessness with accusations of darkness. The distance between those faces is measured in hypocrisy. We also overshare when we give someone more information than they are capable of handling; we may feel better but it injures the other person. In an extreme example: Don’t tell your six year old about your crack addiction. Get it?
Responsible Transparency as a practice reduces hypocrisy, and according to scripture, elevates God, for in our weakness,we are strong. Unfortunately, to teach it correctly requires I practice it and sometimes that means sharing not just my weaknesses in terms of sin, but also in terms of struggle. Since 2013 my family has lived in nearly constant struggle, so I quit blogging–writing altogether actually. But time and circumstance, and the unyielding fury of the blazing hurricane that is the Holy Spirit have brought me here to be transparent. Hold on tight.
In 2013, at the end of their Freshman year of High School, my eldest child was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder with Panic Disorder, and Gender Dysphoria. We were already looking at colleges, including some pretty heavy hitters like Rice and Columbia. All of us, including The Eldest had been busily planning the future when suddenly, the future changed.
The panic disorder was so severe that it forced my child to leave public school and changed our lifestyle. The Gender Dysphoria changed everything else.
Now, before we find an argument between the “God doesn’t make mistakes” people and the “transgender is a natural thing, not a mental health issue” people, lets get a few things straight. First of all, Gender Dysphoria is not the same as Gender Nonconformity. Dysphoria is the diagnosis for folks who can’t cope with their nonconformity. Secondly, it has an amazingly high suicide rate, especially among presenting teenagers. Thirdly, God doesn’t cause it any more than He causes cancer. To sum up: obviously it is a mental illness; there are actually Gender Noncomforming people (scripture seems to support that thought); and if you think everything in creation is working correctly, you have bad theology, if you blame it on God you have worse theology. I should also add, it’s my kid, and I will love them until the last day of entropy and beyond, doing everything in my power to give a shot at a normal, healed life, whatever that looks like. Now that is good theology.
My kid, we will say “F” for now, was assigned female at birth. I use that term because that is what they requested if I wrote about it. Now they are presenting as male. Sort of. It’s much more complicated and maybe I will blog about that another time. Mental illness in your children is a scorched earth kind of experience; more so when the name and identity you gave them becomes part of the driving force behind the disease, so they discard them out of necessity. I can’t explain it to you except to say that you feel like you are losing everything, almost like the child that you remember has died, almost, and been replaced by a different person. Now you love the new person because you know who it is……but there is so much lost…so many things that you can’t remember without pain and grief. And that is with my child handling it in the most loving way imaginable, by choosing a new name that fit our family pattern and meant largely the same thing as their given birth name. I can’t imagine how hard it would be otherwise.
And ultimately, by bits, you adjust, because to not give support and push them towards the abyss of depression and suicide is unthinkable and unloving. You pray and consult scripture if you are of the Faith. You educate yourself. You sit under the teaching of the Holy Spirit and begin to understand how little you really understand. You cry, a lot, hopefully with your loving partner who is on the same page with you. And then you just step out on faith because you can do nothing else.
Some of our Christian brothers and sisters have prayed with us, been supportive, wrapped their arms around us and done everything they knew to do. Some of them have looked at us sidelong, wondering who sinned, the child or the parents, that this happened; as if Karin and I haven’t second guessed every decision for the past 18 years. No one said that of course, that would break the hypocrisy rules, (see above), but I’ve known some of them and the Church for a long time and can read the signs. I see the nasty remarks on Facebook and read the “Christian” shots taken at Jenner and the LGBTQ community with a more personal understanding and anger than ever before.And I was already angry.
Fortunately, “F” and I and Karin have both held on to our faith and trust that God knows what He’s doing. That’s all for now on that subject.
In 2015 and the beginning of 2016 we unexpectedly lost both of my parents, less than six months apart. Next time.