The Grace Letter
1998: Christmas Remembered
The view from the balcony of my apartment is so tranquil. I sit in my mother's old dining room chair and drink my morning coffee as I look at the ducks on the small body of water, bounded by eucalyptus and palm trees.
"Wack, wack"; waddle, waddle. Duck society is so simple. When I walk down to the path, they swim up to the bank waiting for my bread crumbs. Life is easy for these ducks. But I don't envy them. They don't know the joy of resting, because they have never done anything else.
After months of letters, résumés, and interviews, I finally found the right situation for a fresh start in my profession. It required me to move to a Western state, but would allow me to do the work I have been trained to do. I am absolutely convinced it was the answer to my prayers.
The tedious paperwork which always precedes such a move would take until early November. This would allow for some necessary business in the meantime.
I left Georgia at the end of September, driving west. Three days later I arrived in my new home. I had only a few days to move in, and unpack my boxes, before catching a flight to Wisconsin.
Evaluations from therapists and physicians had already been sent; all was in order. After an office examination, I was admitted to the hospital and underwent sex reassignment surgery.
The surgery and recovery were without complications. Eventually I was discharged and flew back to my new home. Thanks to the prayers of so many persons, and the diligent care of a good friend, I have regained my strength.
I will begin my new job soon. Until then, I have enjoyed the opportunity to recuperate slowly.
For a few weeks I, too, have been able to rest. It is the first time in over two years. Since I started plans for my transition, a great deal of time has been spent in "sorrow, and crying, and pain." The majority of transsexual persons who make this change in midlife would say the same.
There is the pain of realizing that this conflict will never leave; it must be accepted if there is ever a hope for peace.
There is the crying which comes from sharing the pain with loved ones, knowing they have not had years to cope with it and reach an understanding; watching them withdraw with their own pain.
There is the sorrow of severing friendships with those who misunderstand; often losing one's life's work and starting over; sometimes even moving far from home.
I experienced all these things. How could I possibly continue my transition, in the face of such adversity?
I could never have begun, much less completed, a transition, without assurance that my Lord understood and allowed this to happen in my life. This assurance did not come easily.
In previous issues of this letter, I have written of the anguish of doubt, of wondering why this was happening to me. I prayed for years for my gender conflict to be taken away. Instead, it intensified more and more.
I finally came to realize the truth: my gender conflict was similar to any other birth defect. Like a cleft palate, or a deformed heart, I was born with it.
It was not "God's will" for me to have this incurable condition. Instead, God gives me the strength to cope with it, and in His time He gives a solution.
I didn't understand the solution. For years I thought my solution would be to be freed from my transsexualism. You may recall the column in which I discussed First Corinthians 10:13:
"A way out." Even during my transition, I could not see it. There was no way out. Unless I could change my body to fit my spirit, I would never know peace.
As my transition progressed, I had more and more assurance of God's guidance and protection. I approached the surgery with calm confidence, believing God would guide my physician.
On the night before the operation, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. As usual, I didn't plan my words, but just let them flow from the heart. That is why, without even realizing what I was saying, I found myself praying:
"Lord, thank you for giving me a way out of this conflict that has plagued my life for so long." And then I realized what I had said, and I cried for joy.
He had answered the prayer I had prayed all those years! He gives the surgeon skill and knowledge to repair other birth defects, and mine is no different. For me, a healing had already been taking place, and the surgery was just another step in the healing.
As time passes, He is even healing my relationships. Some friends and family have realized the truth of my conflict and its resolution, and have resumed contact with me.
One was the sermon itself, which was taken from James 4: 14-15.
Even this dilemma of transsexualism had its solution, and I reached it by seeking God's will. Don't take my experience and automatically assume it will be yours. Perhaps you can resolve your dilemma in another way. If so, God will reveal your own "way out".
However, if you find your direction involves a complete and lasting change, then trust Him to guide your every step. You will always be glad you did.
I said there were two events which drew me to my new church home. The second was one of the worship choruses. It was not in the hymnbook, and so the words were displayed on a large video screen to aid the congregation.
As we came to the refrain, I knew He had led me here today.
Yes. Thank you, Lord.