Tuesday, March 07, 2017

A Prayer

Certain events have happened in my life that make me wonder about the existence of God.  And I know I'm not unique in that -- that's true of anyone's life -- even Christ questioned God in His Agony.  And I'm aware of the beauty and joy of creation, nature and people and their souls.  But when one's life utterly changes, the work of so many years thrown away, useful in some ways for a greater understanding of people, but sad and some basics of my life gone too, in ways far too intimate to talk about here.

When my life changed, and as I became Julie not Joe, and as my brain and soul changed to open up more and to be better, there were those that thought I was crazy, good friends and family who cared about me and what they thought this changed signified about my mental health, that I might be insane.  The conservative Catholic ones, who still believe in Satan, wondered if I had been overcome by a demon too.

Sometimes the guilt never ends, the guilt of being so different.  But I've been far enough along in life now to know that this is who I am, and I have to cope with the fallout, as best I can, while causing harm to the least number of people.  

I cope in good and bad ways.  One of the bad ways is that I am subject to crippling self-doubt -- is this what God would have me do?  I can and always could feel God, except when the cold dark grey blanket of depression descends everywhere.  When that happens I feel the absence of God, the hole at my center of my presence lacking Presence, and that leads to further agony.

When I was young, around twelve I think, I had a dream.  I was in a pine woods, dressed in a priest's long black dress, with a collar, and I recall my parents looking for me and being unable to find me in those woods, and then finally finding me and being sad because of how I was dressed, and the distance it put between us.  I remember another dream around that time too, a horrendously frightening angel, outside the windows on the Acme supermarket in Narberth, when I used to go with my mom, waiting for me, for I knew not what, but it wasn't going to be good.

Now I am in a place where the federal and some state governments and many people view me as essentially an unclear leper -- mentally ill, sexually deviant.  Maybe they're right, maybe some of my friends and family are right.  Why would God create someone so outside the norm? 

I don’t know that.  Why isn't for me or anyone really to know.  Your thoughts are not God’s thoughts, Isiah said.  I know is that each of us need meaning to live too.  And my meaning is simply to do what God would have me do, since I was twelve and had those dreams, while being as God created me to be.   And every so often there is a brilliant flash of something that I understand.  A friend of mine told me last night that he has had to choose between personal happiness and helping people.  It's that simple maybe.

On Saturday afternoon, I got a handwritten letter.  Addressed in pencil.  It was also stamped with the words -- INMATE MAIL -- it says on the outside of the envelope.  Her tale -- she is trans in a guy's prison - is horrific.  Maybe I can help her.  At some cost of time and money, taking away from things that actually would make money.  And maybe not, but I won't know that until I can summon the personal courage to confront more persons and more groups about dignity for her, a trans sister.

But if I do thing just right, I think of it as trying to engage in so many patterns in so many lives,  in a constantly good way, recognizing that each moment may have something some greater meaning too.  And that is a joyous time.  The joy of Christ.  But it's too easy to fall away.  Even Paul said the spirit is willing the flesh is weak.  And I am all too familiar with that. 

But Christ said that we shouldn't worry.  Do not worry little one. 

It's just that I have seen the dead sparrows, lying there, on the sidewalk, and I have seen the innocence of youth die, and I have seen the suffering of inmates, and I worry for myself.  The edge is so thin sometimes the worry turns into depression unable to move to accept anything from the world, and sometimes it turns into shrieking demons, and I don't know if they are real or not, but Satan does exist I know and his legions.   

So right now is it best to help the prisoner, do not worry about what I eat or where I live or the crippling abandonment?  My fear is that I am cursed by God because I am violating fundamental precepts of His in my life, the thundering Old Testament God, and the cursing New Testament Christ, who threatened and killed the fig tree because it didn't bear fruit, and warning of being cast out with wailing and gnashing of teeth because I am trans and that is so different.

And even worse I am helping my fellow trans people.  Like the prisoner and so many with so many needs.  And even me...oh my god I can’t even pee by law in a woman's bathroom in some places.  See me below.  I'm the one in the middle.  Some states, like North Carolina, want me to pee with the guys on either side of me.  Really?

All that's left sometimes is the promise of the old woman who touched His cloak and was healed or the widow who kept knocking until the door was answered.  (And sometimes I knock annoyingly and almost angrily like Mary at the wedding of Cana, like God it's time to show up now, and I used to feel guilty about that as well until my grandmother and mother both told me they did it too.)

But ultimately I get dragged back into this fight for basic dignity for the shunned.  Because I'm one too.  It is elemental, stripping me to basic things, literally and in so many ways.  It is an awesome thing.  I am challenged daily, in my life and in others who reach out to me.  So maybe I can be a fool, like Paul being a fool for God (although I wonder how Paul would greet me?  hmmmm...) and trusting with the faith that moves mountains and not worrying about where I lay my head or my food and clothing, or spilling my soul here in this prayer, but it is sometimes shaken, all too often.  I believe Lord help my disbelief.  Because You are all I have now.  And even that happened to You, there in the Garden.  Wow. 


  1. I read with interest your powerful, prayerful posting, and I can only say, "I wish you well in your journey in Christ's footsteps." We all have challenges, and some are more difficult than others; you have, however, a good frame of mind and comforted soul if you persist in your discipleship. I do not mean this to sound like a sermon (i.e., far be it from me to exhort anyone else), but it is meant as a message from another disciple with different challenges.

  2. Thanks Tim for your comments.

  3. Julie, this is so powerful. The Jesus I know is right there with you in loving alliance and solidarity with the shunned. As a priest I want to take away that feeling that you are somehow wrong or doing wrong. From my perspective God delights in you move deeper into your unique truth and the gifts of your particular soul.

  4. Hi Julie,
    Just remember that faith means being capable of bearing doubt, and if religion means anything it means serving as a vehicle for the unique individual that each of us is to get in touch with the God who made us unique. What we discover in that intimate encounter may not square with the details of the creed, and we ought probably to keep them as much to ourselves as we can. But that doesn't mean we mustn't heed them. Much love, Frank