The journey continues

Over the last year, much has changed, much has stayed the same.   I am still with my husband and will stay for the duration.  I met Jayne last month and decided I’m not ready for her yet.

As I’ve prayed and pondered this situation, I’ve learned a lot. First off, God has not excluded anyone from His kingdom.  Nowhere in the bible does it say everyone except these people….. It says everyone.  All.  All persons.  How in the world will a transgender person know of God’s love and grace unless she is told.  Who is going to tell her in a way that she doesn’t feel condemned.  One of her own.  Another transgender woman.  Jayne is doing that.    God loves his children and wants us to love Him and accept His grace.  He knows hearts and desires.  He’s the judge.  Not me.  Not anyone.   Who am I to judge someone for her appearance?  It’s the heart and the mind that God sees and knows.  Our job is to share the gospel and love our neighbor as ourselves.  We sow seed.  God harvests.

I am not ready to see Jayne again but maybe I could interact with other transgender women who are not my husband.  Maybe God will bring me into contact with some.  I don’t know where he’s taking me but I believe it has a lot to do with the wife.  Jayne has a friend whose wife has offered to meet with me.  I think I’ll take her up on her offer.  Having another person who understands the struggle of staying in the marriage will help.  This is a lonely journey.  The secret I carry is heavy.

I know there will be attacks from my fellow Christians.  I’ve already seen some early battles.  I was once that person.  I held firm beliefs about homosexuals in the church and I deeply regret some of the things I said and the way I behaved.  God has opened my eyes to so much.   It is sad that we divide ourselves when all God wants is to unite us in love.  Why do we fight love so much? Why do we exclude groups of people because we think we know best?  We can easily be Pharisees in sheep’s clothing.

I need to use this time of quiet to prepare for the attacks.  I need to have my bible verses ready.  I need to have my armor on.  I need to stay on my knees in prayer.  I am not alone.  I have my savior and He loves me, He loves Jayne, and He loves all people.  He wants All to know His love and His grace.

Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you will go.

 

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Fire and clay

The roller coaster ride continues.  I have had really good days and really hard days.  It doesn’t help that I haven’t seen my husband as a woman in person yet but I know this is real.  I have started to connect with someone other wives who have gone through this or are going through it.   My faith is the only thing I hold on to during this time and what will sustain me during the storm.

Yesterday’s Oswald Chamber’s reading touched home.  He talked about whether we should settle for good or aim for best.  In times of testing, we often stop at good thinking of our own well being and choosing not to follow God into the unknown.  It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling.  I could so easily walk away from this marriage and no one would blame me.  I would be choosing ‘good’.  My sanity would be in tact.  I wouldn’t have to face persecution or situations that make me uncomfortable.  I didn’t choose to marry a transgender so I don’t need to choose to stay married to one.

But then….God.  I feel a nudging. A question.  What if?  What if I stayed and trusted God in the unknown.  What if I let Him transform me? Haven’t I prayed over the years for just that.  For God to transform me?  Knowing transformation requires refinement by fire.  It requires the potter smashing the clay down and recasting it into something new.  It’s not free of pain but it is full of beauty.  What if I let Him work in me?  What would He do?

I am so curious to see how He would make beauty from ashes.  How He would transform me into a new creation who will speak on His behalf and glorify His name.  What a wonderful choice.  Walking away is good but staying and obeying is best.

Chambers says “the good is always the enemy of the best”.  God would still love me if I chose good but He will transform me if I choose best.  Fire and clay.

God calls us to walk in faith.  In faith, I will walk.

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Left in the closet

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I’m still hanging on.  Some days are better than others.

I was thinking today about writing a book for other Christian wives who are married to transgender husbands.  I know I’m not the only one and I’m confident the numbers will grow as more and more people come out of the closet.

In thinking of what the book would be called, I thought of different metaphors and words to describe what it is like to be a spouse of a transgender person.

Lonely….yes, but that doesn’t capture the whole struggle

Forgotten….no, we’d have to be known to be forgotten

Mistaken….no, we know who we are

Broken…only our dreams, not our spirit

Heavy hearted… yes, but again it misses the mark on the whole picture

Left in the closet….that’s as close as I’ve come.   We are brought into the closet with this heavy secret but are then left there.  The spouse goes out as the transgender person with other transgender people and shares struggles, frustrations, fears, joys, etc.  What do we do?  We stay in the closet with this secret that eats us alive.  If we come out of the closet, we expose our spouse.  We have to select who we tell carefully or risk tearing down the one we love.

I, for one, have told three people.  A friend who lives out of state and has always been a more liberal Christian.  A friend who I see regularly but is more engrossed in her own life than mine.  I only told her because I needed to escape one day early on and I knew I could trust her.  I didn’t expect her to be able to support me emotionally long term.  I love her dearly but I know her well enough to know her strengths and her weaknesses.  The third person I’ve told is a Christian therapist.  Unfortunately she has no experience with transgenders and spends more time trying to learn about my husband and his behavior than helping me through my hurt.

Many spouses choose to leave the marriage because on some level it’s easier.  But what about those of us who choose to stay?  We all have our reasons for staying.  Mine is because I believe it is where God has called me.  He’s asked me to stay and support my husband.   It’s not my dream or my real desire but it is my vow I made – ‘for better or worse’ – never thought ‘worse’ would look like this.  God is working in me and showing me what it means to love someone who is different.  He’s showing me what grace really is.  He’s showing me that He created everyone and He loves everyone.  My husband didn’t chose this lifestyle.  It chose him.  God loves him no matter what.  Why should I love any less?  I have to give up part of myself and my dreams though.  That’s the hardest part.  I can’t think about if he’d do it for me.  God has asked me to do it for my husband.  God gave up His life for me.  He didn’t have to.  He chose to.  Did He have other dreams?  Did He want to live past 33?  Did He want to be married?  Did He really want to die on a cross and suffer such a horrible fate?  I doubt it but He did it because He loved me….and you…. And our spouses.

But we are still left in the closet.  The heaviness of the burden on our shoulders.  We can’t give it to anyone but God.  Only His shoulders are wide enough.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  But it is.  One day at a time.

Are you the spouse of a transgender?  I’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment.  Let’s support each other through this and find a way to get out of the closet and not be alone.

Judgment

An article appeared in my Facebook link one day about a Christian singer who came out of the closet.  I wanted to reply to the post but knew that would open a door my husband and I aren’t ready to open.  So I wrote down my response and am sharing it here.  Reading the post isn’t necessary because we have all read or heard reactions similar to the judgment contained in the one I read.

Why do we Christians feel the need to condemn someone in public/on the Internet/in writing?  Why do we as Christian feel superior to a brother and the struggle he must have gone through to come out?  He didn’t wake up one morning and say “today I will leave my family and tell the world I’m gay”.  No.  He anguished about it for months maybe years.  He prayed earnestly that God would take away his desire to be with a man.  He cried at night as to what it would do to his wife and kids whom he loves.  He was tormented with the emotions roller coasting through him.

But we Christians sit on our pedestals and look at the brother who is gay and say “how dare you leave your wife and kids.  Think about what you are doing to them.”  You don’t think he didn’t?  Why are we so quick to condemn someone struggling with a feeling they cannot control yet dismiss the gossip cliques in our church or the prideful professional in the pew.  Are they not equally sinful?  Do we condemn publicly the gay man because it is politically correct in our church to do so?  Do we shine the light on gays in order to deflect the light on our own sin?

Sin is a separation from God.  God wants everyone of us to love Him and serve Him.  He doesn’t qualify that he only wants straight people.  He wants everyone.  He created each one of us.  He’s known us since before we were in our mother’s womb.  Yes there are people who believe they are gay because it is “in”, but there are more people who are gay or transgender because of the way they were created.  God did not create humans as perfect creatures.  If he did, there wouldn’t be children with Down Syndrome or conjoined twins.  So, why would someone who has more estrogen than he should not be loved by God and welcomed into His kingdom.

As someone very dear to me says… If Christ were here today, would he sit with the homosexual and minister to him/her or would he sit with us privileged church goers who have already judged the world on our own?  Who are the Pharisees in 2016?  Let us stop condemning from the safe haven of the Internet or the pulpit and go and sit with those we want to judge, share the gospel with them, and love them where they are. Leave the judgement to God and let us be light in the darkness… Not the switch that turns the light off.

I was once one of the Christians who judged and did not love.  I spoke out against gays in our churches.  How naive I was.  How much pain I must have caused.  But God uses the foolish.   Seeing the struggle my husband faces every day has shown me how this isn’t a choice he wants to make, it’s a life style he has to live.   He kept it from himself for over 50 years and it caused severe anxiety and depression.  After he came to terms with it for himself it took him 7 months for him to come out to me.  He was sure I would leave him.  I’m surprised I didn’t but I trust God brought us together and I trust He will lead us through this.  Every day is a struggle but every day I draw closer to God and lean on Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5)

Growing in wisdom

Journal entry from July

It’s been about 2 1/2 months since my husband came out as a transgender. I  have ups and downs regularly.  Without God I would have left him.  With God I see leaving him accomplishes nothing but my own self preservation.  This is not about me.  It’s not even about my husband.  It’s about God and His work in us.  Being molded and sculpted by God is painful.  There are days I want to quit.  There are days I cry and scream.  There are days I rejoice that I am loved that much by God.

This weekend was another emotional one.  Friday night I was going to the theater with my sister while my husband was headed out with ‘the girls’.  On my way home from work I heard the song “Thy Will” by Heather Scott.  It has become my anthem.  As I sang it (over and over again) I was reminded by God that the pain and the confusion come not from Him but from Satan.  God wants me to trust Him and lean on Him.  What does that look like?  God said “what do you see in front of you?” “The road”, I said.  “Focus on the road”.  “What will you see when you get home?” “my dog”, I said. “Focus on your dog.  Feed him, walk him.  What will you see next” “my sister” “Enjoy the night with your sister.  There is nothing else I am putting in front of you tonight.  Anything else is a distraction and comes from elsewhere.  You only need to think about what lies ahead in the moment. “.

A peace came over me.  I didn’t need to think about what my husband was doing or when I would meet “her”.  Those were events for another day and time.  I enjoyed the evening.

However, I came home and felt lonely without my husband home.  I started to think about everything again.  I put “Thy Will” on and sang with all my passion.  Yesterday I had a stomach ache all day.  I know the thought of ‘her’ were churning in me.  Why can’t I let go and trust God?  Why do I let thoughts that harm me infiltrate my day?  Why are we in this place?

I know God has a plan.  He loves my husband.  He loves me.  But in this day and age of hate and judgment, I fear for what the future brings.  Again, fear is not of God and worry about the future is a distraction from Satan.  Sometimes I want to see the future so I know what I’m working with but deep down I know that if it isn’t God’s plan right now that will just bring more pain and trouble.

God’s plan is good.  He works in his time.  Our secret is heavy.  His burden is light.  The pain is hard.  His yoke is easy.  Why do I hold on to what is heavy and hard?  Why is it so difficult to pick up His burden and His yoke?  I want to rejoice in His love and in His light.  Why do I stop short?

Rejoice.  Again, I say, rejoice.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

A new reality

My husband confessed a dark secret to me in April 2016.  One I was not ready to put into black and white until now.  The following is my journal entry that day.

It is too raw.  I want to be angry.  I want to scream at him, at God, whomever.  But all I can do is cry and feel empty.  I’m grieving the marriage I wanted.  A marriage where we are one.  Where he loves me completely as his wife and I love him completely as my husband.  But how can he love me when he has these other feelings?  And how can I love him completely when there is a part of him I don’t want to acknowledge?  I was struggling to love him before he shared his story with me.  How can I love him more when I didn’t feel love for him to begin with?  Do I love him?  What does love really mean?

God, I don’t want this!  I want to start again!  I don’t want to be strong enough to handle this!  I don’t want this test!

The world would say leave him.  The world would say I have a right to be angry and hurt and to withhold my love for him.  The world would say I have a right to grieve. But what does God say?  God says to love.   Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  I put childish ways behind me – ranting, temper tantrums, self-absorbed news.  I became a woman.  I know God’s way.  I know the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

On January 9 I wrote the following

 I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

From Beth Moore’s Breaking Free…It’s okay with God for you to be scared to death. He recognizes our fears and our insecurities. I feel like the Spirit of God sometimes says to me, “You know, Beth, I understand that you’re not very happy about this. I understand that you may be crying over this. Cry, shake, whatever—but do My will, child. Do My will. I have victory for you.” So even though you may be afraid about many things, don’t be afraid to allow God to do His work in you, looking into the deepest part of your heart and releasing freedom in your life, teaching you how to live in victory.

 If ever I had a moment of prophecy it was in pasting that into my journal.  Whatever I was going through in that moment pales in comparison to today’s news.

What am I afraid of in this?  I’m afraid of the pain this healing process will require.  I’m afraid of the persecution we may face in the future – not for our faith but for my husband’s sin.

Would the anxiety and depression be easier to deal with?  I don’t think so.  We may avoid persecution but we wouldn’t be together.  Together.  If I didn’t love him, would I care?  I wish I felt love.  I wish I knew how to feel love.  Is my sadness for me or for him?  If I’m sad because he has this burden, then wouldn’t that be love.

Today’s Breaking Free says “I believe Christ still grieves when he sees hearts in turmoil”.  Doesn’t he grieve out of love for us?  Am I not grieving for my husband because I love him?  The full excerpt is this:

 In all their suffering, He suffered, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. Isaiah 63:9

I believe Christ still grieves when He sees hearts in unnecessary turmoil. He desperately wants His people to experience His peace. When we allow the Prince of Peace to govern our lives, peace either immediately or ultimately results. Peace accompanies authority. You may not ever feel like giving your circumstance, loss, or hurt over to Him, but you can choose to submit to His authority out of belief and obedience rather than emotion. Obedience is always the mark of authentic surrender to God’s authority.

 Feelings aren’t necessarily the source of our actions.  I don’t feel like turning this over to God and that’s ok.  What God asks me to do is to choose to submit to Him and obey.  He doesn’t say it will be easy.  He does say He will be with us and the Holy Spirit will guide and protect us.

I trust God.  I am good at stepping out in faith.  I have seen it as a virtue in the past.  I need to step out in faith now.  God will turn this mass of dirt and stone dug from the ground into a beautiful gem.  I have been praying for 3 months for God to remove my husband’s anxiety and depression.  I have been praying that he would be free from that pain.  God is answering my prayers.  I cannot turn my back on God or my husband now.  What God wants to do, I need to trust and obey.

Psalm 50:15 call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me

God knows my heart.  He knows my desires.  Who says he cannot give me the desires of my heart?  Perhaps this path will lead to those desires or other goodness I cannot begin  to imagine.

 Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go Joshua 1:9

I believe God is asking me to walk with my husband through this and help him stay focused on God.  My obedience can be a reflection for my husband.  And his obedience a reflection for me.

Entering the storm

In April 2016, my husband shared with me a deep secret. One, I can barely begin to write about.  At first I thought I’d be ok with his lifestyle choices and even thought it might be fun for me too.  As the weeks go on and it becomes more and more real I have come to realize that it isn’t fun, it is really, really hard and painful.  My husband has a feminine side and feels better when he dresses as a woman.  Since writing this I can now name my husband as a transgender.

For the 9 years we’ve been married, and many years before that, he suffered from anxiety and depression.  The anxiety was real and would impact so much of what we wanted to do.  About 5 years ago, he had to change psychiatrists and the new one switched his meds.  The new meds stifled his emotions until he had no emotions to show me.  This past year has been the hardest.  I noticed him becoming more emotional and less anxious but he still kept me at arms length.  Finally, he came clean that he’d gone off his meds and this new side of him had come forth.  The feminine side had been there as a child and had come back in his 20s only to be stifled and hidden away under depression and anxiety until last fall.

Why does all this matter?  Because he and I are committed born again Christians who never understood homosexuality let alone gender identity issues.  We believed people could choose to not pursue their other identity if they just trusted God enough.  God got our attention and has shown us how wrong we were.

I’ve shared this with one of my friends.  She called him a “manly man” and was shocked to find out he wasn’t as manly as he appears.  When God said he uses the most unlikely to deliver his message, he chose well with my husband.  No one who knows him will ever say ‘I thought so’ or ‘he’s just trying to get attention’.

As his wife, I have been pulled into this storm.  This blog will capture my fears, emotions, choices, questions, and thoughts as best as I can portray them.  Our journey is just beginning and there is no end in sight.  But God is good and he tells us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).