When I was in my early teens, I was certain that God had made a mistake when creating me. I grew up in the church, so I had been told many times that God does not make mistakes, but I was sure that I was the exception to that rule.
My shoulders were broad, my legs were muscular, my hands were short and fat, my arms never fit in the armholes of girls shirts and to top it all off, I had the sex drive of a teenage BOY. I swore up and down that I was a boy, stuck in a girls body. I always felt like the odd girl out, despite having a lot of girlfriends and being one of the “popular girls”. I also had a lot of relationships, several of them lasted over a year (which is practically a lifetime in early adolescence) and was baffled by the fact that boys were attracted to me, even prior to understanding the perks of my teenage boy sex drive. To me, I looked and felt like a boy and that was proof enough that God had made a mistake.
I don’t remember when I first heard the term transgender, but I know it was not until my late teens, maybe even early twenties. It was likely in one of my early social work classes in my undergraduate program, but even at that point, I did not understand what transgender was. When I was in my early teens, no one was talking about anything other than heterosexual relationships and norms. It was before the time where LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) was discussed, accepted and advocated for. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that if I wanted to, I could take the feeling of “God made a mistake” and transform myself into what I felt inside.
If I had been born about 15 years after I was, I likely would have considered myself transgender at some point. It was lonely to feel that way. I did not feel safe to talk about my feelings with anyone. I believed that there was something terribly wrong with me. I discussed it in passing with a few people, but more in terms of the typical body shaming that teenage girls do while standing in the mirror together. I never came out and said, “I think God meant to make me a boy.”
I am so glad that I struggled with my identity then and not in our current world. I am grateful that when I was struggling the most, I did not know about being transgender, because I am fairly certain I would have made some decisions that I would come to regret and that would not have allowed me to find my true identity in Christ. I know that I would have been loved by the God who created me, but I also know that changing my gender, would not have given me the peace and happiness I longed for.
There is nothing more liberating than finally understanding and being who you were created to be. I don’t think anyone would argue that point with me. There is something so freeing about finally getting to be who you are, without any guilt and shame. It is empowering to finally begin to do the things that you were created to do, knowing that you are free to do them. Coming to an understanding that God did not make a mistake with me was one of the most pivotal points of my life. Finding my identity in Him changed who I was.
“For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Before I was even born, the God who loves me more than anything else, knit me together. He gave me my broad shoulders and muscular legs. He weaved together my personality, sex drive, hopes, dreams and fears. He knew who I was and who I would be. He knew that I would wonder if he had made a mistake and knew that he would redeem those lonely feelings in a way that would glorify Him. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5a).
During college I learned so much about the God of my childhood. He went from a loving God who made a mistake to a God who loves and cherishes me and has a purpose for EVERYTHING about me. I experienced a heartbreak that to this day sometimes creeps up on me and aches. I had a relationship with Christ prior to this point in my life, but I did not understand the depths of it until then. It was during this time that God healed my heart and solidified that I am His and that He does not make mistakes. He reminded me of His unending love and showed me some of what he had planned for my life. He laid out a path of vulnerability, openness and gifting that I am still on today. He spoke to my heart through scripture, music and women who love the Lord. He revealed Himself to me in ways so much bigger than I could have ever imagined and reminded me of who He is.
This blog has been stirring in me for quite a while now and has seemed to be overflowing from my heart since Bruce Jenner introduced himself as Caitlyn Jenner a couple of weeks ago. It has been difficult for me to write. I don’t always like the vulnerability that God calls me to, but I trust that if He calls me to it, He will use it. Recently, I was teaching a lesson on having faith that God will use what we offer him, regardless of how big or small, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the timing of that lesson and this stirring in my heart. I have to have faith that God will use my vulnerability to bring hope and healing to others who are struggling or have struggled in the same way that I did.
Because our world is so accustomed to it now, I have been able to learn a lot about the those who are transgender. I have read or heard some of them discuss finally feeling free to be who they always knew they were. They have said that they hated having to hide who they were and the pain of feeling like they were in the wrong body. They have expressed a feeling of shame that no longer exists now.
I know those feelings. I know that pain. I know that shame.
I also know the freedom of being who I know I was created to be. I know what it is like to be released from the shame of hiding. I know who I am because my identity is firmly in the God who created me, loves me and has a plan for me!
So here’s to you, sweet sister who is weeping over your lack of identity. And here’s to you, dear brother who is trying to find your way. My prayer for you is that you come to know the God who created you and has a purpose for you. May you seek His love and His unending desire for you to find your identity in Him. Rest in the peace that comes from knowing and loving your creator. This journey you are on is a difficult one; figuring out who you are is never an easy task, but I assure you that the creator of all things knows who you are and is just waiting to reveal it to you.
You do not have to change your outward appearance, your name or your body to find your identity in Christ. He will make you whole. There is grace abounding in a relationship with Christ, regardless of where you are in your journey to finding who you are.
You are loved.
You are cherished.
You are valuable.
He has a plan and a purpose for your life, wherever you are right now! I love you. He loves you.
You are His.