For many, many years I lived under a great weight of guilt for who I was. I could never admit to how I felt and I carried a tremendous burden into adulthood that saw years of psychiatric intervention and hospitalisation. I was deeply, deeply damaged. All of it came from church.
“Thats Christians for you!” many would say.
As I moved around a few different churches I presented myself as a lie. I played the part of a straight, cisgendered man and I was going to heaven! As long as I hid my shameful secret I was loveable.
When my life hit crisis and I started transition I was immediately ejected by my current church at that time. Once again several of my friends echoed “what do you expect from Christians?”
How could I make myself good enough for God?
Friends, I now know the truth….I can’t. And neither can anyone else.
And you know something absolutely awesome and amazing? I don’t have to.
Far from condemning me and turning His back on me, this God sent His Son to die for ME to set me free. This God who knows the very number of hairs on my head took MY name to the cross.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul
John 3 v 16 is an amazing verse in the bible yet one I feel so often ignored. There is a church in America called Westboro Baptist Church that proudly waves the banner “God hates fags”; let me tell you God does not hate “fags”. God LOVES “fags”, murderers, thieves, adulterers……God hates sin but absolutely never the sinner.
For God so loved the world that WHOSEVER (thats anyone no matter who they are or what they have done) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For many years I accepted feelings of condemnation, guilt and shame. They weren’t from God.
About a year ago I found an amazing church.
On October 11 2018 at 12pm I met with the pastor in a local coffee shop for a chat. I knew already there were churches that had I turned up to as a transsexual person I would not have been welcome so to me introducing myself in advance was key. One statement he made will never leave me “there is room at the Lords table for everyone”.
One of my absolute favourite songs is called “Here is Love, vast as the ocean”.
A particular moving verse for me is this one:
On the Mount of Crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the flood-gates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above;
Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
As I nervously walked into the church for the first time in my life I felt just a tiny fraction of that love that God has for His children reflected back. I was home.
In the year since attending the church I have found a place for myself there and words cannot describe how wonderful its been. I’ve made mistakes but through everything I have been met with nothing but love, compassion and kindness. I have sat with the pastor in his office and laughed, cried, been angry, been happy and any other emotion you can think off. And every week I know when I walk in the door I will be sincerely hugged and welcomed into the family.
The past 4 months have been difficult and it was in this time I was truly humbled. When we were made homeless by flooding 24 hours later the pastor, with many others, was in my house moving furniture and carrying wet carpet to a skip. Others took laundry, sorted dishes, cleaned etc..
When time came for my surgery the outpouring of love was amazing. The church were there the afternoon after surgery in the hospital as I struggled to stay awake. They were there the night after the surgery as I lay there in a most undignified way talking nonsense I suspect in a drug induced state! They were there when I got home and had a catheter problem and peed myself in front of them. I could go on.
And through it all was a genuine love and compassion that can only be divine in origin.
So in closing I have two things to say.
Firstly to my church words cannot describe the way you have touched our lives. All I can say is thank you even though thats not enough.
And secondly to my friends reading this. God loves you. Never be told you are not worthy or not good enough. His love is unconditional. Don’t judge God by human failings.
In the past few weeks God has touched my life in the most amazing and powerful way. Many prayers have been answered. I know God’s love. I feel God’s love. You can be transsexual AND a christian.