Love The Sinner

“Love the sinner hate the sin” not much can get my blood boiling faster than this phrase. It is only a reminder of how far we have to go in order to breakdown the barriers between the church and the LGBT community. I think that generally, the church is still pretty lost in its stance with the LGBT community. There has been some progress and there are churches that welcome LGBT people with open arms… but then there are those who are still confused. They find themselves questioning how to love. Which seems pretty strange for a religion that follows Jesus; the most loving and accepting  man to have ever walked this earth.

The biggest problem with the phrase “love the sinner hate the sin” is that it was created without people ever really learning how to love. It takes out any personal connection, it’s vague, distant, and hurtful. Just because your view of theology doesn’t agree with someone else’s, doesn’t mean you can’t see the good in someone and fully embrace them with love first, just as Christ embraces you first. He doesn’t wait until you get your get your act together. He embraces you just as you are. Broken, and a sinner. You do not have to agree with the way someone lives their life in order to completely embrace and show that same love. Focus less on how to “live right” and more on how to love right.

There is a very specific type of venom that Christians spew when they feel they are defending God. Unfortunately the LGBT community has fallen victim to this venom for many years now, and it has led to a lot of pain, hurt, and anger. So how do we fix this? What is the anti-venom?

Love, empathy, and respect.

I think one of the biggest fears that Christians have is that fully embracing someone who is LGBT will create this image that they condone their “lifestyle” ( this word makes me cringe. ) Or that it is doing the other person a disservice by not keeping them in line with God. But, here is the thing. That is not your job. Other people’s salvation, is not your responsibility, nor is it in your hands. God is always doing his work in you, do you not have faith that God is also doing his work in others? Embrace with love before anything else.

I think it is pretty easy to enforce your convictions on someone else if you don’t personally know someone who is gay, or transgender. I feel like many people in the church hold certain assumptions about the LGBT community because they have never really had a personal encounter or experience with it. Believe it or not, but we do more than just frequent the local gay bars and parade through the streets with rainbow flags. Our community is more than just one big gay pride parade. We are your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Most importantly, we are human beings. Just. like. you. We are human beings that need and deserve love and respect. How would it make you feel if people just made assumptions about you without truly knowing who you were as a person?

I think people have gotten so caught up in their own fears , assumptions and insecurities. Barriers that seem impossible to break down have been built off of a lot of misunderstanding…but I don’t think it is too late. So how do we break down the barriers?

It may seem too simple, but remember when you were little and you did something that hurt someone else? Your mother, teacher, or etc would hold you by the shoulders, bring you face to face with that other person, have you look them in the eyes and tell you to apologize.  ( twice if it didn’t sound like you meant it ) It was never a pleasant experience but necessary to move on.  Unfortunately apologies don’t get any easier in adulthood…but they are just as meaningful. Perhaps, this could be the best way to start.

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An Open Letter

It was brought to my attention that there is a local church here doing a sermon series called “Battle for the Black & White Choosing Christ Over Culture.” I was curious so I decided to check it out. Here is a video preview about the sermon series.

You can listen to the sermons here. or through iTunes.

I have listend to all of the sermons in the series so far, but I can no longer keep quiet. I have decided to write an open letter to the pastor. Here it is:

Dear Pastor Phil,

I am writing to you today regarding your recent sermon series called “The Battle For The Black and White. Choosing Christ Over Culture.” First off I wanted to thank you for teaching love and compassion. Often times these things are over-looked and forgotten but they are some of the greatest reflections of Christ. I admire you for standing up for what you believe is God’s voice.

In your sermons you speak about all humans being broken, and focus on those who may have been born with certain bad inclinations or that are “walking through the waters of same sex attraction”. I am one of these people. I am transgender.

I know that I am broken, but I don’t believe that being transgender is what makes me broken. I grew up in the church and went to a Christian school. I believed the same things that you teach about in your sermons. I spent years of my life trying to fight these “inclinations”. I did everything that I thought God would have wanted me to do. I went to church, I prayed, I read my Bible, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, and I saved myself for marriage. I fought this “battle” as hard as I could only to find that it left me feeling empty, depressed, and incredibly angry at God. I can guarantee you that the years of my life I spent fighting and trying to do what I thought was right, was the time in my life that I hurt the most people and was the most destructive.
I thought that I had to make a choice. I either had to choose God or to be Gay or to transition. Since coming out, medically transitioning, being transparent, and living as authentically as I can, I am seeing clearer now more than ever how God has worked in my life and that I don’t have to choose. The God I was taught to believe in valued our souls over anything else. My soul was created in his image, and it remains unchanged. I know in my heart that God cares for me, he loves me, and he supports me. I know that your concern for other people’s salvation and morality is coming from a place of love but battling for the black and the white doesn’t get rid of the gray areas. It only creates secrecy and shame. I spent so many years of my life hiding due to shame. It was some of the darkest times in my life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

I am not writing you this letter to argue Biblical interpretation or science. All I have is my own story and life experiences to share. You spoke about caring for those of us who are homosexual or transgender. You prayed for us, you encouraged your congregation to get rid of any prejudices, to invite us over for dinner, to have compassion, and to love us. You shared your message, and your beliefs. I challenge you to listen. Let us share with you our stories, and our journeys. Get to know us on a more personal level, immerse yourself in our community and practice empathy. We are all human. God gave us all a soul, and each soul has its own unique journey.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness

The key to happiness is an unachievable pursuit. This is something that has been playing out in my mind for a few weeks now. My life has changed a lot within the past few years, and lately I have been getting a little frustrated with myself. I always seem to be reaching for something. Whether it is something that has to do with me, my job, relationships, or etc… ultimately I am just reaching for happiness. But when will I be happy? Will I ever be happy?

Happiness has no finish line. It is not a race, nor is there a path to it. Happiness is more like the pretty flowers along a path. You have to stop and smell the roses. I am not saying that I am not happy right now. I feel pretty fortunate and blessed for where I am at in my life, but I may always have that need for pursuit. I always have this sense of urgency that tells me that I need to push myself to the next step, or the next path in life. Feeling stagnant makes me a little crazy.

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When I think about what it would be like if happiness did have an end… I think of how boring life would be. It is all about the pursuit, and your state of mind. The end of anything is rarely a happy occasion, ( unless it is after a massage, but hey…those are illegal. ) Lets face it, happy endings in movies are not realistic. Life does not just end after you win over the person you love, after you get the dream job you always wanted, or after surviving the apocalypse. We write our own story but we don’t get to decide when to roll the credits. ( let’s not weigh suicide as an option here. )

I am realizing that happiness relies a lot on your state of mind. There is a lot that we can do to help our state of mind, ( like therapy, exercise, relationships, reaching life goals.. etc ) this is to the extent that we can control the feeling of being happy. I feel more at peace letting go of the fact that there is not ONE simple thing that is going to lead me to my permanent state of happiness. Being happy is a lot like exercise. You have to keep up with it and continue to do the work. You can’t just reach your fitness goal and then stop working out. You have to work to maintain it. Nothing good in life comes without work, not even happiness. People who claim to be happy without trying are not truly happy…they are just truly great at lying, or perhaps did too may damn drugs. ( or are currently on drugs ).

I still have a sense of urgency to find my next path in life, but I am feeling more at peace acknowledging the fact that I am not searching for a finish line to happiness. Life is all about the journey, and you only get one. Enjoy.

Finding Strength in Pain

Life can certainly be a roller coaster. I feel like I have been riding one hell of a ride since I moved into my new place. I’ve had some ups, and some downs…and then some more downs. It has brought on a pretty good amount of pain. More pain than I thought I could handle. The past few months has led me to develop a bad habit of anticipating pain with fear, and sometimes I let that fear defeat me. I have always been a dare devil when it comes to physical pain. In skateboarding, I would only let it intimidate me for a short time until I remembered that pain was temporary or until I got too pissed off to care. When it comes to emotional pain however, I am a complete pussy. It terrifies me. Fear is something that has nearly crippled me in the past. Lets face it, pain sucks. As humans our natural instinct is to avoid pain. It hurts, it could be damaging, and it will certainly never be forgotten. You may still remember the first time you fell off your bike as a kid, or the first time you experienced someone at school saying something hurtful to you. Pain can scar you, but you also learn from it, and it can make you stronger. No pain no gain right?

I am starting to realize that some of the most painful times in my life have also brought on some of the greatest periods of personal growth. Pain has forced me to step outside my comfort zone, it has taught me how to be vulnerable, and that showing emotions is okay. ( Alright, still working on this one ). It has also shown me that pain is temporary, and with time you begin to heal. Your scars will fade…they may never completely go away, but it is a good reminder of how much deeper your wound used to be, how far you have come, and how much you have learned from it.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that not only do the lows allow you to feel the highs, but that feeling anything at all is a blessing. Back when I was married I felt so numb. I didn’t know what love was, what heartbreak felt like, and I had completely numbed myself from feeling anything but the physical pain I brought on myself from running mile, after mile…after mile. I ran away from reality, emotions, and pain. Looking back now, I feel very lucky to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Can you imagine a life without knowing what love feels like?

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Tattoos wouldn’t exist if scars were not meant to be reminders. They are merely a fancy scar that we can mold into what we want it to remind us. This is my most recent tattoo. The lyrics of a Lumineers song. “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all, the opposite of love’s indifference.” These lyrics have gotten me through a lot, and it now reminds me everyday that pain is just part of living that you should allow yourself to feel, and embrace. Shit happens, you learn from it, you grow stronger, and you move on.

 

 

 

 

Never Stop Dreaming

Here I am, looking out the window of my new apartment while drinking my morning coffee. It feels a bit surreal. I know… moving out into a small apartment in downtown Auburn hardly seems like a dream come true but to me, this small 70’s style apartment feels like a mansion. Okay, maybe not a mansion… but it feels like the coolest tree house on the block. Complete with tire swing and a secret entrance. ( and you are so not getting in without the secret password ). I have waited a long time for this moment, and it feels just as good as I imagined.

Unpacking things is never a fun venture, but as I started to unpack I felt like I was rummaging through remnants of a past life.  I hadn’t touched any of my belongings since I left Germany. As I pulled things out of their boxes I was transported back to some dark times in my life. There were so many memories being unlocked as I continued to go through the boxes filled with previous belongings. My chest felt heavy.  The feeling of being trapped became real again. What would life be like if I would have stayed in my marriage? Where would I be? Who would I be? Life would certainly be different. I have come a long way. Living life honestly is a very powerful thing.

Unpacking the kitchen was probably the strangest room to unpack. I was unpacking the very items that kept me dreaming. My chef knife, my cutting board, pots and pans, etc. I created both meals and dreams with these items.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

I dreamt about going to culinary school, being independent, having a job I enjoyed, living life honestly, and being free.  It is amazing to look back and see how these dreams have come true. It just shows that all you really need to make a dream happen is a little action and a little patience. I still have much more to accomplish within these dreams, but dreams are a journey. They don’t just happen all at once.  Dreams are not wishes. There is a difference between wishful thinking and dreaming. Wishes are things you don’t want to work for. Dreams are thoughts you can put action and effort into making come true.

I know it is important to “be present and live in the moment” but it is okay to dream too. I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember and have always had high expectations of life. There were times when I started to feel impatient and wondered if my dreams were just childish, unrealistic, and a waste of energy.  I realize now that life is so much more meaningful as long as you allow yourself to dream. I feel lost without them. If you want something go get it. Make it happen. Never settle for anything less than what you deserve. Chase your dreams, and don’t let anyone, or anything stop you.

This Is Me

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I shaved my head the other day. Well mostly, except a one-half inch long strip that runs down the center. My head has a happy trail. Don’t be jealous.

I hit a low point. It seems that whenever I hit a low point in life, or a point where I crave a need for change, I cut my hair. It has become my way of starting fresh when I need a reminder that without lows there are no highs and that I can be brave and move on.

At first, I felt a lot like this…

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But then after awhile, I started feeling more like this…

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It is kind of strange the way shaving your head brings out insecurities. Seeing the surface of my head for the first time, it’s exact shape, and every odd bump I had never seen before was interesting. I felt liberated, but a little vulnerable and exposed. Feeling vulnerable is not my strong point. Showing emotions is one thing, but I feel vulnerable every time I open my mouth. I see each word that comes out of my mouth as something that can be used against me. I am realizing I have a lot less issues with being shy, and a lot more issues with feeling vulnerable. I can be a perfectionist so I don’t like to reveal my flaws. It is as if I would rather say nothing than reveal something that someone may not like about me. The more I learn to love myself, the less I tend to care about whether someone else likes me or not. It is my life. This is who I am, and that is not going to change. As my friend Molly says… “I’m ready to let my freak flag fly”.

There are a few things you will learn about me once I open my mouth.

I’m not shy, I’m vulgar, I have a personality and an opinion, shit talking is like foreplay to me, I can’t sing sing to save my life, but I am also kind, caring, empathetic, and compassionate. I’m a good person and strangely enough shaving my head has given me a better sense of this. I recommend everyone shave their head at least once in your life. You will feel easy breezy beautiful. ( I do however, recommend waiting until summer ).

Hello world, this is me. Shaved head, tattoos, and gayer than Ellen Degeneres and Jane Lynch combined. I hope you will still like me, but if you don’t… well then, you don’t. Life goes on, and I can shave my head again next week.

 

 

 

Legally Single

As of Oct. 17, 2013 I am officially single. I know, I have been single for awhile, but legally I am now divorced. Yep, this whole time I have been married. Don’t get divorced kids, it can get messy.

I got Married May 17th 2008 in Meadow Vista CA. Some of you may have even been there. It is all such a blur to me. Sometimes I look back and wonder how anyone even let me get married. I was 21 years old, an anxious mess, and hadn’t really even experienced life yet. I had my first sip of alcohol at my wedding. The year before I was too busy skateboarding to be concerned about anything else, and then suddenly, the next year I hung up my board, started dressing “like a girl” and somehow decided that getting married was the next step to my life. It was like forcing a puzzle piece in the wrong space. I wanted it to fit, it may have even looked like it did… but I knew it didn’t.

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2008 the last time I wore a dress… True story.

Getting married wasn’t the best decision I ever made, but I can’t say I regret it. I am a stronger person because of it, and it has made me appreciate life so much more. Even though I was gay, I felt like it was my only option at the time. I didn’t know what God had in store for me, or what the future held, but I just did what I thought was the right thing in the moment. Now I know better than to live for other people’s approval. I am realizing that other people’s approval of me is not going to improve my life. I have to live for my own happiness and I feel like God has given me a second chance at life to do just that. There are plenty of people out there who I can never please or earn approval from, but those who still love me for who I truly am are all that matter, and I am forever grateful for them.

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2013 legally single, and ready to mingle.

It feels pretty good to finally close this chapter in my life. Although my married status wasn’t exactly holding me back, I feel like I can finally move on and start the next chapter. It is strange to look back and see how much life has changed for me in only a few years. The biggest changes began when I started to create my own path. Instead of continuing to run from everything, I finally took a hold of life and decided that I would start being a participant rather than an observer. Life is like a video game and I finally figured out how to hit the right buttons. It is still a work in progress, sometimes I hit all the buttons and pretend I know what I am doing…but I am slowly figuring things out and becoming less afraid of going after what I want in life. Failure isn’t the worst case scenario, doing nothing is.

Cheers to the single life.