There are many hurting people

I was talking with a friend about the politics and real world challenges of people who don’t feel comfortable with the gender they were born with. I lean toward helping them learn to feel comfortable in their original skin. My friend believes, deep down, that is the best thing, but his comment was to me was, “But remember, these are real people who are really hurting.” He means that we can’t legislate people into feeling ok about themselves. I agree, but right now, we are legislating to make it illegal to help people feel good about their original selves.

Here’s where I am coming from. I have a scientifically proven,  genetically-based disorder called autism. For years I struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, perfectionism. I tried to become a better Christian, I tried counseling (this would have worked if we had known I had autism at the time, but since that was unknown, the counseling was ineffective), I tried everything I could think of. It wasn’t until my son was educationally evaluated and found to have autism that I realized: that was my problem, too. Now that I know that I have autism and have learned what challenges it causes in my life, I have learned strategies to deal with those challenges. I am no longer brought down by depression and the perfectionism is getting much better, too. Knowing the problem, and treating it have made me whole.

Pretending that I don’t have a disorder would not help me, and not learning strategies to help myself would also not lead to the generally happy life I now have.

And that is why I believe that we should stop lying to people who feel that they were not born the correct gender. According to some studies, people who struggle with these feelings often have similar genetics, possibly making this condition a genetically-based disorder, just as autism is. Rather than tell people that this is normal thinking and then encourage them to destroy their physical bodies in hopes that it will bring psychological peace, as we are currently prone to do, I think we need to be honest with these dear ones. My understanding, from the research I have done, is that the euphoria of finally becoming the new gender that they believed they should be lasts about one month, and then the person goes back to feeling just as depressed and confused about themselves as they were at the beginning of the journey. And on top of that, they have caused great harm to their bodies.

It makes me angry to think that we are actually encouraging people to mutilate themselves and in the end, they are no better off than before they started. These are hurting people, and instead of truly helping them, we are just encouraging them to hurt themselves more.

Should there be laws stopping people from changing genders. I don’t know if that would be helpful. But we do need to stop making laws that keep people from learning truths about themselves.

We need to help people understand that they are beautiful beings with special gifts to share with the world, just as they are created. They need to know that any thoughts to the otherwise are enemies of their true self. Loving, gentle counseling and therapy to help people realize their potential as they were created is what will bring true peace, just as it does for people with autism, who feel like they are aliens in this place that most everyone else calls home.

Our brains are powerful, but we can coach them into behaving – into telling us the real truth about ourselves. With God’s help, all things are possible!

To all of you out there struggling, I love you, understand a bit of your struggle, am praying for you and believe that you will find peace in who God created you to be!

PS I realize that some people are born with true biological sex identity issues such as having both sets of organs, not having organs appear until much later in life, etc. They do have a whole different path to navigate.

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God and Chinese

I have recently started learning Chinese. Our family has been hosting Chinese university students for the past 12 years, and have been friends with Chinese for years before that, but I never felt compelled to learn their language until the last few months.

At first, I didn’t even consider learning Chinese because it just seemed too difficult. I am learning that, yes, the pronunciation is very difficult. I will probably never have excellent pronunciation, but hopefully I will at least get to a place where I am a little understandable!

Also, our family wanted our visiting scholar friends to practice their English while staying with us. So us not knowing any Chinese forced them to use English when communicating with us.

But after years of meeting the students’ wonderful parents, who often come into town for the graduation ceremony, and not being able to converse with them in Chinese beyond Hello, Good-bye and Thank you, I felt God encouraging me that it was time to learn.

It has been a lot of fun. Very challenging, but such a fascinating change from Indo-European languages. My favorite part is trying to figure out what the different parts of the characters mean. For instance, I learned that the character for “good” is made up of the character for “woman” and the character for “infant.” I also learned that the character for “last name” is made up of the characters for “woman” and “life.”

I find it fascinating how God has slipped His truths into all cultures around the world. The fact that the woman character shows up in both the “good” and the “last name” characters makes me think of how God created women to help men have a good life. Of course, both genders are supposed to help each other out equally. But as the story of Genesis explains, God created a man first, and let the man realize that he needed to have someone else in his life to have a good life. So God created a woman.

I realize that there are probably totally different reasons why these characters came to be, but I still think it is cool (yes, I am a child of the 80s!) that God’s truth is shining out from them.

Where have you seen fascinating instances of God’s truth?

This is a test

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did.”

Judges 2:20 -22

These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience).

Judges 3:1-2

I wasn’t going to write about this because it seems I have written a lot about spiritual battles lately, but when it came up two days in a row while reading through the Bible, I knew I was supposed to write something.

What are the things that God is leaving in our lives to drive us to trust Him and keep His way?

Why do we need to be battle-tested?

What new thing does God want us prepared for?

I tell myself that I prefer the verses about God leading us beside still waters and making us lie down in green pastures. But when I look back on my life, I do enjoy the sense of victory over a challenge that came my way. So, I guess I am thankful for both – the peace and the battles.

How to Succeed at…Anything!

The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Deuteronomy 28:13

I was just thinking the other day about how strange it was to be considered the girl “Most Likely to Succeed,” among my high school classmates. I wasn’t the smartest or the prettiest, and definitely was not the most socially astute!

The verse above is the only thing I can figure out that made the difference. I truly tried my best to follow God. I know other classmates of mine did, as well, so it still doesn’t totally explain why I won, but it serves as an object lesson.

Follow God and you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. My other God-fearing classmates were always at the top, too, never at the bottom!

What about those who suffer as martyrs for their faith? In their spirits, they are still at the top.

It’s Your Fault

While reading through Deuteronomy this morning I ran across these verses:

23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD: … 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” 26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Deuteronomy 3: 23, 25-26

I had to stop and read verse 26 again. Did Moses just switch from writing a narrative to directly interacting with his audience? Who is the “you” he is referring to in that verse? I read the first section of that chapter again, and could find no direct clues. I had my hunches, but I thought it best to look further. So I kept reading.

This is what I ran into:

The LORD was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance.

Deuteronomy 4:21

During this section, Moses was talking directly to the Israelites so he was most definitely meaning, “you fellow Israelites,” when he used the pronoun, “you.”

He DID mean, “you fellow Israelites,” back in chapter 3. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that Moses, of all people, would blame others for what God clearly told him was his fault. I have always struggled a bit with how harsh God’s punishment seemed to be for Moses when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it (see the story in Numbers 20). But only God knows the heart, so He must have seen something that He realized required discipline.

As I am writing this I am realizing that Moses’ patent refusal to accept responsibility for his own actions, that were in direct conflict with what God had explicitly told him, show why God didn’t allow him to lead the Israelites farther into Canaan. Conquering Canaan was going to require all sorts of crazy, strange, unique and downright ridiculous-seeming strategies that would need to be followed without editing or questioning. Moses liked to question.

Moses had done an amazing job getting the Israelites this far. But he was getting tired.

It is heartening to me that God chose to use someone as human as Moses, who, even at the end, wasn’t perfect.

This passage is also getting me thinking – what in my life is out of reach because of actions that I have not taken responsibility for?

Speaking from the experience of being a person with autism, and having relatives with autism, I can say with some confidence, that blaming others for things we should take responsibility for is a common struggle for us. Neurotypical people can struggle in this area, too. But it seems especially prevalent among those of us with autism.

Here’s to owning our mistakes and making it a better day, with God’s help, of course!