Who Decides if it Hurts?

Who determines if something is harmful – the person speaking, or the person receiving the information?

If someone flings a slur at another person, does it matter if they intended it to hurt or as a joke, if the person hearing the terms is genuinely distraught/threatened as a result?

I initially intended this to be in support of those who are gender expansive, or talk about race, but dang if it doesn’t just apply to all of us, all the time.

My Dad shared this old adage:

THINK

What an amazing world we would live in if everyone measured their words by these 5 checks.

I believe we can, even if just one baby-step a day.   Let’s try it for a week and report back, what say ye?

 

Starting a Convo About Being Trans and Christian

I know this amazing kid “W” who is coming out as trans. W is 16.

W is one of the 1.5-3% of US teens who identify as something other than the Male-Female binary system we’ve been raised with. Numbers are guesstimates because there are no formal nationwide studies yet.  “Gender Expansive” includes:

1) transgender – born one gender but identify as the other

2) gender fluid – identify some days as male, some as female

3) agender – identify as neither male nor female

Note – this is TOTALLY different from “what is your sexual attraction – are you gay, bi, straight, etc.”. That is who you are attracted to – gender identity is who you ARE.
Some of you may be revolted by this idea. “You are what God made you and that’s that.” Gender-expansive people of faith may answer “Exactly. God made me this way.” Battles, criticism, etc. may ensue.
Here’s what I ask – just love them.

W is a great person – has always had a giving heart, nurtures others in their challenges, has gifts a’plenty, and desires to serve God throughout their lifetime.

“I could never call her a he” … “I don’t know what to say to her.. him..”. I’ve found being neutral has helped me with this challenge. I often just use the name, “the Kiddo”, or sometimes “they/them/their” – as in “someone is coming to dinner” “Really, what do they like?” (no gender! no problem!)
Treat W like you would any teenager. Engage in conversation – how is/was school, what are your plans for summer, doing anything cool, tell me about your trip, have you read any good books lately, are you still into art, etc.   Just like I don’t sit down and talk with people about “how is it being a (gender) today?” it doesn’t have to be a topic of conversation.

“But I believe they’re doing wrong, and you’re doing wrong for encouraging it.” Well… this is where we have room for discussion. I look to the Bible for guidance – the Big J himself, when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well or the woman about to be stoned for committing adultery. I want to model how Jesus talked to them. He was calm, tender, and gentle. No brimstone, no browbeating “you VERY NAUGHTY GIRL YOU WILL BURN UNLESS YOU TURN!”.. no threats – just healing, and a call to eternal life.
The name for this is grace. Grace is extended to each and every human being, no matter our sins, over and over throughout our lives. Every one of us slips away and the shepherd brings us back to the fold.
Whether that looks like W ultimately identifies as female or male or whatever is between W and God. I do not know what His plans are for W or what W will go through on that journey. As a confidant – my role is to love, teach, guide, and encourage the best I can (and pray a lot!).
I’d also like to make an invitation – if someone you are close to is going through a similar thing, and you’d just like to talk with someone in a supportive environment? Let’s talk. We can support each other. And don’t worry – if you’re not a church person, that’s cool – I won’t preach at you. This is just me talking about my own experience and how I’ve found peace with it all. Your path my vary 🙂
In short – Always remember these timeless words of Abraham Lincoln:

#trans #christian #grace

#972: The Return of the Draining Boyfriend Of Yore

I adore Captain Awkward
“Don’t pour your beautiful selves into other people’s empty spaces. There is nothing there for you.”

Captain Awkward

Hi, Captain!

I’ve got a nice, awkward, many-years-running situation for you!

So when I was in my early 20s, I dated someone I shouldn’t have dated, whom I’ll call Dean. I dated him for five years. At the time, I was so isolated where I lived that it became a kind of “well, it’s better than not dating anyone” thing, until it became a love thing, and then an inertia thing. He wasn’t right for me in so many ways, but he wasn’t exactly bad to me either…and I was 23 and had very little relationship experience. Partway through the relationship I relocated to a major city for grad school, and took the opportunity to break up with him. However, after a few months and some insistance from him that surprised me (because he’d always been so passive), he moved to be with me again. We lived together until I…

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5 Words

There are some words that lift you up and send your spirit soaring. Others make your heart stop and everything else around you disappears.

My one and only child is amazing.  For 16 years I’ve been intensely proud to be called “Mom”.  There’s never any trouble getting them to do their homework, doesn’t smoke or drink, keeps their word, volunteers for service projects, is thoughtful, considerate, and so on.  They have so many gifts – art, music, writing, creativity, courage – that my hopes for the future have been bright.

Things began to change when they began high school.  I knew that transition would be hard. I know The Kid’s propensity for perfectionism and the extra pressures at the high school level would be a tough combo … but they’d already been through so much.  A rocky marriage, divorce, my remarriage, adapting to having a step-father, and then the birth father’s death – all that was before they even turned 9.  With prayer, counseling and hard work, we both came through – a bit dented and scarred, but still kicking and hopeful for the future.   Even still, the first couple of months of freshman year seemed to be weighing on them extraordinarily.

One night in November 2015, my generally optimistic and fun-loving kid looked at me with tears in their eyes and said “I can’t do it anymore.”  “I’m thinking about suicide a lot. I even have a plan for how I want to do it.”

We’re lucky.  I’m grateful The Kid spoke up and trusted me enough to get the desperately needed help.  Resources were immediately available.  I’m incredibly grateful for the support of family and friends.  I’m unendingly thankful for God’s grace and love, which steadfastly remains.  After weeks – now months – of therapy and care, those eyes to show flickers of hope and joy again.

As the parent, it’s an ongoing concern. Anyone over 18 knows that life continually tosses challenges your way.  I have to watch myself and not let worry take over, but it’s always there. They made it through today, but what about tonight.. what about tomorrow?  They seemed upset earlier and now they aren’t answering their phone, has something happened?  Are they showing any signs of relapse? Am I missing any signals?  Are we giving them the ongoing support that they need? Are they learning the coping skills they will need for the last 2 years of high school and beyond?   And .. will they ever be able to see themselves as I see them – full of talent, promise, and love.  Because you, my child, are amazing.

A few months ago, there was another deep bout of depression as some big questions have arisen (ergo the awkward attempt above to keep things gender-neutral).   Those topics are for a later time, but life is continuing.  Each day is a victory.

Truly every day is precious.

Keep hanging in there, baby.  It gets better.

Good Enough

Thank you, Gina.

Gina Deaton

IMG_0337 I graduated from Mason High School, the largest high school in the state of Ohio, this past spring.

Growing up in the Mason school district, I developed severe anxiety.

This anxiety all stemmed from the idea that I was not good enough.

I attended one of the largest school districts, and the largest high school, in the state of Ohio. This made everything much harder, whether it was competing for class rank or a spot on a sports team. There was so much competition; there was always someone smarter than me, and someone more talented than me. Always. I felt increasingly average, like I had little talent, tiny in the shadow of my peers.

I played softball all growing up, and I was cut from the school softball team. Twice. I got good grades all growing up, and graduated high school proudly with a 4.5 GPA that I had worked my…

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Humans and Hoomanity

One of my quests for the year (doesn’t that sound way more interesting than “goals”?) is to get deeper.  I seem to live like a pendulum – I spent too many years buried deep in my own head – then years at the other extreme.  I’d like to live in the middle. I don’t want too much more of life to pass me by without taking more time to sit, meditate, explore.  I used to blog all the time.  So today I’m dusting off my brain and will freestyle for a bit. Today’s topic:  Hoomanity

When I look around the world, I see us (humans, that is) becoming less and less tolerant.  Tolerant of anything, but especially each other.  You see it reflected in movies, television, news – in schools, at work, any where there are 2 or more people gathered together – and most definitely on the internet. It’s an interesting (and depressing) phenomena.  I used to blame the judging reality tv shows for encouraging us to pick each other apart – but it started LONG before that.  The stank of snark is everywhere.  So it’s really special when you find a group of people that accept you and make you feel “normal”, like a little bee girl.

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There is hope!  There are communities of people who are earnestly striving to be a positive thing in the world – and those groups are growing rapidly.  The world needs more of that, dontcha think?  So here’s a few shout-outs…

  1. “Nerdfighteria” (followers of Hank Green and John Green, the vlogbrothers, and their growing circle of thoughtful, entertaining and educational vloggers.  In addition to their own channels and vlogbrothers, you can find them on YouTube on SciShow CrashCourse, and loads of others.  Their videos are used in schools and I just love their approach to sharing and expanding knowledge and awareness.  Their annual Project for Awesome campaign last year raised over $1.5 million.  MILLION.  Most of that is money raised by nerds, geeks, and folks who just want to chip in and help others in need. It’s amazing.  DFTBA (don’t forget to be awesome!)
  2. Jenny Lawson – a.k.a. The Bloggess.  She’s written 2 books – both funny and painfully honest about being socially awkward, living with mental and physical health issues, but determined to survive – even thrive.  Www.thebloggess.com is a quirky and wondrous place.  Her openness inspires others to freely discuss topics that used to be hidden in the dark.  The comment sections often bring me to tears of empathy and joy.  There was Beyonce the Giant Metal Chicken – an epic husband-wife battle of wills and probably the thing that made me fall in love with her!  Three days ago, Jenny introduced “Booksgiving“.  It started small – she wanted to give away some copies of her book.  Other people joined in “how can we help?”  In 3 short days, over 1600 posts of people asking for a little help – not much, just a book to help them get through a bad day – and the amazing responses.  That can make a world of difference to someone hurting – just feeling heard and acknowledged.  The tidal-wave of support from one human to another is so beautiful.  The message is clear “You’re hurting? I’ve been there. Let me help you through and then you can help someone else later.”  If you’re ever sad or lonely, visit TheBloggess.
  3. Geek and Sundry’s “Team Hooman”.  You may be familiar with Felicia Day (Buffy, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Eureka, Supernatural, etc.).  She started Geek and Sundry  with YouTube shows like The Guild, The Flog, Co-Optitude, and TableTop (with Wil Wheaton). Last March, G&S started a channel on Twitch tv – normally a place showing people playing video games and people telling them how much they suck.  G&S Twitch has raised that bar SO much higher.  In just a year they have grown to thousands of viewers – even setting a record Thursday for 20,000 tuned in to watch Critical Role, their live D&D show.  As a community, they achieve powerful things.  When a call goes out for help, the outpouring of response is truly touching. Nicknamed “Hoomans”, fans/followers of G&S have donated dollars and hours to charities or just helping out each other.  The site encourages respect and acceptance, regardless of some of the labels that divide us so rigidly elsewhere (race, religion, sexual identity, and so on).  So much so, that the chat room is usually active 24×7 even if there isn’t a broadcast taking place, and “meet-ups” take place sporadically around the world.  It’s give and take, not take and take some more.  I love it.

I’ve been surfing the web since the mid-1980s (remember CompuServe? Anyone? *crickets) and these are some of the most positive, inspiring and FUN places to hang out.  I think what makes them special is how interactive they are – between the “host” and the viewer and across all the layers in between.

Is there a community that makes you feel like you’re part of something special?    On or off the web?  Let’s help them boost the signal.