Short and stocky, he was striding through the airport looking like a thundercloud. With hands plunged deeply in the front pockets of his jeans and jaw set with a scowl, the front of his black sweatshirt broadcast the newsflash!
Gender is Over
Just like that, white letters on a black hoodie informed me that my being a female was null and void. The newsflash would be applicable to males, too.
Though that may sound melodramatic, I subscribe to the Genesis 1:27 creation account – ‘…male and female He created them.’ I don’t believe we humans carry gender authority above our Creator.
Mr. Twenty-Something is welcome to his opinion governed by his beliefs. But then, so am I. I don’t agree that gender is over.
Before you off me as a bigoted Christian who is a prime example of what’s wrong with those who claim to be Christ-followers when it comes to other people’s beliefs, let’s leave Mr. Twenty-Something for a moment. The bold statement on his sweatshirt reminded me there was journey in my healing with being of the female gender.
I was born a girl. My father wanted a boy. After all, I was the third child my parents were expecting and they already had two daughters. I don’t fault them. In the natural scheme of things, why wouldn’t they want a son? We all have hopes and preferences when presented with a new ‘unknown’ possibility or bend in the road.
I was in my fifties before my mother, in the course of a conversation, revealed that my father did not hold the newborn me for three weeks after coming home from the hospital. (Yet, Holy Spirit knows how to break through great disappointment; He did that for my father in a specific way, who did soften and bond with his new daughter). Her revelation explained a lot I had struggled with, long after the fact and many adult years later.
Today, my belief that identity is the essential essence of who we are is based in the truth of Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb…
my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
It’s one thing to memorize a beautiful passage of scripture and give mental assent to what it says. Quite another to come to the place of knowing in the deeps of your person that every word of it is true – of you.
Thus, it doesn’t matter what I know or don’t know of the unknown stranger striding through the airport exuding one of the unhappiest countenances I have recently witnessed. What matters is what God thinks about them and what they think about themselves.
When those two worlds collide, there is potential for transformation.
Either we continue to embrace and believe a lie, which has been occurring ever since FigLeaf-land. Or, by God’s wooing grace, we may turn to Him to find our true identity. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Oh, the possibilities if we were to ask Him with a heart to really know, “who do You say that I am?”
But if one doesn’t believe there is a God who created them in the first place, or is angry at God for their life, including their gender, my running up to ‘witness’ to that young man to tell him God loves him just the way he is likely wasn’t going to land in his spirit where the impact needed to happen. Too much unresolved pain in order to even hear it. It probably would have ticked him off and he’d be the one muttering angrily about preachy, self-righteous Christians.
Getting back to Mr. Twenty-Something, as I passed close enough to nearly choke on the air of his angry atmosphere, there was a series of insta-reactions going off in me. You know how in the span of brief seconds you are acutely aware of several things all at once? I paid attention.
First, when I read those white letters on his black sweatshirt declaring Gender is Over, it felt like an invisible hand reached out and slimed the very essence of who I am. In a nanosecond, a lifetime of experiences, relationships, generational offspring, and my relationship with the Lord – all that has gone into the expression of who God created me to be – was sent a message that deemed my identity insignificant. I recognized the enemy behind the message. It wasn’t the young man; it was the same enemy that once held my identity captive too.
Next, the word ‘unhappy’ popped into my consciousness. Not me. The young man. My mother’s (and life map facilitator’s) heart immediately wondered what his life story had already contained in a few brief decades. Given his countenance, it had scarred a once-new and impressionable heart. Mine hurt for him. Even though I’d never seen him before or ever will again, I recognized a pain-filled life under that angry facade.
Then there was the flash of memory of a male acquaintance over twenty-five years ago who, out of a misguided and unhealed hurt heart, angrily informed me that as far as they were concerned, I now ‘no longer existed on this planet.’ They apparently chose to nail shut ‘my’ coffin for they came across my public path many times after that and raised their chin, looked away and made it a point to never acknowledge or speak to me again.
That didn’t bother me as much as the belief by which they chose to govern their behavior: that they could declare something that was (like me) existed no longer while I was still a living, breathing person. That kind of judgment strikes at the very heart of someone’s identity.
What then are we Christ-followers to do? Especially when there are identity issues plaguing us and most others?
I don’t know for you. But I know what the Lord has done with me: He has not let me forget that young man’s face.
Mr. Twenty-Something has spent more time in my thoughts and prayers in the night than should be warranted for crossing the path of someone in a 15-second airport passing. I’ll guarantee you he has no clue that a mother heart saw him and even now is writing about and praying for him.
But then, that’s sometimes how Holy Spirit loves to work among the masses. Undercover. Surreptitiously. By sneak attack with an available vessel who when He says ‘notice them,’ you notice, and take up the assignment conveyed until the Lord releases you.
God knows how to interrupt a life, whether it is one declaring Gender is Over or one who was in the right place at the right time. To quietly take up God’s heart in prayer for one of His knit-together ones who wrestles with gender issues, may be one of the most effective means Holy Spirit uses to transform a life.
More so than, with a feisty attitude, running out after the fact to get a sweatshirt screen-printed with Gender is Alive and Well. He moves in the moment.
So I pray this young man will one day recognize that he is seen by the One who gave him his life to begin with. Only God knows how and when He’ll choose to bring it about.
Though I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime he isn’t a captive audience in an airplane, a seat mate of God’s next available vessel prepared beforehand to deliver the Word of life and truth to his waiting heart.
Partially because someone who let God mess with their own self-identity saw him in SeaTac International in 2015.