Where Feet May Fail

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the mystery.
In oceans deep
My faith will stand.

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong United

In 1986, a plane crashed into my quiet Cerritos neighborhood.

And not a small plane, mind you. An AeroMexico DC-9, flight 497. People still talk about it to this day as one of the worst mid-air collisions to ever happen in the United States. That experience still haunts my memory to this day, to the point where every time I hear a plane flying low, I tense and look up, sure that it’s falling out of the sky. A few months later, the movie “La Bamba” came out, chronicling the life of rock star Ritchie Valens, who died along with the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly in a tragic airplane crash. Seeing that movie solidified in my mind that I would never fly.

Yet, my eighth grade year, there I was - strapped into a plane with the rest of my class on our way from LAX to Sacramento for a field trip. Oh, I don’t envy those teachers one bit - for all of us were from the same neighborhood. Most of us went through that same trauma. And to take us on a plane out of the area??? Needless to say, it was one of the most tense situations I have experienced, and I vowed when I got home that I would never fly again.

I guess you never say never, though - because several years later, I found myself back on a plane, this time on my way out to Dallas, Texas, where I was going to visit a young lady I was dating at the time. My fears, although still there, were overshadowed by the promise that I was going to see the woman I was in love with. There was hope in that flight. A reason to overcome my fears and take that step of faith.

Today, fears like that are a part of everyday life.

Granted, I don’t think constantly about a plane crashing down on my head, or even about being forced onto a doomed flight. They’re fears that speak more to what I will face when I leave the house. They center around questions of what I will be told about my life decisions. About whether or not I will find acceptance. About whether or not my life will come crashing down at any moment.

I know that my transition and my decision to medically transition is one that puts me at odds with all sorts of communities, especially the conservative Evangelical ones that mean so much to my heart. How can I explain in a few short moments the struggles and feelings that I have dealt with for all of my life? How can I convince anyone within those communities that this is something that I have honestly struggled with theologically, and that my decision came after much prayer and intensive study? Yet that’s where I am. Caught in a space where I long so deeply to connect theologically, spiritually, and emotionally with others, and yet not wanting to put myself in a space where I am going to end up hurt because of who I am. Who I believe I was created to be.
As I was praying about it this morning through my morning reading, I find myself resting in the God who says, “step out of the boat in faith. I’ve got you.” Trust is hard. Past memories of sinking and drowning flutter in and out of my head, reminding me that the last time I trusted in church and God, I fell. It’s been over a decade now since I last found myself within the conservative church setting. And for me, it’s a scary thing. One can only imagine what it is like for anyone who has never been in church. For anyone dealing with things they know the church is at odds with. The immediate sense of condemnation that fills the mind.... the voice that says, “you don’t belong here.”

There’s a big struggle that constantly overwhelms me here.

On one hand, confessing to these feelings and struggles to my more liberally-minded friends brings responses of, “well, maybe you shouldn’t put yourself into those communities. You ARE just going to end up getting hurt. Just sit with us here in our space.” On the other hand, confessing to this internal struggle to my more conservative friends is met with, “you know that you wouldn’t be going through this if you had chosen to remain Darryl and just face the struggle, right?”

There’s one voice that continues to pull me through - the voice of God, who tells me, “come unto me, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-29) It’s the voice that says, “trust in me. Keep your focus on me. Though the waves crash around you, I am here, and I will never leave you or forsake you. Believe it or not, I never left you.”

“Really, God?”
“Yes, my child.”
“Even when I was seeking you so passionately, and didn’t feel you there?”
“Yes, even then.”
“Even when the church destroyed my ability to trust in You?”
“Even then. I have been waiting for you to turn around and find me again.”

Where that puts me with church at the moment is more of a mystery, as I continue the dialogue with anyone who will listen. What I do know is that the fear is one that I can give to God. But for many, especially those who don’t know what it means to trust in a God that loves them, that fear is so desperately real.

Where are you?

Perhaps your life is crashing around you. Perhaps you feel like everywhere you turn, there is condemnation. Today, God is telling me and telling you to remember that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1) Whatever the church says. Whatever God’s people say. You are His, and He cares for you.

Perhaps you are reading this and you can’t understand how someone like me - who identifies as a transgender lesbian woman - can even read the word of God and lift my hands in worship. I hope that these writings help you to see and recognize that the face of God is seen far and wide beyond those that we see within the walls of our church on Sunday.

When we send people out of the country into the mission field, there is so much studying done to help missionaries be aware of the culture they are stepping into. They work diligently to make sure that they don’t do anything to offend the culture so that they can gain the trust and listening ear that will allow them to share the Gospel most effectively. Yet so many people - I among you - step out into the “mission field” of our world, of our neighborhoods, and of our communities without the slightest bit of understanding that the cultures around us are different. Instead of taking the time to learn, listen, and understand the real pain and hurt that is present, we demand that they conform to what we believe is “honoring to God,” when all God is calling us to is being willing to share with them the unfailing neverending love of God. The love that reached down from heaven in the form of God’s own Son. The love that hung on the cross for ALL, so that ALL may know.

If there is anything that the experience of my transition has taught me, it’s that we have got to do a better job at that. That we have got to do a better job so that people like me aren’t stepping into the doors of a church asking the question, “is this a place where I can belong?,” but rather to be able to step through the doors of a church to simply declare, “I am home.” And with any hope, the church responds with the words that God speaks to each of us - “Welcome. We saved a place for you.”

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