Spirituality became a huge part of my healing journey. I was very much at odds in this respect, since I had grown up in a decidedly atheist family with no exposure to religion, and then in 2011 had an encounter with Jesus that changed my whole outlook on life. It was an inevitable shift that came about after years of inward struggle, then spending a couple of months being heavily involved with a traditional Bible-believing church.
By the way, I was still sick. And I desperately wanted to be cured.
In a weird juxtaposition of events, I had earlier that year become certified in Reiki Level One. Then months after I “got saved” and publicly pledged my life to Jesus, I discovered that I had the ability to channel and receive psychic messages.
I knew my church didn’t approve of these practices, nor did they have a positive outlook on me being trans, but I stayed because I craved fellowship and community with people who were just as on fire for God as I was. Eventually, after a year of regular attendance and involvement, my wife and I left that church after the pastor made a final decision that he wouldn’t endorse or affirm our marriage. It was a difficult time for both of us that tried our faith.
Since then, we have both been connected with several different faith communities, some of them affirming and resonant, others that still seemed to stray from what we knew as our spiritual truth.
Many people ask me: “Why didn’t you just join a liberal/”open and affirming” church in the first place?” I have many answers to that question, which I’ll address in another article. For now, I’ll just say that finding a faith community is never “one size fits all” – it’s a blessing to find anyone who can lift you up and strengthen your faith in a way that is in line with what you know to be true.
Adding religion and spirituality to the mix made my health journey nothing short of a thrill ride. While I was trying out different restrictive diets, some of which included fasting to “cleanse” the system, I was taking advice from Christian leaders who encouraged me to fast and pray so I could figure out whether God wanted me to de-transition or separate from my wife.
I went days at a time without food, my weight dropped below 100 pounds, and I became very weak, both physically and emotionally. I experienced the euphoric highs of spiritual bliss, and the heartbreaking lows of self-doubt and condemnation from my faith community.
While all this was happening, I was praying constantly for God to heal me, somehow, just show me where I was going wrong so I could finally feel well, and live a normal life. I wondered whether I was being punished for having a sexuality, being trans, or simply for continuing to exist. My self-hate was so severe that I surrounded myself with mentors who believed I deserved punishment, while ignoring the kindness and wisdom of the people who loved me the most.
(For what it’s worth, I am still married, am not celibate, and have not de-transitioned, and I am healthy and happy.)
OK, I thought. I’m paying my dues – lots of spiritual growth, struggles, learnings, and realizations of the truth. Do I get to have a happy life now? Do I finally get to get better? What is it going to take, God?