As an adolescent, I weathered combined emotional and spiritual struggles. I was dogged by a sense of lostness, awkwardness, and confusing feelings in my friendships and social interactions. Though I was popular within my peer group in high school, my friendships with other boys left me unfulfilled while I felt an inexplicable jealousy for the close friendships enjoyed between females. My deep spirituality often added to my hardships, as evangelical teachings imposed the fear upon me that my salvation “experience” was not genuine. By my twentieth-second birthday, I had lost much of my ability to believe the seemingly overwhelming number of doctrines and presumptions enforced by traditional evangelical Protestantism. As I wrested free of rigid, formulaic faith, I began to develop my own spirituality and religious practice. Unfortunately, I had the open mind of learning, but lacked the open heart of self-knowledge. My sense of lostness worsened during my mid-twenties as I was overcome by such a sense of alienation that the world around, save the natural world, no longer seemed real.
I was unaware at the time that my transgenderness was root cause of my deep emotional hurt and social lostness. Growing up in Georgia in the 1990s, I lacked any concept of what “transgender” meant and how it could be connected to my emotional and social difficulties. I was only able to frame my experiences in theological terms, where my feelings of “being lost” must have been a consequence of either my sins or my “fake” salvation. Yet, as I educated myself about the role of religion in social justice, I discovered a faith centered on the unconditional love which moved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the thousands of other Civil Rights activists of the 50s and 60s. A sense of moral indignation was no doubt important in motivating people to take a stand against segregation, but I believe that Dr. King, as well as other Civil Rights leaders such as Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, were moved by a deeply heartfelt sense that the Divine Spirit overflows with love for all people.
Assurance of such All-Inclusive Love has shown forth in my life like the winter morning’s dawn. Since the “dark night of the soul” in my mid- to late-twenties, followed by discovery of my transgender identity in my early thirties, Divine Love has gradually become known to me as a gentle Mother Goddess. Each day, I grow increasingly assured that I am precious to Goddess and that She intended for me to be transgender. The emotive, evangelical roots of my spirituality continue as I daily entreat Mother for Her compassion. Hence, I echo Psalm 40:11, “Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and truth always protect me”.
For my renewed faith, in a Love Without Bound, I have my own prayer-poem for times I struggle with a sense of low self-worth or faltering self-confidence: