Discernment and growth as a child of the meeting

My meeting and I are in a state of unofficial disunity. I feel with every fiber of my being that the decision I've made to have surgery (chest reconstruction for female-to-male transexuals) at the beginning of August is a good one. My meeting, on the other hand, or at least many members of it, have expressed concerns about the process, especially the fact that I'm making an irreversible decision at such a young age.

All of these things are further complicated by the fact that I am not currently attending my monthly meeting, as I'm away at college, and my meeting is not the body of Friends that knows me best (longest, but not deepest). Nonetheless, I remain very close to my home meeting, and identify it as one of my primary spiritual communities.

The conflict between my perspective and that of many weighty Friends in my meeting raises serious questions for me: to what extent am I accountable to my faith community in my personal life? What processes of discernment are appropriate in making important, but private, decisions? In a covenanted community, is there really such a thing as a private decision? If I feel that the body of Friends that knows me best is not my monthly meeting, to whom am I accountable?

I want my life to be well-ordered. I don't want to make distinctions between what is sacred in my life and what is secular, what is private and public. I seek to live ALL of my life with integrity, down to what I wear and what I eat for breakfast, and I believe that corporate discernment is a vital part of that integrity. Anything I would be embarrassed to tell my whole meeting about is probably something I shouldn't be doing.

So how do I hold their concern and allow their measure of Light to move in my life without sacrificing that measure which has been given to me?

I am sincerely, joyously clear about this step. It is a source of pain for me that my meeting is not presently able to share that joy with me.

In the end, what it comes down to for me is that I must always have a deep respect for the Truth as revealed to others. But I do not have to carry it as my own. There is a process of deep listening and discernment that I practice in many aspects of my life- in individual conversations, reading the Bible, listening to ministry- and it translates well to this concern as well.

I hold the speaker in the Light as a unique and beautiful vessel of God.

I listen for the truth in their message.

I take those parts of their ministry that speak to my condition and carry them away with me.

And when I am able to really engage in that process, when I am able to hear with patience and compassion what members of my meeting are speaking to me, what I will hear is love- the deep, sincere, and tender affection that they have for me as their child. And in that love, I will respond back to them:

I am your child, but first and foremost a child of God, and growing in that Spirit. I will carry your concerns in my heart, and do what God reveals to me as the best thing. I am nurtured in your love. But you must also leave room in that love for growth.


Blogger Joe G. said...

Wow, Kody, what a situation! And it's only the second post on your blog! ;)

Is your home Meeting aware of the typical process that people go through to determine process, choices, "authenticity" of the whole situation, that sort of thing?

I am aware of a handful of individuals in Meetings that went through the process. Some found a lot of support and recognition of what is going on verses those who expressed similar concerns to what you wrote. I know there was on MTF transperson who was very involved with FLGBTQ Concerns.

OTH, you probably already know this. :)

Anyway, keep folks posted as you feel comfortable and lead to do so

9:26 PM  
Blogger Kody Gabriel said...

She's from my Yearly Meeting, actually. :-) I was blessed enough to watch her transition as a child, before I had any inkling of my own gender issues. It was a tremendous gift.

And the FLGBTQC community nurtures me well; I've gotten a lot of support from them. It's really only my monthly meeting that's had problems. And I have to take some of the responsibility for that, because I haven't kept them involved in the whole process as much as I could have.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

This is such a tender post, Kody.

The way you are responding to Friends who "are not there yet"--or who may never be--is a testimony of the Love that thrives within you.

It also occurs to me, given some recent struggles I faced with the monthly meeting, that you may not be the one who can "bring these Friends along."

There is only so much I can do within my own [spiritual or birth] family, and after that, others might be able to present the situation in a way that the family can hear. And after that, well, if I have been faithful, the rest is up to God.

(Something tells me you know all this already...)

Thank you for this post. I feel your smile beaming out from some of the joy you express within it. Yay!

Other than that, I want to let your words sink more fully into my heart before I see how else I might respond.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

10:50 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

If you are indeed a child of the Meeting, it it natural that it is hard for them to see you growing up, to recognize that you have hard decisions to make, that they can not make your path smooth for you. Especially when the choices you have to make are not ones that they have had to make, and that they do not fully understand.

All of us make some choices that our parents or others that love us would not make for themselves. That doesn't make us, them, or our choices necessarily wrong. But if you are able to hear their concerns as rising out of their love for you as much as their fear of the unknown, perhaps that will help.

I think that being accountable in a faith community sometimes means sharing the news of the decisions you make, even if they are only yours to make. I think it is a sign that you take your Meeting seriously that they even know that you are making this choice. It would be far too easy for many people to just keep it private, to just not be in touch for a while, or to drift away forever.

So I'm glad to hear you're hanging in there. And here.

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