“In the Bible, the year of Jubilee is a time when God commands freedom for captives, citizenship for immigrants, the return of stolen land, and the cancellation of all debt. In the Jubilee, God’s grace meant a radical restructuring of society, a community organized around love as justice and justice as love, a different kind of world.” ~ Jubilee Baptist Church ( https://www.jubileebaptist.church/ )
Today was a special day in the life of a church just begun. Today Jubilee Baptist Church held a preview worship service, a practice service if you will. The church officially launches the first Sunday of September.
Today my wife, Amy read Scripture before a congregation for the first time right before our dear friend, Heather preached a pretty kickass sermon from Luke on the Lord’s Prayer and how it’s more tangible than spiritual. How we should be truly forgiving people’s debts and feeding those who are hungry and taking care of those in our community. All of this preceded my serving communion for the second time of my life alongside Kevin and being afraid I was going to flub the words and accidentally say, “The body of Christ shed for you” instead of “The blood of Christ shed for you.” And then, in the midst of that worry, Heather stood in line in front of me to receive communion.
There’s something so sacred and human about serving communion to someone who is usually the one serving you communion. And then bursting into tears when your eyes meet and you utter the words, “The blood of Christ shed for you…” A phrase you’ve had repeated to you hundreds of times, while going through all manner of difficult situations and celebrations of life.
Some days hearing “this is Christ’s body broken for you” and “this is Christ’s blood shed for you” means something. And if you’re like me, sometimes it’s just going through the motions.
But sometimes–that moment means more than any worship song, sermon, or prayer because it’s so tangible. So human and yet so holy as you connect with other human beings.
All of it matters. Every song sung in unison about justice and love matters. Every sermon challenging us to action in our community matters. Every prayer spoken over people in need of comfort or joy matters.
And every loaf of bread broken in small pieces and handed out, dipped in wine (or in our case, grape juice) that drips on the floor occasionally…all of that matters.
So maybe we’re crazy for starting this journey. Maybe it’s all too good to be true. Or maybe, this can truly be a time of jubilee where we can “love as if a different world is possible.” https://www.jubileebaptist.church/


various storms and saints

“You’ll find a rooftop to sing from
Or find a hallway to dance
You don’t need no edge to cling from
Your heart is there, it’s in your hands
I know it seems like forever
I know it seems like an age
But one day this will be over
I swear it’s not so far away
And people just untie themselves
Uncurling lifelines
If you could just forgive yourself” ~ Various Storms and Saints, Florence and the Machine
“I feel nervous in a way that can’t be named
I dreamt last night of a sign that read, ‘the end of love’
And I remember thinking
Even in my dreaming it was a good line for a song
We’re a family pulled from the flood
You tore the floorboards up
And let the river rush in
Not wash away, wash away
We were reaching in the dark
That summer in New York
And it was so far to fall?
But it didn’t hurt at all
And let it wash away, wash away.” ~ The End of Love, Florence and the Machine
Uncertainty and self-doubt are vices that I’ve never dealt well with. I’m not sure anyone does. When you’ve grown up in a religious culture that considers doubt to be a bad thing, it tends to be particularly unsettling. Unsettled is how I feel. I feel this sense of unsettled urgency about my body right now. I don’t have any answers right now for the how and when of top surgery. I just know my body feels this urgency so strongly sometimes I can’t see straight.
During a rough day battling with dysphoria on Monday I wrote in my journal:
Today was one of those days where I wanted to wrap myself in the trans flag and cry because my dysphoria tells me I am not enough. Of course, this is a lie but today my body believes it.
Do people think I’m important enough to warrant a fundraiser for top surgery? 
My body and my mind are taking turns telling me lies…
I feel like I need some action steps to move past this but I’m not sure where to begin.
Dysphoria feels vague and deceptive. It both affirms my transness/non binary ness and reaffirms that my body still doesn’t feel like me. And that’s on a good day.
It’s more cunning on the worst days. This week there have been a lot of worse days where my dysphoria makes me cry and feels like the elephant in the room is both shouting at me and lying on my chest reminding me that it’s still there.
It’s an ever present ghost wandering the halls of my mind, waiting to take me out. Sometimes I’m not real sure writing actually helps me but here we are hoping that something does.
Buying new clothes always helps–clothes that feel more me.
I have been treating my breasts like an inconvenience that I can pretend doesn’t exist just to cope and I don’t want to hate it. It just needs a different home other than as a part of my body that feels alien. If only I could look on the outside like I feel on the inside? If I could snap my fingers and make these foreign objects disappear. I can pretend I don’t have a chest but to what end. Binding only helps so much and that can’t last forever.
It feels like an impossible dream. It feels like a fairytale Disney makes a princess movie about. Like I’m not supposed to want to be myself. How dare I be so bold as to want to be free? And yet, I have support from my wife, my therapist, my pastors, my community. So maybe the impossible dream isn’t so impossible after all?
The wisdom of Disney movie grandmothers has been something present on my mind. Moana’s grandmother sending her off on a journey across the sea when everyone tells her not to go. Like if someone could please tell me what to do or at least give me some direction like a queer ancestor I can pray to or something. I could use that.
Maybe if the stars could align just right so this would all make sense. But nothing is ever that easy or that clear. So for now, I live with that uncertainty and look for ways to make those seemingly impossible dreams become reality.
“Why is my reflection someone I don’t know
Somehow I cannot hide who I am though I’ve tried
When will my reflection show who I am inside
When will my reflection show who I am inside.” ~ Reflection, from Mulan

see me

“There are things still left to say
I’ve got phrases, I’ve got phrases
There are things still left to say
I’ve got phrases, I’ve got phrases
You’re afraid
What are you afraid of?
Should I explain myself?
I’d rather read the dictionary
Why does everybody else
Feel closer to me than
I can feel to them
Though my reticence was necessary
Do you really know me well
Do you think that we are friends?
Are we friends?” ~ Mal Blum, Things Still Left to Say
“I fall down but I get up. I’ve been here so long, feels like nothing anymore. I’ll think of you. Don’t brush me off. Both got bruises on our knees. Don’t waste your worries–not on me. I don’t belong, though it helps to play along…Why can’t they see me when I’m right here.” ~ Mal Blum, See Me
(This post heavily influenced by Mal Blum’s Pity Boy EP that you should definitely go listen to. Right now.)
My birthday was last Friday and it felt rather anti-climatic. My wife had knee surgery and I worked all day. I am 28 and I feel…unbothered by others’ opinions of me. And believe me, my biological family always has A LOT of opinions of me on my birthday. So, I’m thinking about codependency quite a bit, toxic familial behaviors, and what it means to be seen.
Codependency is one hell of a drug and it’s a drug fundamentalists hand out like candy. By the time we grow into adults, we don’t know how to detox. One thing I’ve learned through lots of therapy and lived experience is “If it feels like a trap, it most definitely is.” My parents expected me to “need” them and rely on them forever and now that I became my own person and created my own family, they don’t know what to do with their manipulation and control.
Learning how to take care of myself has been one of the hardest things. Mostly because it was never something I was supposed to do outside of someone else’s control. I used to think it would destroy me not to have my parents in my life. And yet, they always made me feel their needs were more important than mine.
My wife tells me frequently: “In this family, you always have a voice. This isn’t a dictatorship.” I hope one day I will fully believe her.
It is telling that I used to have nightmares where I would be speaking but no one in my family could hear or see me. By the end of the dream, I would wake myself up screaming. Then I realized the most terrifying thing about that was that it was true. My voice was never heard and I wasn’t truly seen.
Codependency rooted in trauma is also exhausting–both in processing and recovering from. Its effects seem lifelong, and for so long it was a matter of survival. My brain and body are still in survival mode. And god, I am so tired of just surviving. Of simply existing. Existing at some point felt like a burden because I was constantly being reminded of my place in the world and it didn’t involve being myself.
So, in this, my twenty-eighth year of life, we’re kicking codependency’s ass and saying what we want and need. Easier said than done. But I am ready to be seen. And heard.
Part of writing is the being heard part. I keep writing myself into existence and figuring out who I am. The weight of existing shifts a little. I have to wonder if my story matters. If anyone is even listening. If the story of my wife and I will be told to others or does it die with us? Does this family story get to be told? Do queer folx get to do more than survive? The emotional labor we have to keep putting out is exhausting.
So here’s to not seeking approval from anyone. Here’s to being seen and heard. Here’s to living (and not simply surviving). Here’s to us. Because our stories matter and we have the right to tell them.