Six years ago, I read a blog.
My sister in law and I found her as we tried to learn as much about our new lives as possible.
She was a military wife and she was fabulous. She had recipes and furniture plans that made me feel like maybe I could build (I cannot, turns out), tips for making base housing feel like a home, and an amazing attitude about navigating an unusual way of life. She was honest and relatable. We were both pretty hooked.
I have no idea why the “I Am Ryland” post is making new rounds after all of this time. I can only assume it’s because these are strange days, it feels relevant, and it so easily solves the “problem” of trans kids.
For those who haven’t read it, you can find the post here.
Our family has a new addition.
It’s seven flights of stairs.
Between our new church and a new therapist, seven flights. Taking us through new thresholds. Greeted by new faces.
Thanks for climbing, they say.
You’re so welcome. You’re so welcoming.
Thanks for inviting us, I think.
Up, up we go.
Sometimes hopping and skipping and singing, sometimes begrudging and slow and holding on to the railing like it’s all that’s holding us up (no, really; ask anyone who’s been behind E on some type of morning).
However it happens, we land on strange ground, growing more familiar under our feet with every trek. The climb, however joyful or hesitant on any given morning, has the benefit of a new view. Some things are larger, some smaller. Some things we are seeing from eye level for the first time. It’s a lot, but it’s a good lot.
I’m thankful that God is meeting us on the steps. I’m thankful for longer staircases; halls that keep winding upward to thresholds we aren’t to cross right now.
We have time. There’s room to grow here. To rest here.
To take in the view.
Sometimes our past comes back and jumps up in our faces. You’re so little, but you’re big enough to have a past. You see large pink flowers placed on your sweet bald head. You see a tutu laying across your little dimpled legs. You are asleep in a stroller at Disney dressed as Snow White. You whip around and look at me and I see it, like lightning and then gone: a swift feeling of betrayal. I just hold you and say, I’m sorry, baby. Mommy didn’t know.
When someone hurts you with their words and you turn and we lock eyes, your face red and your lips tight but quivering, when you have to be brave long before the age a child should have to be brave, when my lips begin to quiver, too, because the truth is I’m not half as brave as you…I just hold you and say, I’m sorry baby, they didn’t know.
When I talk with those who knew nothing about any of this before God gifted this world with you, as eyes open and hearts unbind (for hearts were never meant to be bound to anything but Love), they say, “I didn’t know.”
I didn’t know. They didn’t know. I read the headlines (and against all sanity, the comments) and I see so many that don’t know. Sometimes I wonder about the likelihood of you being born in times like this. So much hatred rising up and coating otherwise beautiful things. Ignorance clouding our eyes like darkness.
But then I remember, Elyn, that your name means light, and that’s what you have been and what you are. I’m sorry we didn’t know, I’m sorry you have to be brave so early but sweet baby, you are light, and you are shining on some hard and beautiful truths. You are undeniable, my dear E, and those who think otherwise…they just don’t know yet.
Tell me what I can say that will help you see that our circumstances are far different than the stories you tell yourself about them. Tell me what would bend your ear and soften your heart.
Tell me what I can say that would make you less hesitant to stand by us. I know you love us, but something holds you back. Tell me what would give you courage.
Tell me what I can say that would make words like sin and broken and agenda fall away, because those don’t live here any more than they live in your home. Tell me what would open your mind.
Tell me the words and the order and the sequence and I’ll speak it out. I’ll give you something to hear.
Because I know too well the hole in the chest that silence leaves.
Being a parent is hard. There are so many conversations we have to have, so many things that it’s up to us to explain. Baylor asked me who made God at TWO YEARS OLD.
That was a fun car ride.
Since there’s a lot of confusion and these are such tricky and treacherous waters, I just thought I’d try to offer a few steps to walk you through handling a transgender boy in your son’s troop, should that day come.
1. Find out that kid’s name. QUICKLY Y’ALL DO IT.
2. Take your child up to this child after learning his name and say, “(Your child’s name here), this is (other child’s name here). He’s in your troop now.”
3. Continue your regularly programmed scoutsing.
4. No, really. That’s probably it. Kids are way cooler than adults, so if you’re cool, your kid will be extra cool. Cooler than cool*. If for some reason it becomes a true struggle, a super simple explanation (one that doesn’t in any way have to include the discussion of private parts) is usually enough to make most kids happy. Don’t worry about “making them think they can just change too”- trust me, it doesn’t work that way.
Bonus step: Smile and say hi to the person who brought the new kiddo because they are probably a bit on edge. It’s never fun being the new parent on the block.
And that’s it! You made it. Pick up your “decent human being” badge** on the way out!
**I lied about the badges. I’m sorry. It was creative license. Or something. If you’re really upset I’ll make you one. But it’ll be paper and you won’t love it.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
A few posts back, I asked with sincerity if our country would be okay after an election season that was…stranger than fiction.
The story so far, not a great one. We are a severely divided, aggressively torn nation. It honestly feels like navigating an entirely new place some days. Continue reading