As a trans man who is called to ministry, I’ve been slacking.
I’ve been afraid.
I’m not afraid anymore.
Now I’m hustling and building. Challenging systems and cistems. I’m grinding.
It’s not about me.
It’s not about the money.
It’s all about the message.
God is love.
God is in all of us.
We should be love.
As bold and out and proud as I appear to be….. I sometimes struggle with confronting bigotry head on. It is particularly difficult when it is coming from the people who raised me. Yep… you heard it here first…. my parents are my biggest struggle when it comes to facing bigotry.
My name is Sebastian, my pronouns are he/him and they/them…. that’s the reality. The reality is that I have not answered to any other name or pronouns for quite some time. That is, with the exception of my parents. Now….I put the boundary and the expectation out there. They refuse to acknowledge it.
I am now on the fence about what to do moving forward because I get why they are behaving this way. They are behaving this way because they have accepted a God-view, rooted in many years of indoctrination, that makes it okay for them to disrespect me. I held that view for a long time, until I was liberated from the echo chamber of my upbringing and introduced to a means by which to deconstruct much of the dogma I had blindly accepted. This liberation led to me learning to love and accept myself for who I truly am and embrace communion with God and all of their magnificence. It pains me that I may have to walk away from a relationship with my parents but, in reality, if they insist on me pretending to be someone that I am not when I communicate with them….. what kind of relationship do we have at this point?
I suppose there is a kid inside me that still wants my parents to see me and love me for the man that I am. I want to be able to travel home and not be afraid of having my own flesh and blood misgender me in public, an action that could put my life in danger. My heart aches even as I write this because I know that my story is not unique. Anti-LGBTQ bias that is taught in sacred spaces around the world has done this to more families than just mine. It has torn many families apart and cost many people their lives. It needs to stop.
It needs to end. The blood of those whose lives have ended as a result of Anti-LGBTQ religious bigotry cries out from the earth, urging us to put a stop to this violence for the sake of those who could meet a similar fate.
Let us heed their call lest the blood of another generation be on our hands.
I wanted to take a moment and say, “Happy New Year!”
2020 was a year where a lot of things were disrupted due to COVID-19 and other issues. Many people across the world lost their lives and, as the pandemic continues, more lives will be lost. I hope that this pandemic is behind us all soon and that we will move forward keeping in mind the lessons learned from this.
2020 also revealed many of the things in our society that we like to pretend are not there. We have seen unapologetic white supremacy rear its head and we have been challenged to respond. We cannot afford to move forward without clearly rebuking white supremacy and the behaviors it leads to. I believe that people are waking up and that we will continue to see white supremacy be challenged until it is wiped out. I hope that I’m not being overly optimistic.
Now that we are in 2021, my question for each of us is simple…… What are we going to do with this year? This is an important question because, while there are some things that are beyond our control, mindset is not among them. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to future generations, to leave the world in a better situation than we found it. This does not happen instantly but it does happen as a result of consistent effort over a period of time. This effort will be challenged. Life will happen. The key is to make sure that each time life knocks us down or slows our progress, we keep our eyes on the prize.
Personally, I spent 2020 figuring out what I really wanted from life and working to align with that. The first thing I did was leave a job that did not speak to my sense of purpose. This was difficult because in doing so, I walked into a job that I knew had an expiration date. I also started to address some health concerns that I had not yet made time for. This has included fighting to lose weight and get my diabetes under control. I wish I could tell you that this particular battle has been easy but it has NOT. I love to eat and I love carbs so I have fallen off of the keto bandwagon a few times. My commitment to myself if that I will stick to keto this year and reach my goals. Another step I took was to reorganize my home work space in such a way that is conducive to actually getting things done. This was key because I have difficulty sleeping at night so, a workstation that allows for too much lounging is one that leads to unintended naps during the day. Lastly, I made my first major networking move since moving to the Midwest by pledging to a fraternity that will allow me to connect with others and build a better world for the next generation.
Now to the hard part. The hard part is being consistent. It is making sure that I don’t find myself falling short of my goals and standards this year. But how? How can I do this. Well, I’ve used the first days of 2021 to put a few things in place that are working well so far. The thing I want to highlight, however, is not giving myself permission to be a poor steward over my health. I do this by doing to difficult job of telling myself NO. This was particularly handy earlier today as I was sitting on the couch after enjoying a bowl of collard greens. I found myself craving a cheeseburger. This was a full-on craving that caused my mouth to water and tempted me to pull out my phone and have a burger delivered. I wanted to bread, the meat, the cheese, the condiments, the fries and a big cup of soda on the side. The craving was so strong that I could practically taste it. I almost gave in but I remembered what it would mean for me to not resist this urge and that was enough for me to do the right thing.
I encourage you to follow this example. If you are following this blog and you need to change the way you eat in an effort to get your health on track, please join me on this journey. I intend to spend 2021 doing hard things so that I can help others to do the same. This will get me into trouble in some circles but obesity comes with a price. There are a lot of illnesses that are obesity related and losing weight can result in a better quality of life for many. I know this from personal experience, research, and from watching others lose their lives to obesity related illnesses.
Having said that, I also know that losing weight can be very hard for a variety of reasons. Eating right, moving our bodies in certain ways, knowing what foods are good and what foods are harmful, and a host of other things can be very real barriers to weight loss. So, what’s to be done? How can we combat obesity against the odds? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question but there is room for conversation.
Please join me as share my journey and explore topics related to overcoming obesity.
For this coming week, I’m going to reassess my worth. Presently, even while working a job that’s paying me the most money I’ve made in my adult life I’m still making far less annually than I should for a person with my education and experience. This is something I’ve accepted for far too long.
I owe it to myself to not accept less than what I should be making. I owe it to myself to stop letting “bonus potential” convince me to take jobs making far less than I should be. I should be able to afford to live in a great neighborhood. I should be able to pay all of my household bills on my income alone. Moving forward, I’m holding myself to that standard. I’ll be dedicating the next 5 calendar days to solidifying what that should look like and my plan for getting there.
I’ve had enough. I deserve better from myself. My wife deserves better from me. I will realize my potential.