Social media has been in a tizzy over the past few days, and I typically have very little reasons to dive into the fray. I noticed a common thread among the most popular recent stories, and I could not stop myself from writing about it. Why not jump right back into writing with something a tad controversial, eh?
Is there a Christian response to Bruce Jenner and Rachel Dolezal? How should we view their stories? How should we react?
Rather than attack, argue, or pick sides when it comes to Bruce Jenner’s revelation, I would rather ask questions. Who was there for him when he first struggled with his identity? Who offered to stand by him, not for what he could offer, and not to gain public attention, but to give him support, safety, and love? Did he suffer alone, and in silence? Why? Why did he pick this moment to “out” himself?
When Rachel Dolezal first came up with the notion to align herself with African-American culture, was it a result of genuine love for people, or only hatred for herself? Was she preparing for graduate work, and needing a different perspective for her research? Was she trying to out a family secret, and live in her truth? Or was she suffering from a deep-seated, yet to be diagnosed emotional turmoil? Did she suffer alone, and in silence? Why did her parents pick this moment to “out” her?
These may appear to be simplistic questions to you, and perhaps your scholarly brains have already figured out the answers. However, my heart hurts for people like Jenner and Dolezal. How painful it must be to live your daily life ashamed, afraid, or unsure! How long did they lie to their own hearts before lying to others? Did those around them ignore their struggle, or try to help them? Did they ever know love?
I believe that God is LOVE. I also believe when you encounter true love, it changes everything about you. You gain the capacity to not only love others, but to love yourself. I wonder if the people closest to Jenner and Dolezal truly loved them. Why? They were around while deception and pain prevailed, and did not intervene. It isn’t enough to wave a banner, or take a side when things become public. The most painful moments are always experienced in private. What was the response to the private pain? What was the response to private questions and struggles?
People often yell, “you don’t know me, or my pain” when they feel attacked. I always respond with, “you’re right. I don’t know your pain, but I know Who does.” I don’t know about the private lives of these now very famous people, but I know One who always has. I believe that they need to know what true love is, and when they do, they will be able to love who they really are.
So, is there a Christian response to them, and the many people in the world like them? I believe so. I elect to view Jenner and Dolezal from a different lens than I have witnessed lately. I cannot imagine not being able to accept, appreciate, and love the skin into which you are born. I can only extend compassion, and the prayer that one day people who struggle will finally know what love really is. For when they do, they will love who they are.