Before I bid farewell

The following was shared to my church board during its February 2016 meeting. Three months prior I was asked to remove myself from the church board after coming out to my pastor.

I have already shared in a previous post the before and after, but I have never shared what actually happened in that meeting.

It’s funny reading this and thinking about how things have changed since. Do I hold ill will? Honestly, I am not sure. The hurt is raw, but it’s a good raw, like a prime rib on a Sunday afternoon.

When I was asked to speak the board, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. For five hours, I sat in front of my laptop pouring out my heart and uncovering pain I never realized existed. This was no easy task.

I am very grateful for my friend Gloria who helped me hone these words into what you are about to read. I even learned how to remove the word THAT from a sentence and still have it make sense. Who knew?

Anyway, here are my words.


Good evening.

Three and a half months prior to this meeting, the lead pastor read a letter from me stating I would be “stepping down” from the board for a season.

For the past almost three years you have gotten to know me in many different ways.

You have seen me preach the word of God.

I have ministered to your children and helped them see God’s hand in the world where we live.

You have seen my passion for serving Christ through music.

You have witnessed my sense of humor, from sweaters to silliness to even tormenting an older member practically every Sunday by deciding which t-shirt would cause him to shake his head the most. (My Ben and Jerry’s “I Love to Spoon” shirt took the prize!)

Many of you saw a rebel, but what many of you don’t know is I have been suffering from a secret hidden from everyone, including myself.

Imagine putting your left shoe on your right foot and putting your right shoe on your left food.   Start walking and walking and walking and walking, That uncomfortable feeling is how I describe my life for as long as I can remember, even as far back as six years of age.

Throughout my life I felt two things:

  • I felt God had something big in store for my life and was calling me to it.
  • I didn’t belong in my own skin. I didn’t feel part of anything around me.

Since that early age I have been beaten up, I have been called a fag, I have been bullied and ridiculed, even at the hands and actions of my own parents, and I’ve suffered the broken bones and the broken heart.

I had no one to turn to. Not my parents. Not even my church (which happened to have been my parents).

So I buried it. I buried it hard.

This was the early 80s when a violent culture of hate and intolerance was being revealed. The gossip mill would tell stories about so and so and from there the words were never kind.

I knew no one like myself. I shared my secret with no one. How could I? I was told those people were vile and disgusting and bound for eternal damnation.

I became what I was expected to become. I was a good christian boy. Church was my world. Church was all I had. I oozed church culture. I gave my heart to Jesus at an early age. I grew in spirit and talent. I felt the call to ministry.

I never went out to play around the neighborhood. I played my musical instrument, I sang in the chorus. I was the lead in the Church musical. I was the reason why the church musical was canceled fifteen minutes into the program because I threw up all over the stage.

I was groomed for leadership. If there was a special program for leadership, I was there. I had dreams…dreams of being a pastor and playing my musical instrument for the Lord. It was drilled into my head I was supposed to set an example.   Learning to live for the expectations of others has haunted me all my life.

One of the ways I teach my customers in my current line of work is by using the wonderful art of the illustration. If had to explain my life at the time, I would have to relate it to synchronized swimming. Above the water, for all to see, was the perfected.  Beneath the surface, you saw the flailing, you saw the self-loathing, the sadness, the awkwardness, the rejection.

I occasionally thought of suicide, but all I knew of suicide was it was a one way ticket to hell.  I surely didn’t want that….at least I thought I didn’t.   By God’s grace, I never further pursued it.   Many like me haven’t been so fortunate.

High school turned into college and from there the darkness grew greater; however, I pressed on.   By 19, I achieved the dream of a lifetime.  I was accepted into one of the best brass bands in the world, The Salvation Army’s New York Staff Band. I was at the top of my own little world.   As long as I kept looking ahead to tomorrow, I could forget about today.

I was alone in so many ways, I turned to what every good Christian young man does……look for a good Christian young woman. Get married. Go to seminary.

Check, check and, wellllll, two out of three ain’t bad.

I married the girl who shot me the dirtiest look I have ever encountered in my 16 years of existence. From holding hands in the back of a bus in Buenos Aires to a long distance relationship spending many hours on the phone pouring over 1st Timothy 2:12 to marriage, a house and even two dogs.  It was all too good to be true.  We even had the same birthday!

The years were not kind. I struggled more and more with who I was. Years of repression were starting to catch up with me. I remember countless sessions with God, begging and pleading to make me normal, to take away all this pain and suffering.

I honestly felt God was helping me turn things around.  In 2001, I met a seven foot lion with the local hockey team who reignited in me a love for making people happy.  Nine years after being married, one miscarriage and being told we wouldn’t be able to have a child by natural means, we were gifted by God with a child. My daughter taught me with one glance what unconditional love was all about.

Two years, two months and eighteen days later I left a note on the dining room table and I ran away. I knew I wanted to do better, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. The walls around me became too high, too thick. It was one of the lowest moments of my life.

I hated a God I loved with all my heart.  My path of destruction grew. I sank even lower.  I hated every fibre of my being.  I hated those moments when the clarity would reveal itself. I pushed it away with the only thing I truly knew.


Guilt as weapon when turned on one’s self is a fate worse than death. I made myself believe I was sick and twisted and disgusting.  I told myself I wasn’t worthy of God’s love, the love I knew deep down was somehow in all this chaos keeping me from becoming unglued.

I was in the middle of designing a wedding invitation.  I felt as if I hit rock bottom. I reached for help; I begged for atonement.

Through this breakdown of epic proportions, the one woman I tried so hard to reject was the one holding me in her arms.  At that moment, I knew she was the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. I was happy; yet, I was absolutely miserable. I was a fraud. I wasn’t who I was supposed to be.

While this was happening, I started going back to church.  It was my love of my daughter who brought me back to church.  It was my love of my daughter which brought me back to ministering within the church.  The more I taught the kids, the more I was able to direct my focus by teaching them about Christ.  I was able to distract myself from my inner struggle. I was truly being fed.  From what I saw, things were getting on track…..a welcome diversion. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)

In the Fall of 2014, due to some family issues, I was challenged to take a good long look at myself.  I was angry and bitter. All objectivity went out the window when I told I was the cause of the problems.

Unconditional love brought me to my knees. I didn’t want to be the problem. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

I studied. I studied hard. I poured through my Bible. I researched article after article of scientific discovery. I learned sexuality and identity were indeed two separate and distinct things. I learned sexuality is who you love and identity is who you are. I learned I was not a deviant.

Buried under years of pain, years of repression, and patterns of destruction was the answer I had always known but never accepted.

Armed with this information, I put pen to paper. I started composing the contents of my heart to share with my wife. I penned my final plea.

For the first time in my life I was telling ONE person everything about me. I had never done this before. One person knew this. Another person knew that. My self-preservation had never allowed it.  I was too wrapped up in tomorrow.

My life was instantly changed forever at the press of the send button. The email was sent and the fear was gone.  I had humbled myself. Raw and exposed, I waited.

“Are you leaving me?” she asked.

Once before I had run and watched the pieces shatter behind me…there is no way I could do something like that again. I didn’t want to leave. I had no desire to leave. Just like the night years before, I laid in her arms…. my heart was in her hands.

At that VERY MOMENT, pain and anguish and destructive behavior were gone. For years I had prayed for healing. To this very day things have never been the same. I know it is a word used way too often, but this was a miracle.

I know, as I look back over the past thirteen months, our marriage has grown exponentially. I have never loved someone as much I do my wife.

Through out all of this, Beth has been my rock. We have been a team through this journey. We have learned to lift each other up and understand we will have our good days and bad days, but we know we will always have each other. In situations such as mine, the success rates for marriages and committed relationships is very low. I am blessed beyond means. I have seen her true beauty…and what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.


Over the past thirteen months, I have poured more thought and prayer into this than anything I have ever done before.  I studied and read and read and read and read and read. I prayed. I cried.  I learned to rely heavily on God to move me in the direction he would have me go.  God placed a wonderful therapist in my life, one who knew me and was able to properly discern some things I never understood before.

I also have made wonderful, long lasting friendships.   I found friends who have held me accountable to my thoughts and actions.   Friends who have given me their shoulder to cry on.   Friends who have smacked me in the head to help me better understand life around me.  Friends who has seen things that are best to remain unspoken.

The biggest blessing was my hunger for the God’s word was alive for the first time in many years. I truly felt the gift of discernment come over me.  The therapist suggested I seek out medical consults and from there a proper decision would be reached.

I was later diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria.  The proper definition is…..

“Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity and is caused during the development prior to birth.”

I know this is a lot to understand in a short time, but if you’d like to read a fuller definition I can lead you to a few resources or you are free to Google “what causes gender dysphoria.”

So, now that you have the history of my life , why are we here and where does it take us tomorrow?

Organizations like the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and leading world health organizations have created Standards of Care to ensure the mind and the body is taken care of and treated properly.

My therapist and doctor agreed it would be best for me to start what is called Hormone Replacement Therapy,  HRT is basically  the righting of the hormonal imbalance which has been present for my entire life.  It has been proven that one cannot alter the mind, however,  the body is able to change.   One of the characteristics of Hormone Replacement Therapy is to slowly bring the physical body in line with the brain.

And slowly I went.

For the past 10 months, I have been transitioning from male to female.  I have made this a long and drawn out process for many reasons.  Because I need to make sure I am being real and authentic, I need to do this a manner which doesn’t overstep my comfort zone. I have needed to peel away over 35 years of pain and hurt… I’ve definitely kept my therapist in the black.

I have been patient to honor my wife. When she promised me we would be okay, I promised to give her all the time she needed to fully adjust.  It has proven to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I also wanted to keep my heart open to all things. I have been challenged every step of the way and I have pushed myself to rely on God and look at his word in a way that I have never done before. I realized, all too many times I have used the Bible to grind my axe. I have looked for versus out of context to suit a personal agenda to prove myself right.  This time, I poured through the Word striving to understand the context, the culture of the times, the macro instead of the micro.

I have drawn this out for family and friends and wanting to meet people where they are.

I have even given time and patience because the folks here at this church, are my family too. This is hard enough for me and the last thing I would ever want is to give someone a heart attack.

Many of you have probably noticed my physical appearance has gradually been changing. Now you know why.  I finally feel as if the shoes are slowly going on the feet where they belong. I have finally been able to live as my brain has always told me. I feel whole. I have a long way to go but that day will come. Over time, I will continue to take on a feminine appearance.  I will have legally changed my name and the life of the old will not be gone but merely a memory of a lifetime ago. The one thing that will not change is my heart, my sense of humor, or my ability to drive my wife nuts or my love for all of you.

No longer am I buried under a burden I wish on no one. I am free to worship out from under this weight.

I’ve equated this story many times to the story of Paul. It took God to knock him off his horse, blind him and eventually give a 2nd chance.

Since childhood I have kept one passage close to my heart. It speaks of a grace which covers us all.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am not here tonight to convince you. I am here by the grace of God compelled to tell you a story of Love,  a story of healing, of hope, a story of a new found joy.  Remember how I said I have felt called to something big? That moment is right here.

Slowly people are learning identity and sexuality are as far as the east is to the west.

I believe the church has marginalized and vilified people just like me, and mistakenly held them to principals and beliefs about human sexuality that are wrong and harmful. I’m here to say people just like me can be used to further the kingdom of God when the church opens her heart and shares the true love of christ.

I am not a sin. I am not a mistake.

Many who hear my story will focus on the external. Many will be unable to move to the middle. Many may not hear the sound of grace.  Many will just need time.  Many will welcome with open arms.

That’s it.  Now you know.

My words are seeds that are cast out in the fields.  To some, the ground will be hard and the words will wither and die. To others, the words will find rich fertile soil. From this ground will yield some kick ass fruit.   Fruit that has the potential to feed a world so hurt and torn from God.

Grace is indeed full of 2nd chances.

“To Bid Farewell” – The Choir

Away we go again
Too early in the morning
Just one more thought or three
Before I say goodbye
Insurance policies
Are in the second drawer, love
Now, listen close to one last

Sad sigh
For the words I never would say
If I were to bid farewell my love today
A glad sigh
For the promise of a new day
If I were to bid farewell and fly away

I’ve sung a thousand songs
Give or take four hundred
Tried to ride the clouds
I know you came along
I feel some turbulence now
And if this were farewell, friend
Would you hear one final

Sad song
For the songs I never would sing
If I were to bid farewell my friend today
A glad song
As the bells beyond the night ring

 And though I walked beneath the Moon
The sun was in my eyes
So this is not a sorry tune
But Heaven help me
A sad sigh
For the words I never would say
If I were to bid farewell the world today
A glad sigh
For the promise of a new day
If I were to bid farewell and fly away
A sad sigh
For the songs I never could sing
If I were to bid farewell to you today
A glad song
As the bells beyond the night ring
If I were to bid farewell and fade away
If I were to bid farewell and fade away
If I were to bid farewell and fade away