My life in three words

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Alex, a fine young lady and member of our church, who is in a college class with a requirement to write seven papers this term on people who are different from her, in categories specified by the professor. For the category of sexual orientation or gender identity, she chose me. I was very pleased that she asked. Yes, I am the first trans person she has known.

Alex asked every question you might imagine about gender dysphoria and transgender, questions regarding my transition, how Julie handled it from the time I first told her, how my family has taken all of this, and how I chose my name. None of her questions surprised me. We spoke for about an hour-and-a-half.

I thought we were wrapping it up, when she asked me two questions which did surprise me. The first was this: if you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

Have you ever known me to be speechless? I was speechless.

I had to ask her for help. Where should I begin—should I start with when my gender dysphoria crushed me in 2013, or my entire life, or what? She suggested I begin with when Julie and I got married in 2001.

As I began to say that, of course, since I always wanted to remain male I would change my life so that I would never have had gender dysphoria, before I finished the sentence the words of a trans friend flooded my mind and I had to retract. Taking a cue from my friend’s thoughts, I continued . . .

“If I had never had gender dysphoria, would I have been the tender, compassionate person I became, or would I have been so masculine that I became a macho jerk? I don’t know if I ever would have become a pastor. All of our experiences form us, and if we remove even one of them, we cannot be the same people. The Lord used my infant son’s death to grow my faith so much that I was on the path to the ministry. I guess what I am saying is, I would not change a thing. These past few years have been terribly hard. I regret what I did to my family and church, but I couldn’t stop what was happening to me. I trust the Lord to work things out. As I look back over my life—and I have experienced some awfully hard things—I see that He has worked every one of them for my good, and to make me a better person. I know He will do it this time, too. Everything is going to be just fine.”

She wrote, frantically. I sat, quietly. She looked up from her paper. She had one more question. An impossible one, really. An outstanding one.

She requested, “Summarize your life in three words.”

Are you kidding me, Alex? Three words?! I told her that she’d better require an answer that very moment, because if she gave me twenty-four hours to answer I would have fifty answers.

Then, as if by divine inspiration, out popped my three word life’s summary:

Completely, wonderfully unpredictable.

I told Alex about a game that I like to play, but she would have to remember it for later, because you have to have lived a good chunk of your life to be able to play it. In the game, you reflect on when you were in your late teens to early twenties and the things you thought or hoped you would do in life, and how many of them came to pass.

I told her my list:

  • get married till death parted us
  • have children
  • remain in Montague
  • work at a job for something like forty years, until retirement
  • settle into a house and stay there till old age

How many of mine happened? Precisely one: my children.

It took me many years to accept that I was a divorced person, the feeling of failure such a terrible burden. The final three items on my list evaporated when we pulled up roots for Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I entered the seminary.

None of my life has worked out the way I had planned, yet I would not change a single thing. Even the divorce. Without the divorce, I would not have Julie. Without Julie, I cannot imagine my life.

I would not change a single thing. Even now.

I told Alex something that I had remarked to Julie in the early weeks of our discussing the possibility of my transitioning. This was the spring of 2013. I told Julie it seemed that the Lord intended me to experience as many things in life which a person can experience, and now I even was going to experience being a woman.

My Lord Jesus has led me all the way, for fifty-eight years, from the most placid childhood which could not possibly have served as a predictor of a constantly moving and shaking adulthood.

My Lord Jesus has led me all the way. He will continue to lead. I will gladly follow, for He is faithful—faithful for my eternal life and for my earthly life. Faithful to lead me where I need to be to do the work that He has for me to do.

Completely, wonderfully unpredictable. Yup, that’s been my life. What a life!

So, how about you? What are/were your major life’s goals? If you are at least in your fifties, have you achieved them? What allowed them to happen or caused them to be disrupted?

And, what say you? Summarize your life. In three words.

Only three words.

I dare you.


4 thoughts on “My life in three words

  1. I think she missed the more pressing question, namely, who opens the door for who when getting in and out of the automobile. You didn’t think about that consequence, did you, G? Now the two of you are forever doomed to spend the rest of your lives waiting patiently outside of the passenger door. Tsk. Tsk.


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