Not happy, but healthy


I have appreciated every person who has been kind to me, offered their encouragement and support, and especially those who have not been afraid to be public about it. At times in their cheering me they have said things in ways which I would not. I focus on one topic:

  • “I’m so glad you are happy.”
  • “As long as you’re happy.”
  • “You deserve to be happy.”

Have you guessed the topic?

We all can quote plenty of advertisements that use happiness as the goal to get us to buy the latest this or that or the other thing. And as soon as our happiness has worn off from the previous thing, we move onto the next thing even if the previous thing, say one’s current cell phone, still works perfectly fine. Nope, now that the new model is out so is my happiness with my current one.

Our culture is bent on being happy.

A Lutheran man, with whom I have debated every issue under the heading of transgender, told me that he conferred with some pastors. He said that one of them commented: “The basic idea is extremely troubling: I wasn’t happy; now I am.” Where did this pastor get this idea? He didn’t get it from me.

I asked the man to please inform the pastor that happiness was never my goal. I dared him to find the places on my blog where I have talked about striving for happiness, that he would not find such talk from me because it has never been my attitude.

Good health is my worthy goal. Contentment, not happiness, is my desire. Where the final two of the ten commandments warn us not to covet, we see contentment as coveting’s opposite, to be satisfied with one’s situation in life, and doing so in a manner which is wise and healthy.

Ah, to be healthy! Where do so many go when asked how their lives are? “I am thankful that I have my health.”

I did not have my health.

If I had not been crushed by gender dysphoria, I would have cried from the mountaintops what a happy life I had. My marriage was simply the best. I was pleased for my children, and that they gave me seven grandchildren. I had the job for which I was perfectly suited and I loved. My health has primarily been outstanding throughout my life. I enjoyed good hobbies—jogging, gardening, reading, writing. I had a good income, a wonderful house, a splendid community, loads of friends, and all of the material things that I needed and many that I didn’t need but when I wanted them I could afford to go out and get them.

Remove my gender dysphoria and I was as content as one can be. I experienced profound thankfulness to the Lord for His goodness to me. I have said many times that my Lord has blessed no one more than He has blessed me. I absolutely mean that . . . even with the gender dysphoria.

Did I transition in order to be happy? Absolutely not. I transitioned so that I might be healthy, so that I might be able to live a life in which I could benefit my family and community.

Where I was, I was of benefit to no one. When I was suffering the worst, I despised everything so much that I was stymied. And my mood was ugly. And I hated what I was putting Julie through.

I could only see three things as the possibilities for me as a male:

  • I would commit suicide, or
  • I would go insane, or
  • in order to extinguish my mental anguish, I would be so heavily medicated that I would be a shell of a person and unable to do anything.

I had to take action. If transitioning would get me healthy, allow my mind finally to relax, I could remove the three fears and I could once again be a productive person, making good use of the gifts with which I have been blessed.

Not only was happiness not my goal but, now that I have transitioned and am healthy, there are plenty of things about which I am not happy, including

  • the ongoing trouble for the many who have been offended by me;
  • fighting with my fellow Christians;
  • the battle that I have undertaken and at which I resolve to continue to work hard: educating my fellow Christians, especially the leadership of my former church body;
  • my body shape;
  • my hairline and very thin hair;
  • all of my upcoming surgeries;
  • the financial strain on Julie and me;
  • and that I can no longer do the job I love in the place where I want to be, the LCMS.

None of those were issues for me before. The question has thus become: are the new troubles worth it? Was the trade-off reasonable? Am I more happy than I had been? (Oops! I just had to add that.)

I am pleased to say that my answer is an absolute YES. While I do not prefer the new troubles and would shake them free if I could, they go with the territory. While I wish no one were offended by me, I have strived not to offend anyone but to live as an honorable, ethical person. I have worked hard to educate them. For my fellow Christians, this education goes to the heart of my transitioning publicly because my experience informs me that LCMS pastors and lay persons do not understand gender dysphoria and being transgender. As for my body and hair, I can abide with what I have, and am way more grateful for what I have than for what I do not have. The surgeries are a necessary evil, if you will, as is the financial strain. Thankfully, we are hanging in there financially, and we are people who do not go crazy spending money. Finally, while I still miss being a pastor I am okay with it so long as I am doing things which are beneficial and fulfilling, which I am doing most of the time.

Everyone wants to be understood. We long to be respected. Both of these are vitally important to me. Sadly, too many people judge me before or without hearing me, and come up with unfair assessments such as the pastor who found my goal only to be happy.

Am I now happy most of the time? I am pleased to report that I am. Happiness is a byproduct of getting healthy and the ability to be content again—a byproduct, but not the goal.

2 thoughts on “Not happy, but healthy

  1. when i worked creative. self-care retreats, for women, there was always a topic around how we use our words. how one simple word can change the result of a conversation, how they can define the mood, etc.
    we all know this, right. the word happy is one that i use quite a bit. i use to describe my art, the day, my space. i use it because i grew up with a mom who always seem bent on telling me that i wasn’t happy. it was her way (sometimes) of putting me in my place. and even typing this, i feel bad that i might possibly be making her sound terrible. she isn’t, however we have never quite been on the same page. i think that my desire to be “content” and what that looked like, scared her. to this day, we still can go round and round.

    hopping over here today and reading thru this. i can see how just reframing our outlook, our path can be such a game changer. (fyi, i have written and rewritten my comment 3 times. 3 times.) so sitting here, i wanted to know what the difference is between happy and content. one google source compared it to happiness being dopamine, contentment being serotonin. interesting. happy seems to be more of the “in the moment” that rush. content is more over all. the chill mood of a moment, all is well.

    you really have me thinking. always good. (happy friday, ginajoy!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let no one think that I don’t enjoy being happy. I’ll take all that might come my way!

      It is, indeed, one of the words that we use quite a bit. There are plenty of times we really should use a different word, especially so that we can be more specific. (But, gosh, I fear using “I’m feeling the affects of dopamine,” because I know my friends would quickly reply, “I knew you were a dope.”) 🙂

      You didn’t cast your mom in a bad light. She very well might have been seeing an ongoing discontent, which came out in your mood, which easily is considered unhappiness. Yeah, I bet she was scared. Parents want their children to be healthy and, yup, happy.

      A good way to see distinctions in “happy” is to try to use “joy” in its place. I have often said, “We are not happy that this loved one has died, but we have joy knowing she is with the Lord.”

      “I’m not happy” can be the justification for changing a situation, with happiness the measure of whether to remain in the situation, and not a good or wise measurement. When I was young, I worked in an iron foundry. I was not happy with the job, but I had no other prospects at that time, it paid well, with good benefits, and was close to home. I stuck it out. I even grew content there after I got into the routine of it and grew some muscles.

      “I’m not happy” is used by plenty of spouses, and it becomes their excuse for leaving a marriage rather than working at it. Working at it is hard. And while leaving a marriage is not easy, it looks that way when compared with long, meaningful talks with your spouse, couple’s therapy, and changing some of your own behaviors which contribute to the lack of marital bliss.

      And I think this is where the pastor was coming from. He was seeing me as someone not happy in his life so let’s do the American thing and get rid of the unhappiness. Since it was a complete misunderstanding of my situation and attitude, I was livid, frankly. I was quite insistent that the man go back to the pastor and correct him.

      Here is my best contrast of happy and content. When my infant son died, I certainly was not happy, but I was content knowing that He was with the Lord and would be resurrected to eternal life, and eternal life makes all earthly life—no matter how long or wonderful it is—pale in comparison.

      Happy Friday, indeed, Kelly! xo

      Liked by 1 person

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