Mirror, Mirror, Not At All

A put down. That was the first thing that my friend Eric said to me when I told him that I was going to start living as a woman. I had called Eric, my long time friend, and had asked him to meet me for a beer at a local micro-brewery. He is a beer fanatic so I thought good ale would help clear the way for my ‘out-of-the-blue’ news. But my words were sobering to Eric. When I told him he grimaced and then, instead of looking back at me, he looked over at the large vats of brewing beer and said, “You’ll never be beautiful. That was the first thing that my long time close friend said to me.

Eric’s response came as a complete surprise to me. I had never thought about beauty in the context of living as a female or as a motive for doing so. The idea of seeking beauty simply never came to mind. I don’t think that anyone wants to be ugly or unattractive so I considered myself as one of these same people. I hadn’t held beauty up as some ideal to reach for or desire. Since I’ve transitioned and have lived as a woman for several years now, I feel very comfortable in my body. I occasionally do hear comments: “Hey, pretty lady.” “Hi, beautiful.” and even “Hi, gorgeous.” I would have to say that those words are nice to hear sometimes but they don’t confirm to me that I am beautiful. What makes me beautiful is that which is transitioning in my soul: becoming less self-aware and more Christ-aware. My validation of beauty comes from within me and not from some mirror of opinion. The view of the latter would be as though “looking through a glass darkly” or just speculation about my outward appearance. I prefer, rather, to visualize the words said by the Real One Who dwells within me:

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the maidens.
All beautiful you are, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

I’ve known two things since my earliest childhood: I am a female and that God is more concerned about what is my heart than about my appearance. I was born with the innate understanding that I was a female despite what I saw to the contrary. I also understood early on that a God Who I could not see is able to see what cannot be seen with the human eye. I learned this from a Sunday School lesson about the lowly shepherd boy David being selected by God to be the king of Israel. It was out of this understanding of God that my faith in God began to grow. By faith I believed in Jesus and by faith, later on, I began living as a woman.

It is faith, according to the Scriptures, that operates on the basis of what is not seen and it is faith that acts in anticipation of what is to be received. Faith doesn’t operate by sight. But, people do. From the same Sunday School lesson I was taught that “man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.” And that brings me back to Eric’s words.

When Eric responded he essentially said that my transition would be some contrivance to obtain beauty. This statement confounded me and hurt me but not for long. The fact that I am a woman is settled for me. The fact that I may or may not be beautiful truly doesn’t matter to me. In this Age of Enhancement, beauty can quickly become the mascara tears streaming down the cheeks of Despair. The issue of beauty is certainly important if you make it important. I do not consider it important. Rather, I am learning to be less self-aware and more Christ-aware. I am continually praying that this transition will happen. This transition is the most important one of all and it is, by far, the most costly.

Sadly, my friendship with Eric ended that day. He said that he didn’t want to watch me make the ‘change’. He went on to say that I must have some horrible psychic pain to want to make the ‘change’. What he didn’t understand was that there had been tremendous psychic pain in avoiding the ‘change’. Eric broke off our long term friendship that day. We finished our beer, hugged each other and then drove off.

It appears that friendship, not beauty, is only skin deep.

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