When I was growing up we listened to Paul Harvey’s radio show while riding in the car. He was famous for telling stories about people and events that were fairly well known, only he would add a portion of the story that wasn’t as well known. It was always something that made the story even more meaningful than it was in the beginning. Then he’d end with,
“Now you know the rest of the story.”
It was a powerful storytelling technique because truth is, there’s always more to the stories we tell. And sometimes that’s just the part we need to hear most.
So it is with Jordyn’s story.
Remember from my last post that I told you I had met Jordyn when she was 14 years old? I did, with one difference in the story. I first met Jordyn as a 14 year old boy, who spelled his name at that time as his parents chose for his birth certificate,
Jordan had told his parents he was gay not too long before we met, and like I mentioned in the previous post, his parents didn’t turn away from him, but they were troubled nonetheless. His mom had written a letter to the pastor of their church and the pastor put them in touch with CenterPeace, the non-profit I direct to help parents and churches have better conversations about faith and sexuality. Jordan and I met in the context of the weekend seminar that their church had hired us to conduct. I remember walking into the building beside Jordan’s family, having no idea who they were at the time, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to this adolescent boy with big brown eyes and the sweetest smile. There was nothing about Jordan that signaled to me that he was gay, not in the stereotypical ways that people often assume are universally characteristic of men who are gay. Honestly, I was first drawn to Jordan because he reminded me so much of a cousin of mine who was around the same age. That instantly made him special to me.
But then, as you know from my previous post, I got to spend time with this young man, eating frozen yogurt on a Sunday afternoon, just the two of us. And I began to see Jordan as someone special on his own merit. Jordan didn’t talk much, but his question alone – “so does my being gay mean I have to spend the rest of my life by myself?” – showed me where his heart was. He was asking questions about what kind of life would be pleasing to God because that mattered to him. His kind demeanor and the sweetness of his countenance during that conversation demonstrated he had been taught to be respectful of his elders. I kept thinking, just how many 14 year old boys would be willing to sit and talk with an adult woman he’s never met before, about one of the deepest secrets of his life? While actually making eye contact with her? And continuing to ask questions?!
Fast forward five years and Jordan has transitioned to Jordyn, a female who will explain that she has always been a girl inside a boy’s body. Coming out as gay was a part of the process of coming to understand herself, and in doing so led her to a deeper realization of being transgender. Jordyn began to transition at the age of 16, presenting as female at school, and deeply desiring a faith community that would fully embrace her.
Transitioning hasn’t been easy. Jordyn had to have police escorts to classes in high school because of bullying.
Finding a faith community that will welcome a trans student into a youth group, for fellowship with others her own age, was also difficult.
It hasn’t always been easy with her family either, but she tells wonderful stories of her parents and grandparents and a couple of aunts who have stood by her no matter what. Her parents came to a CenterPeace parent retreat after she told them she was trans. And they’ve been persistent about finding Christian community for Jordyn, because they believe this is the most important aspect of Jordyn’s life.
That’s a big part of why Jordyn wanted to do a CenterPeace internship. And why Jordyn’s mom wanted her oldest daughter to spend time with us this summer.
I just wonder, though, if knowing “the rest of the story” would change our views about celebrating Jordyn’s baptism. While I hope it wouldn’t in the least, I know some Christians would be more concerned about Jordyn’s views of her own gender, rather than Jordyn’s desire to put on Christ in baptism.
But even if someone thinks Jordyn is confused about her gender and not in keeping with what God wants for her life, wouldn’t you still want to encourage her to follow Jesus first? For wouldn’t there be a far better chance of helping her understand this – if indeed, there was more for her to understand – by surrounding her with friends and mentors who love her right where she is?
I’m certainly glad Jimmy Jividen (the preacher who baptized me) didn’t have to make sure I understood everything he believed to be important before he baptized me when I was a kid. He simply asked me if I believed that Jesus was the son of God, and through eleven year old tears I told him I did. Since that summer of 1973 I’ve come to grasp a lot of things I didn’t then. Even more, to realize there were questions to which I would never find answers.
All that mattered then, and now, is that I want to follow Jesus.
Jordyn does, too.