By Stephanie Mott
We hear a never-ending, truth-denying, agenda-pursuing chorus of how people should be in right relationship with God. There are at least as many opinions about what that means as there are people saying it should be.
The majority of those opinions seem to focus on who should love whom and what gender we should understand ourselves to be. The opinions, of course, come with a caveat – claiming knowledge for all people of the only appropriate answers to these questions. The answers, of course, have no true relationship to being in right relationship with anything – other than perhaps oppression and fear.
I find it important to say that I don’t give a flying rat’s backside if anyone is or is not in some kind of right relationship with whomever or whatever they choose to believe in, or not. That’s not my job.
I don’t care who loves whom or what gender people understand themselves to be. That’s also not my job. My job is to do what I think is right for me. Other people can look at that and decide if they want to do something similar, or something different, or some combination of the two.
That said, I spent many years of my life trying to fulfill my understanding of being in right relationship with God. At the time, that meant trying to be someone who was not me. It meant trying to live a lie instead of embracing the truth. It often meant despising myself instead of loving myself. Not to put too fine a point on it, but how is that being in right relationship with anything?
It took an incredibly long time for me to realize that – for me – being in right relationship with God was about giving God enough credit to believe I was loved exactly as I was. All of me. Not just the body I was born into. But also the spirit I was gifted with.
I believe while I was trying to be someone other than who I was, I was in wrong relationship with God. Go figure. Living authentically might actually be one of the ways in which I can begin to be in right relationship with God.
Two words from the last sentence – “authentically” and “begin” – have much to say about relationship. Authentically speaks to bringing your true self to the world. Begin speaks to the idea that being in relationship – with God, with the earth, with the universe, with humanity – is not an achievement. Being in right relationship is a journey.
So now I want to mention this passage in the Bible that speaks clearly about how to be in right relationship with the New Testament God. That would be the Matthew 25: 31-46. It talks about things like feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger. It does not talk about who should love whom or what gender we should understand ourselves to be.
About the journey – Living authentically while devoting myself to lifting up the marginalized and oppressed – all of the marginalized and oppressed – would seem to me to be a key to being in right relationship with whomever or whatever is important to me.
There are also some words not present in this passage in the Gospel of Matthew. The words you will not find are words that have to do with telling anyone else how they should live their lives or creating obstacles to people being able to live their lives authentically.
Am I in right relationship with God? Sometimes. More often than ever before.
I have come to understand that being in right relationship with anything or anyone is a journey down a path where I try to be more in right relationship with myself. Am I living authentically? Am I working to lift up the marginalized and oppressed?
I would say that I am mostly traveling on the right road. The relationship is the journey. I’m still writing the book. This particular chapter gives me hope for a different world. I don’t know if I am in right relationship with God. I am finally pretty close to being in right relationship with myself. That’ll do for now.
Stephanie Mott is a transsexual woman from Topeka, Kansas and a nationally known speaker on transgender issues. In addition, Stephanie is the executive director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. She can be reached at email@example.com