I am not sure I will ever understand what love really is, or even all about. Some say it is a noun, while others say it a verb. Some say we can't live with it, while others say we can't live without it. Some say it is something that you give away, while others say you take it from others.
Deep down I suspect it is all of this... and so much more.
The idea of love is confusing enough for those who fit and live within the binary "norm" of sexual orientation and gender identity. For those of us who feel we do not fit within those "norms"... those expectations... it is even more confusing as not only how to love ourselves, but who or how others may love us.
So many of us in the transgender community have either spent time in, or live in, fear, shame and confusion... that we may lose everything and everyone that we hold dear, as we consider living our own truth.
I am especially sensitive to the stories of trans youth where families will abandon their children, and wonder what form of love is being practiced here, if any. What is going on here?
It reminds me of a story that I suspect most of us have heard and hopefully learned when we were very young. Perhaps repeating this may help some people focus on what is really important.
From 1 Kings 3:16-28
One day two women came to King Solomon, and one of them said Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.
One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died.
Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.
In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn't my son.
"No!" the other woman shouted. "He was your son. My baby is alive!"
"The dead baby is yours," the first woman yelled. "Mine is alive!"
They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, until finally he said, "Both of you say this live baby is yours. Someone bring me a sword."
A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, "Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him."
"Please don't kill my son," the baby's mother screamed. "Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don't kill him."
The other woman shouted, "Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby."
Solomon said, "Don't kill the baby." Then he pointed to the first woman, "She is his real mother. Give the baby to her."
Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.
Ask yourself; do you have the wisdom to judge fairly? I am pretty sure that the message is that love will choose life every time! Not abandonment... not to be thrown out, exiled or disowned.
I have traveled that path of fear for so many years. It was so tiring and so hopeless. The energy I spent on hiding and denying drained me and held me back from ever even contemplating the practice of love. Eventually I broke through my internal fears and barriers. I am pretty sure there is no instruction manual to hand out, as we each need to find our own path through this. I am lucky; I am blessed to get through it, so it is possible. I did learn so much...
Love is acceptance of what is... and who we each are.
Even for those who feel we have spilt ourselves in two pieces, we need to learn to accept our truth and love ourselves fiercely. We are greater than all of the pieces inside of us, and once we accept who we are, it seems that our own self-love is the glue that mends all of our broken pieces. We may even learn that we then have more, that we can give to others. It is also a little strange that only when we have this self love that we are able to receive the love from others.
Like Solomon, we must all learn to put down our swords and stop cutting ourselves into pieces.
Like Solomon, we must stop trying to cut others off from us, and no matter who they are, love them with all of our heart and soul.
I am pretty sure that the lesson to be learned is to let love make each and every one of us... whole.
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .