Thoughts about making purposeful choices.

Q: What Sort of Choices Do We Really Have?

Have any of you ever noticed that the flow of life often sweeps us in unexpected directions? You might answer, “Duh, this is not news. Why point out the obvious?”

I bring it up because we often continue in this flow without realizing we have other choices. We think we have made a determined choice when we choose between two or three options, even when what we want to do or desire, is not on that list.

“So…what do you want for lunch dear?”

To this question the options presented might be, “You can have the tuna sandwich, or the ham.” We respond by making a choice limited to the options presented. Perhaps we chose the ham only because we hate tuna. Most of our life is spent choosing between options, none of which we ever desired for ourselves. When we choose the ham sandwich, we may think a profound personal choice has been made, but in reality we are only choosing between the limited options available.

What about faith? As in the ham and tuna, are we choosing only between the options available? Are we going with the flow or investigating for ourselves what the truth of who God really is? Are we pur-suing an honest relationship with God, or just eating a tuna sandwich? When we investigate, are we merely trying to decipher between existing options and others’ points-of-view, or are we exploring original thought?

Consider the questions asked of Jesus in the New Testament. Those alive in Jesus’ day rarely asked him a “completely authentic” question. As a result, most of His answers were confusing because the questions asked were not very relevant to the real issue at hand. He did not ignore the question, but looked through the question into the life and motives of the person asking it. Although the questions were often trivial, his answers were not. Jesus was able to find an authentic truth hidden within the question. He seldom chose tuna or ham.

A question asked of him once revolved around the query as to the suffering of a person born with a handicap, “Who was at fault, him, his father or his mother?” You will notice that Jesus did not answer that question directly but rather used the question to try and convey a worthwhile point about the nature of God. His answer was, “Neither. This person was born this way in order that God may be manifested in him.”* This was a typical response for Jesus because so many (if not all) the questions asked of him were asked from a societal perspective that Jesus did not share. He was not being evasive, but was trying to redeem the question by illuminating a real worthwhile issue. I find it curious that we had God incarnate on Earth, and could not think up anything worthwhile to ask Him!

We are not just Republicans or Democrats, but voters. I am not only male or female but also a person. The limited definitions of male and female offered in our culture are too restrictive for most. Rather than explore an original self definition of personhood, most people try to squeeze themselves into the po-larized roles of male or female.

For those who identify as transgender, the incongruity between our socially perceived gender and our self-determined gender is the primary catalyst for Gender Identity Disorder (GID). When we embrace society’s limited definition of gender (of what it means to be male and female) we severely limit our ability to learn or realize the truth of who we are. We choose between these limited options out of fear of social rejection; fear of losing our livelihoods; fear of risking stigma.

Even though most attempt to exist in our society by following its rules, an increasing number of indi-viduals are rejecting their social conditioning. They see flaws in our western gender construct, but the ability to chart a different course is difficult because the only social compass we possess will never point in the right direction.

We are social creatures and early on in our lives (from birth really) we attempt to “fit in.” Even though we are frustrated by our inability to fully fit in, the biggest frustration we feel does not come from this inability, but rather from the fact that we feel we have no workable alternatives. Where are the other choices? We have difficulty imagining choices beyond tuna or ham. Our fear keeps us from exploring options other than male and female, because we have never been given other options that we feel are socially safe. How can we be saved from this wretched state? Someday, hopefully society will evolve to a state that will embrace a more open, Godly perspective about gender that includes acceptance and diversity. But for us living in 2008, with just the two workable options, is there something we can do now?

There is an answer. As always it is Jesus. He can help us pursue an honest personhood outside of our gender. Because Jesus loves and accepts us as we are, we can embrace who we are, and find our true selves in the pursuit of Him. A relationship with Christ changes us fundamentally. The freedom in Christ to explore ourselves and our world should be one that is unfettered.

The power of sin that Christ frees us from is more than just us choosing to limit or change some un-wanted actions or thoughts. “Is it right or wrong?” “Is it sin or not?” Jesus has set us free from the power of those questions that attempt (in the asking) to supersede our self-determination. We can create or discover more options if we give up our fears and embrace His unfettered Grace. The real power of the cross is to defeat the agenda of sin in our life (which attempts to limit us) and replace it with a highly-valued personhood that can lead to an honest exploration of good Godly life-changing choices. We may never fully appreciate the depth of forgiveness, or the freedom and profound purpose found in Grace.

In the T-community there is a lot of emphasis place on “who we really are.” Who we really are as people goes beyond our gender. Don’t let limited available options hold you back. If we embrace Grace for ourselves and we may discover who we “really are” in Christ.

When we play a game, we usually try to win. Life is no game, yet we mistakenly play it as if we trying NOT to lose. (For those who follow football, they know that the “prevent defense” often results in a disappointing loss.) “Let go” of the fear and explore your options, knowing that you are a child of God. As such, the victory is already yours. This year make a choice that is honestly yours, make a Godly choice.