This July, a pastor named David attended Posture Shift Train50. On the evening of the first training day, he encountered someone special on the subway in Boston. Here is his account of the evening.
We’d spent our first day in Posture Shift, and our brains were full as we took the nearly-empty commuter train into Boston. We’d traveled from our multi-campus megachurch in San Diego County the day before. Despite being tired from a delayed cross-country flight and interrupted sleep from a first night in a new place, we were excited by the events of the day.
I really wanted to know what my partners thought. Joseph, one of our campus pastors, and Travis, who pastors young marrieds and oversees our church’s community service, were just delving into a new world of supporting those who are LGBT+ within the church.
I’d gone to another conference six months previously to check out Posture Shift for our church, so I knew what to expect. At least I thought I knew what to expect.
Then, Crystal unsettled my world.
On the train, we talked about the day and what it might mean for our church to care for those who are LGBT+ in new ways. Much of our conversation returned to Crystal, a remarkable transgender woman who faced lots of rejection and hurt from her mom, yet found what was positive in her life and focused on protecting others.
Rather than staying focused on hearing her story, my mind kept struggling with her gender.
As we talked on the train, I realized how uncomfortable I had felt with Crystal. What hypocrisy! I’m same-sex attracted, and people have extended grace to me despite their discomfort. In the moment, I prayed that God would help change me so that I could better serve those who are transgender in our church.
I didn’t realize how suddenly God was going to answer that prayer.
As we talked on the train, I realized how uncomfortable I had felt with Crystal. I prayed that God would help change me…. I didn’t realize how suddenly God was going to answer that prayer.
As we talked about what we’d learned that day, we heard someone interrupt us.
“Do you mind if I weigh in on that?”
It was the lone woman seated across from us. I don’t think her presence had even registered to us. We all looked at her, a little surprised that someone would join our conversation, but we said we’d love to hear her thoughts.
“Well… I’m transgender.”
This just got interesting! What was she thinking when she heard three evangelicals talking about something so personal to her? Had we said something offensive? Would she take offense just because we were talking about being transgender?
I didn’t need to worry. She was intrigued by what she had overheard us say, and she felt safe to tell us a little about herself, including her name: Carole. We told her about the conference. We were also hungry, so we asked her where we should eat in Boston.
When the train arrived at North Station, Carole said she’d show us the way to Regina’s Pizzeria. We invited her to join us, and after a moment’s hesitation, she agreed.
As we stood in the long line out the door, we noticed a few people doing double takes of her. I wondered how often that happened for her, but she either didn’t notice or didn’t care. She said that people in Boston are typically accepting of transgender people.
Despite a long wait, it was a fun evening with great pizza and great company. We talked about jobs, fantasy rock bands, pizza, and Boston vs. San Diego. Carole lit up when she talked about her and her older brother being best men in her younger brother’s wedding because he wouldn’t decide who he liked better. We talked about how she had scheduled sex reassignment surgery 5 years ago but let people change her mind. She wasn’t going to let that happen again; she was medically transitioning this fall.
We heard how she had started taking better care of herself by losing a lot of weight and stopping smoking. I wondered if it was because she felt better about herself. We talked about the overwhelming surge of emotions Carole felt when she first started taking female hormones.
She said that she was brought up Catholic, but she didn’t really have time for going to church. Still, she let us pray for her in the pizzeria.
I find myself continuing to pray that God will help Carole find and walk in the love that He has for her. Faster than I could imagine, God had answered my prayer on the train about changing my discomfort. I’m hoping that God is already working on this new prayer.
Pastors: are you and your colleagues ready to be transformed and equipped by Posture Shift to reach LGBT+ people? We hope to see you at Train50 this August.
If you can’t make it to Train50, contact us to start the conversation about a future training for your team.
*Note: For the sake of confidentiality, names of people in this story have been changed.
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