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In the Shadows of Sorrow: Parenting Through Gender Dysphoria
We play our cards very carefully, knowing of all the systems of government, public schools and public health see us as the enemies and her as our victim
"(Before you read what is written below, it might be helpful to read two earlier posts. One is called Who Am I? and the other is The Day My Daughter Told Me She Was Not My Daughter.)"
There is more than one way to be blind, but every blindness is a disability. The list of disabilities is vast and includes more than just physical disabilities.
In John 9:1-3 we find the case of a man who was born blind:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
No parents expect their child to be born with a disability and the same assumptions about culpability are made today that were made then: “Something is wrong with your child; someone must have sinned!” But here Jesus says that is not the case. Could the delusions of our daughter's mental illness be a result not of some faulty action on our part or hers, but for the purpose that God’s glory can be displayed?
The persistent thoughts of our culpability in all of this are hard to shake. We examine ourselves, analyze our past actions, and seem to repent continually. Other children were nurtured in the same home environment but with different results. How can this be unless nature is more a factor than nurture in the case of our youngest? We do feel that we are at least partly to blame; no parent is perfect. And the parents of a man born blind had no culpability at all since this was his condition from birth, right?
That’s true, but our daughter's disability, her mental illness, also likely existed from birth.
In that case, we are culpable not for the disability itself but for not managing it as well as we could have. For this, we are guilty as charged. If the blind man's parents left objects about for him to stumble over, they would have been guilty of the same. Parents are responsible to keep their children from harm that may come to them due to their disabilities and we realize that we did not do that well enough.
The Social Contagion
As has happened to many parents, the social contagion tsunami of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria simply overpowered our best efforts. In our case, we were not adequately vigilant about screen use. I can see our kids rolling their eyes at that statement. We had many (MANY!) serious and tearful conversations about screen time. Our children thought it was all quite draconian at the time but now they are all (except one, of course) thankful for our efforts.
We were lulled into a sense of security because we had successfully navigated the screen wasteland with our older kids. We figured our youngest would similarly realize the internet’s dangerous detours. She did not. Our older kids learned to use their devices more wisely, but our youngest found a dark forest on the internet and explored its many secret paths.
There was plenty of deception on her part, it’s true, but still, we could have closed those access points sooner and we should have.
Of course, there are other factors. First, hints of mental illness are easier to see in hindsight; this was an unseen and unknown disability until it revealed itself, at which point it seemed rather obvious. Unlike physical blindness, mental illness and spiritual blindness are not always apparent. Second, the objects over which she eventually stumbled were new-ish, their effects not as fully known then as they are today.
But now we have this. Someone else controls the remote control of her heart. Various evil forces have her allegiance. We are cast as the enemy and she is blind to it all.
Blindness: A Different Perspective
Blind. She was born with this blindness. A blindness not to physical objects that might trip her up but to what might harm her spiritually and psychologically. She can't see it. Indeed, she believes the harms done to her are good things and the good we do in loving her is the harm.
This blindness is worse than the inability to see, but even this blindness can be healed. We've been praying for that for almost two years now and those prayers have not been answered. We cry out desperately that she will not medicalize her delusion and do irreversible harm to herself.
Even if she does we will love her no less.
Waiting and Trusting
And so we wait. We pray. We love. We weep with broken hearts.
We thank God for the sanctifying effects of this trial; we plead with him for this trial to be over.
We labour through each day beating back the fearful and sorrowful thoughts that constantly push themselves into our view. We are sad. We are angry, with no outlet for our rage. We worry.
We play our cards very carefully, knowing of all the systems of government, public schools and public health see us as the enemies and her as our victim. They could take her from her loving home and place her with those who will heap hate upon her in the form of blind affirmations, hormones, and surgeries.
The testimonies of both the Scriptures we hold dear and our own experiences assure us that God will be glorified in all of this and it will all work out for the best because we love him and are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
We trust that his grace is sufficient for our preservation in these trials. We are not alone. We are grateful for the many friends who pray for us and with us and for a spiritual community that weeps with us, offering comfort instead of judgment. Without these people and their prayers, I don’t know where we’d be.