There’s a thing called gender dysphoria, or anguish and torment related to one’s biological gender. Gender dysphoria is what’s behind the current societal/cultural interest and fascination about transgenderism, and sometimes the perceived need to switch genders.
The reason I bring it up here is because years ago, before I knew I’d been abused, before I’d had any memories of abuse, I struggled with a version of gender dysphoria. I didn’t want to switch genders, I wasn’t interested in being transgender. What I wanted was to be genderless. In fact, I needed to be sexless and genderless, neither male nor female ~ in other words, an “It”. I spent about six months in a psychiatric hospital because of the gender dysphoria, and because I was suicidal. Being an It was the only way I felt safe, but I had no idea why I felt this way, or what I was protecting myself from.
It wasn’t until a lot of really bad memories started coming to the surface that I began to understand what was behind my need to be an It. It turns out Harry had violently raped me so many times that I decided the only way to keep myself safe was to be an It, genderless and sexless. Practically speaking it didn’t work out very well, because Harry kept right on raping me, but at least I had tried. I mean, I had to try something! And in my mind, even though I didn’t fully understand what was behind the need, I still felt safer because I had made a step towards taking a measure of control away from Harry, even if it was a small one, and even if it didn’t work. Like I said, at least I’d tried.
At the time it didn’t occur to me that my solution wasn’t a solution at all, because it wasn’t based on trusting God. It was based solely on what I was doing to protect myself, and it was founded on fear ~ terror, really, because I was so thoroughly intimidated and terrorized by Harry’s relentless attacks, that I was in a constant state of high alert.
I used to be afraid to trust God because He had allowed Satan to attack Job for no reason.
7“Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan. Satan answered the LORD, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” 8Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” 9Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” 12“All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence. ~ Job 1:7-12, NLT.
1One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 2“Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan. Satan answered the LORD, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” 3Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” 4Satan replied to the LORD, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” 6“All right, do with him as you please,” the LORD said to Satan. “But spare his life.” 7So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot. Job 2:1-7, NLT.
As I stated above, I was afraid to trust God because He had allowed Satan to attack Job for no reason (Job 2:3). In my mind, if God could do that to Job, who was the most righteous man of his day, then He could do the same thing to me. I’m by no means righteous without the Cross, and I’m quite sinful without God’s grace. So all I could think of was, as sinful as I am, God would allow Satan to send men to rape me all the time, and that would be the worst possible nightmare in the world. It would be tantamount to being annihilated in my book.
Then God showed me where He was throughout my childhood. He showed me that He had been with me the whole time, working to protect me from the worst of Harry’s abuse and my mother’s attempts to kill me. And all of a sudden I realized that He didn’t want to hurt me, but rather, He wanted me to be safe and secure and unharmed. And I understood that I could trust Him. He didn’t want me to be raped. He wanted me to be free from fear. I could see that fear was actually a lie from the devil, who does nothing but lie.
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. ~ John 8:44, NLT.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2Timothy 1:7, NKJV.
Various translations render the phrase, “sound mind” in that verse as self-discipline, self-control, sound judgment, or wise discretion.
In other words, God gives us the choice to be afraid, or to turn to Him and trust that He will take care of us, and that He will make us wise to Satan’s devices through the Holy Spirit.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ~ John 14:26, NKJV.
10Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. ~ 2Corinthian 2:10-11, NKJV.
Fast-forward many years to the present day. I’ve forgiven Harry, who was my biological father, in case you didn’t know. I’ve also forgiven my mother for not protecting me from Harry, and for the abuse she perpetrated on me as well, and I’ve also forgiven everyone else who abused me in the cult rituals.
In addition, God has healed me to the point that I no longer feel the need to be an It. That is in the distant past. I can accept the fact that I’m female, with all that entails. There are times that I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but I’m working everyday to trust my life in all its aspects to God’s sovereign grace and love. He created me female, so female I will be, and grateful for it.
I don’t know that I’m ready to go so far as to think about dating and marriage, or anything like that, because the idea of sex still repulses and disgusts me. But I can accept and love myself, because God loves me. In fact, He loves me so much that He gave Jesus to die on the Cross for my sins, and that’s pretty amazing if you ask me.
35Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … 37No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35, 37-39, NLT.
If God, Master of the universe, Creator of all things, loves me that much, how can I not love myself?