First Love

I was reading the testament of a Christian pastor who attends Gay Pride events so they can help carry the gospel to lost LGBT people and I was struck by this quote

Whom you would change, you must first love, and they must know that you love them.
— Martin Luther King Jr

This is a statement of empathy, of vulnerability, of openness, of love.

For me, more a teachy preacher than a preachy preacher, the big message here isn’t a kind of trick to offer the good news of the lord to the unchurched.

The big message here is reflexive, about how we treat ourselves: whom you would change you must first love, and if you want to change yourself — the essential and righteous change in my eyes — then first you have to love yourself.  You have to love the big, messy, fraught, imperfect, error prone, flawed you.

After all, if Christian evangelists can show love that draws people like you to them, surely, moving to love yourself is possible, right?

From an early age we are taught to police our own choices by being told that parts of us are shameful, corrupt, sick, disgusting.   We are told that we have to suppress those parts in order to get what we need from other humans, that love and connection will only come if we lock that ugliness away from view, putting it off limits forever.

It’s easy to understand why we can come to the belief that the best way to heal our pain, to get what we are starving for, is to become better at this compartmentalization, this locking away of the bad inside of us, this cutting off of the challenging.

We have been taught to play the game of opposites where separation is the grail, separating good from bad, rather than the came of integration where connection is the goal, knowing that it is balance which holds the power of the divine.

It’s not what we are running away from, not what we fear, that ultimately defines us, rather it is what we are running towards, is what we love, that casts away the synthetic to reveal the authentic.

I see so many transpeople whose internalized heterosexism — the veneration of opposites — and transphobia — the fear and loathing of queer & different — drive their choices.   This leads them to a belief that better sanitation will get them the love they need rather than believing that only love, including self-love, can ever bring love.

Whom you would change, you must first love.  And that desired change must be rooted in love, not in prescriptive thinking, understanding that change follows the nature of our hearts rather than erasing it.   Everyone heals in their own time and their own way, even you.

The transgender calling is a calling of love.  We are drawn to what we love, but are told that love is mistaken, twisted, corrupt.   We should really love what we should really love, not what we do really love, for what we do love should be seen as unlovable.

How can we ever accept love into our lives if we know our hearts to be unlovable?  What kind of knots do we twist ourselves into as we try to cut what we hate from ourselves?   Isn’t it better to find a way to have centred, disciplined and open love, removing the twists, than to try to compartmentalize out what we don’t love?

Whom you would change, you must first love.

And that, like so much of spiritual teaching, starts with you.