A Second Christmas Miracle

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A Second Christmas Miracle

by Jennifer Sue

Even in his earliest memories the now fourteen year old Alex Reilly had felt he was a girl. Of course, his family vigorously sought to correct that misconception. Gentle verbal corrections at age three yielded to time outs by age four which progressed to mild spankings by age five until the confused boy finally began to stop insisting he was a girl. Alex... or as she secretly called herself, Lexi, learned to keep her miss-conception hidden.

The Reilly extended family were members of a fundamentalist church. They strongly advocated beliefs and practices they believed were taught by the Bible. To them the church was the cornerstone of a successful family. Not only was it a place for spiritual learning and guidance, but also a gathering place for fellowship and socializing with like minded individuals. For years they denounced and condemned homosexuality. But as the years passed, they felt compelled to support civil rights, eventually even for the LGBT community. Like Jerry Falwell in his later years, they made efforts at reconciliation with the LGBT community acknowledging that some evangelicals' comments about homosexuality entered the realm of hate speech that could incite violence. Their church reached out to the LGBT community declaring that while they didn't agree with their lifestyle and will never agree with their lifestyle, they still loved them. They hated the sin not the sinner. They were ready to help the sinner pray for the strength to end their sin.

With that in mind, all through elementary school Ryan Reilly made sure his son was involved in sports in addition to church. The toddler’s insistence he was a girl had been a total embarrassment so he made sure his son was growing into a man. It made Ryan proud to see how Alex had turned himself around after abandoning his sissy beginning. Why the boy worked so intently at being all he could be that he needed ten hours of sleep each night!

Alex eagerly dove into the life of an all American boy doing well in every sport. At least that was the happy face he’d learned to show the world. It was only at night when he pretended to be sleeping that the girl hidden deep in the recesses of his mind emerged. Lexi hated her boyhood but had learned to use it as a mask to deflect harassment and punishment. While the boy ‘slept’, Lexi recalled every detail of the girly girls in ‘his’ class, the perky girls cheering for the teams ‘he’ played on, or otherwise encountered each day. It took a great deal of will-power to keep her envy of those girls in check but she did so. While Alex went about his day, she inconspicuously noted the girls deportment, outfits, hair styles, and when she could, their gossip. Then she imagined herself wearing what they wore, moving like they moved, and most important, giggling. But even with her best efforts, the stress of her unwanted daily life as Alex built. Even worse was that the conservative church the family attended considered homosexuality and transgenderism to be sins.

Cindy, a close cousin, was the same age as Lexi and an utter girly-girl, the object of much envy. The fact she was blossoming into a gorgeous shapely young lady ate at the hidden girl. The catalyst for the final overload was the June wedding of Cindy’s older sister.

To see Cindy as a bubbly junior bridesmaid in the wedding tore at Lexi’s heart. However, it was the reception that broke Lexi. Cindy was giggly and giddy as she flounced about, charming everyone as Lexi squirmed in envy trapped inside her drab Alex disguise. Alex hung with boys his age and as barely teenage boys are wont to do, it became a game to see how much beer they could sneak. The adults were well aware of the activity and kept an eye on the boys to make sure they didn’t step out of line. Needing to ‘prove’ himself, Alex was the most successful beer pilferer. Needless to say, the alcohol soon had visible effects. Alex was soon staggering about becoming simultaneously belligerent and sullen as Lexi fought her jealousy and Alex struggled to keep up his boyish bravado.

Of all her male cousins, Cindy liked Alex best. Unlike the others he was always polite and respectful towards her and other girls, a real gentleman. So when she saw how Alex was behaving, she knew he was drunk. Some older teen guys noted the same thing and set about to create an incident to humiliate Alex for a laugh. Cindy realized their plot and sought to save Alex from embarrassing himself. Moving through the crowd, she reached Alex interrupting the plot before it reached fruition by asking him to dance with her. The boys had been baiting Alex to ‘prove’ his manhood by picking up an older teen girl. For Lexi and thus Alex, Cindy was the most desirable girl at the party. Dancing with her would ‘prove’ his masculinity to the baiters.

The slow dance began awkwardly due to Alex’s inebriated coordination. However, holding the object of her envy in ‘his’ arms proved emotionally overwhelming. Her femininity, her dress, her hair, her fragrance, her closeness, simply feeling her and her luscious outfit in ‘his’ arms, in Lexi’s alcohol reduced state, destroyed the well crafted ‘Alex’ masquerade. Realizing she was about to lose it, Lexi pulled away from Cindy in horror as tears poured down her cheeks.

Cindy was shocked, and even more so as Alex turned and fled the reception hall. After a moment’s hesitation she followed him. Ryan and Linda, Alex’s mom, had been keeping a wary eye on Alex, so when they saw Alex flee in tears, they promptly headed after him.

Alex only made it ten feet outside before the change from the stuffy air in the room to the cool evening air hit like a hammer. Everything he ate and drank came back up.

Cindy saw this and assumed the tears and abrupt departure of her favorite cousin was due to being drunk. Ryan and Linda quickly assured Cindy that was the case and sent her back inside to enjoy the reception while they took care of Alex. When Alex finished upchucking, Linda used some wipes to clean him as he sobbed and babbled incoherently. It didn’t take long for them to realize they needed to take Alex home, so while Ryan guided him to their car, Linda went back inside to explain why they were leaving early. Such things were not unusual at family gatherings.

They were half way home before the still drunk Lexi’s inarticulate mumbling began to become understandable. Ryan and Linda were stunned to discover Lexi’s hidden identity. The devastated faux girl responded drunkenly to their pointed questions revealing how she’d learned to hide her girlishness and masquerade as Alex. They also realized just how envious Lexi was of her pretty cousin. The shocked parents had enough experience with the truth serum effect of alcohol to understand that Lexi’s inebriated rambling was the truth.

Once home, the concerned parents undressed their son and put him to bed. Then they sat and discussed what they had learned. The ‘girly’ faze had not faded as they’d thought nine years ago. It had gone underground only to once more emerge. They were intelligent enough to know Lexi was not a faze but a very real entity in their child’s psyche. Punishment or discipline would only drive it underground once more. They knew homosexuality and the LGBT variations were very real feelings but they were still sins. They firmly believed that through faith and belief in Jesus, redemption from the sin was possible and Alex could overcome his girlish identity. They began an on-line search for assistance.

The next morning Alex was quite ill with a hangover. Lexi recalled running outside and getting sick but virtually nothing after that point. Lexi knew her well constructed boyish facade had crumbled but had no idea if it had been breached. It was nearly noon when he stumbled down for lunch.

Ryan and Linda smiled at their bombed son. They could see he understood his error in drinking too much and merely nodded acceptance of his discomfort. Alex sheepishly asked if he’d made an ass of himself but his parents assured him that had not happened although everyone knew he’d had too much to drink. By the end of the meal Alex was clearly feeling better. But that was short lived.

“Alex, you said some things last night that upset us,” Ryan began gently. When he saw panic beginning to manifest itself he quickly continued. “We’re not angry with you. We love you. We understand you can’t help the way you feel inside. We thought your fixation about being a girl had been temporary and passed. Now we know you still feel like a girl.”

Lexi felt tears filling her eyes as her life seemed to crumble. The yelling and anger Lexi had feared did not materialize as she began sobbing. Instead her mother moved to sit by her side and pull her into a loving comforting hug. Her parents waited in patient silence until she cried herself out.

“First, remember we love you,” Ryan began. “But the way you feel is a sin. We want to help you overcome it. We looked up information on this last night and this morning we spoke with the pastor. He knows of an organization called Exodus International that helps people with issues like yours. Whenever the media talks about Exodus they call them an organization that claims it can turn gay people straight. That’s not what they are. They have no trick or technique to offer you that will cause your gender identity issue to vanish magically. The pastor would like to speak to us about what we can do to help you beat this. He’ll come here if we call him. Will that be okay?”

Lexi was confused and a bit overwhelmed. Her parents had just told her they understand her transsexuality is real and that they are not angry with her but love her. However, they still want her to change. Numbly she nodded her head.

The pastor arrived a half hour later. After a brief discussion of what happened at the reception, The pastor began to speak. “Maybe you think you were born with gender issues or you might suspect something happened in your life that somehow caused you to feel the way you do. Any way you look at it, gender identity issues are simply part of human experience. Like homosexuality, it just happens. What you need to realize is that such human experience is in conflict with the way God created us. Homosexuality and gender identity issues are sins. We believe as Exodus International does that the conflict is resolved in Jesus Christ. Exodus exists to support those who are following Him.”

“They say it’s common for young people with gender identity issues to feel a lot of shame, especially where God is concerned. You need to know that there’s no need to be ashamed!
First of all, just because you struggle with something doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Unfortunately, you probably often see two drastically opposed sides fighting over this issue and neither one is being very helpful. On the one hand you hear that being homosexual or having a gender identity issue is something you are; that it’s a concrete part of your being that you can never change. The other side acts like having same-sex attractions somehow makes you an evil person. The fact is, both extremes are wrong although in different ways.”

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. You don’t struggle with anything worse than what other people struggle with. In God’s eyes, this temptation is no different. He’s not mad at you. He also promises to give you a way out of temptations so that you don’t have to obey your desires but can obey Him instead. God doesn’t see you as different and God doesn’t see you as stuck.”

“What does it mean to be free from gender issues? What kind of change is really possible? It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. There’s definitely no easy answer to this struggle. If there was, you would have found it already. Those of us who have discovered what freedom means aren’t immune to struggle and we aren’t perfect. But we have found new hope, new confidence and new desires through growing in our knowledge of who God really is, and consequently, who we really are, too.”

“There’s more going on inside you than you realize. A gender issue isn’t as simple as a gene or a hormone. You don’t experience those feelings just because of something your parents did or didn’t do. Human sexuality is incredibly complex and is affected by so many different things in life. Your inborn traits can play into it and so can your upbringing and experiences. The reality is that human sexuality is all over the place. Our bodies and our emotions tell us to do all sorts of things we were never made to do; that’s our nature being in conflict with God’s. Even people you might think have it easier than you find it difficult to live out God’s plan for their sexuality not to mention the rest of their life.”

“No matter what your struggle looks like, though, it doesn’t have to dictate your identity, actions or destiny. A big part of starting this journey is learning to stop thinking the way the crowd thinks, to stop believing everything you’re told just because it’s popular opinion. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

“When you start thinking about yourself the way God thinks about you, you’ll begin to understand what freedom really means. Your gender issue may not go away completely but it doesn’t have to dominate your life. Real freedom doesn’t come from just accepting your desires at face value and acting on them. There might be some temporary gratification, sure, but you probably have already experienced some level of dissatisfaction with going that way. Part of you might feel like embracing your gender identity isn’t giving you what you really wanted in the first place. Freedom is about finding out who you really are, what you really need and what you really have to give. God wants to heal you where you’re wounded, not just ease the pain. Freedom is about letting Him meet your desires in His way. It’s about breaking out of the past and not letting it define you. Sometimes, finding out you were wrong is the best news a person can get.”

“Will you ever experience your correct gender identity? Could be! There are certainly plenty of people who have been where you are and experienced that kind of change and went on to get married and have kids. Others have remained single for one reason or another. But you’ll find that those who have stayed on the journey will tell you that, either way, it’s worth it.”

“If you really want to start this journey, you’re going to need some help. There is plenty of help out there! First, you probably ought to begin educating yourself to help you understand your struggle and what the journey looks like. To help you do that, thanks to Exodus, I have access to a lot of great resources. The Exodus website also has helpful articles and encouraging testimonies from men and women who have been walking this journey and know the ropes. Secondly, it’s important to get connected with people who understand what you’re going through. You can do that through the program’s Living Hope’s safe, online forums where you can post questions and prayer requests. Our church is a safe community dedicated to welcoming, loving and supporting people with any struggle. If you feel you need it, we can find a counselor or support group.”

“The third step is the hardest, and that’s becoming real with the people in your life. Struggling in secret makes the journey a thousand times harder than it needs to be, and nobody has to live that way. If you don’t feel comfortable confiding in us about this, we are confident that God has placed trustworthy people near you for this very purpose. Pray and ask Him to show you who those people are. There’s a long road ahead but you aren’t alone and you don’t have to get to the end before you feel like it’s worth walking His path out. You can do it, there is hope and help, and God, who began the good work within you and will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Lexi had a lot to think about. The pastor and her parents acknowledged they can not change her to become the boy she physically is, but they also made it plain her dilemma is a sin against God. The only way to resolve the issue is by following God’s plan. Prayer and counseling to strengthen her faith and trust in Jesus will give her God’s freedom.

She did believe in Jesus and had prayed to overcome her situation but it never worked. She did feel guilty and felt terrible for deceiving her parents. She didn’t want to give up her identity but also understood she could not continue as she had been doing. With her shameful secret revealed and the support of her parents and pastor, she determined to try to overcome her demon.

She was terrified the first time she went to a support group at another church but the pastor went with her. They welcomed her with open arms and love. The fact many had similar sexual sin issues helped alleviate her anxiety. They did understand and they did control their sin through prayer and faith. All summer she worked diligently reading the bible and in prayer, spending at least two hours every day kneeling before the altar in church, often with the pastor.

By the end of summer her feminine self was still present but muted. While an identity as a boy was still evasive, her masquerade as Alex was easier. She struggled to keep her mental self references masculine. Alex made first string on the JV football team and was a successful receiver. Dating girls still seemed gay so that did not happen, but the time spent reflecting on how lucky real girls were diminished greatly. The thoughts still regularly occurred but the self-imposed discipline of his faith cut them short.

Things seemed to be moving along until the Christmas dance. Cindy was unaware of Alex’s gender dilemma. She still cared greatly for her cousin. The normally shy boy had become even more so over the summer, immersing himself in the bible. Since the start of the school year he was obviously avoiding girls even though most of the girls thought he was cute and quite dateable. The girls were almost unanimous in having a positive opinion about Alex. While he was a jock on the playing fields, off the fields he was a gentleman. He had never teased or pranked a girl, in fact several times he had stopped other boys from harassing the girls. Several girls had tried openly flirting only to find he’d fidget, blush and flee. Rumors began wondering if he were gay. The guys on the football team unanimously declared Alex had never given them any reason to suspect he might be gay. In fact, they reported he was almost embarrassingly modest. Still, he never went on a date, never went to a dance, or even went with a group of guys to cruise the mall. At the family Thanksgiving gathering, Cindy made a point of asking Alex to escort her to the Christmas Dance on Friday December 21 since she didn’t want to be beholding to just one boy. Alex had no choice but to agree to escort Cindy to the dance. Cindy then let her friends know what she’d done so they could plan who would pounce him for dances while Cindy was with the other boys.

As the night of the Christmas Dance drew near, Alex struggled to control his fear that being near the femininity of the girls would tear down the carefully constructed mental walls that kept Lexi in check. Since the dance was formal, the gowns of the girls could be irresistible to the exiled girl.

Finally the big night arrived. Alex checked out his appearance in the rented tuxedo. Alex didn’t see an eager teenage boy in the mirror. The image reflected was that of a forlorn effeminate boy. Linda drove Alex to pick up Cindy and deliver them to the dance. Naturally when they arrived photos had to be taken. Alex put on a brave smiling face as he stood next to Cindy in her scrumptious gown. The boy felt as if he were on his way to the gallows instead of a dance.

Just as she’d planned, Cindy floated from boy to boy, returning to Alex when any of the guys became too frisky. Cindy’s friends made sure Alex was not alone and he was out on the dance floor more than not. At first he managed to maintain a smiling visage, but even then it was clear he not comfortable although he did his best to be a chivalrous partner for the girls. Mid way through the dance the smile had disappeared and his movements became forced and stiff. Lexi could see the feminine gowns and she could feel the luscious fabric of the gowns as Alex held the girls in his arms. Not only that, their fragrances made her nose delightfully twitch and tingle. Most distracting were the ruffles and lace that tickled when he brushed against them. The girls could tell Alex was trying to be a gentleman but the more they flirted with him, the more he pulled inward. By the time the dance was three quarters over, Alex was trembling. His jaw was clenched so tightly his lips were pursed into barely visible lines. His hands were trembling and the look in his eyes was one of terror. Many of the girls who had been flirting with him were confused and upset. It seemed as is he hated dancing with the girls. Several thought perhaps he was gay but yet he totally ignored the other boys.

Knowing he was near the breaking point, Alex rushed off to the mens restroom to escape the enticing femininity. When he didn’t come out, the girls pulled Cindy into their concerns. She had no problem getting one of the guys from the football team to go in to check on Alex. It took only a few moments before the boy returned saying Alex wasn’t in the restroom. Cindy and several girls rushed down the side hall to the restroom. Knocking on the door they opened it and called inside asking for Alex. Since the room was empty no one answered, so while two girls stood watch, Cindy and two other girls ventured inside. The room was empty!

Where had Alex gone? They had kept an eye on the hallway so they knew Alex had not slipped back into the dance. Checking the doors to each room down the hall they were all locked. When the reached the outside door, they could see in the freshly fallen snow that the door had been opened and a trail of footprints led away from the building. Since none of the girls were dressed for venturing outside they headed back to report to the chaperones that Alex had apparently run off.

Ryan and Linda were quite upset when Cindy called to report Alex had run off. They bundled up and headed to the school. The chaperones had called the police. The anxious parents and the responding policeman set out in search of Alex. Linda followed in the car while the men followed the trail in the snow. Already it was becoming difficult to see the tracks as fresh snow kept falling.

Fortunately the tracks ran straight across the school grounds heading into town. Unfortunately the tracks were lost when they lead to the street. The men looked about in frustration looking for any clue of the direction Alex had taken.

“The church,” Linda gasped as she stepped from the car. “He’s headed to the church to pray!”

The policeman was clearly confused as Ryan set off at a run to the church two blocks away in the direction of the tracks they’d followed. However, he quickly followed as did Linda in the car. The tracks resumed at the church headed to the side door, the door that was locked by a number coded lock. As the three entered the church they could hear pitiful sobs coming from the sanctuary. Stepping into the sanctuary, in the dim light they could see Alex collapsed on the floor in front of the altar crying his heart out.

Linda nodded at the men and stepped back out of the sanctuary. “Thank you officer, but we can take it from here,” Linda whispered. “Ryan, take the officer back to his cruiser and let the chaperones know we found Alex. Then come back and wait outside. I’ll deal with this.”

“I’m not going to ask if you had a good time,” Linda sighed as she sat down beside Alex. For several long moments she simply rubbed the sobbing boy’s back.

The men nodded and headed out. Ryan explained that Alex was going through a rough time and had spent the last few months in deep prayer and contemplation and that something at the dance had most likely emotionally overwhelmed him. The officer understood the situation was a touchy one and agreed to let the family deal with the situation. At the school, Ryan called his brother to let him know that Alex had an emotional crises and fled the dance but that he was okay. The brother knew Alex had been in deep prayer all summer so he said he’d pick up Cindy when the dance ended. The chaperone assured them he’d tell Cindy. As he headed back to the church, Ryan called the pastor and let him know what had happened. The pastor replied that he’d meet them at the church.

When she saw Ryan return with the pastor she spoke again. “Alex, do we need to do anything special to keep Lexi at bay?”

“Mom, I’m trying to be Alex, I really am! But being Alex is just a charade,” Lexi sniffled. “In my mind I tell myself I’m a boy and must behave like a guy, but no matter how hard I try my heart just isn’t in it. Tonight was just like the reception. The femininity just makes me feel envious. Even without any alcohol I couldn’t make it. I tried, I really did, but I just can’t do it! The prayers aren’t even helping. They just make me feel worse because I can’t stop the thoughts. I’m a sinner and God hates me because I’m weak.”

“Alex, you know God does not hate you. Continue to pray for strength and guidance,” the pastor gently advised as he sat next to Alex.

“I’ve been praying all night,” Alex sighed. “The girls like me because everyone thinks I’m a good guy since I never torment or tease anyone and I try to stop others when I see them being mean. Cindy was right, the girls were lined up to dance with me, but it was horrible! They were so pretty and smelled so sweet and when I held them in my arms I could feel their softness and the fabric of their gowns. It was like being surrounded by strawberry Twizzlers but not being allowed to taste even one. It just became too much. I had to get away! I’m a sinner and I’ll be going to hell!”

With that Alex once more broke down in tears. Ryan joined Linda in hugging their distraught child. They all knew Alex had been trying to rein Lexi into submission. No one could have been more diligent in prayer than he’d been the last six months. They felt so helpless and it ripped their hearts apart to see the agony in their offspring. Even the pastor began to wonder why God didn’t help Alex. Alex cried himself to sleep in their arms before the altar.

Ryan picked Alex up and carried him to the car as Linda opened and closed doors along the route as the pastor locked up. By the time they reached home Alex was snoring so Ryan carried him to his bedroom. There they removed the rumpled tuxedo and tucked the exhausted teen into his bed.

The oblivion of sleep was not to be his. Lexi enviously kept recalling the sights, sensations, and sounds of the pretty girls. Still exhausted when he arose in the morning, Alex sat down with his Bible after breakfast to read and think about his sin. The Bible did not address the issue of transsexualism. God created people as male and female. People are ordained by God to be male or female because it is He who forms them in the womb. Isaiah 44:2 declares: "Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, Do not fear, O my servant whom I have chosen." Isaiah 44:24 continues: "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, 'I, the Lord, am the maker of all things..."

Therefore, to change the gender of a person through an operation is a violation of the natural birth gender that God has ordained for a person. It also violates the distinction of those attributes which designate a male from a female. Furthermore, if Alex followed through on his need to became a woman and had sexual relations with a male, then that would be homosexuality, another sin.

As his Christian counselor had explained, sexual identity dysfunction is due to sin in the world. A transsexual who has changed sexes and claims to be Christian cannot appeal to the problem of a "biological goof" due to the sin in the world. It is due to sin and its effects that the issue of transsexualism even exists and an appeal to a sinful state should never excuse further sin. Furthermore, Christians are not to abandon a transsexual. Even though the person is in sin, a transsexual is still a person in need of full redemption, love, grace, and kindness. Christians do not convince someone to repent by condemning and accusing. Rather, they need to see the love of Christ so that His presence might convict and convince them of their sin.

Alex felt convicted, hopelessly so. Hours, days, weeks and months of deep prayer and soul searching had not changed how wrong he felt trapped inside his detested male body. In his core he was still a girl.

Cindy and her family called several times over the weekend to check up on Alex. They were genuinely worried. All Linda could tell them was Alex was praying.

Alex moved about like a zombie the rest of the weekend. He didn’t even have the energy to speak and barely touched his food. Linda thought the dazed crestfallen boy looked like one of the numbed survivors of a concentration camp. Yet even in his depressed state he prayed nearly continuously.

Christmas eve the extended family attended church service and communion. As always, they arrived early to claim the seats in the balcony at the rear of the church. Alex was quiet and withdrawn, barely acknowledging his relatives. Cindy was clearly upset by his somber melancholy mood. All through the service he kept his chin buried against his chest, neither singing the hymns or reading the congregational responses. However his hands were folded and his lips moving as he prayed for strength. Because of the huge turnout, the communion service was done en mass in the pews. The assistants distributed bread to each person then they ate it as one, the wine was done the same way. Linda had to gently elbow Alex to get him to take his portion for each segment.

After the service ended, the family adults voiced their concerns for Alex to Linda and Ryan who did their best to settle the issue without actually explaining the issue. As the adults whispered, Cindy took Alex’s hands in hers to comfort her favorite cousin.

Alex began to tremble as Cindy held his hands. Even though he was still looking down he could see the delicate red lace hemming the bottom of her green velvet skirt. A low guttural moan of utter anguish escaped his lips as he raised his head to look at Cindy. Everyone still in the church looked to see the source of the tormented groan.

They were all shocked to see the hollow haunted expression of utter hopelessness on Alex’s drawn face. Dried tear tracks etched his otherwise pallid cheeks. The trembling of his hands worsened to the point his entire body was shivering. Voices of concern raised from many of those who saw how desolate Alex had become.

Surrounded by the concern, Alex lost it. Yanking his hands from Cindy, he turned and ran into the stairwell only to see other parishioners filing out from the main sanctuary blocked escape. Instead he detoured into the small anti-chamber off the balcony that housed access to the bell tower and the rope to ring the bell. Without thought, Alex scrambled up the steel rung ladder mounted to the wall. Ten feet up, the ladder passed through a trap door into the bell room. Alex was through the trap door and closed it before anyone could stop him. A heavy trestle used to service the bell was beside the trap door so he yanked it over to cover the trap door, effectively stopping anyone from following him. With that accomplished he climbed to the top of the bell tower, pushing open another trap door giving access to the crenelated square open top. A light snow was once more falling creating a peaceful, serene setting for Christmas Eve.

Word spread like wild fire through the congregation. Most rushed outside to see if Alex went all the way up. Through the open trap door he could hear sounds from the bell room as some tried to open that trap door. Alex climbed atop one of the crenelations holding his arms up in supplication. People gasped as they realized he was preparing to jump. Linda and the pastor had rushed outside in time to see Alex climb atop the corner crenelation. One parishioner who had recorded the service to share with an elderly relative in a nursing home turned their video camera on Alex.

“Dear Lord, please hear me,” Alex cried out. “Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the time when You sent your son to redeem humanity. But to do so he had to die. His death earned salvation for those who believed. I believe but I’m too sinful! You know I’ve been fighting this my whole life! You created me this way! You know how hard I’ve prayed asking you to help me overcome my sinfulness. You know I’ve tried with every ounce of my being! But my heart refuses to change. I’m defective... I have a birth defect that causes me to sin. Physically, I’m a boy. Intellectually I know that, but I’ve never FELT like a boy. In my heart, I’m a girl! When I see girls in pretty dresses, it tears me apart. I don’t understand why you allowed me to be born physically male but mentally female! When a child is born with a cleft pallette, you’ve given our doctors the skill to correct that birth defect. To correct that defect is not a sin. You’ve given the doctors the ability to surgically correct my birth defect too, but to do so is a sin. WHY? I don’t understand why one corrective procedure is okay while another is a sin! Would it hurt You to let me be a complete girl or boy? I know, it’s Your will, not mine, but I’m too weak! I know for a boy to feel like a girl is a sin. I don’t want to sin! You KNOW I don’t want to sin! You know I’ve done everything I can for the last six months to end my sin! You even know I just can’t stop it! You KNOW how hard I’ve tried to be a good boy! But the more I push down my girlish desires, the worse I feel! I’m a sinner and I know that my sin is unredeemable since even with devout prayer I can not end the sin! The only way I can see to end my sin is to end my life. In Mark 9:47 you say: ‘And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.’ Well, that’s what I’m going to do. My sin is in my heart, in my very being, so I’m going to pluck it out. Since I can’t beat the sin, I’ll destroy it! I know You understand why I’m doing this and I look forward to greeting you in person. GOD, I LOVE YOU! INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY...” With that he simply let himself fall forward with his arms still outstretched as he finished the sentence. “SPIRITTTTTT”

Nearly a hundred parishioners were outside watching and listening as Alex spoke to God. At least half screamed in horror while the other’s gasped as they watched the boy plummet fifty feet. Linda screamed out “Nooooo...”

*****

God was watching over Alex. When Jesus lived his life on earth he knew God was a harsh taskmaster. But Jesus also understood that the love God had for his creation was boundless. Sometimes good people had to suffer horribly in order to open the eyes of others. All the suffering and agony this child had endured as he valiantly fought his girlish nature had been for this very moment.

It was evident to all who heard Alex’s prayer that it came from the troubled teen’s very soul. The congregation knew Alex had been valiantly fighting his sinful nature. Most assumed the youth was fighting being gay. Few beside his immediate family and the pastor knew it was a transsexual issue. But the short prayer Alex made before falling from the bell tower revealed the true nature of his inner torment. The brutal honesty of the prayer revealed how deep the issue was embedded in the otherwise innocent teen.

The eyes, ears, and hearts of the congregation were opened to a new possibility. Their interpretation of what constituted a sin could be wrong! Surgical correction of transsexuals to align the body with the mind was possible. Alex’s question of why correcting a cleft pallette was okay but a sex change was not begged a re-examination of the issue. God created every person in the womb. God created them straight, gay, transsexual, asexual, or whatever sexual. Since God created people this way, was being LGBT really a sin?

What had once been an issue that the congregation had never deeply considered, Alex’s prayer and actions now slapped them up side the head with the issue. They could no longer view transsexualism as something that weak sinful people endured and suffered. Alex made them face the issue head on this Christmas Eve!

God heard the desperate prayer and was not about to allow Alex to die. Instead of fatally impacting upon the frozen ground, the hopeless boy landed on a six feet high eight feet across lily of the valley bush planted beside the bell tower. Since it kept it’s foliage year round, the top of the bush had an eight inch covering of snow. The snow cushioned the blow and the leafy branches of the bush absorbed what should have been the brutal impact. The contact was so cushioned Alex never lost consciousness. It did knock the wind out of him and he suffered a few minor scratches but overall he was relatively unscathed.

The pastor, Linda and several others rushed to Alex and helped extricate the stunned youth from the mangled bush. Alex was crying, clearly distraught by his failed suicide.

“Everyone, please, let’s all go back inside,” the pastor called out even as he had one arm wrapped protectively about Alex while Linda hugged the boy from the other side. “We’ve just witnessed the beginning of a Christmas miracle. It’s now up to us to complete what God initiated. Please, come inside.”

Ryan and the others who had been trying to force their way into the bell tower had abandoned their effort when they heard the screams. They were scrambling out the door as they saw the pastor and Linda helping Alex back inside the church with the rest of the congregation following. Ryan gasped to see Alex walking under his own power. Obviously he’d jumped from the bell tower but how had he survived?

Confused but relieved he followed his wife and son as the pastor led them through the chancel rail. The rest of the congregation quietly filed inside the sanctuary taking seats, this time filling them from the front rather than the rear. The pastor with Alex knelt before the altar as Ryan and Linda knelt behind Alex.

“Lord, we thank You for the miracle You gave us tonight,” the pastor began. “The fact You chose tonight to perform this miracle has not been lost to us. We thank You for not only giving us Alex but also for saving his life. You create us in your image. We know You do not create junk. We like to think You make us perfect and that it is humanity’s sins that corrupt us. The truth is You allow us to be born with imperfections to test our resolve to unconditionally love You and our fellow humans. Tonight You’ve shown us that what we, in our all too human wisdom, thought was sin is simply another manifestation of Your glory. Alex was correct, You’ve given our society the ability to correct imperfections like a cleft pallette and we do so without thinking it is a sin. A hundred years ago our great grandparents thought it was sin for man to attempt to fly... they claimed that if You had wanted us to fly, You would have given us wings... they were wrong. You gave us the intellect to create machines that could fly. We no longer think that humans flying is a sin. We learned to adapt. It is OUR fear of the unknown, of things we could never do before, of things not mentioned in the Bible that causes us to bury our heads in the sand by declaring those new things a sin. You did not declare it a sin, in our arrogant self-righteousness and fear of something new WE declared it a sin.”

“Lord, You know that Alex is a transsexual, Lexi is the girl in this devout teen’s soul. She has been present since his birth. We have known Alex all his life. In all honesty, we know that Alex was never like other boys. Oh, he played with the boys and did well in sports, but those of us who saw him in action know he never took pleasure in those actions. Alex has always cared for others. I know of no one who can say that Alex ever teased or bullied anyone or even an animal. In fact, he often stepped forward to stop teasing or bullying. His soul is so caring he won’t even kill insects.”

The pastor stood and turned to face the congregation before continuing. “I have diligently worked with Alex and his parents for the last six months to help Alex overcome what we mistakenly considered to be his sin. Ryan, Linda and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt Alex has spent hours every day praying for the strength to endure and overcome that sin. No human could have put more heartfelt effort into trying to overcome Alex’s innate girlishness. Yet Friday night, at the Christmas Dance, despite his gargantuan efforts, Alex was unable to maintain his boyish masquerade. Because he is so polite and caring, many girls wanted to dance with Alex. Being the gentle soul he is, he could not refuse. Being surrounded by the femininity of the girls, holding them as they danced, overwhelmed his efforts. I’ve been told that three quarters of the way through the dance Alex was trembling with his jaw was clenched so tightly his lips were pursed into barely visible lines. The look in his eyes was one of terror. Finally when he could no longer bear the stress, he ran off, fleeing the school. His parents and the police were called and began to track him. In the snow they followed his footprints as he ran. They lead straight from the school to this church. They found Alex in front of this altar, praying for strength.”

The congregation had heard of what happened with Alex at the dance. Now they knew the torment he was enduring.

“Tonight Alex was once more overwhelmed by the femininity of the lovely females. Once more he tried to endure. I kept an eye on him all through the service and could see he was in constant prayer for strength. When he could no longer deal with the pain of his sin, he fled to the bell tower where we heard him pray asking God why surgery to correct gender identity was a sin. He reasoned that since he could not beat his innate sinfulness, he had to pluck the sin out by killing himself. His last words were ‘Into your hands I commend my spirit.’ The very words Jesus used from the Cross. That was not and accident. That was God ACCEPTING Alex’s self sacrifice.”

“But God didn’t want Alex at this time. It wasn’t by accident that Alex climbed up on the crenelation at the only spot on the bell tower that had a bush beneath it to break the fall. God put out his hands and caught Alex. He also opened our eyes to real life in today’s world. Simply because the Bible does not address an issue like transsexuality does not mean it is a sin. God never said it was a sin, we humans in our fear and arrogance have said it’s a sin. We are wrong, just as our great grand parents were wrong about flying being a sin. God has given us the intellect to surgically alter a person so their body matches their soul. Since God has given that gift to us, it is WE who have been sinning by denying that recourse to those who need it! I am ashamed my human arrogance made me think doing so is a sin. God opened my eyes tonight. He gave us a second miracle along with the birth of his son, our savior.”

“Could someone please go out to the bush that God used to save Alex and bring me a handful of snow?” As one of the deacons headed out the pastor reached down and gently took Alex by the arm, tenderly pulling him to his feet. Turning the boy’s scratched and tear stained face to the congregation, he motioned Linda and Ryan to stand behind their child.

The deacon hurried forward with a handful of snow. The pastor thanked the man as he took the snow. Turning to Ryan and Linda he asked them to put their hands together to form a bowl into which he placed the snow. Then standing to the side so all could see the family he turned to the congregation and spoke.

“Baptism is an outward and visible sign of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through this grace that we become partakers of his righteousness and heirs of life eternal. Those receiving the Sacrament of Baptism through it come into the fellowship of Christ's holy Church. Our Lord has expressly given to children a place among the people of God, a holy privilege that must not be denied them. Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how he said, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God." We do believe that Christ gave this holy sacrament as a sign and seal of the new covenant. Christian baptism signifies for this youth God’s gracious acceptance on the basis of prevenient grace. It is an acknowledgement of God's grace at work in the life of this youth within the care of her mother and father and extended family, and under the nurture of this community of Faith. Her actions this night points to her personal response to that grace when she exercised conscious saving faith in Jesus Christ.”

The pastor dipped a finger into the melting snow in the parents cupped hands and made the mark of the cross on her forehead as he intoned: “Lexi Reilly, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“Let us Pray. Heavenly Father, we pray that you will keep Lexi in your loving care. Abundantly enrich her with your grace; bring her safely through the perils of life. You have led her to a personal knowledge of Christ as Savior. Help her to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and people; and to continue to persevere in her Faith. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

The pastor led Lexi to the chancel rail so all could see her beaming visage. “I present to you Lexi Reilly and ask you to welcome her into this community of Faith. Will everyone please stand.
Brothers and Sisters of this household of Faith, as representatives of the Community that welcomes Lexi, you also have responsibilities to this child. People of God, will you surround her with a community of love and forgiveness? Will you pray for her and extend to her Christian fellowship?”

The congregation loudly responded: “We will with help of God.”

“Lexi you are now a part of a Community of Faith that spans race, generations, nations and gender,” the pastor declared as he smiled at her. “We welcome you into this flock that you may both give and receive of God's graces.”

Then he turned to the congregation. “Let us pray. O God, we thank you for the gift of Lexi. It is our prayer that Lexi will continue to know the joy and suffering of being concerned about everyone she meets; that she will see each person worthy of dignity and acceptance. We pray for her a growth into fuller and deeper levels of humanity as she lives the example of Jesus. We pray that Lexi continues to understand that You alone can give life meaning and purpose and direction, O God; and that she will be on her knees before You with words of repentance and thanksgiving; and on her feet for You with deeds of love. This is our prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The congregation replied with “Amen.”

“It is my sincere pleasure to introduce Miss Lexi Reilly to the world,” the pastor declared. “She is a true child of God! The Lord never saw sin in her and thanks to the miracle we witnessed tonight, WE see no sin in her.”

Everyone in the congregation came forward to hug the newly minted girl. All the females and quite a few males had tears of joy and thanksgiving in their eyes as they welcomed Lexi into their lives. Not one of the people who witnessed Alex atop the bell tower objected to the acceptance of her girlhood.

Lexi snuggled into bed that night, secure in the knowledge that her devotion to God and her months of prayer had answered her fondest desires even though she’d been praying to be the boy she’d been born. She thanked God for answering her prayers even though He’d done so not in the way she’d asked.

The next day the extended family Christmas gathering was hastily switched from the grandparents home to Cindy’s home. Lexi and Cindy spent the morning in Cindy’s bedroom trying on clothes. Lexi was smaller than Cindy. Fortunately, Cindy still had the clothes she’d outgrown the year before. When they came down for the meal, Lexi was wearing the red velvet dress Cindy had worn the previous Christmas while Cindy wore the dress she’d worn the night before. Lexi needed no coaching in girlish deportment as it all came quite naturally. Lexi looked as if she’d always been a girl... which of course was the truth.

After eating, the family gathered around the Christmas tree in front of the large bay window to sing Christmas carols. It was once more lightly snowing making the world look pristine, peaceful, and beautiful, just like Lexi.



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