Here I am at the gym, probably running at a turtle's pace because I'm so into the movie on my screen. I've also caught a 30-year-old man next to me watching Arthur. Clearly, I pick intense gyms.
I'm midway through the movie on ABC Family when I suddenly feel sick to my stomach (and it wasn't from the run). A commercial came on that almost made me fall off the treadmill. It was for a new show that seeks to redefine what the word "family" means … during the hours when many moldable TV watchers are tuning in.
The show is called Becoming Us, a new ABC Family docu-series on Charlie Lehwald's gender transition into "Carly," a woman. It focuses on his son, Ben, Charlie's ex-wife, Suzy, and her daughter as they handle the "transformation" of their father and ex-husband.
Charlie's son initially took the news very hard. When he learned of his dad's plan to go through the sex reassignment procedure, Ben was just about to enter the ninth grade. He went through a painstakingly rough period during that time. The show now seeks to follow Ben as he works through this unique circumstance that has been forced upon him — in addition to his parent's divorce.
One L.A. Times author quoted Suzy, Charlie's ex-wife, in an interview:
"We were joking around that wouldn't it be kind of funny for a show about a kid with two moms," Suzy said. "Then, Ben looked at me and said, 'I think that is a really good idea.'"
The author then went on to seemingly praise the idea that "Carly hopes that the show will help in normalizing being a transgender person." Herein lays the crux of the matter. Normalizing something that is neither funny nor natural is dangerously distorting what is true and real.
In an ABC Nightline interview, Charlie said, "My spirit is free. I'm, like, I can just — I can 'be.'"
My heart breaks for you, Charlie, for I know that the "freedom" you are experiencing is a false sense of freedom. In reality, it is a form of bondage, and the hardest part about bondage is that it can often disguise itself as liberation. First, I have no judgment towards you as I write this. It is okay that you have wrestled with your identity — many people have, and you are not alone.
You are also right in the sense that coming out of hiding and sharing your struggle is freeing. There is something very healing about finally being fully known. However, the problem with your reasoning is that "Carly" is not who you truly are. You are not your struggle. You've let an issue define you instead of seeking the One who created you for those answers. C.S. Lewis put it well:
"The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become — because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be."
God does not make mistakes. Therefore, and I apologize if this sounds harsh, you were created to be a man. You are fully known by Him; He was there through every hard situation and every heartbreak, and He never once stopped loving you. God made every inch of you, including your personality and your soul. And guess what? He knew before you were born that you would wrestle with finding your true identity. What's more, despite the fact that you've flat out defied Him, telling God that you disagree with the gender He gave you, He stands ready to forgive you and still loves you to the exact same degree. He does not change and is consistent even when nothing else is.
And Ben …
There is a reason why you had a hard time dealing with your father's decision. There is something in you — something in all human beings — that says this situation is wrong. Once the "humor" of the situation which you find yourself in wears away and the show is over, you will be left with a great deal of hurt and confusion. I apologize that your family structure has been redefined for you, and with little consideration of your input. I'm also sorry for the pain that you've experienced, and even more upset that our nation is making a spectacle out of your tough family crisis.
Whether it's Bruce Jenner or Charlie Lehwald telling their story, the details may be different, but the emptiness with which they tell it is the same. Make no mistake; both men are trying to figure out who they are. They are just looking in the wrong place.
Each person was created to be in a personal relationship with their Creator. Because of our human nature and sin, that relationship was broken. For this reason, we are often confused and look to other things to define us. All too often, I've personally looked for my significance in things other than God. But at the end of the day, all of those things which promised me joy and freedom left me empty and in bondage.
The same will be true for Bruce and Charlie; while they may feel "freed" now, they will not be satisfied. They will continue to look for the world to fill a void that only God can fill. How do I know that? Because I had to learn that same lesson in my own life. The only true freedom, validation, and purpose that I've experienced has been through my relationship with Jesus Christ … and that is something that I pray becomes clear to Bruce and Charlie, as well as the multitudes of people watching them.