I have read Barnabas’ blog post on What Causes People to Change and I’ve been thinking about rewards and consequences for promoting change in our behavior. I also read through the Transvestic Career Path and thought about the fourth step, elaborating fantasies into the development of a feminine self. The following thoughts are intended for us to consider some rewards and consequences relative to our proclivity towards trying to perfect this feminine image and to encourage a change in perspective and cognition when our thoughts head in that direction.
For me, the times I’m most likely to give into temptation is when I encounter some stressor at work or at home that reminds me of all the times in my life when I haven’t felt good enough (deserving of love/acceptance), strong enough, or capable enough (failure to perform as expected by self or others) so I retreat into the passive, submissive, pretty, and innocent picture in my mind of what is beautiful, lovely, and worthy. It’s interesting to me that the dressing is intended to change the way I see myself, at least temporarily, so that those feelings of inadequacy subside. Barnabas’ blog about the Necessity of a Mirror is helpful here, too, and it explains why, after so many sessions where we try to perfect the illusion, that we want others to see us in the way that we’ve begun to delude ourselves into thinking we actually look like. Hence, the desire/temptation to take our feminine selves out of our bedrooms and hope the world will see us differently than the imperfect male version of ourselves that drove us to this compulsive addiction in the first place.
What I’d like to consider is a better goal for us to aspire to when we want to run from ourselves and into a fantasy world where we can hide behind some clothes to cover our nakedness (Gen 3:7). Instead of wanting others, including myself, to see a more beautiful version of me, wouldn’t it be better not to draw attention to ourselves at all? What’s the best we can hope for in the utopian fantasy of this delusion? That, for a fleeting moment, the world sees a believable counterfeit, a passable fake, of the female form? What hope comes from that? If successful, don’t we have to constantly worry about being found out, being exposed, being seen for what we really are? Is there any freedom in that? Even if we can convince others, we know what we really are underneath that thin facade that takes so much effort to build. And, the worst part of all, is that this task makes us even more self-centered, self-conscious, self-absorbed, fragile, and narcissistic. That’s the exact opposite direction we want to head to get out of our compulsion and addiction, right?
I noticed last night as I was leaving church, I had no desire to run, either mentally or physically, to the fantasy world that has become my prison too many times over the years. When I thought about why, it dawned on me that in that time of worship I was drawn to the beauty of Christ, and that captivated, satisfied, and filled me with awe and wonder. In that moment, I saw what was truly beautiful, and that was enough for me! I knew that in Him, I was already accepted, fully known, and had everything I needed to be content. And the best part? It wasn’t me I was thinking about at all, it was the One that I really deserves being lifted up and gazed upon for healing and salvation (John 3:14-15).
In the blog post ‘Dress-up in a Different Way‘, Barnabas draws our attention to the metaphor of being clothed in Christ, rather than trying to literally dress in a different way to feel more beautiful. What I’d like to add to this is the idea that when we’re most hurting, or after we’ve tried just clothes for awhile, we need more to complete the image. We need mannerisms, a different way to talk, a different way of walking, etc. A better goal for me is to ponder, meditate, and deeply consider what I can do to help others, including myself, see Jesus when I’m tempted to hide behind my modern fig leaves. That may mean for me that I confront my failure with confession; my anger with a plea for a forgiving heart; my impulsivity with a cry for temperance and patience. Christ reminds us through Paul that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).” When we run to Christ rather than our addiction, His power can be made perfect in us as we experience forgiveness, connection, fellowship and restoration. If successful, everyone wins, as we’ll see what truly is beautiful, not as defined by culture or our perverted and corrupted minds; and instead of NEEDING a mirror to see beauty, we ACT AS A MIRROR so we can show others what real beauty looks like. I can’t imagine a better reward for our efforts than this.