Friday, May 21, 2010

The Thorn In The Flesh

In the book of II Corinthians, the Apostle Paul made mention of a "thorn in the flesh" which he had. This thorn was some sort of infirmary, a flaw, a handicap, a malady that Paul wanted removed. We don't know any specifics, but we do know that Paul asked God directly to remove the thorn, and God refused. Here's what happened:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
-- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I recently came across the question, Is crossdressing your thorn in the flesh? In the past, I have considered it a pain in the neck, and other areas of the body, but never as a "thorn in the flesh". When I looked at what a "thorn in the flesh" really was, I realized it could be relevant to my situation, and, here's the best part, that is a good thing.

Paul was an amazing man. He was well-educated, he was what we would consider to be a blue-blood family lineage associating in all the right circles, and then he met the Lord and his life changed. He became a pillar in the early church. His writings are central to New Testament importance. We know more about his work in spreading the Gospel than anyone else. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, preaching, teaching, and writing like no one else.

It would be easy for anyone in that situation to start feeling like they were Super Preacher -- faster than the speeding Word, more powerful than the Sanhedrin, able to leap over false gods and idols in a single bound. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's super Paul!

One tiny, little problem: that is known as a classic case of self pride, which is not good because it incorrectly attributes these great blessings as coming from us, when God is the author of all blessings. At the most, we can be a vessel through which God works, which is also a blessing from God.

The end result was that this thorn (whatever it was) reminded Paul daily that he was nothing without the Lord, and the same is true for us who are followers of the Lord.

It would be too easy for me to dismiss my autogynephilia and cross dressing as a problem that I wish could go away (I've already tried that, and, SURPRISE, it's not going away). But if I consider it something of a thorn in the flesh, I have to admit that there have been blessings from it. I've met a lot of wonderful people through the years because of my cross dressing. I've been able to talk with other cross dressers about the Lord and have heard back from them. I have found them very encouraging, and I hope they were able to gain something useful from me. My autogynephilia has definitely kept me in check as a man, but the resulting balance I have found between masculine and feminine has, I hope and pray, made me a better person. I know I am much happier with this balance, and can't imagine tipping back more towards the masculine side (female side would be just as bad).

Through the years I have found myself praying that God would turn me into a woman, and I have prayed that God would make me more manly. Looks like considering this to be a thorn in the flesh is the best option I've come across.


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