Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Being Different in a World of Comformity

Written by: on March 8, 2020

A number of years ago, I worked as a Director of Fund Development, Operations and Ministry at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. I was not the Executive Director, but I oversaw many of the functions of the Mission. I also became very close to many of the homeless individuals who lived there, and my heart wrapped around them as they struggled through the various issues that brought them to homelessness.

One young man was struggling through the loss of his parents, his extended family, and many other loved one because he had come out as “gay.” These family members/friends all believed that “gay” brought with it an evilness that meant their loved one should be ostracized and excluded from being a part of their family. This young man struggled with heavy loss. On top of that, the Executive Director of the Gospel Mission believed strongly that all gay belief was standing against God and that all gay people were on a journey to hell. So, modified “conversion therapy” is the chosen method at most Gospel Missions throughout our nation, and Matt felt additional condemnation and fear of life on this earth.

Matt would come and hang out in the office often and share his grief about being gay. I would try to help Matt understand that there is no judge on earth that can convict him. I couldn’t explain to him why he was gay, but I also shared with him that God doesn’t make mistakes. So, it was between him and God to figure out his pathway through life, but I shared that God’s got him and that he must be true to his beliefs and trust God’s guidance.

Unfortunately, the condemnation by the Mission won ~ and my heart was shattered the day I found out Matt had committed suicide. It was also the day I submitted my resignation from the Gospel Mission. There is so much in the world that we don’t understand, but we try to look at the world’s problems through human eyes and cannot see it through God’s eyes. When kids die because of human judgment on them, it is too high of a price to pay for condemnation ~ when we are not to be judges on this earth.

I found Transgender Children and Young People to be an interesting book. Having worked as a therapist and listened to the struggles of youth and their parents trying to figure out who they are, I found the book to be somewhat controversial, but also a positive reflection.[1] I think children need time to grow and learn who they are in this confusing world before becoming a “label”. Youth need time to figure out their direction, as they are not prepared for life-changing decision at such a young age. I do believe that children are encouraged to make choices while still too young to really have the answers to life-altering conclusions for their lives.

Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue is an informational book that I have often turned to for answers as I counsel individuals who are confused with life and who they are. The book introduces transgenderism and its psychological, physical and social processes.[2] Although I don’t agree with everything within the book, I have found it to be informative in an area that I have often found myself clueless about. I appreciate understanding the conflicts and the barriers of transgender youth and find my heart wanting to embrace their pain and conflict. It is important that we must learn to understand how conflicted people are experiencing this world and the pain that comes along with being “different” in a world of conformity and often biased standards. The pain is real, and the loss is incomprehensible. May our hearts be open, and our love surround those who are struggling with gender identity. #GodsGotThis

[1] Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, eds., Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body (UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018)

[2] Nicholas Teich, Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012)

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

4 responses to “Being Different in a World of Comformity”

  1. Thank You Nancy, You often have a real life story to relate the topic of focus which brings alot of meaning to the topic, thank you for sharing about the reality of the struggles that people who are ‘different’ go through. Love is powerful and its one very big gift that we can give as Christian leaders to make a difference, that’s what makes us the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      thanks so much for responding, Wallace. I agree with you – love is the answer. It’s so sad that people are afraid of differences within others. It is the differences that make each of us unique and special. The pain we cause others because of ‘fear’ is everything that Jesus was not!

  2. Mary Mims says:

    Thank you Nancy for your gift of mercy toward those suffering with an identity crisis.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much, Mary. Your work with youth is so amazing and your gifts are many. Thank you for your open heart and listening ear to hear the needs of our kids. It takes thoughtful patience and a caring heart to work with teens. Thanks, my friend!

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