She, that powerful trans woman, walked onto the stage and her energy almost blew me away. She was shinning with not only self-assuredness, but with an integrated presence. Janet Mock clearly heard the screams of her fans, but what I observed was a woman who stood confident, not because of the cheers, but because of her own self-discovery as the I AM.
The I AM of the Old Testament was a figure that captivated my being from and early age. Around 12 years old, I made an offering out of my life. I had never declared a more fervent and sincere prayer: “Lord, I want to make you smile with the tune of my life. I give you all of me. Use me however you see fit.”
My parents taught me such sincerity. I watched my mother clean the floors of the rich on her hands and knees and saw my father work tirelessly in a factory. They toiled with passion in their hearts and gratitude on their faces. After planting a church in our home, I also began to watch my parents’ dreams come true.
Little did I know that I, too, would see my dreams come true, this of course after climbing over the mountain of shame. I would have to leave behind the world of conservative Christianity and descend upon the non-dualistic Field of Holy Union where social labels have no merit. But that would take some time.
I first had to step onto the Colorado University campus, which I approached with fear. I was an ethnic minority at the number one Whitest school in the nation. My Hispanic accent, limited vocabulary, and collectivistic ways had me feeling incredibly odd.
And when I came out as bisexual, as a junior in college, I could feel my grasp on normalcy slipping. No façade could slow my imminent fall. Below was nothing but waters of isolation and marginalization.
It took me many years of dedication to realize that I had something to offer the heterosexist world. I had to remain assiduous to learn that I could make an impact on the White lives for whom my mother cleaned.
And there it was as plain as day, standing before me in a white pencil skirt and black chiffon top; the I AM in Janet Mock affirming the I AM in me. As a Hispanic psychotherapist, bisexual male, and Christian theologian I understood what Janet was describing: We had to unearth the knowing of true self-acceptance from the multi-layered sediment of social power.
Money seems to make our world flow. Power seems to keep our world contained. And the majority surely has a powerful voice. But when we discover the I AM that lives within in the intersection of mind, body, spirit we also identify that we are never more powerful then when we are simply ourselves- and this is the appropriation of the I AM.
It is easy for any of us to adopt the socially constructed scripts for dominance, power, or success. But what makes us most like the Divine is the melody of our character when it lacks self-importance, the innocence of our heart when its comfortable with beauty, and the joyous sound of laughter when intimate reciprocity is achieved.
Janet Mock and I don’t have anything special to offer when we try to muscle our way to the top. We can easily cover the intersections of racism, homophobia, and sexism with our cunning words and extensive platforms. We may even make a dent.
But what truly creates a lasting influence is when we model for one another the True I AM of our God-given packaging without need for affirmation, likes, tallies, or praise. It is the power to be fearlessly vulnerable, especially when people are looking.
I can recognize the I AM within Janet Mock. It is the same I Am within me.
I AM truly yours and I AM is truly mine.
I Am the I AM
"How is it that you can see ruin in another version of love?
That authenticity scares you to the core?
That God’s intended diversity leaves you fearful and hungry to be above?
How is it that the truth of one person's soul registers as a painful atrocity?
That one woman’s fight to express God depletes your reservoir of faith?
That another man’s colored design makes you think he's one failed monstrosity?
Maybe you have no ears to hear and no eyes to see?
That maybe, to you, your faithlessness sounds more like alliance?
That maybe your comfort in one position limits your ability to actually God’s essence be?
If so, than you and I are the same. We are all limited in hue and view.
But as one walks down the street before your judging eyes, may you take pause to challenge the lesson you learned in that pew.
May you find the freedom to love yourself, so that when you see the I AM in another you say, “Hello sister I AM” or “Hello brother Me Too.”
May you be countercultural and courageously recognize the I AM even in the shadows that scare you." - iA