My Transgender Life: Peace In The House (Shalom Bayit)

06/22/2016 11:38 am ET Updated Jun 23, 2017

I was chatting -- probably more accurately, lamenting, with a friend a few weeks ago. I was saying now that I have a video up on my website, I was not quite sure what to do with it next, and just perhaps, get more people to know that I talk about authenticity. She was kind enough to attend the event where I spoke and has been great resource providing ideas to me.

Most of my friends know I am on a mission to encourage all people, not just trans people to fully accept themself, their own individual dreams and desires, and to live as their true, authentic self, as, if they do not, they will never be whole!

That evening, my friend asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. She wondered if what I talk about could be focused on Jewish values.

If you may have read some of my writings you may know I am Jewish, but not observant or what most would call religious. However, my brain immediately pulled out the phrase Shalom Bayit -- Peace in the House.

Here is a short definition:

As a Jewish value
Throughout the history of the Jewish people, Jews have held an ideal standard for Jewish family life that is manifested in the term shalom bayit. Shalom bayit signifies completeness, wholeness, and fulfillment. Hence, the traditional Jewish marriage is characterized by peace, nurturing, respect, and chesed (roughly meaning kindness, more accurately loving-kindness), through which a married couple becomes complete. It is believed that God's presence dwells in a pure and loving home.

My brain remembered when peace in my own home was more important than anything! Even living my truth. I hid myself from everyone...my wife, my kids... I tried so hard. I thought I was pretty successful in doing this, but that turned out to just add to my own internal bank account of denial.

I was never at peace in my own internal house!

...

I thought I was on to something here; I let it sit in my mind to see where it would take me.

I reached out to my good friend Rabbi Michael Bernstein, to share my thoughts and he shared the following story with me...

The embodiments of truth, peace, lovingkindness, justice argue with G*d about whether human beings should be created. Lovingkindness and Justice are for it because humans will do some acts of which they approve. Peace and Truth are against because humanity will fail to keep them. G*d throws Truth to the ground in order to break the tie.

He then shared his own thoughts on this story.


However for me, this challenging story is about the nature of truth. Truth is not monolithic and in heaven, but personal and available to us in this world in a meaningful way. I would call this mode of truth "authenticity" and claim that authenticity is what guides us in understanding shalom bayit. You can compromise about different strongly held beliefs to make peace in a relationship, but never about the truth of who you are. Peace cannot be peace without authenticity.

Rabbi Michael Bernstein

...

Last year I wrote two blogs...

and...

..that I now had to go back to....How much of my life I lived in compromise before I learned to nurture the truth, actually MY TRUTH, to grow and allow me to rebuild my own personal house.

No, my previous life was not a lie, no, never a lie! I lived it! I honor it as I reflect back on this incredible journey I have been on. I made mistakes, many, in fact. There were the lies, the words of denial I told myself, over and over and over.... and then told to others....

I am responsible for it. I can ask for forgiveness, and I can forgive myself.

I am thankful that I believe I have passed that part of my life.

I never underestimate the wonder of my children and grandchildren.

I never underestimate the wonder of my next moment.

I remember the wonder of Truth and how hard it is to bring it up out of the ground and nurture it so that it can grow and grow. I was not ready to nurture my truth for over 60 years, but when I was ready to find it and love it and care for it, it was there waiting for me without any conditions, grudges or guilt.

All it asked from me was to not compromise my own house. I, at last, was willing to listen.

Perhaps you may be too. It is never too late.

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Grace Stevens transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her journey to live authentically. Grace is available for speaking with Live Your Truth: Discover Paths to Improved Performance. Grace's new book Musings on Living Authentically will be available soon. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .