One syllable. One word. That’s all that my vocal cords could release.

The soap was just leaving my hands as a woman broke the silence in the ladies’ room.

“How’s your daughter doing?’

“Oh, how nice of you to ask. She’s doing well. Thank you.”

Her head cocked to one side, her eyes widened, her cheek slightly twitched, and then she delivered the real question she wanted answered.

“Does she consider herself male?”

My eyes squinted and my brain reeled while my stomach absorbed the hit.

What? I didn’t even know this church lady’s name. If I saw her in the grocery store, perhaps she would look familiar and I would wonder, “Where have I seen her before?”

“No,” an inadequate response to an insensitive question. Tongue-tied with brain freeze, I had no clever come back. I exited the bathroom with my hands dripping.

As I stood next to my husband during the worship service I was distracted by her inquisition and my lack of a response. The thoughts, “I should have said…, Why didn’t I say… I wish I would have said…” played over in my mind as tears spilled onto my cheeks.

The pastor’s sermon passed over me. I didn’t catch a word. My emotions ping-ponged from hurt to anger, anger to hurt.

My daughter attends church with us. Her appearance is masculine. She struggles with her identity. It is a painful thing to watch a loved one wrestle with something so core to who they are.

But here’s the bigger picture. Our daughter attends church with us.

Everyone struggles with something. Her private issues are just more public.

The sermon concluded and communion was next on the schedule. There were four communion stations set up in the front of the church. The ushers directed the congregants to the servers.

As God would have it, the woman I now will recognize at the grocery store served the bread to my section of the church.

“Christ’s body broken for you,” were the next words she spoke to me. I took the bread dipped it into the wine, popped it into my mouth, sat down, and prayed, “Lord, give me a heart like yours. Help me to forgive 77 times. Help me give the grace you have so generously shown me to this woman. Amen”

People say and do cruel and insensitive things. When I have been the recipient of those remarks, I remember them, I regurgitate them, I hold them. They have a shelf life of— forever.

My daughter’s struggle is teaching me about how to administer grace, truth and… forgiveness. Mostly my church family is kind and regularly demonstrates love to my daughter. Perhaps this is why I was taken by surprise.

This journey is messy. It is one not easily navigated. While I am traveling this road alongside my daughter, God continues to work on my heart.

 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)


Lori Wildenberg

Lori Wildenberg

Lori Wildenberg, licensed parent and family educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and author is available to speak at your next event. Click here ( to contact Lori for additional information.  Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is one of 5 books Lori has written. It can be found on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can also connect with Lori to order a copy (copies) .

Make a Difference in Someone's Life

If you enjoy reading WGA’s blogs and would like to show your support, please consider making a donation. Where Grace Abounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The majority of services, including support groups and discipleship counseling, are provided free of charge. Your financial gifts help to cover the costs associated with offering a free program to those who seek WGA’s services.