My Spiritual Journey from HELL to HOPE and WHOLENESS

by Paul L. Grace-Neal

Oxon Hill, MD–Spirituality is not specific to any religion or philosophy. No one has privilege with Spirituality. Spirituality is for all. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus all recognize a greater influence beyond themselves that guides them. Even those that practice Wiccan or some form of Witchcraft look to an outer source for answers.

Around 2010, I began to struggle with my gender identity. I felt strange, ashamed, and angry that I no longer wanted to identify as female or even feminine. At 25 years old, I came out as lesbian (the lipstick kind). I wore dresses, and make up a lot. In relationships, I was definitely the feminine part and was always attracted to masculine identified lesbians. This was all changing. I no longer knew who I was. I looked at other gender-variant men and women and couldn’t find “me” in “them”. I guess initially, I was gender nuetral. One day I felt and dressed feminine. Minutes after leaving home, I felt absolutely masculine. I felt like a cross dresser. I was running late . When I arrived at my destination, someone told me they didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t wearing a button down shirt and tie. What the hell was I thinking?  

Why would I want to be a girl? What am I? Who am I? How am I supposed to act? What am I supposed to dress? Why does every one else try to dictate who I should be? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TO FIND ME??? These were questions that I asked but I didn’t know who I was talking. I thought they were voices in my head. (No, I dont have schizophrenia.) As time progressed, I realized that I was in a war with me. I was in a Spiritual struggle with me much like an immuno-compromized illness fights against itself.  

I found my true essence in that moment, The Divine’s being within me. My sorrow-filled cries changed as I spoke to my Highest Being. I became more diligent in reading my sacred text and engaging with this Spiritual Being. I became more devoted to this Spiritual process and began to find answers to my questions. I grew to understand that I was a Spiritual being shaped in God’s image. I grew to accept my value to the Universe. I was a valuable creation.  

My life and contributions to my community, Spiritual and otherwise, were valued. I have a voice, mind, and Spirit and I have been encouraged and called by my Spirit Being to obedience. One of the greatest lessons I learned in this process was I was not a mistake, freak, or immoral/sinful because of my process of becoming Trans*. Fortunately, I was not alone in this process as The Divine spoke through others to empower me.

Through my empowerment and acceptance of me, I have grown tremendously. The Divine is a loving being. As I drew closer to the Ultimate Intity, I grew to love me. I learned to just be me and to not concern myself of others’ perceptions or (mis)conceptions of what or who I should be. And as result of my growth, I have been called to help others as they journey to their truth. As Divine has healed me from a life of HELL to a place of HOPE and WHOLENESS I will do the same for others.

Without the divine I couldn’t do anything. With the Highest Spiritual Being present in my life and within me nothing is impossible. I am finally content and proud to be me. I will always transition but I love being me and that is the key!


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