A Message from the Heart of God
As told to Jennifer A. Burnett, MD
Jan 16, 2005
How many of us have repeatedly struggled with life’s biggest questions? What Christian has gone through the pain of great loss, tragedy or rejection and not asked God, “Why?” Jennifer Burnett is a person who perhaps has had more reason to ask these difficult “Why?” questions as she was born with a rare congenital medical problem called “Gender Identity Disorder”. Due to as yet poorly understood factors, sometime in early fetal growth, that part of her brain which is responsible for our core gender identity (that which gives us the unalterable conception of ourselves as either male or female) developed as female whereas her birth sex (her physical body) was that of a normal male infant.
From her earliest remembrances, she knew something was not right and could not understand why she was physically not like the other girls. Thus began a life-long struggle to somehow hide this terrible secret and try with all her will and intelligence to play the role that she felt she had been assigned to. Yet, as it is in virtually all who have this condition, there is no medical or psychological intervention possible to bring the mind into accord with the body. Two years ago she finally reached the inevitable crisis that presented her with an awful choice- death or “Transition”. She chose Transition (involving the use of hormones and other medicines, extensive counseling and finally surgical intervention) which is a long process designed to prepare the person for life in his or her new gender role. She completed this process at the end of 2004 and is now living and working as the woman she always knew herself to be.
Jennifer thus has a story to tell of her struggles as a Christian to reconcile her faith in a loving and all-powerful Heavenly Father with what she initially considered to be a very great “mistake” on God’s part in allowing her to be born with such a devastating congenital disorder. Her growth as a person, her accomplishments academically and otherwise and her involvement and leadership in various churches and Christian organizations were all difficult to understand in the perspective of how “defective” she always felt herself to be.
This is a compilation of various lessons she has learned throughout her life and especially during her period of transition, this message coming, as it were “from the heart of God”. In her ongoing counseling ministry, especially to the Christian transgendered, she has tried to bring comfort and consolation to those who are enduring the terrific pain, loss and rejection (often at the hands of their own Christian brothers and sisters) so many commonly face as they take the only course open to them. This “message” thus forms the underlying basis of her counseling, reminding others that no matter what, their Loving Father remains in control and will “work all things together to the good” for those that love Him and are committed to doing His will in their lives. Thus her writing can speak to all of us who have ever had to deal with any of the imponderable problems and tragedies life often brings our way.
It was not until her 52nd year that I had sufficiently prepared her to receive the answer to the question that had haunted her throughout her life. For she had been born far different than any of the other girls- a difference that nearly every one of My other children when they found out about her could not grasp or would attribute to some moral, spiritual or psychological lapse in her character. It was thus a very long and hard life for her, carrying this “burden” that she very early on had learned to hide; for to let those around her know, even her own family, was to invite misunderstanding, derision and outright condemnation. She could not understand it herself, so how could she ever think she could explain it to others. She only assumed that she was somehow “defective” and “deformed”- either in her mind or in the body she had been born with.
When she was very young, she used to dream of waking up and finding that her “outside” had been magically transformed into what she always knew she was “inside”. When she came to know about Me, as her mother had taught her about the God who answered the prayers of little children who knelt down at their bedsides every night, she would secretly pray for Me to make her like all the other girls. Yet no matter how much she wished for it, dreamed it and no matter how sincerely she prayed for this change to occur, she always awoke each morning as the same child she had been the night before. She was far too young to understand My purpose for all of this, though I ached just as much in My heart for her unanswered prayers as she did. But I knew that there would be that perfect time in the future when she would be fully prepared and her prayers would be answered in a far more glorious way that she could ever imagine.
Yet, throughout her early childhood, she had so many fantasies of what it would be like to be just like the other girls- to be able to play with them and dress up and do the things that they all did. Instead, she found herself forced to be with the boys her age, who were far more rough and tumble than she would ever prefer. And as little boys will frequently do, they easily sensed that she was “different” from them and often teased her unmercifully. She was an easy mark and was always the one to pick on for anyone who wanted to promote himself higher in the “pecking order” of the group by picking a fight. She was the only one who could be counted on to immediately break down crying whenever she was provoked.
There were, however, a few precious moments when she was able to actually play with the other girls and enjoy their company. But even then, those to which she so closely identified and felt so at ease being around would always assign her the role of being the father or the baby brother whenever they would let her “play house” with them. She so longed to be able to put on the pretty dresses they did; and if their mom was there to supervise their activities, even apply a little makeup and some perfume. But again, to actually ask that she be able to do the same was to provoke questioning stares and almost instant chastisement with, “No. Little boys do not put on girls clothes!” Then she would be relegated to wearing one of the father’s ties or putting on his old hat stuffed with newspaper so that it wouldn’t fall completely over her eyes.
Those times were the most difficult for her during her very young life, for if she cried because of the pain she felt of being denied even the opportunity to “pretend” that she was just a normal girl, there was always someone to inform her, “Little boys are not supposed to cry. Only sissies cry!” So she quickly learned to “suffer in silence”, to stifle all the emotions that would naturally come to her and put up a “masculine” front so that no one would ever know that she was different. She became a consummate actress, fooling everyone; and eventually- for long periods of time later in life- even fooling herself into believing she was just a “normal” male.
So, throughout her life she would just hide behind this “façade” she had elaborately created and confine her tears to those private moments when there was no one around to see them but Me. She never knew that I was always right there, crying along with her, feeling her pain and her anguished sobs. And she was forever questioning why she wasn’t like the others- always asking Me the inevitable and as yet unanswerable question, “Why?” As the years pasted, she was totally unaware that I always had been and would continue to carefully and lovingly prepare her for My answer to this unfathomable question. Through the passing of the years, all these experiences and the suffering she endured, I was gradually changing her character and her “inner being” to allow her to finally receive the wholeness she had so longed for all of her life.
I have such tremendous love and concern for all my children. Each one of you is special and of inestimable value to Me. Every single child born was lovingly prepared and watched over from the earliest time in their mother’s womb. So many people have questioned Me, however, as to why such a loving God as I could possibly allow a child to be born with birth defects, some of which appear to be so hideous and grossly deforming that they defy people’s ability to believe in Me as a loving and all-powerful God. Little do they understand that it was My most sacrificial act as their Creator that gave them their ability to reject the very One who created them, willfully choosing to go their own way. And as a consequence, they brought sin into the world, and with it the “corruption” of my perfect Creation, initiating the process of disease, deformity, death and destruction that has subsequently ruled within the whole universe since that day.
It was not My will or desire that they make this wrong choice, for I too would greatly suffer by the consequences of their decision. For I knew, even “before the foundation of the world”, that by giving you this great gift of love, your “power of choice”, I would thereby have to make an even greater sacrifice to redeem you from the terrible consequences of rejecting Me. Each and every one of Adam’s offspring would follow in his steps and in turn choose to turn their backs on Me and My divine and perfect plan for your lives. And with this you brought upon yourself spiritual death and eternal separation from the most loving One who created you to be in intimate fellowship with Him.
But My love, in its unboundedness, had already found a way to reconcile the lost and hopeless world of mankind, yet at an incalculable cost. It would demand the sacrifice of My only Son, whom I sent to live as one of you, to suffer each and every pain and sorrow that mankind had brought upon itself. In the greatest example of love that the universe has seen and ever can know, I allowed My Son to suffer the most excruciating and humiliating death ever known- crucifixion on Calvary’s hill, publicly displayed amongst criminals, defiled and defamed, reject and forsaken by the very world He had been sent to save. The perfect, blameless and most-holy, dying for each and every lost soul- My greatest act of compassion and love. My holy wrath against humanity, fully vented and satisfied by the death of My “Only Begotten” on the cross two thousand years ago.
It is only in the understanding of the greatness of My love for all My children, and My willingness and patience to do whatever it takes to bring them to the fullness of their growth in Me that the Answer to questions like Jennifer’s can be found. For I delight in taking the poor in spirit, the weak and the most rejected of all my children and making their lives shine with the glory of My handiwork, reshaping them into the image of My Son. There was no mistake in the way I created her and others like her, even though her mind and body were not in accord. I do ALL things for a purpose, though that purpose often may take a lifetime to be revealed.
I know that it is hard for my children to grasp this concept because you have been born into a temporal, finite world. Yet, I did not create you “but for but a season”; rather for an eternal existence, a divine, never-ending life as citizens of My Heavenly City to come. But many of My children lack this perspective and consider it a waste of time to spend so much of their lives just learning to become what I want them to be before their time on earth comes to an end. Yet from My eternal perspective, their brief interval spent on earth is merely the “preschool” to prepare them for their real lives that are to come. To grasp this “eternal perspective” is necessary for each of my children to begin to understand and finally be able to receive “The Answer” to all of life’s most important questions.
I have shown this principle to you in so many ways. Does not my Creation repeatedly teach that the best things in life take time to be achieved? Do you not have far more pleasure in a meal carefully and tenderly prepared than that which comes “in an instant”? Do not the best wines take years, decades or even centuries to mature to their maximum robustness? Do you not relish and pay top value to own and savor such rare commodities as these? So too it takes all My loving care, patience and often a whole lifetime before many of my special children are finally ready to become the whole and fully glorious “saints” that I have designed them to be.
And indeed your existence on earth is a continuing educational tool to teach you that which is necessary both to fulfill My purpose for you on earth and to build your character and mature your inner being for your heavenly life to come. The life experiences I arrange for you, no matter how disjointed and confusing, even the very ones that that you think can have no possible purpose, all have a place in molding and shaping you into what I want you to be. My servant Moses spent his first 40 years learning to be a leader of the Egyptians. His next forty years were spent in the loneliness of the desert, learning to become a leader of sheep. Thus, eighty years were spent to finally prepare him for his ultimate purpose, to be the leader and spiritual example to the children of Israel. (And he will tell you that his experiences leading all those dumb sheep were far better preparation for “shepherding” the people of Israel than his first 40 years in Egypt!)
Many of my children question why I have apparently made this learning process so painful, why suffering is such a common theme in the lives of my dearest saints. First, you must understand that I found it necessary for my own Son to endure incredible hardships during His lifetime, to be rejected and reviled and suffer an excruciating death in order to “perfect” Him. So, how can those who wish to follow in His footsteps ever expect to escape the testing and tempering that your Savior and Lord had to endure? Only in godly suffering can I create the empathy and compassion in you that can reflect My divine love to the world around you. How can you reach out and touch those who are hurting and in the depths of despair unless you also have drunk of the same bitter draught as they? I have made you My witnesses, My ambassadors to a lost and suffering world. Just as I sent My Son to take on the form of man, humbling and emptying Himself to endure all that Satan could throw at Him, so also must you endure these very things if you wish to be My servants and become like My Son.
There are many who are prone to wander away from Me repeatedly, just like a wayward sheep. They so often get themselves lost and in trouble, necessitating my direct intervention to bring them back into the safety of the flock. Yet, it appears to be in their very nature to repeat the same mistakes; never learning, no matter how much suffering they cause themselves and those around them. I will then be forced to take some special steps to prevent that which seems to be their ultimate fate- to wander away so far that they can never come back again.
A true and compassionate shepherd, rather than lose a sheep such as this, will sometimes choose to break one or more of its legs, preventing the sheep from being able to move at all. At this point, it is entirely helpless and would surely die if the shepherd did not take it up on his own shoulders and carry it wherever he goes; setting it down beside the best grass and helping it drink the cool waters it regularly needs. He holds it high, away from all danger and never allows the sheep to be out of his direct care. By the time that sheep’s fractures are healed, it will never, ever leave the side of that shepherd.
So too I may allow the most severe tragedies to befall some of My children, totally disabling them, maybe bringing them to the point of longing for their own death. Yet, in the aftermath of such “senseless” losses and sorrow, I will come to them (if they allow it), to bear them up, to lovingly minister to their every need, to care for them just as the shepherd did. You will recognize these special children, for they are the ones who have learned to stay so very close to Me, never leaving My side. For them, they may even experience physical discomfort to be apart from Me, even for a short time. They are the most sensitive to their own sinfulness, quickly confessing their faults and failures in order to prevent anything from coming between their Savior and themselves. Their greatest joy is to continually dwell in My presence, their daily desire and prayer is to do what pleases Me and to bring glory and honor to My Name. This too is part of the Answer to the why there is so much suffering and pain in this life.
Only in the midst of their adversities and deepest sorrows, when my saints are the most confused, may feel abandoned by Me (though the never are!) and even despair of life itself; only then can the most precious commodity on earth be displayed in its purest and most glorious form. Faith, to the point of trusting and holding firm in Me despite everything that circumstances tell you to the contrary, is what pleases Me the most. Despite all the sudden losses I allowed my servant Job to suffer, in the midst of the most severe testing possible, he uttered one of the strongest statement of faith that is recorded in my Word- “Though the Lord slay me, even then I will continue to trust in Him”. Job was put through the Refiner’s fire and his faith remained firm. Such faith is what I desire all my saints to display.
Yet how few are willing to face such trails and testing, though it is only through this difficult process that true and lasting spiritual growth can be achieved. How rare it is to find someone who can “rejoice” in their spirit when these trying times come to them. How difficult it is for them to not grumble and lose heart when adversity strikes! But my precious saints who have learned this secret, whose faith in Me transcends their earthly circumstances, these are the ones that will consistently triumph through their pain and loss. They become even stronger and grow more and more into the very image of My Son. Surely the “crown of life” shall be theirs!
In the spring of 1984, I released Jennifer to experience life for the first time as her true self. It was an extremely hard time for her, during which she faced many crises and losses. Yet it was also a most glorious time, for she finally had a chance to put away the façade that had been hers since late childhood and blossom into the woman that she knew deep down inside she was always meant to be. I gave her six wonderful months in which she experienced the joys of living the life she had always desired from her earliest childhood.
But at the end of that time, I asked her to trust Me and do a most extraordinary thing- something she could not understand, that made absolutely no sense to her at the time. I asked her to “put away” for a time (though she could not know, nor would she have been able to bear that burden if I had told her then just how long it would be) her new life and again resume the role of a husband and father. Having previously reached the point of suicide, which had brought her in the first place to where she had to either transition or die, she was of course questioning her ability to go back to living a role she had never been equipped for. But she was willing to accept My assurances that I would provide her the grace, day by day, to fulfill her “duty” as the father her children would need while they grew up.
As the years went by, she was able to do what I had asked her; by My grace and power, she got through this long and difficult struggle. It was never easy, for she had known what life was like to be living as the woman she knew she was in her heart and soul. But such a long time had past that she began to doubt that she would ever again experience being her true self again. She even assumed that I had forgotten about her, that her commitment to return to her old life was really a “death sentence”- that she had to go on living as a male to the end of her days. She didn’t realize that the request that she trust Me to keep her through this time also contained the promise of her future fulfillment as the woman I had always meant it to become.
Then in 2003, after 19 years of unfulfilled hope, My chosen time for the release from her imprisoning life as a male drew near. As she saw her last child prepare to graduate and “leave the nest” for a new and independent life away in college, she again grew even more depressed. It seemed to her that I had withdrawn my daily grace to continue living the masculine role I had asked her to resume so long ago. She found it increasingly difficult to get up every morning and she longed for death rather than to live so onerous a life. She began “passively” trying to kill herself, overeating and ballooning up to 236 lbs on her 68” frame. Her blood pressure and cholesterol soared. But she did not care, for she just wanted her life to end and be set free from the daily torture of trying to be someone she was not.
That Fall, on September 29th, during one of her repeated prayers to Me to just take her life, even as she contemplated running her truck into the freeway abutment to “gracefully” exit this world (in a manner that others would assume was an accident), I came to her in My overwhelming Presence. In the midst of her agitation and hopelessness, I spoke the words that she had so longed to hear but never thought would come, “Jennifer, it is your time”. The waves of joy and peace that I allowed to flow over her, the outpouring of her tears and sobs at this joyous proclamation of her final release from her “prison”, began the cleansing and healing processes that I was to bring during the months and years to come.
There is no greater joy than to know that the deepest desire of your heart was finally coming to pass. Though she would endure even more pain and loss due to the “transition” that she would be making, it was, after all, the only path for her that could lead to continued life. She restarted hormones after a nearly two-decade hiatus and her estrogen-deprived brain quickly responded. Her depression and anxiety fell rapidly away within the first week. The “feminine” brain I had blessed her with while she was yet unborn was once more quickly adjusting to that which it had always needed. Her thoughts and emotions returned to that which she had known only once before. She was again experiencing life with the mind and feelings and a far different outlook on the world which every woman experiences. She was finally thinking and feeling “normal”.
In the months to come she embarked on the long and painful road of the hundreds of hours of electrolysis that she would need. I also led her to a very special doctor who would not only continue her medical care, but would offer her the encouragement and wisdom that she so desperately needed. For this doctor knew her pain and anguish and confusion, for she also had taken the very same difficult path of transitioning 4 years before. She began seeing a gender therapist and visiting a wonderful Christian counselor whom I had prepared especially to receive her. (So few of my children can accept My special ones like Jennifer, most often rejecting them and what they are doing without ever trying to understand that there is no inherent sin in any of this!)
But one thing I did ask of her- that she would not allow herself to so quickly focus on the external, as is often the case for those in early “transition”. I gave her these verses from 1 Peter 3 to memorize and make her own: “Your adornment must not be merely external- braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Though she so wanted to dress up and put on makeup, to once again feel like and see herself as the woman she was inside, she refrained at My request from buying the skirts and blouses she saw in the women’s clothing catalogues and resisted the urge to even apply a little lipstick.
This was necessary, for I had something far more important for her to concentrate on in her first few months- the cultivation of the “inner beauty” of her spirit. I led her to some wonderful Christian authors whose books spoke of the healing of the wounded feminine heart and soul, and of developing a spiritual mindset and character which is far different than any man’s. For who needs more healing of the “inner woman” than those who were born transgendered and have had to suffer through a life in a gender role they were never meant to fill? In those first few months, through the divine ministry of My Spirit, Jennifer began to experience a healing and enjoy a wholeness in her soul that she had never had before.
Throughout her life as a male, she had desperately tried to “perform” for Me- to prove herself “worthy” of being My child. She had come to know Me as her Savior and Lord at the age of 12, but she always felt herself to be “defective” and therefore unacceptable to Me due to her inherent mind-body disunion. She would strive to do so very much to please Me and try to make Me love her, little realizing that My love for her was already complete and unconditional. She could never seem to understand that My permitting her to be born transgendered and never healing her (though she had pled for this innumerable times, went to special healing services and had her church elders lay hands on her many times), was not in any way a punishment or evidence of My rejection of her. She could not comprehend then that the way she was made was not a result of some terrible mistake, some oversight in My watchfulness as she was “knitted together in her mother’s womb”, but rather it was My special gift and blessing to her that could only be reveal later on in her life.
And through this time I would also bring about that what she most truly desired in her walk with Me, to have a continuing relationship manifesting the “first love” she had experienced in her early Christian life. She had previously tried to worship Me as a male, for that was the role she was forced to assume in her life; and she emulated all those male behaviors with great skill. But one cannot truly worship and fellowship with Me while acting a part, for I must be worshipped “in spirit and in truth”. When Jennifer finally became herself, being healed of the decades of wounding that her life as a male had caused, she was set free to finally worship Me in her feminine spirit. She began to experience a closeness to Me she had never been able to imagine before. Those around her often noticed the “radiance” that shown from her while she worshipped Me, even during the times she still had to appear as a male in her former church.
Her relationship with Me as her Loving Father soared as she was first able to “forgive” Me for making her the way she was. And then, as I taught her more about herself and the special ministry I had prepared for her, she finally could rejoice in the precious gift that I had given her. Her entire character began to change as she could fully open herself for the first time to others, especially to those who also suffered from being transgendered. She was able to touch their bleeding and wounded hearts with the same care and compassion with which I had previously touched her own soul.
Gradually she learned to become a clean and holy “channel” of my love and healing Spirit to others. And she finally was able to take her eyes off herself and focus on Me, trusting in My will for her life. She is becoming the woman of God I have always meant her to be and she now realizes that such growth and intimacy with Me has only come to her because I made her this special way, allowing everything to happen in her life in the manner it did. She knows she is My very special daughter and loves Me with all her heart and soul and mind. I have some wonderful plans for her and I have prepared a life of great joy for her in giving herself to help others.
So many questions Jennifer has asked Me throughout the years, often on her knees or even prostrate upon the floor, with tears in her eyes and grievous pain in her heart. Though decades passed before she would find the “Why” to all her pleas and many of her most ardent prayers, I was slowly and carefully preparing her to receive the Answer to these deepest of questions. And so it is with all of my children; I am always your Loving Heavenly Father. But a good father will not give to his children that which they are ill-prepared to receive, and therefore it may take many, many years before My answers come. Yet, are you willing to be patient and wait for My timing?
I am constantly at work in those hearts who truly and honestly desire to know Me and the wondrous wisdom and knowledge I can impart. I am always ready to bless the soul of anyone who sincerely seeks Me with all their heart. I am a gracious Father who rejoices to reward those children whose deepest desire is to daily please Me in all they say and do. These are the sons and daughters whom I seek as eternal inhabitants of the City of Joy that I have so lovingly prepared for them.
Many feel that what pleases Me can be found in doing sacrificial labor and producing great works in My name, accomplishments that often glorify themselves far more than bringing praise and honor to Me. For even the miraculous can be achieved by those who have little knowledge of Me. Remember My warning to those who proclaim “Did we not cast out demons in Your Name?” For they shall be dismissed with “Depart from Me, for I never knew you”. These people have failed to see that the greatest “Work of God” is not that which can be externally perceived, but rather that which occurs within a person’s heart and soul and spirit as they yield themselves fully to My will.
What I seek is to transform every one of My precious children into the man or woman of God that I desire them to be. As each one comes to love and trust Me completely, abandoning themselves into My care and ministrations, willing to accept the refining fire of the testing, pain and loss that I allow to come into their lives; it is these whom I will transform into the choicest of my saints. Their uncomplaining submission and whole-hearted acceptance of My will for their lives is the most precious product of a lifetime of growth in Me. It is in this that My ultimate Answer comes. It is in this assurance that My saints will find their joy and peace and rest in all of life’s most difficult questions- their faith perfected and their character transformed into the glorious image of my Son.