Back in 1972, I played for the wedding of one of my cousins. It was a cold winter day, but she and her husband seemed to be a golden couple.
Four years later, after hours of training on his part–and lots of support on hers–we cheered when he became America’s champion…Bruce Jenner, the decathlon winner. They came to visit my parents shortly after, and we shared in the joy of his victory…oohed and aahed over his gold medal.
They lived in a different part of the country, so we rarely saw them…but we kept up with them both through news stories and through letters from my aunt.
Then…suddenly, it seemed…the golden couple was no more. They had separated…and then divorced.
Why? We didn’t know, but in our humanness, we blamed Bruce. And since it seemed not long after that he began dating…and then married again…we were angry with him. How dare he talk about family…and then leave and start another family? and later another?
We just didn’t talk about Bruce.
Then came the interview with Diane Sawyer…with all the jokes, the innuendo, the gossip leading up to it. Quite honestly, we vacillated a bit about watching it…but we did.
And that put a whole new twist on the story.
While I am still sorry for some of the decisions Bruce has made through the years, I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to try to live as one gender while knowing deep inside that your body and soul do not match. When you lie to yourself, how can you be truthful with others, even (or maybe especially) ones you love?
We don’t always know what is going on inside a person. And I have been reminded again of the importance of Jesus’ challenge to not judge others. Would I want to have been judged the way I judged Bruce? No…and I deeply regret that.
What will the future hold for Bruce and his family? None of us know. It is clear that there has been reconciliation and healing in many ways, and I am grateful for that.
I know there will be many who do not understand Bruce’s journey…and that’s okay. But can we all be willing to acknowledge that there is much about each one’s journey that we do not know or understand…and simply be willing to be companions on the journey?