What 37 Pennies Taught Me About the Debate Over Gender Identity and Bathroom Choices

I found 37 pennies on my walk…then I cried a big cry over my daughters gender identity. And believe it or not, those two things ARE related.

“What is God teaching you this year? What would be your one word?” 

My friend Elsa posed this question to Lindy, Suanne, and me over salads at the Blue Cow Restaurant in the cute little Colorado mountain town of Morrison. At first I couldn’t come up with anything. Then God popped the image of 37 pennies into my head.

“Trust, that’s my word, that’s what God is teaching me.”

Recently I have been wrestling with waiting on God. When I wait, my trust beings to waver and fear seeps in. It is so much easier to trust when being still isn’t involved in the process.

When I walk Murphy, my rust colored labradoodle –with blond highlights (some may say grey fur), I talk with God. I lament, I give thanks, and I petition. Sometimes my mom prayer sounds like this, “Come on God. Enough. No more still small voice. Let’s get this going.” 

I know… not very spiritual. But the God of the Universe isn’t hurt or offended by my words because he knows my mother’s heart.

As Murphy and I began our daily walk one Thursday morning, I noticed a penny as we crossed from the concrete driveway to the blacktop street.  My son Jake would not have passed it by, he would have picked it up. My friend Pam would have retrieved it and pondered it’s message, “In God we trust.” I thought about the preciousness of that copper coin as Murphy and I made our way down to the lake. I decided I needed to pocket that penny on the return route.

God was reminding me to trust him.

As we got to the edge of the driveway, I bent down to retrieve the penny. I noticed there was a second one about five inches away. I grabbed that one, too. Then I saw a few more and picked up  each one. Oh my goodness, there were 37 pennies scattered in front of my driveway.

I was convinced there was something significant about the number 37. I decided to check and see how many times trust is written about in the bible. In the NIV it is mentioned 38 times. I went out to find the 38th  penny. It wasn’t there.

I told my prayer partner Vicki about the pennies. She said, “Do you know what my favorite psalm is? It’s Psalm 37.” I looked it up. The psalm is all about trusting God in the struggle. Hmm.

Tom and I attended church on Saturday evening last week. The sermon series has been on 1 Corinthians. Last week our pastor tackled 1 Corinthians 11– a timely message for a culture debating sexual identity and bathroom choices.

A good portion of the sermon was on gender roles and appearance. My oldest daughter, a young adult, has gender identity confusion. She was going to be attending church on Sunday.

Do I want my daughter to embrace her femininity, to feel comfortable in her womanhood? Yes, of course. And do I want my kid to get hurt. No, of course not.

Tom and I ping-ponged, “Should we warn her?” 

Fear was crowding out trust. ‘What if she never comes back to church?”

Trust. Can I trust God 37 cents worth? 

Tom and I decided to let faith win over fear. I struggled mightily over this. It went against my mama bear instincts to protect her. I had to recall God’s great love for my child (bigger than mine) and God’s knowledge of her (deeper than mine). I needed to remember who my God is: faithful, good, all knowing, ever present, all powerful.

I cried a big ugly cry. (A really ugly cry.)

Sunday night Tom asked Courtney how she felt during the sermon.

“To be honest it was really hard.” Tears filled her eyes. Ohhh. Ohhh my mom heart. 

“I’m so proud of you for staying and listening. You are so brave. Why didn’t you get up and walk out?”

“Nick was preaching from the Bible. He wasn’t stating his opinion, just God’s word. He said his message in love.”

Truth and love for Courtney.

Trust and faith for me.

God is working in both Courtney and me.

And when I struggle with trust, I now ask myself, “Can I trust God 37 cents worth?”

Where do you need 37 cents worth of trust?

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37: 3-7


This article originally appeared at 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting.

Lori Wildenberg
Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family at loriwildenberg.blogspot.com. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenbergs' home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori's world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.