An Empty Tomb: A promise broken or kept?

For a university assignment I looked at the empty tomb in a way I never had before. For me, it has never been anything but Good News. From earliest memories hearing the story, my heart thrills! My Jesus is alive!

But, for Mary, what did it feel like to find the tomb empty, and be robbed of ritual and grief in a moment of deepest loss? Her friend, her rabbi, her Lord had been ruthlessly slaughtered…

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Wishing you all the blessing of an Empty Tomb and a Gardener who speaks your name, that you may know Him!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Sex-crazed men? Frigid women? (Let’s talk sex: Part 1)

TRIGGER WARNING: Content in this blog at moments addresses sexual violence in context of marriage. While I try not to be overly graphic, softening the truth gets us no where. Therefore, if you find such content triggering or traumatizing, I urge you to not read this blog.

***

What is with the notion that men are sex maniacs with no self-control, and for women sex is some obligatory duty to which she must subject herself to for his sake? Nonsense. Women are intensely sexual creatures, who enjoy intimacy.* And men are not sex-crazed morons.

I’m not here to make bold statements about percentages of which gender has the higher libido — especially since that isn’t the point of my blog. I’ve not done a broad study on the matter. What I have observed over the  years of working with victims of sexual abuse, and therefore having the topic of sex (not related to abuse) also come up frequently, is that when it comes to sex and sexuality, we’ve got it wrong. Long before I started working with sex abuse victims, after people knew my story, they would talk about sex with me and ask questions that I don’t think are normal conversation in conservative Christianity.

Are sex toys okay? Is oral sex sin? What about anal sex in marriage? Is it wrong for married couples to masturbate? (For that matter, is it wrong for singles?) When is desire healthy, and and when is it lust? How often is it okay for Christian couples to have sex? (One single woman, God bless her, went so far as to inform me that it is wrong for a married couple to have sex every day. Okay… ! Most of us couldn’t keep up with that pace if we wanted to anyway, so there’s that. But if both have the energy and want to? Have fun!)

Some of those questions were launched my direction before I was even married. (Albeit by friends who knew I had lived common law and had since embraced Christian values and were curious what I thought). They have been asked over the years by single friends, married friends, those who were young, and even little old grandmas. Sex is a matter of interest to most people, but with few places to discuss it without being judged for asking. The questions are legitimate. We have this notion that everyone will automatically know everything about sex — and embrace our opinions and values — without ever talking about it beyond a superficial purity culture teaching. “Don’t do it until you’re married. And then, wives, it’s your duty; do it.” Some were fortunate to get a bit more teaching than that. But for most of us, that’s kind of the sum total, besides the learning we glean from a heavy focus on modesty and not tempting men.

A big chunk of the takeaway from those teachings is this idea that men are so sexually driven that they have no self control. Among emasculated men that is probably a fairly accurate statement. And among sexually abused men. Which is tragic. But outside of those two factors, it’s nonsense. I have the … dare I say ‘advantage’ – because the promiscuity of my teen years has never felt like an advantage – of speaking from two vastly different places. One as a wounded teen with no boundaries searching for a place to belong and willing to pay whatever the selling price to get that belonging. And then as a Jesus follower, and now the wife of a godly man who treats me with highest honour.

In both ‘worlds’ the men in my life – those with whom I had relationships – did not demand sex from me constantly, nor did they rape, force or treat me in sexually abusive ways. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “All sex outside of marriage is abusive”, the fact remains, I was never treated in sexually abusive ways by men with whom I had relationships, which is more than many Christian women can say who ‘saved themselves for marriage. Sadly. That said, yes, I was raped. But that is not a relational act, nor was it ever committed against me by anyone with whom I had an established relationship.

My frame of reference, therefore, is from personal experience and countless conversations. If I said a dozen women had complained to me over the years of their husbands wanting sexual intimacy too often, I think I would be exaggerating. I can think of only a few. If I gave a number for those who, through tears, shared of sexual neglect while their husbands bury themselves in work, games, movies, technology, the number of women who have spoken out would be exponentially higher.

However, what I have heard, more than complaints of wanting sex too often, are complaints of abusive sex. Being raped in the night while asleep is especially common. Being forced to cooperate with sex, and being anally raped or otherwise ‘punished’ for noncompliance, ranks up there. Being told they are too ugly and no one else would want them happens too often. Demanding cooperation with the use of objects… And so on. These are abusive sexual behaviours that many women have shared, internationally, having suffered at the hands of their husbands[i].

These actions are not those of sexually driven men. They are the actions of emasculated men. They are also not the actions of men emasculated by women. They are the actions of men emasculated by systems and religions. (That’s another blog, but suffice it to say that men who are ’emasculated by women’ — unless it is at the hands of their mothers — are first emasculated by some other influence). Empowered men — those not emasculated — are not going to be emasculated by women. They lead like gentlemen, honour women and are a delight to partner with. They invite their wives into sweet sexual intimacy, and are safe to be invited by their wives. They are not insecure. They do not abuse, manipulate, degrade and humiliate. They bless and empower women to be all God created them to be, and that includes in their sexuality.

The words of a buggy-Mennonite friend of ours, many years ago, have stayed forever in my mind. Speaking of the scars his wife carried, and her struggle to enter into sexual intimacy, he shared that his deepest desire in intimacy was for her to experience arousal and climax, which was what she struggled with. She was willing to ‘be available’, but not able to ‘enter in’, in part due to past experience and in part due to the teaching of sex as bad, and lack of teaching regarding healthy sexuality. This devastated her husband, and he shared how guilty he felt even attempting intimacy for fear of using her.

That is the single most touching story of intimacy I’ve heard from a personal friend. There are others, stories of men who tenderly cared for their wives who had been abused. Stories of women empowering their husbands, speaking life and wonder over their sexuality when they came from broken histories. Stories of marriages restoring in each partner what life tried to rob and destroy.

But one thing men are not is sex-crazed morons who can’t control themselves. Nor are they sexually-driven saints whose wives’ duty is to meet those needs. Men are sexual creatures. That they are. But so are women*. And many women are neglected sexually because of the horrible things we’ve taught — formally and informally — in religious context, and beyond. This has robbed marriages. Men who believe that women have no interest in healthy sexual relationship, and who view sexual intimacy as a duty for their spouse, are in that very act emasculated. And they are robbed of the true wonder of relational and sexual intimacy. It is not fair to either party to be led to believe such things. For one, a woman who views it as a duty and a curse will find it much more difficult to enter in in a healthy way.

I propose that if we would do away with these nonsensical teachings and  replace religious ‘systems’ with empowering men to lead the Jesus way — like our buggy Mennonite friend — we’d see a powerful shift in sexual struggles among men. Empowered men walk gently beside their partners. It’s a hand-holding love relationship. They invite. The step in to protect. (And protectors don’t play the victim the way religious culture has conditioned men).

This would spill into the way women are treated and viewed by too much of Christian culture, and they would become valued partners in marriages, in churches… in God’s kingdom. And, in turn, it would spill right back into how men are viewed.

Women who are led by such men also empowered. They are safe. They bless and empower their husbands. (The same is true more broadly, not only in marriage, even though my focus here is marriage). I have watched this in Christian relationships, and I have watched it in marriages of those who are not Christians. There is a synergy. A grace. A working together. There is fulfillment and relational intimacy. There is a sparkle in the eyes and a light that is unmistakable.

I live in such a relationship. In 25 years never have I been forced or coerced sexually. We’ve both made sacrifices in various ways over the years, and Tim has done so with tenderness. There have been health crises for both of us when intimacy was completely impossible. He had H1N1 and scared the life out of me, back in fall of 2009. I had the first heart attack 2006 and the one last week. I’ve haemorrhaged twice, had two miscarriages and five childbirths to recover from. These are times of no energy, and nothing to give. Times of survival. And never, not even once, has Tim pushed for intimacy before I was ready.

This is as it should be. Sure, we’ve had our bumps and scrapes in our marriage. Some pretty serious ones that felt (to me) like we’d never survive. But we did survive. And I attribute that most to Tim’s faith and rock solid commitment, come hell or high water, to never give up on us or on God. And never have I been sexually disrespected or violated by my husband.

And there’s the good news. In spite of the aforementioned complaints shared by some — which are legitimate and deserve acknowledgement, there are many marriages where both partners invest deeply, make sacrifices and honour each other. Marriages where men are compassionate and kind as their wives struggle through past trauma that makes intimacy difficult. I’ve had the honour of helping survivors of abuse work through the barriers it creates, preventing healthy sexual relations, while husbands patiently supported their wives. I believe, and certainly hope, that this is still the greater percentage, by far, of marriages. While spousal abuse is rampant and needs to be addressed, I honour those men who are neither the stereotyped sex-maniacs, nor those who neglect their wives’ needs.

Now if we can just do away with those warped teachings, learn to talk about sex in a healthy way, and scrap religious abuse, we just might disempower the stereotype. Rather than each of us who have good husbands believe we have one of the rare ones, we will begin to see that there are a great many good men. And maybe we’ll even do better at raising more of them.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Notes:
[i] I do not discount here the relevance and prevalence of females being sexually abusive toward their husbands. I have not received many such complaints, possibly due to the fact that males rarely speak out as a result of the incredible accompanying shame, or possibly because I am female and it would be too frightening, but that does not mean it is as rare as it seems. I am aware it happens, and acknowledge that is very wrong.

* Not all women enjoy sex. Many would like to, but can’t for various reasons. Past sexual abuse is a common barrier, and a runner up, based on my conversations, is how the teachings on sexual purity are presented. (I’m working on another blog to address the topic of female sexuality in conservative Christian context. If you have thoughts you want to share anonymously — I will not use names, identities or location — I welcome emails at: trudy @ generationsunleashed .com)

Pow-wows, death curses and a happy dance

SATURDAY MARCH 16 UPDATE:
Last night was horrible. That’s just the truth. Chest pain/discomfort all night, and low BP, and the uncertainty of this condition I find myself in, looming over me. But symptoms constantly reminding me how fragile my life is.

Last night was incredible and beautiful. That’s just the truth. In my uncertainty, I was certain. Peace resting over the heaviness, and knowing I am okay; there is nothing to fear.

I prayed, again, a prayer I find escaping my lips these days when my heart is unstable. “God, You hold my life in your hands, and I trust You”… and I go on to tell Him that with all I have seen and know in this fallen world, the ‘forever peace’ of the other side is inviting. It draws me. I’m not gonna lie. But then I tell Him that for the love of my life – Tim, my children, grandchild, family, friends-who-are-family, and all my friends, not to mention supporting survivors of abuse, I would really like to live for quite a long while yet. And I prayed for a good friend and his family who have gone through a brutal health crisis in the past week, and has seen God do miraculous things.

Something like that is what I pray, over and over again, in the uncertainty that settled over me in January as symptoms progressed. Unbelievable fatigue, low-grade fevers, followed by crazy and unusual-to-me joint pain, irregular heartbeats (PVCs, for the medically inclined), and spikes in super high blood pressure. These eventually led to my heart racing the days leading to the dissection (SCAD) and mild heart attack. Those symptoms are not benign.

Now here we are, post ‘event’. This phase of adjusting meds while the dissection heals is especially volatile and uncertain, from a medical perspective. (The nurse’s parting words were, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” and then told of a woman who did well in hospital with SCAD and returned days later after a massive heart attack. Good to know. Being informed saves lives). And knowing my body with medications I expect some bumps. It does not like meds, and I do not adjust easily.

The whole experience is physically and emotionally exhausting, at moments, as I find myself contemplating the cost to family while I am not able to do much. (And, again, not gonna lie… I contemplate the cost of worst case scenario, and the thought of leaving is a bit overwhelming. Which is about the time I pray that prayer).

Yet, at no point have I been in fear. For this I am thankful. Growing up in violence and abuse, and always fearing for my life left me fearing death for many years. And then I had the first heart attack in 2006 on the eve of my 37th birthday. That day I learned that nothing but death can kill me, and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. By the time death comes, I’ll be on the other side and then I will be more alive than ever I have been before here. That terror never returned. For twelve years I’ve lived with knowing my heart is high risk, by all human and medical standards, yet it has not limited me but rather propelled me further. I anticipate this round will do the same.

***

In the past few years I’ve been cursed with death wishes, and received messages that certain conservative communities held pow-wows to silence me and curse my life. A stranger wrote that she heard groups were “sending curses to you and doing witchcraft“, to which I responded “Believe it or not, this actually kind of excites me. It means that we are penetrating something in the spiritual realm that is far bigger and deeper than we could possibly imagine.” I feel that thrill no less today as I recover than I did then.

(One friend mentioned that there would be those who would throw a celebration at the news of my death. Ah well… Put that party on hold and blow out the candles. I’m still here and doing a happy dance. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up).

When I first realized my heart was in trouble in the past few weeks, and went through numerous doctor visits, ER visits and testing, I thought of the curses spoken. I wasn’t worried that they hold power, but it did occur to me that they who spoke them might claim having such power. (And that includes those who spoke these things in relation to me exposing things that needed to be exposed).

So it is no secret that there are those who would celebrate my end, but this is of no concern to me. I walk in strength. The hand of God rests gently on me, always. He is near and holds my life in His hands, firmly, kindly, and graciously. No curse or darkness spoken has any authority or power in my life; I put no weight or stock in it. And this event won’t silence me. It will enlarge my territory. That’s what it will do. And allow me to touch the hearts of more wounded. Therefore, I praise God for it.

In the middle of the physical pain yesterday, I found Psalm 71… This is my response to both the curses spoken (death wishes), and the events of this past week (and those leading up to it).

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Maybe I’m not quite ‘old and grayheaded’, but I did become a grandma (or Nana) almost three weeks ago, and I have seen ‘great and severe troubles’, so it fits. In any case, I love David’s candid conversations with God. He doesn’t much sugar-coat the harshness of people wanting him dead, and asking God to protect him to the shame of those who wish him evil. David shows us how to be honest, to say it as it is, and still walk away with a dance and praise. I like it.

***

SUNDAY MARCH 17 UPDATE:
So far today I’m feeling better than I have since before the episode. I’m still incredibly fatigued. My right arm still aches from the procedure. And my heart is still skipping to its own rhythm. (How appropriate!)  The sudden ‘zapping’ and piercing pains (milliseconds long) are still sporadically there. But the feeling of my entire heart and surrounding chest area are spasming and tense is all but gone. And that is a gift.

Whatever that was, and whatever caused it, I am very glad to have it behind me. It was this squeezing (but not same as heart attack pressure) inside my chest, wearing me out. Deep breaths, sighs and yawns… nothing made it better. So I would rest — as in sit/lie back, because how do you take a break from doing nothing?

In the middle of that but not knowing these details, a friend from PA sent this message, “All I know is that the Strong Hand of God is on you. Soon after you told us that you were hospitalized a heavy, heavy something fell on me and I literally went down on the floor and I entered into a deep intercession like I haven’t experienced in a couple years. […] I had such a sense and a picture of the Strong Hand of the Lord holding you in a strong grip, you are covered from head to toe by His hand so that no weapon formed against you can prosper and even when His grip feels tight and weighty, remember that it’s protection, it’s safety, it’s wine pressing and it’s life giving.”

Now, a day later, feeling no ‘heavy grip of death’ around my heart, I am encouraged and amazed by the kindness of God. The words in Psalm 72, the message from a friend, the awareness of curses spoken (again, they hold no power), and God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all. And peace. How grateful I am, that in every moment – from the first awareness that ‘here we go again’, to the doctor’s “you are aware that during the procedure there is a risk of stroke, heart attack and even death?” – I felt the peace and presence of God. Nonetheless, I’m particularly happy to be alive today.

First thing I did this morning, upon waking, was prop myself up and tell Tim that I have no pain today. None. That felt good. Throughout the day there have been small episodes, but nothing too concerning or alarming. Some of this is expected post event/procedure. As with yesterday, as the day progresses so do symptoms, and I find I need to rest more. (Since I don’t get up until noon, that means I last about 4 hours before symptoms start again).

Friends set up a meal train locally, and friends from out of country blessed us with a meal from a local restaurant. I didn’t expect this kindness. It never occurred to me to receive such a thing, but when offered and I was so exhausted, I said yes for Monday to Friday for one week. (And they booked two!) We are so grateful!

Tomorrow I see my family doctor, and we discuss what next and where to from here. We really don’t know what to anticipate. And, if there was a link to the meds I was on, they have been discontinued and the Lupus-like-symptoms should disappear. With that, I anticipate the risks will also disappear.

If that was not the cause, then we wait it out and ride the waves and watch the sunset. Because life is too short to waste the beauty found in either one.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

hearts, 911 calls, and ambulance rides…

Just over seventy-seven hours ago I looked at our youngest and said, “I don’t feel well.” And then I called 911.

*****

March 7 I posted some updates on health testing I’ve been going through. In spite of all tests coming back indicating there are no problems — EKG, heart stress echo, blood work etc — I knew something was wrong…. a matter of time. At least I was quite sure of it…

Sunday morning I woke up feeling very tired. If that had not become my new normal, since changing my meds a few months ago, this would have concerned me. A nondescript feeling of un-wellness niggled, so I told Tim I was going to stay in bed… My chest and my arm and shoulder were achy. He had to slip out — though I don’t recall him saying good bye, though he did — so I slept until sometime around 1:30 to 2:00. The pain persisted, and I wondered if I had slept funny… and was that hunger pains? I ate a bit, but rather than improving, the pain got worse, and I felt worse. I tried to focus but found myself constantly distracted by the pain. And then came that moment of awareness that something was very wrong…

That’s when I told our youngest I wasn’t feeling well, and asked him to get my BP cuff. It was 183/130… up from a normal reading before falling asleep. I called Tim, told him I wasn’t ok, and then called 911. At their order, I chewed my Aspirins, and waited. The first responder arrived within minutes, attached the heart leads and took my BP again. 206/140… The ambulance arrived moments later, and so began this next phase of my medical journey.

In 2006 a massive heart attack left me with a dead spot, and my cardiologist told me I may not feel the next one, if it comes. If I do, it may not feel the same. I never really worried about it. On Sunday, when it happened, I was both sure and unsure at the same time. I’ve had ‘episodes’ numerous times over the past 4 years. Always questioning, never certain. (In hindsight we are quite certain I’ve had numerous SCADs). The only thing that made me somewhat sure this time that it progressed to heart attack was the pain in my left arm, which by that time started radiating into my jaw, and at moments my back. And then there was that restless feeling of knowing something wasn’t right.

In hospital I was admitted, after some debate, for high blood pressure rather than heart attack symptoms since the pain had cleared up quickly when they brought my BP down. Within hours the cocktail of meds began, with adjustments over the next few days, including anti-coagulants to prep for investigating. Last night they did an angiogram and discovered I had a mild heart attack, due to a dissection (SCAD) toward the lower portion of my posterior descending artery. There is no sign of coronary artery disease, the doc said, all arteries – including the one that collapsed twelve years ago, and the stent they put in — are in excellent condition.

It is complex, to say the least. There is no specific known cause, though a highly stressful event could trigger it. If I had been through stress, that would make sense. There are also markers — a particular unusual blood vessel in the kidney — which he checked for with angiogram, and I don’t have. At the end of they day, the doc said he doesn’t know for sure what caused it. It is possible I may have an underlying condition contributing to these events, or maybe the symptoms coinciding with changing meds mean there is a link there. In any case, this is something that may never happen again, or could happen again, any time, anywhere in my body.

Just to keep it interesting, I nearly passed out after the procedure, as my BP dropped and the pain in my arm set in. Swelling at the site indicates potential bleeding below the skin, versus bleeding out, so the nurse had to put pressure on it. “Would you like to lie back?” she asked. “No. It’s okay, I’m fi… … I’m not fine,” I said as my world started spinning. And then came the visual disturbance with squiggly vision and partial blindspots, leaving me with tunnel vision. You realize in a moment like that how vulnerable life is, and what a gift health is, and how incredibly fascinating our bodies are.

Medications will be adjusted to manage the premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that I have – which are more pronounced on certain meds, but always ‘present’ — and keep my heart from working too hard, as well as keeping my BP low to reduce as much stress on my heart as possible. And I will continue to do what I started some years ago, and be constantly be mindful of what stresses I can handle, and what I cannot…. but be even more strict about it.

After recovery — which they don’t anticipate taking too long — I plan to continue with my PhD and ministry, and live life to the fullest. In the meantime, I am grateful for the people who are rising up and stepping in to help survivors of trauma locally, as well as many in PA and across USA.

I trust God with the many broken hearts of those devastated by abuse. He will come to you, and heal you. He cares for you. I care for you. Many of us care deeply. You are not alone.

And I trust Him with my life. I am at peace. I have no fear. The purpose He spoke over my life when I was not yet conceived in my mother’s womb rests over me today with the same authority as it did then. And that cannot be taken away or altered. His Word goes through eternity, unchanged by life’s curve balls.

Until that is fulfilled, ya’ll are stuck with me.

Jeremiah 1:5

***

Tonight I am back home, thankful to God for His kindness and grace in my life. I am most thankful for the excellent care offered by the paramedics, and St Mary’s hospital (Kitchener) cardiology team — nurses, doctors and support staff. And with special appreciation for staff who were there the first time — especially NP Vera — for the blend of compassion and humour. (I promise, we were only snuggling and trying to nap…. not even kissing.)

As always…
Love,
~ T ~

Ps. Familiarize yourself with heart attack symptoms so you can help yourself or those you love. Familiarize yourself with abuse symptoms for the same reason.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

What about the “victim mentality”?

The term ‘victim mentality’ is one I don’t use, because I have found the true ‘victim mentality’ is an incredibly rare phenomenon. I would dare to say that what we often call victim mentality is the aftermath of dreadfully under-acknowledged terror and trauma, rather than some notion of ‘wanting to stay there’. (More on what drives this being stuck in trauma later). In 9 years of interacting closely with them, I have watched most victims of abuse move ‘beyond survivor’ to truly thriving, with few exceptions. This includes those who were my clients, and many who were not my clients but stayed in close contact as they worked through their stories with other mentors and counsellors.

At least a percentage of these individuals would have been classed as having a ‘victim mentality’. Always needing sympathy or affirmation — or both — and seeming to feel ‘poor me’ at every turn with everyone around them always being out to do them harm, no one ever understanding them, and ever being on the fringe of an emotional crash (including threat of suicide etc).

Along with this there was, for some, the need to have somewhere between 6 and 8 people at any given moment whom they would hold on emotional string, as I call it, that they could yank at any moment to have people running from every direction to ‘save them’ from themselves. This is exhausting for everyone.

Sometimes we call it ‘victim mentality’ because we are tired, so that we can remove ourselves from the suffering, which is not productive. It is a sign of deep wounds that need healing. And those who have no concept of offering healthy support, make things worse by accommodating every yank of the string. And yet, ignoring them is not the answer; these victims do need support.

What has happened is that their boundaries have been brutally violated in the same act that left these victims of abuse so emotionally/psychologically, sexually, spiritually and often physically devastated. They, therefore, do not know how to respect healthy boundaries, and when their pain surfaces, for many the only survival skill they have is drawing emotionally from others.

We judge them for it, when the reality is that their suffering has never been acknowledged, and no one has ever said, “I’m so sorry. May I just sit with you in your pain, and love you where you are at?”

When we do that… When we stop judging their neediness… When we stop defining their place of suffering as ‘victim mentality’ …. When we pull up a chair at that preschooler’s table – or that pre-teen’s or teenager’s …now that young woman or man – something beautiful happens. They begin to heal.

To offer this support well requires having boundaries. Set specific times to meet. Have a limit on how many texts, emails, phone calls etc, and set time restrictions on how long those calls are. Or you will be consumed, and they certainly will not heal. We enter into their suffering, but must do so with wisdom.

Then, when we have been there with them, in that dark place of their suffering, only then have we earned the privilege of being invited to speak. It’s not a right. It’s a privilege. And the best gift we can give, when we do speak, is an invitation to walk together. An invitation to share with them the Love of One who gives us life and hope. Not an invitation for us to ‘fix’ them. Or for us to help them arrive where we are. But an invitation to meet the One who is our life and hope. The One who defines us.

When we are given permission to speak His life, His hope and His purpose over them, they grow. They learn to trust. They learn to forgive. As we care, they become stronger. They heal. And when they heal, they no longer see only their own pain, but the pain of others.

Some fear healing. It isn’t that they don’t want to heal, most of them. But a few are terrified of healing. If they heal, who will be there? The only connections some have ever had, have been linked to their trauma and need. If they heal, who will be there? If they heal, will they be alone… lonely? And who will they be? They’ve never been anything other than in pain and suffering? What if being whole demands things they are not capable of. More than one survivor of trauma has admitted these fears to me.

It is easy to judge from a distance. It’s easy to say those fears are not reasonable. Yet they are very real for many survivors of terror and trauma. The shift from fear to thriving happens with recognizing we have something to give, that our need doesn’t have to be the source of our fulfillment.

When, having sat with them in their sorrow, we have earned the privilege to speak… And when, having earned the privilege to speak, we have encouraged, and believed, and spoken life and purpose… Then we can ask the hard questions…

worm to butterfly

What if healing didn’t mean you would be alone? What if healing meant that you could be there for others? What if healing meant that you would be more fulfilled than you ever imagined you would be or could be? What if…?

And when they dare to embrace that challenge, a courage rises up, and they reach out. And in reaching out to others, they are healed. Again. And this doesn’t mean they will never struggle. Tomorrow might be a hard day. Next week they might call their counsellor because they feel lost. Next year they might need someone to ask again, “What if healing doesn’t mean you will be lonely, or alone? What if you keep reaching out to others? What if…?”

It isn’t a victim mentality. Not usually.  And we do a lot of damage when blithely we write it off as that. Mostly it is fear. It is the aftermath of deep trauma. It is a failure to thrive because there has been a failure in those of us around them to sit with them patiently in their suffering, and acknowledge it. And it is a journey. A rising and falling. And rising again.

Only when we have walked through deep trauma, or dared to entered into the suffering of others can we grasp that battle.

***

When we reach out to others in hope and healing,
our healing comes more quickly.
~ Isaiah 58 ~ 

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

God hates injustice. Manipulating those who expose abuse is injustice.

“Blessed are…”
(God extends His benefits
and reward and makes large the blessing of)
“…those who are persecuted…”
(mistreated and used wrongfully)
“…for righteousness sake…”
(for the sake of justice)
“…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Matthew 5:10

 

There are leaders who have gone out of their way to handle abusively those who have tried to address abuses and wrongs. Those who stand up against abuses (not just sexual, but those too) are being sued by churches (see a post I put up yesterday), and leaders are using their power to seek to destroy those who have legitimate concerns…. concerns that have been addressed first privately (for those who are hung up on Matthew 18… albeit out of context, often), and then publicly. Those who address abuse are losing friends and family as leaders use their power to sabotage relationships. Some leaders have gone so far as to ensure that those speaking out have lost their jobs — positions in church, as well as other jobs — including both men and women who speak out.

These abusive leaders who are sabotaging the lives of people standing for truth and justice are leaders many of us look to for guidance. We need to recognize that they cannot lead us into truth or justice until they value it in their day-to-day personal lives. Leading with self-preservation and retaliation is not the way of Jesus. True believers and godly leaders humbly receive correction when they have wronged someone. And when accusations are false, the same humility and honour is expressed. True representatives of Jesus Christ do not retaliate in the face of wrong and persecution, and they certainly do not set out to destroy people’s relationships and livelihoods or cause intentional damage.

When leaders retaliate, it is sometimes misconstrued as a response to persecution. Exposing truth is not persecution, nor is retaliation a godly response to anything; it is self-serving and often linked either to insecurity or to the individual’s guilt; an indication that the allegations are true, not false. When allegations are false, Jesus followers will try to respond with honour. When they respond wrongly, which sometimes they will, they humbly repent and do everything in their power to restore what they have destroyed, or at least acknowledge it. Because often it cannot be restored. Godly leaders are human. They will fail. But they will not blithely go on, having destroyed a person’s relationships or livelihood, or other damage done. Those who do not pause and take ownership are not godly, they are arrogant.

Manipulating, to destroy relationships of those speaking against injustice and bringing  them harm, is very different from the fallout that comes from exposing abuse and bringing corruption to light. Often we are told that someone destroyed a person’s reputation by speaking of their sins. That’s utter nonsense. The Bible is full of ‘bad stories’ told openly — think King David, or the Cussing Apostle (Peter) among others — and it didn’t ‘ruin their reputation’ because they walked in humility and did not hide their sins. The sins and crimes committed can destroy a reputation if the offender hides, refuses humble correction and consequences, but telling of their sins and crimes cannot destroy them. It is biblical to expose the hidden thing, and it is biblical to remove from leadership those who do such things. (If leaders are first to have their house in order, don’t imagine for a moment that this begins anywhere but in their own hearts. It has nothing to do with controlling their children).

Sadly, when evil is confronted, we see over and over again as ‘pedestal leaders’ cry victim. They declare they are the victims of heartless persecution. Yet, when looking at what righteousness they are persecuted for, it is merely that injustice, oppression and wrongdoing are being exposed. Matthew 5:10 offers blessing to those who suffer for the pursuit of justice, not those who resist justice being pursued. That’s not persecution. That’s avoiding truth, and heaping injustice upon injustice when there should be repentance.

True leaders rise up for justice. That’s what righteousness is. It isn’t some perfectionist religious performance, religious presentation or other such accomplishment. Righteousness is justice. Justice is righteousness. And God has strong opinions about justice among His people.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 3.18.35 PMKingdoms are unraveling. God has given us years to repent. And when the exposing started, it was a gradual thing. Now it is snowballing. In each phase, we as ‘the church of Jesus Christ, and churches as institutions and organizations (dare I say, empires and kingdoms with pedestals, too often), have had opportunity after opportunity to humbly acknowledge that the things God hates are thriving among us, and repent. At each phase we have had opportunity to “let justice flow like a river”,  not a little stream. Not a wee crick, or some overflow running from a puddle. Not a tiny pond, dug out near the church house to look like justice. But a river, flowing. A river, with momentum. Moving waters. Justice that is does not sit still, but has and offers life to the oppressed.

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And we still have that opportunity. Many, including honourable leaders, are rising up against oppression and injustice inside church walls. People are asking for accountability among leaders, and for evil to be exposed. God’s people are rising up, across the nations, to stand for truth and against evil. Those who continue to harbour evil, turn a blind eye to injustice, God will allow consequences to play out.

Note, too, that the scripture addresses, specifically, ‘justice in the courts’ for the oppressed. We say “New Testament, New Testament… that no longer applies!” But we borrow all manner of other Old Testament references when convenient, so this deserves consideration. Where the oppressed are not offered justice, God rejects worship and offerings, and eventually brings the oppressors to destruction. Exile. Nothingness. No kingdoms. No pedestals. The end. 

… but always with opportunity to repent in the place of exile, when stripped of all personal glory.

To those standing against corruption, when resistance comes against you for standing against injustice… when relationships are sabotaged… when jobs are lost as a result of corrupt leaders manipulating circumstances…  when your church kicks you out for blowing the whistle… leave the outcome of Amos 5 to God. And remember it was Jesus who said, in Matthew 5:10, that God will bring His rewards and benefits to those who suffer for the sake of injustice. And when God speaks, His words accomplish their purpose.

So, rise up in truth. Rise up in defence of the poor and the oppressed. And let justice flow like a river. God has your justice covered.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

(Follow up) Groffdale OOM Conference: A New Thief in Church?

Last evening I was contacted by a Mennonite couple with the follow up letters to the previous blog regarding the Groffdale Conference computer scandal. Concerns have been raised surrounding certain leaders and businessmen (named in the letter) within the Groffdale conference involving ethical and legal matters in the creation of a 501(c)(3) to sell approved computers to church members, among other concerns. As last time, I will leave the letters to speak for themselves:

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I share this on behalf of friends in the setting who are weary of the handling of this situation. I’ve been asked what this all has to do with sexual abuse, and to my knowledge there is no direct link. There is, however, a link between the abuse of power in both cases, and how that abuse is allowed to continue, from my understanding of what is going on. However, more than that, I share for the sake of friends within these settings who have no way of speaking, being restricted in their use of technology. It encourages them to know that awareness is growing and they are being heard by fellow Anabaptists, in particular. I care about them deeply, so if the issue is important to them, and I have reasonable grounds to believe it is truth – and in this case I certainly do – then it is important to me and I will be here for them.

Truth and justice always matter, and we should never turn our eyes away from it to look the other way.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Groffdale (Old Order Mennonite) Conference: A New Thief in Church?

While traveling in USA recently I met with friends in the Old Order church (Groffdale conference) and shared some of their current concerns and frustrations with me. They also gave me liberty to share with the public these concerns.

Two years ago the leaders told the churches they are giving them two years’ warning that they need to change computer systems to one approved by the leaders. (My friends referred to this as a castrated computer.) The Bishop, who I’m told is family  to the man who allegedly stands to gain several million out of this deal, signed for a 501-C3 charity organization so the money will not be taxed. (Edit: I was told brother-in-law by one person, and first cousin by another, but family member in any case.)

Rather than explain or discuss the situation, I am posting the letters my friends shared with me and encouraged/blessed me to share with others. This was investigated by Dave Crill of Archangel Investigators:

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What is my interest in this case? While not sexual abuse, and the uncovering and healing of it, to which I have dedicated my life, I have long believed and believe still that there is plenty of other corruption behind the abuse. Jesus says the love of money is at the root of all evil. When I see abuse covered up, when leaders look the other way, almost without fail there is incredible power linked to money involved. Not always, at least not blatantly so, but often. The lack of transparency here is spilling into other areas of the lives of those at the core of the corruption and it all needs to be unravelled so that healing can begin. True healing.

As long as there is corruption protected at a leadership level, there will be abuse of every kind of power. I don’t think we’ve begun to chip at the tip of an iceberg, and before this is over much more corruption will be exposed. I pray for it. So that God can once again be given His rightful place. Only then will Jesus be truly welcomed among us.

 

God, pizza, & a ‘reunion’ of strangers; A place where victims meet Jesus and worship together…

Who knew that God could use pizza for ministry. A woman in USA who has a heart for God to heal the broken, took it upon herself to do a pizza fundraiser for them. Phone calls, knocking on doors and reaching out to her community, she was able to raise over $2000 for the event being planned for November 2, 2019. But, what’s far more valuable than the funds raised, is that she connected with many in her area and heard their stories, their broken hearts…  How fascinating! God gently invaded our world through a baby, to show His love… and He invaded the community through pizza, and the love of one compassionate woman, to show that their pain, their stories, their suffering matters! 

Together with a group of 10 people (and another 15 volunteers lined up, plus a dozen prayer warriors), we are organizing the event for November 2, 2019 that, God willing and based on current registrations, will bring together  a host of survivors of sexual abuse. We opened up registration early for those on the email list at a discounted price, and already we have over 50 people registered to attend at 10.5 months out. Emails from others are coming in saying they plan to register in the new years… The response has been astounding!

The encouragement, the emails saying they (the survivors) wept when they saw/heard this is happening… the prophetic words of healing spoken… the sense of a radical ‘something beautiful’ coming as we gather… It has been an incredible experience, just the beginning stages of planning it. I can’t imagine what God has in store for the day. 

We will gather to heal, to encourage, to stand together and to move into a new empowerment through the Holy Spirit. 

It was a difficult decision to restrict the event to sex abuse survivors (and their *spouse/partner or support person), but in the end we felt this would make it the safest for survivors for a first attempt at such a public gathering. 

We will have a time of acknowledgement and lament, a time of grieving what was lost, a time of inviting Jesus into our suffering as we also remember His suffering for us, a time of worshiping with our talents and artistic expression of suffering and healing, a time of reclaiming what has been stolen, and a time of worship… deep worship. Symbolically, we bring back both the wailing wall and the King David’s dance, as we seek God, and allow ourselves to be sought after by Him…

A kind God who sees the evil committed and feels compassion for the abused, and offers understanding. No harsh words. Just a gentle invitation to be held, to be loved, to be accepted. … To discover we have been held, loved and accepted all along. We may have felt abandoned, alone, neglected, outcast, but that is not the truth of who we are, or our position in God’ Kingdom. And the position we have, is what we intend to embrace and celebrate. 

All survivors from the Mennonite and Anabaptist churches are invited to attend, regardless of current faith and beliefs (excluding those who as adults abused, molested children, and/or assaulted other peers or adults sexually). But all should know in advance that this is a profoundly spiritual event, with a focus on two things: being together and Jesus being among us. We have requested an extra room or two, for those who do not wish to participate or be present for a particular session  – or those who simply need a place to retreat.

Speaking practically, the early registration fee *for survivors only, and their support people* is $35, including lunch and snacks, as well as no additional cost for the evening concert. (If you have questions or wish to receive registration links, we are sending them out via the email list at AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. This is for survivors and their support people only). Those who cannot afford the $35, may request to go on a sponsorship list which will be on a ‘first come’ basis, and will require those attendees to pay only $10. We really want to make this feasible for all, so that no one feels left out or unable to attend due to finances. God forbid that money stand in the way of healing and support! But sadly, too often it prevents access. We do not wish for that to be the case

To make up for event expenses above $35 registration fees, we are doing a fundraiser to sell pizza in Lancaster/Lebanon Pennsylvania area. Pick up for pizza orders will be January 5, 2019 in Ephrata, when I plan to be in the area. The price is $22 for a cheese pizza kit (2 per kit) and $24 for pepperoni (2 per kit). Pizza must be ordered in advanace. To do so, email with subject line ‘pizza’ via our Contact page.  If you would like a copy of my memoir, we will also have them available as well for $20. To pre-order the book and pizza, use subject line ‘pizza and book’, or purchase on site while supplies last. Please include phone number and address when placing order. (EDIT: In response to requests/orders… Yes! I will be at the pick up location, God willing! And I’m happy to sign the books! I look forward to meeting you!) 

We are thankful for those who have donated to fundraiser’s the past few weeks, and are happy to report we are within a few hundred dollars of our goal for initial costs to secure the venue, the musician — currently waiting to hear back regarding the contract with Jason Gray — and several other upfront costs. 

God has shown incredible favour on this event already. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it in my years of ministry, with so many people rising up together — with those who are not victims giving so generously for the cause. And for registrations to start coming in so quickly and so many in less than a week. The sense of excitement and hope is palatable, and the Spirit is moving and bringing us together.

We are thankful! And this is just the beginning! 

As always, and with much thanks, 

Love,
~ T ~ 

© Trudy Metzger 2018