My friend Judy, her then-boyfriend-now-husband, Clarence, and I seated ourselves in the back of the Queensway Cathedral for the David Meece Concert. We were bending church rules slightly to be there, but it would be worth it.
On every front it was a day for bending and breaking rules, it seemed. I had spent my day in the sun, with peroxide sprayed generously through my hair, to keep it from turning a mousy brown/blonde colour. Church rules forbade us to get our hair coloured or dyed in any way, so this was the next best thing. Peroxide, I determined, was a healthy product and it did the job. I had no idea how unhealthy it was for my hair.
Being the third wheel on a date was a first for me and I had anticipated an awkward evening out, but it wasn’t. We had a great time, talking and laughing on the drive.
I was going for the ‘party’, to bend the rules a bit, but little did I realize that David Meece, and his testimony, would have a powerful impact on my healing journey. More than seven months had passed since Howard and Alice asked that life-altering question and I had made progress, but it was still a long road ahead.
I had attended few concerts in my life, Christian or secular, making David Meece’s concert one of the first, if not the first, ‘real’ concerts I attended. The smoke, the flashing colours, the other effects, all drew me in. It seemed quite a show, to me as a young Mennonite, who had again become accustomed to all things simple, conservative and humble. Not a culture shock, really, as I had done my time in the bar scene in my mid teens. I had seen loud secular bands in action. This had a different spirit entirely, a different message from that of the bar scene. A message of hope. But it was very different from the Mennonite world I had returned to, three years earlier.
David, a child prodigy, is a highly gifted musician and I wished I was closer to the stage, so that I could see him play the piano. It was out of this world the way his hands moved. He sang a few songs, talked a little, sang a few more and talked a bit more. That’s how he did his concert.
As he told bits and pieces of his story, emotion stirred deep within. Here was a man with a dreadfully painful story, doing something with his life. And telling his story publicly, without shame. Just telling it, like it was. And sharing the love of Jesus in the process. Lifting up the One who carried him through it.
The night was powerful! He sang The Man with the Nail Scarred Hands, We Are The Reason, Seventy Times Seven and other great songs that touched me. But it was Once in A Lifetime… My Father’s Chair and When I Was Seventeen that broke me. In a good way. I felt understood. As though God was speaking directly to my heart through these songs, and David’s story.
Two stories had an impact that remain with me even now, twenty (plus) years later. The first one was tragic, yet created mental image that had the audience in stitches. I laughed and cried at the same time, when he told how his grandma stepped in when his father threatened him. I believe his dad’s intent was to kill David, but those details are vague now. She jumped onto David’s father’s back, and, if my memory is right, started beating him and fighting for her grandson.
I identified with the trauma so powerfully that I wept, while laughing at the image of Grandma piggybacking on her son’s back, fighting him down to protect her grandson. That level of risk and protection touched a place deep inside of me. I was an emotional mess, as it drew out of me much buried pain, bringing release from some of my own journey of abuse and trauma.
The second story that made a lasting impact was the night David’s father died. He told how he was in a hotel room, either that night or soon after, filled with anger for his dad and hurting deeply. Lying on the bed, God showed him an image of his father, not as an abusive adult, but a hurting little boy. He shared how something broke in his heart and he was finally able to forgive his father.
I left that concert with renewed commitments….
I would forgive Dad, Seventy Times Seven, for abusing me and not being there… for My Father’s Chair being empty when I needed someone to father me. I would give God the Rest Of My Life and live my Once In A Lifetime. It was almost as if the titles of songs he sang, and the songs on the albums I purchased, were a message written for me, to keep my focused on healing.
There was no way I could have known how that night would impact me, and how, one year later, I would see my father the same way David saw his father in that hotel room, but under very different circumstances.
And that moment, of seeing Dad differently, would make all the difference in the years to come….
To Be Continued….
© Trudy Metzger
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