Today’s post is a thank you to the people who embrace the messy love of Jesus and have lived it in my life. Those who stand with me, and fight this war on the evils and corruption of hidden sexual abuse in the church. I feel badly, sometimes, when I see the glaring sins of silence, and never thank the faithful Christians who stand with me.
First I want to mention church family at Wilmot Centre Missionary Church, who pray for me and bless me in ministry. My church isn’t perfect. It has broken people. Lots of us. And we don’t always choose the life Jesus would choose, or extend grace to each other like we should. We are human. And, along with the prayers, that’s what I want to say thank you for. I feel less out of place with Christians who are human.
I want to thank the people in my life, who, in the past, or in the present, have extended grace at a time when my humanity and my sinfulness deserved judgement, those who have given me permission to fail, and, more importantly, get up again after I failed. Some names deserve mention, because of that grace. In fact, there are more than I can do justice to.
Thank you to my spiritual leaders/protectors, starting with my husband, Tim, who knows more than anyone in the world, of my heart, my story and my struggles. Steve and Jackie Masterson, who walked me through the hardest struggles in our marriage. Pastor Rob Gulliver and Pastor Wayne Domm, who know me well, and see God’s call on my life in spite of what they know. They, along with my church elders, support my ministry and my passion for breaking the silence of sexual abuse and violence.
Without my friends, I wouldn’t be able to do the ministry I do… Anne Koebel who hears the darkest battles I fight, whether I win or lose, and still does not judge me–thank you. You get the ‘raw goods’ from me, my friend.
Bob Hamp, a pastor at Gateway Church Texas, is a true and good friend, first and foremost. Thank you for seeing my failures as a God opportunity for growth, for relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Papa. I thank God for your wisdom. …I like how you think. (Must be ‘cuz when you ‘Think Differently, (you) Live Differently’)
My friend and mentor of many years, Margaret Kuepfer, who believed in me when I didn’t know how to believe in myself, and understood the endless dreams of my heart because she, too, knows more dreams than can be lived in one lifetime.
My small group who have become my favourite confessional group, along with my ‘inner circle’ of friends, past and present, too numerous to name. But including friendships, with Juanita, Cindy and Norma, that have lasted twenty years and longer, and who have seen the best and worst of me.
My developing board of directors and support team, Tim, Mish, Krystal, and Anne, with our new ministry to men and women, Generations Unleashed, that is about to be launched. You stand with me in this ‘larger than life dream’ and God’s call to ministry.
Richard Fangrad, whose life intersected briefly with mine, who believes in grace at a level few understand, and lived it. I saw your greatest strength and weakness, and you saw mine. But what I will take with me for life is the five minutes when I saw grace lived in a way I’ve seldom encountered.
To each of you, I either confessed something ‘hidden’, or I sinned directly against you, and you extended grace. Each of you have blessed me, and most of you have also failed me. Some failed me deeply. But you left a God-sized fingerprint on my life when you extended grace at a time when I felt utterly condemned by my sinfulness. You showed me the heart of God, and gave me the courage to believe in His goodness. For this I am thankful.
It gives me hope as I am confronted daily by sin that lies hidden and covered up within the church. It gives me hope that maybe they will encounter someone to extend grace and offer accountability, and a church like mine, where they will be cared for and loved. Not judged by the arrogant, and religious in their ‘sinlessness’.
For those of us who have done the hard life, sometimes Christianity looks so fake, when it’s all neat and tidy, and no one sins. If I was perfectly honest, sometimes that niceness sickens me, because I know too much. And then I miss the raw honesty of that hard life…
Night before last, in fact, I longed for the crowds of my youth… for the bar scenes, for the streets. I longed to be with the broken, and the homeless, to sit with them and listen to drunken confessions, raw truth, no pretences.
That crowd knows they’re broken. And if I sat there, listening to their pain and their stories, inhaling second-hand smoke, of whatever joint they hold, I would no longer see religious piety, hiding the sins of the fathers, and pretending everything within is holy.
The church is often arrogant. And broken. But too proud to admit it. And that overwhelms me at times because it is a daunting task to tackle a topic such as sexuality, at all. Let alone the ‘broken’ version. It’s uncomfortable for many Christians when it’s not a message of, “Here’s the right thing to do, now do it. And, for heaven’s sakes, please don’t tell me the dirty things you struggle with, because then I will see you differently. It will make me uncomfortable, and I like comfortable, victorious Christianity.”
We often don’t want the truth because we are afraid of it, and afraid of ourselves. That is the world I spend my time in. A world of people sharing raw truth. And, honestly, it’s much like sitting in a back alleyway, inhaling second-hand smoke, of whatever substance they hold at the moment. The beer dribbling down their chins, as they tell me their true inner struggles. I take the hem of the garment of Christ and I wipe their chins.
And then, arm-in-arm, we stumble over to where He is, bloody, beaten, a broken man on the cross. And we kneel there, side-by-side, knowing we are loved ‘just as we are’.
We stagger, following at a distance, as He is carried to the tomb. And for three days we wait. Hopeless. Doubting the pain and struggle will ever end.
And then we see Him. Jesus. In a beautiful white robe. Sinless. Perfect. Without a spot or wrinkle. But that doesn’t stop Him. He sees us, with our scars, wounds, stains and all, and takes us to His Father and presents us as His friends, His family, the ones He loves.
And God looks on us, through the eyes of Jesus, and sees, not our sin and our brokenness, but His holiness. He doesn’t ask us to clean up. He reaches out and receives us. Dirt and all. And it is this love that washes us clean.
That, my friends, is the only way we will ever be presented to God in holiness. There is no other way. No amount of struggling to attain a standard will qualify you.
My deepest thanks to You, Jesus, for daring to walk that path to the cross. For embracing us, in our humanity, and carrying the weight of my sins. Thank You for taking the shame, so I don’t have to. Thank you that it’s not about ‘neat and tidy’ in my relationship with you, but that You see us through Your love, not through human eyes of judgement, and condemnation. Thank You for Your messy love.
© Trudy Metzger
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