Since writing “What I’m Learning: Sexual Abuse in My Mennonite Heritage” the very forthright article about the kinds of sexual abuse, four days ago, I have received more messages, whether Facebook, email, or other. And friend requests. And Blog ‘followers’—a word I don’t much care for because I’m not looking for ‘followers’, but friends. I would welcome a million to walk with me and beside me, but cringe to have many remain only followers.
And, yes, the Apostle Paul says, “Follow me, even as I follow Christ,” so there is a time and a place, but I see that more as a “Look through me, (to Jesus), not to me,” sort of invitation. I would welcome every soul on planet earth to ‘follow’ me in that sense. I would wish for each one to encounter the Christ who allows harlots to sit at his feet, to cling to them for the dear life, to weep on them, and then to dry them with their hair.
All while the ‘teachers’—today’s preachers, pastors, deacons, bishops and priests—sit by and accuse and judge. “Doesn’t this man know what she is? .. Oh my… maybe He knows too well. Maybe He sleeps with her. What if she is His harlot?” There’s no doubt about it, their tongues were wagging and if they didn’t say it, they thought it.
But Jesus, knowing every little detail of her life, simply gives her a safe place to ‘be’. He doesn’t worry what the leaders think or say. And He knows that too. He simply makes her feel safe. He, also being a teacher, puts His reputation on the line for her.
In the sense of having been the harlot at Jesus’ feet—except that I worked for no pay—I would wish for every man, woman and child to follow me. To follow me to Him and sit down at His feet and weep, and be loved ‘just as you are’. To truly live the songs we grew up singing. That is my prayer.
But, having led you to that safe place, I would rather you stand up and link arm-in-arm with me, to stand with me against sexual abuse and violence. It is hard to stand alone in any battle, but the area of sexual abuse is especially brutal. And, while I know I’m not alone, there are times it still feels that way. Times when I look around and ask who is going to link arms and march into enemy territory with me. And then God reminds me to look forward, not around me, not behind me. He reminds me that He is my cheerleader, my ‘fellow warrior’, my leader.
The guest speaker at church yesterday spoke about being a Champion. Being a person of Courage, Humility, (an) Anchor, Meekness, Peace, Influence, Obedience and Nobility. At the end of his message he showed the Death Crawl clip from the Facing The Giants. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch it. Jesus is like that coach in my life. But God also calls us to be that encourager for others. To dare to crawl alongside of them and keep them focused on the goal.
When the clip finished playing, the pastor invited those who wanted prayer to come forward. I was in the back of the church. Hiding in a corner, away from the main audience. I was happy there. Nothing has ever knocked the wind out of me more than writing that blunt, forthright article that I mention in the first paragraph. I haven’t regretted it. Not for a millisecond. Not even when four people took the time to challenge me on whether it’s necessary to tell these things, even if it’s true. That stuff often comes from those who know personally that what I write is true. Sometimes it comes from those who know from personal experience, or that of close friends, how bad it is and, or from those who, for whatever reason, would like to pretend it doesn’t exist outside of their world. (Prime example is the story I tell in Sexual Abuse & Violence: A Pastor’s Honest Confession)
And it’s not even being accused of having it in for Mennonites, by someone I’ve not ever met. (My encouragement to these people was, ‘read my whole blog’ or contact my Mennonite friends—see Facebook list—they will tell you that I love them, and their culture. Get to know me.) Yes, what I write is hard stuff. It’s harsh, not in tone or in message, but the facts are harsh. What is happening to children is harsh. What it’s causing children to do is harsh. And that part breaks my heart. But I know this—I love the people of my Mennonite heritage. And those who know me at all know I would lay down my life for them. (It’s just really hard to expose sexual abuse and child victimization with a positive spin. Haven’t found a way to do that. Never will. Maybe one day soon I will write a blog called ‘All the Things I Love About Mennonites’, because there is much to love about the culture, and in that one I will not mention the abuse…. Though I might link back to the article so that both sides are presented fairly, and connected.)
Sure, I collide a bit with the ones who have a vested interest in silence. I admit that. There’s a few that, when I meet them in town, their chin instinctively goes up an inch or two. That’s cool. I smile. I say hi and try to greet them by name. (Recently that resulted in the wrong name… only adding to the ‘lift of the chin’… Oops… Sorry.)
What is exhausting is exposing these things and knowing how much pain people will be forced to deal with. All over the world. And I don’t have connections all over the world for good counsellors who will help. I have excellent contacts close to home, but when I get past Ontario, I am lost. That raw suffering is exhausting, and being the one to open it is also exhausting.
But in that exhaustion, at the end of the service yesterday, God asked me, ”Will you pick someone up and carry them on your back when you have nothing left to give? Will you push forward, when your arms hurt and you’re about to collapse? Will you do the death crawl for someone who can’t carry the weight of their own existence? How much will you give?”
I was still contemplating that question when my pastor walked over and asked if I would be willing to pray for someone, and then pointed out the person for whom he wanted me to pray. “Sure,” I said, when I felt like saying, “I’m done. I’m ready to collapse. I don’t know what to say.”
I invite you to link arms with me, to stand together against sexual abuse. Even though it is in other cultures too, I write most about the Mennonite culture because it’s the one I come from. The one I know has chosen silence (deliberately by some… even many) for so long, and I am in a place to be able to influence breaking that silence.
I invite you to stand and fight for the freedom of the children, in every culture, especially Christian cultures, and offer hope to the next generation, and all generations to come.
Will you do the death crawl?
© Trudy Metzger
Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series
First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series