Criticism, as addressed in my previous blog about my bold telling of stories from my time in the conservative Mennonite churches, is inevitable. If it isn’t the criticism about bashing Mennonites, then there’s the risk of making some churches (or ‘brands’, if you please) look good and others look bad.
This leaves me with a few options: Stop writing. Misrepresent the truth. Or keep writing and take the criticism. I’ll go with option three.
I am also criticized for not speaking the truth in love. Of all the accusations that have come my way, this is the most common. Still, compared to the encouragement I receive, it’s minimal. And, since there is no truth in it, it deserves no defence. I know the love and compassion I have in my heart, and that is the fuel that keeps me writing. I admit that I’m a fairly direct communicator, which can be misinterpreted by those who would prefer if I softened the blow and downplayed the truth.
The thought of doing so wearies me to the point that I would never get my writing done if I had to write pretentiously, so I will decline to invest great effort in making it less extreme.
When I write, I spill my heart onto the screen, or paper, as the case may be, and not a hint of hatred for my culture resides there. None. I say I am Mennonite with the same confidence and boldness as I’ve ever said it. In fact, more. While I no longer attend a Mennonite church, I am very aware that one doesn’t become a ‘non-Mennonite’ by leaving. I always was… I still am… and will be, to my death, a Mennonite. There is no way to ‘unlearn’ the cultural experiences that shaped me. Nor would I wish to. Not the good, the bad, the beautiful or the ugly. All have contributed to the person I am today, and I embrace the experience and the outcome.
I am the product of the culture I was born into and lived in, refined by God, for His purpose–the exposure of sin, and the redemption and healing of many broken hearts. What’s not to love about that? Sure, the tears exhaust me at times. The pain overwhelms my soul, at times. The accusations, though few, crush my spirit, at times.
But I would do it all again, for even one of the friends I have had the honour of leading to the Father, through Jesus, for healing. (Most of whom continue to do life in conservative Mennonite churches, and are among my most appreciated friendships.)
That healing, that hope, and that redemption of stories, is why I write about my Mennonite culture. It is why I write honestly and acknowledge the shame, the pain and the abuse that still hides in the shadows of an otherwise beautiful culture–because it offers a voice and healing to those trapped, voiceless and oppressed. For any offence–however unintentional–I cause in the process, I am confident I will be forgiven, if it needs forgiveness at all.
It is for this same reason that I have written a memoir of my life story, up until age 18, and am currently working with an agent to find the right publisher. To bring hope and redemption to many, not only in the Mennonite culture but Christian culture in general, where abuse lies hidden and voices are silenced, giving the enemy an unfair advantage, and leaving believers sick and dying spiritually. It is unnecessary.
Furthermore, it is one thing for people to pop on here, and read a blog, and judge me as harsh or hateful toward the culture, while not taking time or having time to read nearly 400 blogs just to see what my heart is in it. It is another thing to read a book, beginning to end, and see the horrible truth mixed with love and respect for many in my cultural background, who have shaped me, blessed me, and still have a special place in my heart.
My hope is that, with the release of my life story–and the sequel is already in the making–there will be a better understanding of my passion for Jesus Christ, in the middle of the truth of life experience. While I know it will stir up more anger towards me, I am also confident that the wonder of Jesus’ love, and the power of the cross, will be magnified and lifted high.
Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up… will draw all men unto me.” Being lifted up on that cross, 2000 years ago, Jesus drew men and women of every generation to Himself. And when we lift His name, and raise Him up in our words and deeds, we point others to Him, and He draws them to Himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And that is why I write about my Mennonite culture… Because Jesus is being lifted high, His name is being raised up, and He is drawing many to Himself in the process, and they are finding He is the Saviour, the Healer, the balm in Gilead; a safe place.
© Trudy Metzger
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