write your name in red, be true to your heart & dare to stand alone

Growing up, there was a lot of pressure to be accepted, to be in the in group, and to perform well. From peer pressure at school, to family life at home, to church rules and expectations, everything taught us to please people, to fit in and not be the one to break rank and stand out like a sore thumb. To do so meant to be excluded, isolated and looked down on, or be marked in some way.
It took many years to unlearn this, and find the courage to stand alone, hold tight to my values – and do so with grace for others – and risk the inevitable rejection. That learning process was painful, and at times I reacted out of my fear of rejection and let it all get inside my spirit, when the resistance came. But, having learned it (and continuing to learn it) I thank God for the freedom it brings.
I had been fairly warned, before doing my Masters, that secular education would possibly, even likely, leave me bankrupt of my values. On my first day in one of my courses in the program, we were asked to write our names on the board. Two dry erase markers lay on the ledge in front of the board, one green and one blue. At an awkward distance away was a red marker, and to use that one meant asking the prof for it. When it came to my turn, I chose that one, and added my name to the collection. The class continued with blue and green, and when it was over, my name stood out like a sore thumb.
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I chose the red that day to remind me never to lose myself in a crowd, to always be true to my heart before God, true to myself, and never prioritize blending into accepted norms. It probably felt more awkward to me than to everyone else, though I recall the professor looking surprised, and felt the class staring…. though it was likely more a ‘feeling’ than a reality. They didn’t understand why I chose red. Nor did it matter. In that moment I wanted to accomplish one thing, and take that one thing with me through my education, through my day to day interactions with people in my personal life, and ultimately through life.
To my intrigue, throughout the program we were encouraged to express ourselves and be critical thinkers, but also to honour others with whom we differ. There were some interesting and intense conversations, but there was respect. Contrary to what I might have anticipated, given the concerns shared, I came through the program more confident in my spiritual journey, not less. I embrace my faith more firmly than before. But I also developed skills in really hearing the other person, and honouring and caring for them without feeling like I need to endorse their beliefs.
I think back often when I ‘swim against the tide’, whether in religious communities, in university, or in my own mind and thought processes. And I choose again to pick up the red marker. Getting lost in a sea of other people’s expectations is a curse. Whether those expectations are secular society or religious performance, they steal something from us. Standing true to one’s heart (before God for the Christian), and to personal values and beliefs, while difficult, builds confidence, as long as it is done without attacking or belittling the other.
When I live life with that authenticity and grace, I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am trustworthy.  This is my goal in life, to live in such a way that people experience compassion, love and grace in my presence, even when we are worlds apart on an issue or in beliefs, and even when we openly disagree.
I encourage you, don’t be afraid to write your name in red… to stand out in the crowd… to be different, and swim upstream. Let your name stand boldly for what your heart holds dear, and for the truth your spirit embraces. But, in that, let love for all be your mantra as you view them through the eyes of God’s grace, as worthy, beloved, and deserving of respect even in those difference.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Valentine’s Day; Christian Singles & Sex Drives after Molestation

[Trigger warning]

Romance. The word practically dances out of your mouth, when you say it, like a sweet lover’s invitation. The definition of it makes hearts skip beats. Heads spin. Reason and common sense all but disappear in the wind, when it strikes. And it does. Out of the clear blue sky, sometimes, when we least expect it, that little ‘rush’ that makes us crazy about someone, and all we want is to be with them….

So we’ve set aside this day, February 14, as a time to celebrate love and romance. A time to acknowledge our significant other, and show them how much we love and appreciate them. And that’s all good, in and of itself.

But for the singles–whether never married, divorced or widowed–Valentine’s Day is yet another reminder of the segregation they often feel. (For this post I will focus on the unmarried who have been molested.) I think of it more the past few years because I have the honour of sitting with singles each week listening to their hearts, their stories, and their dreams. And the one dream many, if not most, express is the desire for marriage and companionship. Rightfully so. Who wants to be lonely?

As we work together through the pain of past abuses, or current ones, we unravel many beliefs victims hold about themselves, about God, about the opposite gender and about sexuality and marriage. Almost always, if not always, there is guilt about the whole thing of desiring marriage. And, in particular, the desire for intimacy and love. Sexual love.

I’m not of the ‘free for all’ mindset, where you grab a lover for the day, to feel good about yourself. If that’s you, it isn’t my business, but the people I work with are trying to wait until marriage, and that is what I encourage, so I write unapologetically from that perspective. My reasons are not to be a party pooper, but honouring God’s plan as well as personal awareness of damage done emotionally and psychologically with multiple partners. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

In sitting with Christian young adults and working through difficult past stories, or current struggles, at some point I usually ask if they desire marriage–because not all do, believe it or not, but if they do I want to bless that desire and pray with them. Answers range from enthusiastic affirmative responses (though rarely) to a cautious, “Yeah… Is that okay?”

Keep in mind that I spend pretty much 7 days a week talking about sexuality, in one form or another, with a broad range of people. From clients, to bishops or preachers and their wives, to police officers and (more occasionally) medical professionals, to grandmas and grandpas, this is my world. Inevitably in talking through abuses of sex, the topic of healthy sexuality comes up and with it the many forms of sex. (One pastor’s wife asked me, “If you talk about it all the time, don’t you think about it constantly and want to have sex? Because I sure would!” Umm… ask a chocolate maker how much they crave chocolate every time they see it. Without crossing the lines to ‘TMI’, let me just say that when it is part of every day conversation, the only thing that makes me desire it is being with my beloved. So, no, talking about it doesn’t do that.) So when the topic of marriage comes up, the topic of sex is already on the table, and becomes part of the discussion.

When I ask if they desire marriage, some logically process what that would mean and conclude they wouldn’t be happy in marriage; it would be too restricting when there are so many dreams they want to fulfill and the odds being low of a marriage partner wanting to be part of that. For the majority, apart from the few who enthusiastically desire marriage and declare it boldly and without apology, we explore the cautious admission that they long for marriage.

The caution is, admittedly, due to the vulnerability of acknowledging the desire for a relationship that offers companionship, commitment, shared dreams and sexual intimacy. All of those are good, and seem good, except the desire for sexual intimacy. For some reason, in the world of Christianity, we’ve communicated the message that a desire for sexual intimacy is perverse or inappropriate, when the person desiring that intimacy is unmarried. And that’s true even if they don’t want to go there before marriage.

This seems wrong to me. In every way. Sex is a beautiful gift of intimacy between husband and wife, and to desire that intimacy should be blessed, along with a blessing on the desire to wait. We present this immaculate ‘don’t need sex and certainly don’t desire it because I’m not married’ image that is entirely unrealistic. Even Christian singles desire sex. Trust me. You’re not alone, if you are a Christian trying to wait for marriage to experience sexual intimacy, and yet have a powerful sex drive. It’s normal. It’s how God created you. And it’s beautiful and good. When God finished creating mankind, He said, “It is very good”. That includes your sexuality and your desires. We have this infatuated notion that marriage is about sex, and once we have the freedom to enjoy that intimacy without guilt or shame, knowing we are committed to that person and they committed to us, then all will be right in our world and our sexuality will be blessed by God. But it is already blessed, as a single who struggles with it and desires a marriage partner. The key is to master those drives, and bring them under God’s design, and take authority over them, rather than to be driven and mastered by the desires. I explain this to every client who struggles with sexuality.

When sharing these struggles, it is common to hear an exasperated and defeated, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” And the first time I say, “Nothing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. Your desires are blessed by God,” they look stunned. By the time I’ve explained why it is good, most readily accept it as God’s truth–because I pull it straight out of the Bible–while others need time. I also explain how, through abuse and molestation, their sexuality was prematurely awakened and they have had, usually from a very young age, knowledge of sexuality that they shouldn’t have need to know.

When singles have, since childhood, offered sexual services–oral sex, anal sex, masturbation and much more–for teens and adults (often in church), and then suddenly try to shut down that sexuality, often harshly judged by their churches for the struggles, all while the molester is overlooked, there are serious battles to fight through. When the people they ‘serviced’ show up at church happily married and have that intimacy, often never confronted by their crimes, and the victims are left to struggle with the memories and aftermath, things feel pretty dark, pretty fast.

The one gift we can offer these victims–and it’s the least we can do–is affirming their sexuality and desires, and bless what their desires were created for; a committed, God-blessed relationship. In doing this we remove the shame unnecessarily imposed on them by sins committed against them. We bless who they are, as image bearers of our Creator. And thereby we bless God, standing in agreement with Him in saying that His design is very good.

So, today, if you are single, lonely and struggling with the heavy romance focus that is Valentine’s Day, I want to acknowledge and bless you. I bless you as a child of God, with human desires for sexual intimacy, and bless you in your struggle to master that desire. And where your sexuality was prematurely awakened, intensifying those desires and making it difficult, you need to know you are not alone, and it doesn’t make you perverted or ‘sick’. Where you are overtaken and a slave to that sexuality and long for freedom, there is help available; you don’t have to stay entrapped. God sees beyond the struggle and sees you. He sees your humanity, and it draws compassion from Him. (Psalm 103:13-14) He loves you and delights in you, and welcomes you into His presence. You are not ‘less than’, you are not unworthy. Your desires for love and intimacy are God-given, and my prayer is that God will meet your needs and grant you the desires of your heart.

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

On Rejection & Whistling Cheery Tunes…

It has become a thing of habit, posting daily, but also a thing of thinking about the forgotten ones, the rejected ones, and the abandoned ones. Like the lepers in Bible stories, the religious people of today see many victims as ‘untouchable’, fearing their stories… fearing the exposure of their own pain and hidden secrets.

While the fear is understandable, the result is that many victims feel unnecessary rejection, and those who reject them out of fear of facing their own pain, miss out on the wonder of freedom.

Other times victims are rejected is a result of the person(s) needing to protect an offender. To acknowledge the pain of the victims would require acknowledging the consequence of hidden crimes. And in these cases, the offenders miss out on the help they need, and again victims feel rejected. But in this case it is the best interest of victims for these kinds of people to stay far, far away from them. The poison they offer is deadly, and serves only to further victimize and violate the hearts of wounded people. The rejection still bites, if the victims believe it is about them, but it is a gift.

When victims tell me about people rejecting them, my instinctive first response is compassion. And on the heels of that, I explain that rejection is never about them; people are far to self-serving to reject us because of us. They reject us for their own benefit, their own comfort, or their own self-preservation. They hate us because what we stand for or represent offends something in them. They speak evil of us because they have to defend themselves. And the more vehement their attacks or rejection, the more likely it is that our stories and our voices come too close to home, and their controls are threatened.

Again, in cases where it instills fear in victims who are hiding their stories out of shame, I offer nothing but compassion and understanding. And where it is the fear of some perpetrator being exposed, or needing to acknowledge those crimes, I have compassion but all I can say is thank God they stay far away. There is grace in that.

And as for the pain of rejection, it remains for those at the receiving end, and it is hard for most not to take it personally. Especially at first. With time, experience and seeing these patterns, it’s easier to let it ‘run off’ and chalk it up to the realization that these people have issues. But until then, it is a draining experience, and one that takes time to heal from and work through.

Counteracting rejection requires intentionality. Surround yourself with at least a few good and supportive people whom you can trust. Step outside of your own pain and story; a constant and repeated reliving of it is difficult even for those who love you, and does you no good. Find a mentor or counselor who will help you work through the hurt, and help you refocus so that you recognize you are not the problem; these people have issues. And, because I write from a Christian perspective and for Christians, get grounded in your true identity and who you are in Christ. The childish or fearful responses of those around us hold little weight when we know who we are, and Whose we are.

With the love, acceptance and approval of God, the Creator of the Universe, the rejection of a few fearful, angry, bitter or selfish people pales in comparison, and their approval means nothing.

Finally, if it is a close relationship, rather than some distant judgment pronounced by judgmental people who haven’t bothered to hear your heart, take time to have a conversation. If you have wounded them, hear their hearts. If they are afraid, encourage them.

But if it is that distant heartless judgment from those ignorant ones who are hell-bent on bringing you down–and especially the religious ones who misrepresent Jesus and who have not heard your heart–just pick up your boots and keep walking. Whistle a little tune, breathe in the fresh air and let the sunshine kiss your face… and celebrate Jesus, life and hope.

It’s a good day.

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

When Victims Can’t Pray, Read the Bible or Trust God

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and particularly those who were violated in Christian settings, often struggle to trust God. Inevitably this plays into their ability to pray or read the Bible, or even receive biblical truth in the form of someone else quoting the Bible. And understandably so.

My goal when working with people, is to show them–in word and in action–that God is a relational God. Twenty minutes of prayer and an hour of Bible reading, as a religious duty, mean nothing apart from relationship.  Oh sure, it can be presented as ‘discipline’, but what is discipline in religious duty, apart from the kindness of relationship? I’m not interested in it. I can practice discipline in any one of countless other areas, if it is discipline I want to prove.

In learning to pray, I encourage conversational prayer. All the ‘Thee, Thou and Thine’ in the world, doesn’t reach or touch the heart of God, if it is spoken in religious distance. God is a near God. He is present. He is tender. He is a Papa, who wants to hear about our innermost thoughts, and our mundane things. He is like a good daddy or mama, who delights in hearing a child’s excited account of a day at the park, playing with Lego, or listens tenderly to the tears in recounting how the kitty got hit by a car. He’s not looking for deeply religious words that sound pious in right to the masses trapped in performance, but the real and genuine things of the heart–both good and bad. That’s prayer. And when we ‘chatter’ to God at that level, moment by moment, the religious performance takes on the scent of dead flesh, while conversation becomes the thing that breathes life into our soul.

When it comes to reading the Bible, one cause of struggle is the lack of understanding of God’s message, and the way truth has often been misrepresented. The voice of condemnation often associated with the Bible is tragically warped. God’s message, in every word, every story, every line is love. Humans didn’t do it well, always, that is a reality. But God’s message remains, consistently, a message of love.

And the matter of presenting it as condemnation is a thing of humanistic desire for control over another, which is demonic at best. God never granted one of us the right or responsibility to manipulate or control the mind of another. We do it out of fear, to the detriment of those struggling, and to comfort our own minds; we have done our duty, and hopefully the individuals will head our warnings for their ‘good’.

The damaging effect of this serves to drive people farther from the heart of God, and deeper into sin and guilt, rather than drawing them to grace, to repentance and to hope. The impact is devastating.

An individual struggling with pornography or sexual immorality, as a result of sexual awakening that started him or her down that path, hardly needs us to quote a Bible verse or two about immorality and hell, in hopes it will scare them onto the straight and narrow. They need us to walk with them through the pain, the confusion and the trauma, to bring the love and grace of Jesus to that deep wound. Even Jesus, the Holy One, did not come to condemn but to offer life. Who are we, in our religious sinfulness and utter humanity, to offer any condemnation at all? I have never seen a life changed for the good through that approach. I have, however, witnessed life after life, transformed by Love, and addictions broken.

And then this whole thing of ‘God the Father’…. That’s a painful one for many. God. That fearful word applied to this Cosmic Being who wields power over us, and who has been misrepresented by fathers, brothers, preacher, bishops, pastors, uncles. To overcome such association is no small thing. And to walk a wounded heart through that pain is a thing of time, patience and the constant reminder that “He can handle this struggle… He is not put off by your fear… He doesn’t judge you or push you away for it…” and then to show the heart of the Father in love, compassion and caring for their hearts.

Many things have contributed to my healing, but not one more so than discovering the heart of my Heavenly Father–my Papa; Abba Father–for me. It was a moment of revelation that brought tears and warmed my heart when it realized, “God likes me.” I understood well that He loves me. What would drive a man–even a God-man– to a cross, to die for a sinner like me, if it were not for love? Yes, that love was an undeniable thing. But in my woundedness I believed I was unlikable, even by other humans. Even with Tim in our earlier years, I knew I was loved, but at times my mind doubted that he liked me. How could he? I was too scarred. My emotional ups and downs too ‘ugly’.

But little by little, I discovered that Tim likes me; he delights in me and enjoys spending time with me. I make him laugh. I bring him joy and pleasure, just by being me. And that same discovery with God transformed my life. It was a specific moment in time, that the awareness consciously struck me, “God likes me”. And in that moment my spirit danced and my heart laughed. To think that the God of Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, likes me…

I no longer define God based on who my earthly father–or any other spiritual figure in my life–was or is. God was not made in their image; they were made in God’s image, and failed in their representation of Him. I do not need to fear Him, based on who they were, or what they did.

God, the Highest Being, the Creator offers me His identity, invites me into conversation, and into relationship. That is Amazing Love. It is healing grace…

And that is why my hope, when working with survivors of abuse, is to always lead them gently to the Father’s heart. To offer anything less would be a grave injustice, when healing ultimately comes from Him, at that deep spirit level.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

Dust off Your Bible… and Your Dancing Shoes! (Permission to Feel Again)

And, after dusting off your Bible and dancing shoes, why not practice ‘feeling’ again? (How can you dance, if you cannot feel the music?) How long has it been? A week… a month… a year? Maybe a life-time ago, since you decided to stop feeling all that pain …that it is easier to shut down your heart, and feel nothing, than to experience that raw encounter with your own mind and heart?

There is no strength in shutting down. I know. I did it for a long time, just to survive. And I learned that denial is not the path of greater courage; it is the path of defeat. It takes courage to walk through the pain and grief that are inevitably part of human experience. We all suffer. The difference lies in facing pain courageously, or pretending it doesn’t exist.

Personally, I vote to bring the Wailing Wall back. We have become so cultured that at a time when weeping loudly, wailing, and crying out would be most appropriate, we sit stoically, straightening our collars, pressing imaginary wrinkles from our skirts and tucking every hair in place, willing ourselves not to experience reality. And then we label it ‘self-control’ and slap the word ‘biblical’ on it because, well, the Bible does talk about temperance.

Yes, yes it does. It talks about temperance and doing all things decently and in order. And I would say that it might be ‘in order’ to fall apart, now and then. King David, a great man to whom a country looked for guidance, was a mess before God (and the people) on more than one occasion. After seeing his own sin and losing his ‘love-child’ because of that sin, he grieved before God.  Job sat in a state of depression (for how long?) after he lost everything that mattered to him, except his own soul and his God, and a few miserable friends. Both great men. Yet, both would be judged ruthlessly in today’s society… and church.

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How did we get to this image-based-performance way of doing life? God gave us feelings, emotions and the resilience to get through the ‘dark hell’ of life. It is in that darkness, often, and in those times of deep feeling, where we discover the love and faithfulness of God in ways that no stoic performance can offer. Keeping it together appeases the people around us so that they can be comfortable in our grieving and our pain. God forbid that they should awaken and begin to feel their own things, because of our inability to present that image. But what if the anger, frustration or disdain they feel for us is something God wants to break through? What if the pain they hide is the pain they need to feel before they can go deeper? And what if the way for them to experience these encounters is through our vulnerability?

Jeremiah 31 tells the journey to dancing and living with joy, from a place of bondage and loss of identity. The journey begins where many are content to stay, with survival. But, staying stuck in survival prevents us from discovering grace and rest:

2 The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness…
when I went to give him rest…”

But God’s love draws us into a place of newness, of hope, of being rebuilt:

3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt …”

God doesn’t rebuild in some haphazard, ramshackle, ‘good luck’ kind of way. No, He restores us to that wholeness for which He initially designed and created us. He tells it, using virginity as the symbolism. And we all know, when virginity is lost, it is gone, physically. And yet God… 

 …I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt…O virgin of Israel!

He promises, having restored and rebuilt and seeing us as though we never lost the purity and innocence of relationship with Him, He will take us further. “Dust off you dancing shoes,” He says, “and get dressed up. Grab your musical instruments! You’ve got some rejoicing to do! Sing with gladness! Shout! Proclaim, give praise and say, O Lord, save Your people!” (v 6b-7 paraphrased)

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And all of this He says to His people who are in a place of captivity, still waiting for deliverance. They have nothing but His promises and commands to go on. In their bondage, He tells them to give praise and cry out “O Lord, save Your people!” (This isn’t the ‘after party’ to celebrate freedom! It is the ‘claiming of a promise’ and trusting God, our Heavenly Papa, to fulfill it!)

And then He says how He will deliver, and it sounds a little less ‘pretty’ and ‘together’. They will come from every part of the earth, including women ‘with child‘ and those in labour with children. A great throng will come; among them the blind and the lame–those who have a difficult time seeing the way, and struggling to get ahead. Those are the ones God will rebuild and heal! (Verse 8 paraphrased)

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Oh the messy walk with God, to places He longs to lead us into!

“9 They shall come with weeping...”

And there, in broken places, God leads them with supplication, pleading earnestly for them to press on. Picture our Heavenly Papa, on His knees, gently encouraging the lame struggling to walk, the blind hardly able to grasp truth, the weary pregnant, vulnerable ones,  “You’re going to make it… follow me… there’s a straight path here… trust me… I’ve got you and won’t let you stumble!”

And why does He do this? Ah, my friends, because He is a “Papa!” Like that first time daddy, amazed and intrigued, crazy in love with a first born child…. That’s a daddy heart I trust!

“...For I am a Father …!” 

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The Message that Changed Me Forever

The stone bench had grown familiar, my senses numbed, so that I hardly thought of the discomfort. The prison cell was dark, damp and cold, yet, somehow, strangely comforting. I felt at home. I had memorized every square inch of my surroundings, every stain, and every mark. At least what I could see in the dim light of day. I wasn’t happy, exactly, and I didn’t pretend to be. I was trapped. Caged in. Held captive by iron bars in the window, placed so high no human could ever reach from within, surround by cement walls, and a heavy metal door blocked all but the tiniest hint of light from whatever lay beyond. There was a lock and, I assumed, somewhere there was a key. Not that I cared. Or even wondered. It could have been in my own pocket and I wouldn’t have bothered about it. I had no desire to leave. Nothing to leave for, or to. This was my ‘home’ and had been almost as far back as my mind could remember. Other realities had long faded, and when I thought of them, I wondered if it was real, or just some ‘other world’ I had imagined. Yes, this was ‘home’…. but, then, what did I know about the meaning of the word?

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When I paid any attention to it, I realized my parched tongue hurt. I touched my chapped lips. They burned. Moist red on my hands indicated they were bleeding. Again. I wiped my hand on my tattered old shirt, once a pure white, now faded and marred with sweat, blood and time. Just another stain. Another mark. Proof that I was still alive. Surviving. I washed my clothes, from time to time, in the puddle that collected in  the corner of my cell.  At least I did, to a time. Anymore it made no difference.

Thirst. It had been a long time since I had a drink of clean water. Just how long, I couldn’t say. I walked to the corner of my cell, picked up the rusty tin and held it to my mouth, sipping just a swallow of the stagnant water. At least it was wet. I looked in the bucket, now emptied of its last drops, and whispered a silent prayer for rain. To whom I prayed, or why, I had no idea. It just slipped in quiet desperation, without a thought, or a speck of faith to accompany it. The hole in the foundation had saved my life often, providing water in a puddle in the corner. Ironic, how a curse for one man is a blessing for another.

My stomach growled. I squinted, looking at the dried loaf at the end of the bench. It tempted. Each week someone pushed one loaf through the bars, without a word, letting it drop into my cell. It was how I told time. And each week I broke that bread into seven pieces, knowing it had to last. Sometimes the kind stranger didn’t show up and I found myself worrying they may be deathly ill, or even dead. The relief when the loaf arrived a few days late was more the knowing my ‘friend’ was alive, than the loaf that fell into my cell. But always, when the loaf came late, there was extra. I turned away from the portion that remained. It was the last piece.

I wondered, often, who my kind stranger might be. The cell was to be my slow and painful death, starving and abandoned. Yet this stranger’s gifts sustained me. I wondered how many other cells there were, and did anyone bring them bread? I was fairly certain it was a child—I had heard the voice, faintly, a few times—but couldn’t be sure. And, if it was a child, where were they getting the bread? It occupied my mind and, in a way, boosted my will to live. I needed to be there to receive the gift.

The lock rattled. I jumped. Startled out of my reverie, I cried out in fear. “Who is it? And what do you want?” My mind raced, immediately. Who knew I was here? My captors were long gone, assuming I was dead, and apart from the child and the bread, no one had ever bothered about me.

The key scraped loudly, the lock clearly rusted, and the rattling continued. The visitor persisted and, at long last, removed the lock. The door creaked loudly as it swung open and light suddenly filled the room. In truth, it wasn’t a bright light, but to eyes that had not seen more than a distant ray, it was nearly blinding. I raised my hand, covering my eyes, parting my fingers to peer through them.

A man stood just outside the door. “May I come in?” he asked.

“It’s really quite a dirty place,” I said, my voice as rusty as the lock. I was suddenly aware of the filthy ‘toilet’, off to one side, offering nothing more than a hole in the floor. I cringed, not willing that anyone would see my condition, or my ‘home’. “I’m not sure you want to come in. You’ll get your clothes soiled. Besides, I don’t even know who you are, or what you want. Why would I let you in? Why would you want to?”

“Please, just let me come in. I have some good news for you, if you’ll hear it,” the visitor said, his voice tender, and filled with compassion.

“Good news? For me? What on earth could you have to say to me? You don’t know me and….” I paused. “Oh, never mind, what do I have to lose? You can come in, I suppose.” I mumbled as I motioned, somewhat carelessly, for him to sit beside me on the stone bench. My mind raced, filled with questions I dared not ask.

He sat down and I looked at him just long enough to see if I recognized anything about him. His brown eyes held a rare gentleness, something I had not seen often in my life. Even in the days before I was thrown in this dark pit… though there had been someone, once… but it had been so long ago… one of the memories I doubted were real. His eyes drew me in, yet I dared not hold his gaze, knowing how repulsive I must be and fearing the memory that threatened. Keenly aware of the present, I tried not to imagine the stench of the place. A stench to which I had grown so accustomed it didn’t even bother me. But it had, at first, and suddenly I remembered. I wanted to tell him to leave, to lock the door behind him and never come back, but I couldn’t speak. His voice interrupted my rambling thoughts.

“I was sent here by the king, to unlock this door and release you from this prison,” the man said.

“Why that’s ludicrous!” I blurted out, scoffing. “Why would the king send you? And besides, I don’t want to leave! Every week a child brings me a loaf of bread, and I collect water from the rains. I have lived here so long that I’ve all but forgotten how to live in any other world. I have no place to go, no future and no life outside of this place anymore. And, even if I wanted to leave, who would want me? I deserve this place. I did dreadful things before I was thrown in here. Paying for my crimes in this way assuages my guilt. So, if you don’t mind, please leave. Just go.”

“The prison door is open, you are free to walk out of here, on the king’s orders,” the man said. “He has granted a pardon for all your crimes. What’s more, he arrested the men who threw you in this place and is having them sentenced. But that’s not all. I haven’t even told you the best part of all…”

“Sir, I don’t know who you are, or why you are kind to me. I don’t know why the king sent you, but I cannot leave. Whatever the rest of this ‘good news’ is, it doesn’t matter, so don’t even tell me…. I don’t want to hear any of it. It will only torment me when you are gone.” I pointed to my ankle, at the shackles that held me further entrapped. A large iron ball had been placed in the middle of the room, and the chain attaching me to it allowed me just within reach of the stone bench, the toilet, and the puddle–my water supply. Never, not in a million years, would I move it from its place. The shackles that once cut my circulation, when my flesh was healthy, now scraped against my bony body, calloused from the rubbing.

The man pulled another key from his pockets. “Ah,” he said, “but the king sent that key, having taken it from your captors. He ordered me to unlock it also.”

The kind man knelt, then, on that dirt floor and worked at the shackles until they came off. At once he began massaging my feet, his warm tears falling. He kissed the wounded ankle. I cringed, embarrassed that he would touch my wounds, so filthy, repulsive. Yet I was amazed at his tenderness. “Please, sir…” I started to speak again, but he interrupted, raising his finger to my lips.


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“Shhh….” He continued working on my ankle as he spoke. “There is something you need to know, if you are to understand why I am here….” the tears turned to sobs, as he spoke and he had to pause, from time to time, to compose himself. “The king is my father, and you… you are my sister. We never stopped searching for you after you disappeared. Not a moment has passed that you were not in our hearts and on our minds.”

Still weeping, he looked deep into my eyes and in that instant I recognized him. His father had adopted me, many years ago, and loved me like his own, from the start. I had never known such joy as I did then. But, alas, I had begun to listen to other influences who lied to me about my adoptive father. Gradually, at first, my heart had pulled back, as I began to question his heart, his motives and his intentions. With time I had become hardened, bitter and angry and, eventually, I had run away while still quite young. The men who had lied about my father, had taught me to steal and murder for them, and when they had no use for me anymore, especially when they discovered I kept some of what I stole in hopes of one day escaping, they had raped me, beaten me and tossed me in this prison.

Now, haggard and worn, my father had found me. I sat in disbelief, my mind reeling from shock, my soul buried in shame, unable to form words. I didn’t deserve him, but oh how my heart longed to go back… A deep ache tugged at my heart. A place deep inside that I thought had died long ago, began to throb with desire.

The man stood to his feet, and reached out his hand, “If you are willing, I would like to take you home and my father and I will care for you. You will regain your strength, and your father will welcome you with open arms, but the choice is yours. You can choose to stay here, or you can come with me.”

I stood to my feet, holding his hand for support. I had resorted to crawling mostly, of late,  so weak from malnutrition and dehydration. My body trembled and I was about to sit back down and declare defeat, resigning myself to my fate, when he picked me up and carried me out of the prison. Weary, I collapsed in his arms as he returned me to my father’s house. He ran to the gate, when he saw us, and threw his arms around me, with no apparent notice of my tattered rags and the stench of my years in prison.

Home. What did I know about the meaning of the word? In that moment, in my father’s embrace, my heart remembered… And in that moment I knew where I belonged.

****

Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)

The Good News

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound…

****

I stumbled across this writing while sorting through items from as many as twenty (or more?) years ago. A hand scribbled expression of my heart, recounting in allegorical form, the wonder of what I felt when I encountered Jesus, and the gift of adoption God offers us through Jesus.

Many things of life experience make no sense to me and leave me wondering and uncertain, yet always some ‘loaf’, or kindness, sustains me. Many times I don’t know where the ‘bread’ comes from, and when I feel there isn’t any way to survive without the ‘rains’, God carries me through deep hunger and desperate thirst.

How easily I slip into various prison cells, when the struggles of life overtake me, and how quickly the Son returns to meet me in that dark and broken place, reminding me who I am, and Who adopted me. He offers me one constant assurance: The Good News is for me, in every broken place I enter. And it is for you too. We are loved. We are bought with a price. The adoption papers are signed the moment we accept Jesus as the Son of God, who died for us. And that thought comforts me more than any religious ‘knowing’ of where I stand has ever offered me. And for this truth I thank my Father. I am His. I am loved.

© Trudy Metzger

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Yet More Family Reunions…

I had intended, in my previous blog post, to carry on into Saturday, June 21, but ran out of time. Besides, over 2000 words is enough for one sitting., both to write and to read. Too much, for some people….

Following the excitement, noise and shenanigans of my side of the family, we had our Annual Summer BBQ on Tim’s side of the family. It’s a different experience entirely. The Metzger family, while a strongly opinionated–whom Tim would playfully describe as ‘determined’ in contrast with the Harder ‘stubbornness’–are a very peaceful group to spend a day with. Pleasant and peaceful.

No wrestling. No throwing water at anyone, or playing tricks. No rambunctious nonsense or people laughing until they can’t talk. What I’m really saying is that they are more self-controlled, mature stock than I come from.  I enjoy both worlds equally.  That Saturday, however, I was quite ready for the world I was in, to unwind from the busyness of the preceding week.

We met at noon, but our family was late. Tim, Nicole and Bryan had to work until noon. Everyone brings food to these events. Lots of it. And, true to the reputation of Mennonite cooking, it is good food. Frighteningly good, for someone trying to make good food choices.

We sat in the shade, in a haphazard circle, to eat lunch. The weather couldn’t have been much more perfect. Hot and sunny, with a nice breeze.

After lunch–which really had more dinner qualities than lunch qualities–Uncle Amsey hooked up the wagon and offered to take willing participants on a ride to the back of the property. A good number climbed on board, and away we went.

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Amsey’s farm was the childhood home of John and Lavina Metzger, Tim’s grandparents. We listened to the uncles and aunts reminisce, when we stopped at the back of the property, going back down memory lane of ‘how things were’ back then and what has changed. It’s hard to picture parents–in this case in-laws–and uncles and aunts as little Old Order children, running around the farm.  If the property could tell stories and produce images of days gone by, it would fascinate me to spend a great deal of time knowing those stories.

I jumped off the wagon to get a few more pictures. No more was I in the long grass when one of the uncles warned, “Look out Trudy! There are snakes in the grass!” Immediately others chimed in.

For one brief moment they spooked me before I realized they wanted a reaction, and resisted the urge to dive for the wagon again. Okay, I take that back about there being ‘no shenanigans’ in the Metzger family…

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The young boys went exploring for a few minutes, several nearly hidden by the tall grass. A picture perfect moment

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Kordan lasted a few minutes in the long grass before returning to the wagon to sit with his daddy, and watch his the others wade through it. I managed to capture a father-son picture, as well as a close up of my love.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the way back,  cousin Jen–a fun and beautiful friend–sat with her father’s farm, and the Macton Catholic church  in the background, creating  a lovely picture. And several other interesting shots…

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…including a personal favourite of these two little boys, against the blue sky. It made me think of their lives… So young… it all lies before them… and the sky really is the limit…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack at the house,  a few aunts and one cousin sit in a circle of now mostly empty lawn chairs. They seemed quite happy to have stayed behind in the shade. And two nights later, when my sun-burned shoulders awakened me to a sharp stinging, I understood why.

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We kept the annual tradition of ice cream mid afternoon. There was popcorn again, as well, and I wonder if it is becoming the new annual tradition. That’s two years in a row. And that suited me just fine, since I’m not much of a fan of ice cream… unless it’s mixed in with popcorn.  I totally grossed Jen out, but Uncle Dave Metzger and cousin Lorna tried it and concluded it wasn’t too bad.

(Before you say, “Eww gross!’ and write it off, I suggest you try it and then form an opinion. When my daughters brought this idea home from a sleepover with their friend Cherry, I was totally disgusted… until I had one bite… In my opinion chocolate is best, and it’s best with super cold ice cream, when it’s not so hot that ice cream melts quickly. That way the popcorn stays crisp and crunchy. )

Tim and I engaged in a deep conversation with Uncle Dave Metzger, hearing his heartbeat on everything from faith, to family, to the culture of his childhood.  Uncle Ab and I had a short conversation as well, sparked by a column I had printed in our local paper, and he shared of the discussion it triggered among some of the men from their church.

He wondered if I’d speak for them sometime, and I said I’d love to! We’d even do a Q & A session, I said, if they’re interested. From what he told me of their discussion, it would be a mutual learning experience and a delightful time.

There were many other interactions, but those two stood out. In both instances the uncles instigated the conversation… With age and time there is much wisdom. While these uncles are still young, they have lived long enough to have that wisdom and I enjoy the dialogue.

As I left the gathering, it struck me, again, how important family is. I left home a month before sixteen, and never really bonded again the way healthy families bond. Even what bond was there before I left, seemed lost. In some ways that can’t be regained, but with time and age the awareness hits me of what was lost in that process.

I find myself, especially in the past year or two, enjoying time with family–whether Harders or Metzgers. A cousin with whom I had lost touch in my early teens, has become one of my dearest friends since 2010, when we reconnected via Facebook and she attended the first conference we did for women. When I’m with siblings, I’m at ease again and truly enjoy the time.. And my in-laws are among the people I love most and enjoy being with.  I call my mom a few times a month–in spite of the fact that I can’t tolerate phone calls and phone conversation because of restlessness and distraction issues–and we talk for an hour… or two… or more… At the end of the day it is true that blood is thicker than water.

After the reunion our family spent a few hours at the Crane Lake Discovery Camp annual BBQ fundraiser. It’s always a great time, and an opportunity to connect with friends we don’t see often. That could be another thousand words, but I’ll spare us all.

I had parked beside the grave yard so I took a few more pictures.  I find them quite beautiful. And they carry many an untold story that would capture the mind and heart, if it were to be told. Dreams lie there, unfulfilled, unexplored. Others lived with passion, changing someone’s world. Tragedies. Promises. Hopes.

These all create a sense of mystery and wonderment for me, when I see the tombstones, marking the memory of someone resting there. And always I think about my life, and the unknown, and pray my dreams will not go to the grave with me, but that I will keep living them, no matter the  battles I fight for them.

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Those happy and determined thoughts in mind, I started for home. Heading toward Wallenstein, the light caught my eye between the trees and I pulled over once more, to take a few final shots of the evening sun.

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As if promising of ‘tomorrow’ the sun slipped behind the horizon in the west, bringing to a close another beautiful day.  My heart was full at the realization that the world is most beautiful when shared with those we love, and those who love us. When we hold on to the things that matter most, and embrace difference of opinion and culture. When diversity is not a threat, but an opportunity for richness and sharing.

These past few days, my world was most beautiful!

 

© Trudy Metzger

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.

 

 

 

Weddings, Family Reunions & Crowds From Days Gone By

(Note: Photos in blog are watermarked to prevent public use. Anyone in photos, or with children in photos, is welcome to request copies via email and I will gladly give them to you. Send private message here: email Trudy.)

***

It’s been a busy two weeks. Especially  last weekend. It started with my niece’s wedding on Friday,  June 20, with Thursday being set up day.  I headed over to the Milverton Rec Complex to help but when I arrived, things were already in full motion. Teams of people from Milverton Conservative Mennonite Church, where my niece attends, busied themselves, here and there, doing various tasks.

I found Ruth Gerber–bishop Nelson’s wife–and asked her what I could do. She looked around a bit and said, “I don’t think I have anything right now.”

I had grabbed my camera before heading out the door… Thank goodness! “Shall I take some pictures?” I asked.

“Yes! You go take pictures,” she said.

Whether it was relief that she didn’t need to worry about giving me something to do, or if she thought some pictures of the day would be nice, I’m not sure. Either way, it worked out well for both of us. I don’t like to be bored. And I don’t think she much likes putting people to work she doesn’t know well. (An observation I also made at my other niece’s wedding in October, when she married Ruth’s son, Jeremy.)

It is impressive, watching them pull together an event like this. Everything flows like a well-oiled machine, and it just seems to ‘happen’. Now, I’ve planned events… quite a lot of them… so I know that isn’t really true and it doesn’t ‘just happen’. It’s a lot of hard work. And, granted, too many helpers get in the way, so I can appreciate not having much for me to do.

Little helpers did their part, at times talking things from their place, rather than putting them there. One little gentleman, only six years old, worked hard, helping his mom and grandma. He admitted he liked having me take his picture.
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When my niece Clasina, the bride,  arrived, he lit up. She was his school teacher and he was helping get her wedding together. Too shy to go see her along, his mom walked over with him. Ah… I remember that feeling. I adored most of my teachers and Sunday School teachers. Maybe the shy part I don’t remember so much, but the way his little heart lit up when he saw her… I remember that feeling.

The adults worked hard but, for some reason, didn’t seem overly excited to see me coming with my camera. I tried not to be too intrusive, though that can be a matter of opinion, since one hates the attention, and the next one loves it.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…Then there’s the thing about being truly camera shy, or just pretending for the sake of it.And it’s hard to tell which is which, but one of my nieces really isn’t a fan or the camera. At first I thought she was doing it to make me work for it, but she is for real… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… in stark contrast to her little sister who knows how to charm the camera and loves every second of the attention…

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The flowers were a gift to Clasina from her brother. ‘Just a bit of a joke’, he said, explaining how he gathered some weeds and wild flowers to mix with peonies for his ‘soon to be married’ sister.  

You can play a joke on me any time, nephew. The flowers were stunning!  I asked if he arranged them himself. He shrugged. ‘Yeah’. Okay, now I’m doubly impressed.

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I didn’t tell him this, but I’m quite sure they were more than a ‘joke’. I think Clasina has had quite the influence on her siblings. She is a kind-hearted girl, with a solid head on her shoulders. I think her brother is quite aware that this event changes things, and he’s going to miss her. Especially since she married a gentleman from Missouri, and will–God willing–move there, sooner than later, once the paperwork allows it.

The wedding day was beautiful.  After three opening songs,. Peter Zehr had a devotional. He communicates clearly and, though laid back in tone, is easy to listen to and speaks from the heart. It’s about that, more than anything, in my opinion, and tone is secondary. But you better believe what you’re preaching, or I’m not much interested in hearing it. Even if I disagree,  I can appreciate what is said from the heart. Any way, I pretty much agreed with him. Ephesians 5 is a beautiful chapter, and husbands are called to take leadership in the area of love, he said.

Hmmm… I like how he said that. And am so thankful for Tim…  But back to the wedding…

My brother-in-law Leonard Hursh, from Mount Joy PA, preached the main message. He talked about the keys to a successful marriage–thought I can’t quite recall if that is what he titled it, of if I just made that part up. He gave some pointers on things couples can do do draw closer together, rather than drifting apart.

Leonard gets a little bit intense when he speaks. Not too intense.  At least not from what I heard. But talking to his little girl–my beautiful niece–at the  reception, I said, “You’re daddy is  a good preacher.”

“Yeah… But sometimes I’m scared he uses his voice all up when he preaches,” she said with a grin.

“Does he get pretty excited?” I asked.

“Yeah… sometimes,” she said, still grinning, and speaking with that cute American accent. Her brown eyes sparkled and grew bigger, “But you should hear Paul Freed preach!” she exclaimed.

“Why? Does he get even more excited?” I asked. She nodded and giggled. “Well, believe it or not, I know Paul Freed and have heard him preach!”  She laughed again, finding it all quite funny.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was my first time hearing Leonard preach, and I was quite happy  to finally have the opportunity. He and my sister Anna seem truly happy together, and have a beautiful family. Their home is peaceful and loving. Human, no doubt, with grumpy moments, I presume, but there is love. I don’t get to see them often because they live in Pennsylvania, and I haven’t spent a lot of time in their home, but enough to know that he is a gentleman and takes good care of Anna and his family.

That authenticity made it easy for me to listen to him. He speaks from the heart, and he lives what he preaches. I respect that. It’s when I’m not sure if a speakers says one thing and lives another that I slip into ‘La-di-da-di-da-di-da…’  mode, and wish it would end. But speak from the heart, without manipulation and I’ll be drawn in even if I completely disagree. Fickle drives me crazy… but I digress…

Brother Danny Gascho got them all married off, and prayed a nice blessing over them and their new  home, after which we sang, “Oh Father Lead Us”, as they walked out.

It’s not a good idea to have a lot of Harders sitting together in one place, with nothing to do but wait. We’re a crazy lot, and our minds get much too busy when there’s nothing happening around us. I am convinced that well over half of the sixteen siblings have one form or another of ADHD. Probably all but about two siblings should be diagnosed, if I were shooting for a reasonably accurate count….

No more had the song let out… everything was quiet while people were ushered out…  and it started. I felt the bench shaking. I leaned forward to investigate… Two brothers, at the far end of the bench… One barely holding it together, the other making an attempt at appearing stoic, while clearly ready to burst at the seams…. I looked the other way, determined not get drawn in…

But that was useless… on the other side of  me, an older brother started a ‘lame humour’ competition with me… He won…

I focused my attention forward to watch the ushers. One usher, my nephew, managed to maintain his composure, and keep it to a few strained grins as he watched this nonsense play out, right in front of him. Laughter is contagious. Especially when you’re supposed to be quiet, composed and reverent. We all managed the ‘quiet and composed’ part… except that one brother who shook the bench…

We were dismissed, finally, and made our way to the back. Friends, old and new, shook hands and church members greeted each other with the Holy Kiss. One woman almost kissed me, then looked startled and embarrassed  when I stopped her. I knew she would likely struggle with it if I simply greeted her back. (Which, I admit, almost happened instinctively. It’s only been twelve  years…)

“I understand,” I whispered, smiling, and gave her a hug. We had connected the day  before, and felt a bit of kinship, but  I sensed the awkwardness of the moment. Next time, I’ve decided, I’ll just greet them back. I’m a believer, and it’s about Jesus, not about faith and culture, or even if I understand it quite as they do… So when I’m with the Romans, I’ll do as the Romans do. But only if they initiate…

The reception was fun, hanging out with my siblings, nieces and nephews. Titles and position are nothing… And whether you’re a preacher, a salesman, a mechanic, a house keeper, a speaker, or whatever else, .. when we’re together, we’re simply family.

More and more that is a  reality in our family, that when we’re together it isn’t about who does what, or what diverse faith belief we embrace or some other definition… It is simply about family.

It wasn’t always that way for us.  There was a time when we didn’t know how to respect one another and bless each other  in spite of differences, but we’ve learned. And Friday was the best ever for me, that way, with my family. And I felt at home with every. 

My sister Tina and I kept our camera’s busy the whole time, capturing memories. And our little nephew was delighted to be in the spotlight. Other family members were good sports about it too.

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Unfortunately shots of the head table didn’t go as well. Lighting, with two windows up and off to either side of the head table, make it difficult to get good pictures.

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I look around an audience like that–the many people from my childhood culture, and mixed emotions flood my mind and heart. Always I see a friendly and welcoming group of people, whom I enjoy connecting with. I go out of my way to say ‘hi’ to some–like Danny and Velma Gascho, and others. There is something of childhood connections that live on, long after the parting of ways.

I experience the culture of my childhood, with fondness. Still, I cannot push away the things I know, of how many are victimized and must, somewhere deep inside, long for freedom from the secrecy. And then there’s those that carry the secrets of what they have done, the crimes committed against innocent children… And surely they too must long for freedom from the secrets they carry…

So, while I enjoy those days immensely, it isn’t without a powerful tugging at my heart for deeper freedom for those trapped in secrecy and shame. One of their members dared to open that topic with me at the wedding, and we spoke candidly of it, as I shared these mixed feelings. In that brief encounter, with someone I don’t really know, I found my heart again holding on to hope that this breakthrough will come. There are women and men within, who desperately long for wholeness and freedom for their brothers and sisters in the church…. Men and women of faith whom, I believe, God will raise up to break the silence and bring positive change on behalf of the next generation…

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After the wedding some of my siblings met in Stratford park for a pizza picnic and to spend a bit more time together, to maximize time with Leonard and Anna while they  were in from Pennsylvania.

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Leonard & Anna Hursh, Cor Harder
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Niece-in-law Lisa Schmidt and their two beauties

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At least one family member looks at the camera…
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The lovely… the one and only.. ‘Miss Kate’

While we had a great time, these days are not easy for my mother, who doesn’t wander far from her apartment at Menno Lodge in Aylmer any more. With health issues, and being confined to a wheelchair, she doesn’t have the courage or confidence  to stray far from her safe zone. As a result, she has missed the last several weddings and family gatherings, and I am struck by the awareness that another season of life has come and gone. While we still have mom, those days of her freedom are gone.

Things are changing… Time brings new dynamics to family… Children get married… Adults get older… People leave their childhood cultures… others discover it in adulthood and embrace it… And with this change and diversity, I am thankful that we are able to interact , as family, and  enjoy each others company, in spite of differences, with respect and appreciation.

© Trudy Metzger

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Father’s Day: To be Affirmed & Loved

Father’s Day. Each year it rolls around, a reminder of all that was, all that should have been and wasn’t, and all that could have been.

My mind wanders in every direction. This is my twelfth Father’s Day since my dad passed away. Oddly, I think of him more now that he is gone, than I did most of his living years–the last two or three being the exception.

Just like Mother’s Day, we didn’t celebrate Father’s Day, growing up. Except for that early childhood stuff we did in school. And when I handed dad whatever gift I had made, or some little card, he’d accept it graciously.

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He’d hold the item, especially if it was a card, and study it carefully. He was a perfectionist. A man who attended to great detail. Watching him write his name took patience for me. That’s how meticulous he was. Every letter was a piece of art, in his mind. And it was with the same attention that he studied a card.

At length, having absorbed every jot and tittle, he would look up, thoughtfully, and say, “Thank you very much”, always in Plautdietsch. And you could tell he meant it.

In those moments my little heart would skip a beat, and feel happy, and my feet wanted to skip too. But I held back those urges. At least until I was out of sight.  And in those moments everything was right in my world. All the pain, trauma and dysfunction, instantly forgiven.

In contrast I have watched my husband be a daddy to our children for almost twenty years. His patience, love and compassion have taught me much about my Heavenly Father, and helped me accept and receive Him as such. Tim isn’t perfect. But then, who is. There are areas he struggles–particularly in communicating his heart and feelings. His actions say it all,  as he lives what many say but never act on. We are truly blessed by his faithful representation of God’s grace and kindness. He loves his children, and their mom, with never a hint that we should be anyone other than who we are. In his heart, we are loved and accepted.

And that is what every child longs for: affirmation and acceptance. It’s in-born. We were created to have intimate relationship with God. No pain. No disappointment. No shame. No rejection.

That same love and acceptance was supposed to be ours in our earthly family too. But sin robbed us of that relationship with God, and brought tragedy and dysfunction into human relationships.

As a result we find ourselves struggling in the relationships that matter most. The ones that link most closely to our identity.

If you find yourself, this Father’s Day, in a difficult place as a daughter or son, you are not forgotten. I’m sorry for your grief and loss–no matter the reason for it, whether death or broken relationship, or distance geographically.  I pray that redemption will come, sooner rather than later. And I pray that you will find your hope and your identity in your Heavenly Father.

And if you are a father, like mine, who has failed your sons and/or daughters, it isn’t too late to do your part in healing that relationship. My father tried and failed, many times, caught in a cycle of abuse. And it wasn’t until he came face to face with God’s love and grace–completely apart from religion–that his heart found peace. Only then did we enter into any kind of heart relationship, in the last two years of his life. But it wasn’t too late. I hold on to those memories, of talking and crying together in spite of many years of broken history.

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This Father’s Day I am thankful for the memories of dad that remind me how much God loves His children. Amongst the memories of abuse and violence, these moments lie buried like diamonds, waiting to be discovered. And more than this, I thank God for Jesus, who has redeemed even the hard times.

But most of all I am thankful that God is my Heavenly Papa. That I can run to Him with anything, and He simply loves me. Whatever gift I bring Him, He accepts graciously, taking in every jot and tittle. And, having done so, He looks at me with love… and I know…

…I am His daughter, He is my Father.

 

© Trudy Metzger

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