Setting Back Time (literally), Cake Batter Disasters, and Other Mother’s Day Musings

How soon it was, after we moved to Canada, that my parents bought that old daisy clock for our kitchen, I don’t recall, but I was enthralled by it. In my little mind it was the prettiest thing on earth, just like the real daisies outside. I would have one just like it when I was all grown up. Mom liked it too. So much so that when it stopped working, sometime around my late preteens, she set out to fix it.  There was also the little issue of not having money for frivolous things so what Red Green’a duct tape couldn’t fix, my parents found a way to redeem. Whether it was lack of finances or love for the clock, now useless, mom took it upon herself to fix it.  She pulled it apart, every little piece, and put it back together again. And, sure enough, it ran again.  Backwards. We kids laughed and joked about that for a long time.

Now, at 47, I look at the picture of that daisy clock and think to myself, if but for a moment, how I’d like to take the ‘clock of my life’ apart and put it back together differently. Maybe go back and do some things differently with a second shot at it. Especially as a mom. That’s me and almost every other mom, with presumably a few exceptions.

Not because of Mother’s Day, but just because of mothering and humanity, this topic has toyed with my mind more than enough lately. My failures stare me in the eye, time and time again, and more so with age. I see who my children have become and are becoming and I am amazed by God’s goodness in spite of my failures, but the awareness of generational sins, cycles and dysfunction are pretty glaring at this stage. So, yes, if I could pull down the old daisy clock, reset it, and go back with all that I’ve learned and…

Truth told, Adam and Eve would eat the apple again, and I would fail as a parent again. And we mothers would look back with regrets, losses, and wonder how God will ever redeem the impact of our generation, and the generation before us. Somehow he just would. Because God is amazing that way.

So that old daisy clock, which looks much less appealing today than it did then, can keep moving forward and I will choose to trust God to be enough for this generation and the next, even as He continues to redeem our generation and the ones before us.

And I’ll take a step back and look at the messy parts with new hope. More like that cake mom made when I was around 8 years old. The old yellow bowl was filled with batter and mom stirred enthusiastically, trying to beat out every lump. (So help us God if cake should ever have a lump in it…) And just like that, having been a bit too enthusiastic, she sent the bowl flying and chocolate batter spread everywhere on the counter, running down the counter and onto the floor. The bulk of it stayed on the counter, fortunately. We were not wealthy by any means, and wasting a cake would never do! So, after much fussing and gasping and exclaiming – while her children watched in humour – mom scraped the batter from the counter back into the bowl, cleaned up the rest of the mess, and baked a lovely cake for us. We kids who witnessed it, and those who heard the story, laughed many times over that moment.

Life is hard. Really hard, sometimes. And we moms have a habit of beating ourselves up pretty good. We look at our failures and see only the batter running down the cupboard and the mess on the floor. We forget that the bowl with batter running down it’s sides still has much in it to give, and what is spilled on the counter, God will redeem and make something beautiful out of it. The spills, He will wipe up.

Mother’s Day is the hardest for me to blog about, or write about, and I pretty much never speak publicly about my mom. There are so many unanswered questions, so many pains left in limbo, so much loss that I must give to God constantly, that it would be easier to look the other way. That is true in my relationship with my mom, and it is true in my own journey as a mom. And I’m not alone. I hear story, after story after story. I’ve chosen to forgive even where the story has never been acknowledged. When I see mom I hug her and tell her I love her, but my arms feel empty even as they are wrapped around her, knowing some things have never been and will likely never be.  Mom is old now, and because she is still living, I carry the story quietly within me out of respect. It’s something I did for dad, and it’s something I will do for mom. And when she is gone, I will speak, but I will speak respectfully as I have about dad. I bless her as she lives out her remaining days, months, years, and possibly decades (in fact probably decades… she’s pretty stubborn, or determined, depending on point of view). And I trust she has made peace with her God. I hear it in her, and bless her. But there are scars that cannot be addressed. So I trust God to wipe up the spills, scrape up the batter that remains, and make something beautiful.

This Mother’s Day, if you grieve for whatever reason, I pray for you. If you are the mom who failed and feels beyond redemption… If you are the mom who never had babies, or lost them all, or lost any… If you are the mom who is unappreciated, abandoned, or used and abused… If you are the mom who is in the thick of the mess of those early years, or struggling through difficult teen years (not all are, but some are)… If you are daughter or son who is estranged, rejected, or manipulated and repeatedly wounded… This day you are worth being celebrated.

And, this Mother’s Day,  if you are the mom whose life is idyllic, beautiful and ‘perfect’…. You are worth being celebrated.

Motherhood is a beautiful thing, made up of more joy and more pain than any human can possibly imagine exists in this world. Nothing has made the miracle of God and the wonder of spiritual life more real than motherhood. Nothing has broken my heart in deeper places. And nothing has caused me to reach out to Someone greater and say, “I need You. We need You!” And I trust that Someone with my life, my children, my mother and our intertwined stories, to bring something beautiful out of all things.

Happy Mother’s Day!

With Love, 
Trudy

 

© Trudy Metzger 2017

Why I chose to forgive my dad…

Today marks the day, fourteen years later, when the news came of my father’s passing. It was an odd, shocking, numbing feeling; one which I still cannot frame in words. The finality is jarring, knowing the last words spoken were the final exchange. While I had no regret in that, specifically, it was harsh nonetheless, and I recall my mind trying, as if by sheer force of will, to turn back time one day, and call him. I’m not sure there was much left to say, really, though there are a few questions I wanted to ask… the kind that always felt too frightening and vulnerable to say out loud, even after he asked me to forgive him for the harm he brought into my life. That day, an old, broken, and fragile man he wept and asked me to forgive him. And  I responded, “Dad, I chose to forgive you a long time ago. Yes, I forgive you.”

That was 2001. I was 32 years old, a mom of four and pregnant with our fifth. I called Tim before I left the hospital that day, crying, to tell him about our conversation. “Miracles still happen,” I remember saying through tears. Choosing consciously and purposefully to forgive my dad dated back more than a decade before that day. But it didn’t look the way many fit forgiveness into a perfect little box. The consequences for his choices meant that I suffered flashbacks, anxiety disorders (including PTSD), and nightmares every time we had contact for many years, and they became especially haunting after we had children. This continued even after I forgave him most sincerely. My fear that some horrible thing would be done to my family prevented us from feeling comfortable interacting too closely. I meant we attended at most one family event a year, if that.Tim and I chose early in marriage to not risk the lives and innocence of our children by placing them in an environment where abuse of every kind had run rampant and remained buried. This choice, in the eyes of some, would have been cause to judge me as unforgiving. Nonetheless, we made the choice and never looked back. No regret, for the sake of our children.

The cost to me was significant. It meant I had to miss out on family gatherings, and years later the lack of relationship leaves an emptiness within. The loss is ongoing. Still, I choose to forgive my father. And still I don’t regret having the boundaries, in spite of that cost.

My choice to forgive was first and foremost for my freedom. Not a fraction of that decision was to overlook his sins and crimes, or make myself okay with them. They are not okay. But the power of his sin, by allowing bitterness to take root in me, frightened me far more than did the consequences of his choices against me. Secondly, I chose to forgive him for the sake of my husband and children. To let his sins rule my life would be to give him permission to pass on the curses of many generations to my children, through my bitterness. (And generational cycles are well documented in both secular and spiritual literature.) I didn’t want that, and to the best of my ability I protected our children from anyone who had molested, and never left them unsupervised in an environment where known offenders were present.

That said, I was not perfect by any stretch of imagination, and made choices as a mom that left scars on my children, and those are choices for which I take ownership. When I chose to forgive my father, I chose also to take ownership for decisions I made, even if birthed out of the scars and emotional deficits he left in my life. I did this so that the chains would end with me.

I chose to forgive my father to break generational chains that he struggled with to his death, to end cycles of abuse and violence, to leave a new legacy for the next generation, and to prevent bitterness in my life. My children will need to decide whether they will forgive me for ways I sinned against them, and whether they will take ownership for the ways they sin against their own children. And the generation to follow will need to make the same decision.

forgiveness-quote

Forgiveness isn’t a choice to overlook violence, molestation, neglect and various abuses. It is the decision to break chains, end vicious cycles and leave a new legacy. It doesn’t mean everything is all cozy and the wrongs are never spoken of again. It means we do our best to lead the next generation, even at personal cost. And sometimes it means we tell broken, painful and brutal stories, so that the amazing grace of God in our lives is understood, and so others can draw hope and strength for their own journeys.

When my father asked me to forgive him, I chose to verbally extend that grace and reflect the heart of God the best I knew how. It didn’t change how we protected our children by not giving him access, and it didn’t change much of anything at all in a practical sense. But I knew my forgiveness was genuine, and he knew it too. And that was enough for me.

If I could go back to the day before February 21, 2003, knowing what I know now, I might still visit dad and ask some hard questions…. but maybe I wouldn’t change anything at all. I told him I loved him. I told him I forgive him. And, when he doubted that God would forgive a man like him, I told him that because of what Jesus did on the cross, there was a place in heaven for him.

*****

I stood alone by his coffin in the funeral home and wept as I repeatedly whispered the only three words that formed, “Thank you Jesus.”

 

Love,
~ T ~

 © Trudy Metzger

Of Rainbows, Love & Sharing God’s Grace

rainbow

The Cross is a symbol of Jesus love and death; offering mercy, grace and forgiveness of sins. The rainbow is a symbol of promise; offering hope, mercy and God’s love. The dove is a symbol of the Spirit of God; offering peace. The olive branch is symbolic of peace and extending grace.

The LGBT community has chosen the rainbow as their symbol, borrowing from Christianity, to make their statement. (And if there’s some pagan story about a rainbow, coolness. I still attribute the rainbow to the recordings in an ancient book, established long before any pride parades started up.)

My goal is not to stir hate and anger towards the LGBT community, or even from them, nor is it to put a feather in our collective Christian hat. That doesn’t interest me at all. I haven’t the slightest trouble loving them. And I don’t even have such a hard time understanding them anymore. Having spent many hours with Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, indulge in same-sex pornography and even fall into real live same-sex sexual encounters, I no longer see it as an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ battle. I see it as a ‘them being out’ versus ‘some (or many?) of us struggling and/or hiding’ same-sex relationships. I wish it were not so, but it is. And this isn’t some ‘let’s all panic and throw our hands up’ appeal; it is an appeal to be honest and look first at the beam hanging carelessly from our own eyes, as we point accusingly.

We have no right to point fingers. Far too many little boys and girls are introduced to sex at a young age, in our churches and communities, and have no where to turn to talk, to get support and to report molestation to the authorities–because the Bible does say to be subject to the rulers of the land, and those rulers tell us to report. And those same children come tell me how that took them on a path of same-sex attraction, or other sexually deviant behaviours. If we, the church, stand by and allow this kind of victimization, we have no right to point fingers at the LGBT community. (And, while I believe that molestation and early child-to-child sexual exploring is responsible for a host of homosexuality in churches–at least churches of my background–I do not believe that it is the only reason. And outside of our church circles I have no ‘data’ to back up any such claims, but I do have good cause to say it about ‘us’ based on what I have learned inside church walls.)

In fact, if the climate of society is distressing, I would dare to say that it first went wrong in the church, not the other way around. And I believe this because God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

If God’s people repent in humility and seek God’s face, then God will forgive His people and heal… His people? No! “…then I will heal their land!” The land is suffering because of the sins among God’s people. And then we stand back and get our knickers in a knot and wonder how they can do all that. Given what I’ve heard from church people, of what happens in secret, I can say with confidence, we are guilty.

I say this not to shame or condemn, but to invite the church to repent. And I would appeal to leaders in particular. Repent of your sins. Openly and publicly. Not this ‘carefully protect him because of his leadership role’ while dealing harshly with others. Repent like Ezra and Nehemiah, crying out to God, face down, with the people of God. It seems almost every week we hear of another church leader having an affair or some other moral failure, somewhere. And frequently I hear from victims who were blatantly molested or coerced into sexual affair, by leaders currently hold positions in churches. Always I ask if the offender or instigator has ever come back to say, “I’m sorry, what I did to you was wrong”, or if a crime was committed I ask if it was reported and almost without fail the answer is “No”.  Sometimes the leaders are people I know, and sometimes even leaders who have blatantly lied, saying they repented and took ownership, and yet sitting with their victims, they tell me they never heard from their offender(s).

Men and women of God, until we start living with some level of honesty and integrity before God, the ‘church’ and the world, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves–and, yes, in this situation I endorse being ashamed–if we place an expectation of holiness on unbelievers that we ourselves do not hold to. And I’m not talking in word, but in our lifestyle, in our repentance, in our transparency  with past sin, and certainly letting victims know (through safe avenues) that our sins against them were wrong, and sins against God.

A shake down is coming… Some of us have said it for several years, and we’re seeing it play out all around. And I believe we will see more and more hidden wickedness brought to light, particularly in religion at a leadership level. Again, I urge you, if you don’t want God to use drastic measures to expose you, then expose your sins and crimes yourself, and stop pointing fingers at the sinners who wear rainbow colours, when you drag your own ball and chain through church.

My prayer for the church and for the LGBT community is healing, wholeness and hope. My heart for both is love and the peace of God. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, whether in the church or in the world…. But the healing of the land, begins with us.

We all need God’s Rainbow of Promise, or surely we would be consumed and drowning by now, if He had not painted that first rainbow in the sky… We all need God’s Love and Grace. And it awaits, on our knees in reptentance.

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
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© Trudy Metzger

Pastor Tullian (Billy Graham’s Grandson) ‘Caught in Adultery’; What headlines don’t tell you…

The headlines of Pastor Tullian Tchividjian committing adultery kind of hit me in the gut. If it was Joel Osteen, it would have far less impact. I am probably about 350 degrees removed from Joel; I don’t know anyone who knows him personally. If it was Joyce Meyer, that gap would close somewhat for reasons I won’t get into. And, while Pastor Tullian is less known than both, it had greater impact; he is one degree removed, and the ‘man in between’ is someone I deeply respect.

My first thought when I read it wasn’t, “Hmmm… another mega-pastor has fallen…” or some such resigned rhetoric. My heart squeezed a bit tighter in my chest, and I choked up a little. Not because of personal disappointment, but because of what sin has cost him; what it costs every one of us. Relationships take a hard hit, when ‘spiritual giants’ fall. Faltering Christians are confused and feel lost when heroes and mentors ‘betray’ what they teach. Husbands and wives struggle and ache. And the children… they always hurt like hell. Every time. When leaders fall, their children and young Christians under their leadership pay a high price. And that price is even greater depending on our responses… and the responses of believers at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

I will never forget that feeling… In my early twenties several women in our church took me under their wings, so to speak, spiritually and emotionally. I had started working through the aftermath of sexual abuse when they stepped in and mentored me. One on one, I talked as openly as I knew how then. Several years went by, and our connections had weakened, by the time it happened, but after all I had shared, it still felt very personal. Tim and I were dating, and the husband of one of these women was his Sunday School teacher at the time….

It was a Wednesday evening when our bishop rose to make the announcement, disclosing that this couple had fallen into sexual sin. How much detail was shared there, and how much was shared with me after I am not sure, but I knew more than I needed to know. I was crushed. Tim was stunned. And after church we sat on the grass, under the stars–a young couple wanting to save sex for marriage–and had a numb conversation, our minds reeling. It was a moment of grief at having trusted so deeply. “I talked with her about my struggles… the abuse… I had coffee with her… I trusted her…”  It all spilled out like a cup of tipped coffee, hot and scalding, as I absorbed what it all meant.

Hard as it was, those were not the defining moments of that event. Thank God. The defining moments came when I heard the couple sought counselling. The defining moments came when someone believed in grace enough to say, “It’s not over. God will redeem this mess.” My heart still felt hesitant, granted. It still needed time to heal from the shock of it, but the greater message was in the redemption. And I watched as God turned that evil into good, and now uses the woman to bring healing to others.

Pastor Tullian and I never met for coffee. He never sat and patiently listened to my broken story, reassuring me. And he was never Tim’s Sunday School teacher. But I have been blessed by his wisdom and words of grace, ‘from afar’. (A grace I pray he and Kim will hold onto most tightly, in this time.) But, more than that, he is a brother to the man who wrote the foreword to my book, BETWEEN 2 GODS. And, if Pastor Tullian was one to do book reviews, I would have had him do one of my book in instant. (I checked into it.) Because he believes in grace and redemption, I would have trusted him with my story.

pastor tullian

I, too, believe in grace and redemption. And I believe it for Pastor Tullian and Kim Tchividjian. Yes, it is sad, I won’t downplay that; looking at King David’s life there are and will be devastating consequences for such sin… But I hold the atonement of Christ in high regard. The only Gospel I offer is that Jesus is more than enough. I will not judge, but I will pray. I will not condemn. I believe that the Jesus of John 8 is the Jesus of today, and if Pastor Tullian and Kim were brought to Him for judgement, He would again kneel in the sand and begin to write… And in that humble moment, accusers would scatter, leaving only Jesus and the bystanders to witness and hear what the headlines don’t tell you; divine grace, flowing from tender eyes, and lips speaking with Heaven’s affection, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

And I believe that the God of King David–a very broken man whom God called ‘a man after His own heart’–is still God today. Like King David, Pastor Tullian and Kim, and the woman ‘caught in the very act’ of adultery, I too needed grace. And I need grace still; we all do.

I only hope that men and women of God who fall into adultery and sin, rise up again, like King David, to serve God with greater vision and passion… and broken. Because broken men and women are of far greater service to the Kingdom of God than great, strong, unbroken leaders. Our sins do not disqualify us from serving God, if we repent and fall harder on grace than we ever fell into sin. The grace of God is enough, whether alcoholism, gossip, adultery, gluttony, homosexuality, arrogance, or any other sin….

Because Jesus didn’t die for nothing. 

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
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© Trudy Metzger

The Revealing, Exposing & Redemptive Truth of Our Heritage

I’ve made an interesting observation, as word gets out that I have written my story and that it reveals some less than noble truths of my cultural upbringing. That observations is:

We are comfortable with telling the ‘ugly truth’ of redemptions stories, as long as they don’t incriminate ourselves, our culture, our belief systems and expose things we are not willing to look at.  We protect tenaciously that ‘exposing truth’ that makes our lives uncomfortable… 

Some years ago, when my mother found out I was writing, she said something, gently, about not telling the ‘evil things’ that happened, that it is best to forget those things and move on.  This led to a heart to heart discussion, and it is the first time I recall thinking the whole thing through, and the beginning of this observation that the telling harsh truth is only comfortable when it doesn’t incriminate us.

That mention is not disrespect for my mother. In fact, quite the opposite is true.  Over the past few years some of the deepest, most meaningful and honest discussions I’ve had with anyone, have been with my mother. That day was one of them.

I asked her why the Bible tells ‘bad stories’, and I named some for her.  She thought about that for a moment. I then asked her how we can tell accurately the amazing redemption of God, and the wonder of who He truly is and what He has done, if we don’t tell the stories of what He has redeemed us from, saved us from, and the tragedies and sins He has helped us overcome.

Again, she thought about it, and said she sees what I’m saying, that God really didn’t hide the dark truths of Bible stories.  It was a new thought.

Many of us have been programmed to believe that ‘family secrets’ should ‘stay in the family’ and not be shared. And within our churches and cultures, the same thing is true, for many of us. It is one of the most crippling realities, in that it holds people hostage in silence.

It leaves us with no place to turn, no one to reach to for help–beyond those who are ‘approved’, whose agenda is often more about self-preservation than it is about truth, healing or redemption.  The result is generation after generation of enslavement to the same corruption, sins, addictions and strongholds.

Those ‘within’ who do ‘rise up’ and try to address things, are labelled as unforgiving, rebellious, or some other thing that justifies silencing them.  Some surrender to this control, others walk away. Of those who walk away, many remain in bondage to that silence, terrified of the cost that comes with telling the truth.

And those of us who begin to tell it are quickly ‘tackled’ on our motives, our methods and  judged as having ‘an axe to grind’ or being bitter, and again encouraged to retreat into respectful silence.

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One of the things that alerted me to the hypocrisy in this whole thing–since one can argue that the Bible is written under God’s authority, and no human has that right–is the stories that go back to our Anabaptist beginnings.  We are taught the evil of our ‘oppressors’ and ‘adversaries’–particularly the Catholics–and in these stories our heritage is shamelessly protected. Never, in all my studying or listening to our history, do I recall the dark side of our heritage and fore-fathers mentioned. And never do I hear the ‘good side’ of our oppressors and adversaries mentioned either. To share both, creates a richness that a one-sided story will never tell.

Perspective is a fascinating thing…

We mostly like to be ‘saints and heroes’ working against the bad guys. And to get that position, we tell their ‘bad’ stories to show our good. But what if telling our bad stories could show the goodness of God, through Jesus? What if our identity wasn’t wrapped up in keeping our ‘name’ untarnished?

The truth is, there was and is much good in our Anabaptist heritage, going all the way back to the beginning.   But there was also much corruption.  When I read in the Complete Works of Menno Simons, some time ago, something about how people should be dealt with, who murder, I was a bit bewildered. Most of our churches don’t have explicit instructions on how to deal with murderers, and we might be inclined to find a new church if such instruction was a necessity.

It wasn’t until I began discovering Anabaptists like Bernhard Knipperdolling, Jan Van Leiden, Jan Matthys,  Bernhard Rothmann among other less-than-noble-Anabaptists, particularly by the standards of my upbringing, that I started to see both sides had corruption, and both sides carried rich heritage and values.

Knipperdolling, a  follower of Rothmann–who came from very wealthy stock, and a ‘proud and bold Protestant–sued the Catholic Munster town council, in 1528. A few years later he became mayor of Munster and played a part in the Munster Rebellion.

Rothmann, if my memory is accurate, was very disturbed by the sexual indiscretions he saw in the priesthood, and spoke against it and,  after being censured by the Catholic church, he aligned himself with the Reformed faith in  1531. A few years later he joined the Anabaptist movement and in 1535 fought in the reconquest of Munster, where he is believed to have died, though his body was never identified.

The stories are too complex to paint a bigger picture accurately, without a lengthy dissertation, however, these realities give us a glimpse into a side of the truth that is often overlooked. I look at it, not with judgement for Anabaptists, or even for these men. They seem sincere men in their pursuit of God. But their behaviour matches closely, if not exactly, the very thing we have used against the Catholics.

I’ve heard the argument, “Ah, but they were not true Anabaptists. We mustn’t align ourselves with them in history, by acknowledging them as part of our heritage”–or some similar statement. Fair enough. I can grant that.

But then, should we not also offer the Catholics the same grace? Is it possible that there is good and evil in both? That their ‘corrupt ones’ are just as corrupt as our corrupt ones, and ours as corrupt as theirs?

Going back to the two examples I use–Knipperdolling with his ‘power’, thanks to money and prestige, and Rothmann with is ‘concerns’, which were legitimate, over abuse of sexuality–I find it intriguing that the two things that most corrupt our Anabaptist churches today, from what I have seen, are the abuse of power (and money) and the abuse of sexuality.  I have seen three cases of litigation–brother going to law against brother–in our local conservative churches, completely defying the ‘non-resistance’ we profess, and I have watched countless times as power and prestige sway the direction of leadership.

And the sexual abuse I’ve written about and made abundantly clear in past writings, so I won’t start into that, other than to go back to Menno Simons. In his writings, Menno Simons addressed immorality among Mennonite men with their daughters, maids and neighbours wives, after hearing it happened, saying he could not believe it would be among Anabaptists, and that was the reason he had not addressed it sooner. He had a higher expectation, and seems devastated to discover that ‘godly’ men would do this. Even this exists in our early history.

From Menno Simons, Complete Works, Excommunication:
“I would earnestly admonish the reader, that about 18 years ago I published an admonition , in which I made no distinction of sin; […] I say inexperience; for to the best of my knowledge I neither heard nor knew at that time, any thing of fornication, adultery, and such like. […] it is evident that […] concerning such gross, offensive abominations, we would make many great hypocrites; for I hear that there were some within a few years who carried on their horrible roguery and infamy in secret, till time and circumstances could no longer conceal them; yea, as I have understood, if some of them had not been detected by great wisdom, they would, I fear, have continued on their old course; but as soon as it was disclosed they began to wail and weep. Who could ever be so blinded, that when he has disgraced his neighbour’s wife, daughter or maid… that he would not say “I am sorry that I did so”.’

And finally, our silence surrounding our own corruption in Anabaptist history, and ‘picking and choosing’ which part of our heritage we will acknowledge, in order to make ourselves look like saints, has opened doors to corruption, in some ways.

(Granted, this all exists in other churches too. But they are not my history, my heritage or my struggle. I feel no need to make myself feel better about our heritage by saying it exists everywhere. I am only interested in facing the truth about myself, my people, and my heritage.)

I have believed for a long time that the answers to the roots of some of our strongholds lie with our early forefathers, and am more convinced now than ever. I also believe that if we name the name of any other person or movement, apart from Christ, and take pride in it and try to protect it, then we live in idolatry, and should repent. Furthermore, that makes us accountable for all things associated with that name, and we would do well to repent on behalf of our forefathers, as we see done by Nehemiah, in the first chapter, when he repents of his sins, and his fathers.

And to do that, bringing this full circle, we must be willing to tell the painful truth of our sinful past and present. Until we face our own corruption–as individuals and as ‘the Anabaptists’–and stop investing our energy in trying to silence those speaking truth, we will remain in bondage to sin.

Truth that reveals and exposes is not evil. It was never meant to be protected in a shroud of silence or secrecy. It was meant to be brought to the cross of Jesus, for forgiveness and redemption, and then declared as a victory on the mountain of God’s people.

We overcome the enemy through the blood of the Lamb, and by sharing the word of our testimony, the story of sins forgiven, addictions broken, sexual abuse buried, leadership used for manipulation, and any other thing that Jesus has done for us.

There is no shame in the truth. There is only shame in hiding it.

When we strip ourselves of all our pride, the image of perfection, the pretence of sinlessness, and stand naked before God, then we are in a position to have Jesus look on us with compassion, and slip on us the cloak of His righteousness.  Then, and only then, does God see us as holy and acceptable.

 

© Trudy Metzger

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Mennonite Woman Responds to Recent Column: “My abusers are my church leaders”

canstockphoto7032676 BI received a message from a Mennonite reader who follows my column in the local paper. (She faithfully contacts me every time to say thank you for being a voice for those who have none, and to tell me how much it means to be understood.)  She had read the article, in last week’s paper , “Sexual Abuse: To Confront, or Not to Confront the Abuser”.

When I let her read this blog, before posting, she said, “I wonder what kind of response you will get. It means a lot to be understood.” I hope the response is compassion for victims, and outrage–or righteous indignation, if that makes you feel better–that this is hidden and protected in religious settings.

The reader’s message, that inspired this blog, was quite simple. It wouldn’t make any difference to confront at least two of her abusers, she wrote…. because they are church leaders. And she learned a long time ago that church leaders get to do what they want.

As a little girl, this woman lived in an environment with hired men, coming and going out of her world, using her as their own private little prostitute. She was ‘sold into the sex trade’, right in her own home, and when she tried to tell people, they told her she was lying. This pain, she says, is more difficult to forgive than being violated over and over again.

Her purpose for writing was to ask me ‘How do I forgive?”

But that’s not a question I am going to answer today. Today I am simply going to acknowledge her pain, and the damage done by the abuse, and the leaders who cover for themselves or others.

Forgiveness is so easy to preach from the front of the church, and I presume it gets even easier when hands, covered with the blood of innocent children, grab the podium for support while teaching it.

Even the demons, I expect, attend those mornings and delight in listening to the sermon of unrepentant men who hide sin while ‘guiding’ the children to salvation. Even demons, yes, I think they show up for church those days, bright and early.

And the women in the audience write to tell me how the demonic attacked them, and they wonder why they shake and tremble when certain men take the podium. And others write to tell me that the way some men look at them–men who are leaders, men who are bullies, men who have sin hidden–and they strip them naked, right there in church. And they wonder why, and they ask me, too, how to forgive.

And I could pull out old messages, just like the one I got yesterday, telling the same story, and I could line them up and count them…. and the questions they ask, about needing to forgive… But each person is an individual, and each story is unique, told for the first time, even if you’ve heard it somewhere else a thousand times.

As the messages trickle in, and the tears trickle out, I tremble too. And each time, my heart shatters for them… my heart, weak after the intense battle of last year, breaks again. Yet, with that breaking a new courage rises up. I will never lay down my Sword for these children. No, I will carry it… drag it on the ground if I must because of lack of strength, but I will carry it to the finish.

And in the face of the enemy hope will fill my chest because I know the One who knelt with those children… the One who keeps account of every little deed He saw, committed in the dark against one little one… And every one who silenced that child to protect image, family name or some other pride…

And I cry out to Him…

“God, we need your help!  We carry the Sword to fight against the enemy. But we need You to Shatter the Silence of sin hidden in the church… We need You to vindicate the children and acknowledge their pain… We need You to expose the corruption hidden behind titles and position… We need You to end this violence against children.”

***

And God rose up and went to war.

Every man and woman who had hidden sin was exposed. Everyone who had not repented, confessed and taken ownership of their crimes, was held to account.

And the heavens opened again in blessing on God’s people.  No longer did they believe the enemy’s lies and fall prey to his confusions and perversions.

The wounded were healed, the dead raised back to life again. And the soldiers, weary from the fight, fell to their knees in worship. The Warrior had come… Freedom, sweet freedom, had come…

The children went out to play in safety.

The angels watched over them closely, clapping their hands in delight. At long last, having witnessed many years of heinous crimes, the children were free to laugh, free to run, and free to dance.

Matthew 18:10 – Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

 

READ NEXT BLOG: “All Mennonites Are Not Sexual Predators”

© Trudy Metzger

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Mennonite Minister on Why I Shouldn’t Tell Sexual Abuse Stories

For several years now, in ministry, I’ve tried to be careful not to rock the boat too hard. I’ve tried not to influence people, in most situations, about church, preferring to separate the issues of sexual abuse from church struggles. And, for the most part, have even tried to not focus on many churches’ apparent avoidance of helping victims, or even acknowledging their pain and trauma. But that is history. The boat… it’s rocking. Whether I like it or not.  And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, I fear.

The whole ‘respect our differences’ thing has become glaringly lopsided. Mostly it has become one-sided. I’m supposed to take the attacks in silence, and pretend like things are not as they really are, is how I understand it.

Some time ago I wrote about a leader (and/or his wife) who cautioned a young woman in her connections with me. We had met with this leader and his wife not long prior to that, and spent time talking, heart to heart–at least so we thought–and even prayed together. At the time it felt powerfully ‘good’–a God moment in time–and gave me hope that I had a safe place to encourage victims to go.

Having them caution the young woman about me didn’t shatter that hope completely. Sure, I was surprised, since I have been very respectful of the culture in dealing with clients, and since we had such a good evening with them, in what we felt was mutual respect. That night they had opportunity to challenge us, confront us, even attack us, but gave no indication that we were a problem. To the contrary, we felt a sense of kinship, in goal, if not method, and in faith, if not practice. So it did take us off-guard when they put the caution out there, but we understand from past experience all the fears that go with ‘outside influence’.

However, little by little it becomes clear that ‘working together’ with most of the conservative Mennonite churches, as much as that has been our goal and desire, is not possible. It is, without question, not something most of them are willing to do. (Several congregations and leaders are an exception to this.)

It was May 2013 when we met with the minister and his wife, and had a wonderful evening together. I encouraged him that night to talk to his fellow leader–a bishop, I believe–because of an abuse case from years gone by. What role the fellow leader had I could not say with certainty, but he was involved either as a victim or a perpetrator. Unfortunately the information given me was incomplete and shared in confidence, leaving me with only that much knowledge. I encouraged the minister to talk with the man–leader to leader, brother to brother–because I had good reason to believe that something was brewing and the case would erupt at some point. If his fellow leader was half as sincere as I had been told he was, I wanted to give him opportunity to come clean, regardless of his role, and bring it to light.

I thought the minister would do something either way and, before we parted ways, I assure him that I would update him if and when I knew more. With that we parted ways. Only a few days later I had more complete details of the case, and left a message for the minister on his phone, telling him that his fellow leader was definitely a victim, not a perpetrator. A message he says he never received, and I accept what he says, at face value. Nevertheless, given that he knew something was brewing I would have thought he would follow through, even without that confirmation.

In recent weeks another case, involving the same man who abused this leader years ago, has come to light. I called the minister after I heard of it, and asked if he had done anything about the information I gave him earlier this year. He had not. When I questioned as to why not, he said he didn’t know for certain if the man was a victim or a perpetrator.

This I don’t quite understand, since I had told him there was something brewing–and I have reason to believe that it still is–and if exposed it would mean this fellow leader would be questioned. If I knew my friend or fellow leader was potentially going to be drawn into a sexual abuse case, I would talk with him or her. It’s called caring for hearts and lives.

Awkward? You bet! But not half as awkward as watching things erupt, and then saying to that friend, “I’ve known for months and turned a blind eye. I’m sorry your life just exploded.” (Or whatever one might actually say in a moment like that, if not pretend one had no idea.)

I also asked this minister what his issues are with me. He had several charges against me. The first, I don’t wear a veil. (We’ll disagree on that one. Respectfully. At least I will. Why that thing comes up for question before the question of ‘does she know Jesus as her saviour’, in many cases, is a bit concerning to me. But every denomination needs a baby to pamper, I suppose. If it isn’t the veiling, it’s speaking in tongues or some other thing we idolize.)

The second charge? I don’t keep confidences. The evidence? This blog. And he was quite sure he could identify many of the characters in the blogs. Not likely, but okay. (Granted, he would recognize himself in approximately 3 blogs plus this one, as well as the young woman. And I don’t think I’m saying anything here I have not said to him.)

Hmmm… And yet I have permission, or even direct requests to write the stories I share here. Even my Old Order friend from New York gave her consent, and I read the blog to her. Obviously the encounters I have–such as with Bishop Henry in my previous post–I don’t ask for permission. These are my experiences and I don’t need consent. Other stories, however, I told  the minister, I use with permission.

Well, the ‘not keeping confidentiality’ card fell flat so he spoke more directly and said he has a problem with it any way, even with permission. When I questioned why it is such a problem, he talked about all the abusers out there who are so sorry for what they’ve done.

When I told him how healing it has been for some of the victims whose stories I have shared–mentioning Abigail’s story specifically, as one example–he said he’s not arguing that. But–I understood him to say–my writing is too one-sided and doesn’t give voice to the perpetrator…. That I shouldn’t tell the victims stories without telling the perpetrator’s stories too.

We batted that around for a moment, and he reiterated his thoughts and said he questions my motive. That’s fair. I certainly question his motives too, and have lost trust in him. And I told him so, and disagreed on my telling of ‘bad’ stories in Christian circles.

I asked him if he’s read his Bible. The Bible is full of bad stories. What about Rahab, the harlot? That’s not a nice story at all! or Tamar? and Kind David who lusted and used Bath Sheba, then murdered Uriah to cover his sin? Not to mention Peter cussing away by the fire, shortly before Jesus tells him to feed His sheep.

And, last but not least, there’s Genesis 34, the story of Dinah being raped. When Dinah’s brother’s discover what happened to their sister, they do what any man of integrity will do, and they call it what it is–evil, and a violation of her womanhood, a thing that should not be done. And they did that, even though Shechem was a prince of the country. It wasn’t about status, influence, power, money, or any other thing. It was about truth, and justice. And these brothers saw to it that justice was served.

I’m not suggesting we get all the perpetrators what they deserve. Truth is, they deserve harsh judgement. All of us do. None of us deserve grace. Still we all need it and long for it, and as believers we should extend it. Grace, however, is not in any way related to covering for the sinner. Open confession, nothing hidden, brings freedom.

And God forbid that we hide truth and silence victims or stop sharing their stories to protect the perpetrators–no matter how sorry the perpetrators are, or how bad they feel. This imbalance of protecting the ‘image’ of perpetrators, while trying to silence the voice of victims, has tragically become a trademark of many churches. Just what is the driving force behind that, I can only speculate, so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself. It certainly isn’t because so many perpetrators are so sorry, or repentant, that’s for sure.

The perpetrators I know who are sorry–and I have many perpetrators in my circle of friends–are not so concerned about keeping their stories hidden. This week alone I had private conversations (which my husband also has access to, lest someone gets all distracted with that detail) with three men who told me of their crimes. These men are sorry. They have repented. They are men of honour in spite of what they have done. They have wept for their sins, laid the truth naked on the floor, and have accountability in place–the greatest accountability being their openness. They have taken ownership, with no pressure on the victims to be silent in order to protect their own pride. I trust these men. These men encourage me to keep going. (And some have even given me permission to use their stories.)

So why is it that the only people who seem to have a huge problem with my writing and my ministry, are those who have hidden stories… those who lead churches whose image seems more important than truth or people’s heart… or those whose family and friends are (alleged or convicted) perpetrators who are hell-bent on hiding the truth?

Why is it that victims who have forgiven, and perpetrators who have repented, are the ones who encourage me to keep going? Are they not a good authority on this topic? Do they not know the freedom that comes, to both sides, when truth is exposed and dealt with?

And why is it that those who oppose me, and accuse me of breaking confidentiality or ‘spreading gossip’, are the very ones spreading lies and gossip about me? The stories I tell are true, confirmed, and used by permission.

It is a thing that bewilders me how there seems to be two sets of rules–one for me, and one for them. Church leaders, and many of their congregants, have no problem talking about me behind my back–by name, and making up many colourful stories–but are not able to say it to my face. Yet they have a problem with me writing about anything to do with their culture, even without using names, congregation names or offering any information that would allow the casual reader, who is not involved in specific situations. to figure out who I write about. Of course those involved will recognize themselves, and I’m okay with that.

In recent days and weeks I have heard ridiculous stories, about myself. Very entertaining, to be sure… The one I heard with two separate twists, so I’m not sure which is the official story… Apparently I pretended to be a cleaning lady, or representing some business, in order to get into an elderly Mennonite couples’ home. Once inside, I supposedly stomped my feet, yelled, threatened and accused an old man. The son-in-law–also a good conservative man–said they could charge me with harassment for what I did!

The story is too far-fetched and absurd to even comment on. But the greatest irony in it is that, after all my terrible threatenings, I received a phone call from the old couple three days later, inviting me back to their home. They must have enjoyed the show and wanted to watch the sequel. I’m quite a fan of humour and comedy myself, so I get that.

The other irony, I suppose, given that I was so vile and they so innocent, is that their first question, on the phone that day, was, “Are you going to call the police? Will we go to jail?”

To which I responded just as I had said in their home, that the victim simply wanted to extend forgiveness. That was her motive, and I had no vested interest. I didn’t even know them, or their family. (Though that has changed, as family and their rumours have crawled out of the woodwork, landing pretty close to my circle of friends.)

Admittedly, when people add these colourful details to my life–however untrue–it makes for much more interesting storytelling, on their part, I reckon. It’s mostly a dreadful waste of time and energy to tell such lies, and produces nothing redemptive, but that’s not mine to carry.

To the best of my ability, and for the healing of victims and perpetrators alike, I will continue to write stories that bring light to the darkness. I will continue to be a voice for the voiceless–those victims whose lives have been wrapped in a shroud of darkness and fear.

For those who must criticize me for telling stories, don’t forget to read your Bibles and remember that nothing has changed. People still try to hide truth, just as Achan and others did. And God still brings them to light, and uses stories to touch lives.

And, as the case of the man who was caught molesting a young child–the case I had spoken to the minister about–criticize me if it makes you feel better, but I have a heart for that man too. And I can’t help but wonder… if some victim had been allowed to speak out thirty-some years ago… if it had been safe to share and they had been heard and the perpetrator confronted… I wonder if maybe, just maybe, a little boy would have his innocence today. Wouldn’t it have given the man accountability and made him think twice? And what if he had gotten help?

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What blood will be on the hands of the churches who discourage bringing things to light? Yes, out in the open, without apology, even if it hurts the perpetrator. It can be done with redemption, grace and forgiveness. The perpetrator’s reputation will not be quite so ‘perfect’, but it will be more real. And if done with grace, it will make him a better man, and her a better woman.

Maybe then the next generation of children will have their innocence and purity, and the church will again be a healing light in the world. That makes this fight worth it for me. So I press on…

© Trudy Metzger

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Safe From the Accusing Tongue

I opened my text messages at approximately 9:30 this morning. Only one message from a client. It said, quite simply, “Job 5:21  Psalm 31:20”. I opened my Bible app, searched for the verses.

Never in all my life had anyone sent me more appropriate verses, without knowing how they fit into my life at that particular moment. She knew nothing. I had only told Tim….

***

It was 5:30am, earlier this morning…

The lightning flashed. The thunder rolled, moments later. I didn’t really want to be awake. I value my sleep. And need it, really. If I want to invest the best of me into the women I meet with, daily, to walk through the ‘trauma and hell’ of life–whatever that trauma or hell may be–then I have to stay caught up on my sleep.

And this week especially so. Each day was filled with appointments, even the days I usually set aside for my family, and our home. And, whether I like it or not, there’s always the administrative ‘stuff’ to do. Not my favourite, but it has to be done, and I’m good at it. Besides, a ‘change’ is good in my line of work. It brings balance.

Fortunately, most nights, when I crawl in bed, my brain is  ‘off’ before my head hits the pillow. I sleep, uninterrupted, for 7 to 9 hours, on any given night. That, I recognize, is a huge blessing. Especially now that I am ‘middle-aged’. (Funny how 40’ish isn’t nearly as old as it used to be.)

When I awakened, thanks in part to the thunderstorm, and in part to the fact that I drank too much water at bedtime, I wasn’t impressed. I rolled over, willing the storm to end and my body to pretend there was no need to get up. Sometimes it works. (I know… not healthy…)

Almost immediately, however, my brain started up. At will, I can often turn it off. A short silent lecture about the hour of the morning, and a reminder that the day will take care of itself, and I’m usually off to sleep. But not this morning.

The thoughts that tumbled through my head, were the words of a client with whom I have worked, for the better part of the year, very consistently. She was quite vulnerable when we met, working through a lot of stuff. But within the year I watched as she became strong, secure and ‘healthy’.

She was in the Mennonite church then, and still is. If ever she indicated any interest in leaving, it was brief. I don’t recall that it was more than a passing thought, even though she had people in her life who had left, and more who wanted to leave. If ever I had wanted to influence her strongly to leave, that is when I could have done so, and would imagine I would have, most likely, been successful.

Because of her age, I encouraged her to wait to make a decision like that for a few years.

The ‘yo-yo’ that comes with that kind of decision is not easy. (I left home just before 16.) The world is a harsh place. And unless there are solid people to help you really ‘plug in’ and find a safe place, and connect with a supportive church, it is a very lonely journey. Not to mention the risk. The reality is that our Mennonite lifestyle leaves us ill prepared to face life in a harsh world. We are not, usually, very street smart, and the risk of getting lost, and terribly hurt, is very high. There are other factors, but these are the ones I usually mention.

When we met, yesterday, she told me that she had been cautioned–or warned–about meeting with me.

I smiled. Amazing how you can get used to these ‘warnings’, and not take them personal, for the most part. “Are they worried that I’m going to lead you astray, away from the culture?” I asked.

She explained that supposedly I was very bitter toward the Mennonite people, and she was to be very careful of my influence.

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If I’ve heard the accusation once, I’ve probably heard it a thousand times. And usually from someone who has something to protect. So the words fell flat. But the source cut deep, and the betrayal that it brought.

A minister and his wife, with whom we met a few months ago and shared, heart to heart, and in whom we invested a deep trust. We spent time in prayer that night, and left, amazed by God, and profoundly impacted by the meeting. That she would accuse me of bitterness shocked me.

I returned home from that session, delighted to see how well the young woman was doing, yet bewildered by the accusation.

‘Like water off a duck’s back’ came to mind, and I knew I should let it go, just like that, as I often do, but I couldn’t. This time it was personal, far more so, than any other shallow accusation I have encountered. Most often they come from people in whom I have invested very little trust, if any, and who have family members I know are perpetrators. (Though they often have no idea I know this.) This was different. I had invested my heart, my trust, personally.

As I thought about it, I began to pray for the minister and his wife. And then I sent a text, telling them I am praying for them, the church they lead, and the broader Mennonite church. I told them that I hold no bitterness in my heart toward them, or the Mennonite church. And then my heart released the burden. I was at peace.

As the memory of their accusation tumbled through my mind at 5:30 this morning, my heart again felt sick, and sad. I have searched my heart, and asked God to search it as well, for any hidden bitterness, and I cannot find it. So I prayed again. And again I asked God to bless them, determined that every time the enemy attacks me with lies, I will simply turn to prayer and blessing. I will not be controlled, intimidated, held back, or made bitter by lies. I choose, instead, to live a life of forgiveness and blessing, and that was and remains my prayer.

Eventually I fell asleep again, peaceful, and encouraged by God.

***

Hours later I opened that text with only two references. The verses held promise, hope and encouragement, as if God himself had sent me the text, and I knew that He had not neglected to notice the false accusations, and affirm that, indeed, they are false.

Job 5:21

New King James Version (NKJV)

21 You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
And you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes.

Psalm 31:20

New Living Translation (NLT)

20 You hide them in the shelter of your presence,
safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in your presence,
far from accusing tongues.

As I read them, gratitude flooded over me. And in that moment, I knew I had learned a profound lesson, in the preceding 17 hours. A lesson that will serve me well for the rest of my life.

When false accusations had cut like a knife in the preceding hours, and the enemy had tried to discourage me, I had turned in prayer to the One who knows all things. And in Him I found hope, in Him I found protection.

He is my Rock, my safe place, from the accusing tongue. Nothing, and no one can touch me there, in His Presence.

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©TrudyMetzger

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Dear ‘Wounded by the Church’ (by: Steve Stutzman)

Special thanks to my friend Steve Stutzman, of Strait Paths Foundation, for allowing me to share this letter.  I read it and was both touched and challenged by it, so I shared it on Facebook. It was met with appreciation by most, and criticism by a few.

But one young woman’s response means more to me than a thousand others could. She is very, very young. Barely a teenager yet, but already stripped and wounded… and she said, quite simply, ‘thank you’. For her, and others like her, who are raw with pain, and not religious enough to criticize or pick apart what all is wrong with Steve’s wording, I will repost it. I know the heart with which it was written, and I know how desperately the wounded heart needs to be acknowledged…

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To Who it may concern:

First of all, I want to apologize. I’m sorry for the hurt, for the misunderstanding, for the wounds you have received at the hands of the Conservative Movement. I’m sorry you heart was/is ignored and only your behaviour matters to anyone. I’m sorry you do not feel or find complete love and the community acceptance your heart wanted to begin with, when you moved toward this group. And I’m sorry you were lied to.

    The behavior of the leadership surrounding these wounds has many levels, too many to address here. But I will bring up a few. They are not trained. Most of them have never even been fathered into personally solid identity. They were chosen and installed, many times without even an idea of what they are to be doing, let alone what God’s plan was for them personally. They are asked to do the impossible; to live perfectly before everyone, never make a mistake, notice everyones new baby and sore arm, visit in hospitals, do funerals and weddings, take care of their own family and wife, (which require extra attention because of the position and pressure) give oversight to schools and projects, keep everyone conservative, identify and block every threat that comes along, study for sermons, and know doctrine, evangelize, counsel, answer everyones questions, help the widows, stabalize the broken, run missions, all the while making a living. It is completely impossible, and it is both stupid and sinful for us to require all this of them. Then they make mistakes, and hurt people. Somehow this madness needs to STOP.

     SOMETHING is going to suffer, somewhere, these guys are going to fall down on the job. They get hated on and criticized at every turn. There is not a man on earth who can be and do all this stuff, and somewhere something gets cut. This time, that something was you, your heart, your relationship. Again, I repeat, sorry about that.

      One of the first things that gets dropped is relationships. Relationships take time and energy, and these guys have neither. So they resort to heavy-handed, high-minded administration techniques, complete with pressure, manipulation and punishment. When they see you out of line, they slap. It is all they know to do. There is little consideration to the validity of the accusation leveled against you, they just slap and move on. To those of us who grew up in this stuff, it seems almost normal, even godly. It isn’t, by the way…. but it can seem like it.

     They have no consideration, no filter, for accusations, They receive them without witnesses, and act on them without peer. Because of this, the spirit of accusation moves in and runs amuck throughout the churches. It carries with it a very defining sting, a peculiar lash of the tongue, a biting that is very singular in nature. With that lashing sting, it maintains order. This is a great evil that must be stopped. Isa 58:9″ Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;” …. Revival will not come forth until this spirit of the accusing finger is put out, cut off, cast asunder.

       You got bit by that snake, lashed by that tongue, cut by those words, poked by that finger. Again, I am sorry. Please forgive freely those who know not what they do, and those who do not what they know. Don’t try to correct them now, just forgive as freely as possible, love, and ask God every day for 3 weeks, to bless those specifically that hurt you the most.

        You came for the lifestyle, for the family atmosphere, and for teaching in obedience. This they do relatively well. The Biblical foundation you and your children receive here is second to none, that I am aware of, anywhere. The first word children read is GOD. The first reading lesson is on creation. Rod and Staff school material will give your children a background of Bible knowledge by grade 5 that most people will not have when they die. Teaching every Sunday twice, and Wed also, is very foundation building. That is good, and you don’t want to throw it away lightly.

        On the other hand, Rod and Staff home base church has screwed up a LOT of people. Other churches along the same line have hurt many many serious, sincere hearts. What you are going to do about that is between you and God. If you choose to stay, I do not think the less of you, or the more. I do not think that raising a stink over the issue you are now facing is going to help anybody anywhere. You will simply be written off as ‘rebellious’ and sidelined or thrown out completely. The system itself cannot hear your words, and while it has a great stated respect for the Word of Christ, has little respect for His Spirit.

        My advice…. tear up the letters. Let it go. Allow it as a misunderstanding, and forgive and bless as fully as Christ will carry you to. It may be that they already realize it is a mistake, but have no idea how to backtrack….. no one ever taught them that. Give them an easy way out, silence. Walk with God, rejoice in Christ, and wait. Ask Him for the right opportunity to move, and to speak clear Life into situations.

     No you are not crazy. Yes you are right…. at least, as conflict goes. And yes, they are wrong. No, they won’t admit it. (They don’t know how, no one ever showed them how.) But God is not so interested in who is right and who is wrong: God is giving YOU an opportunity to die a cruel death, He has put a brutal cross in front of you. It is not about giving in to wrong, it is about yielding your very heart into the hands of the Master, laying down your life, and realizing that in the darkness of the experience, He will rip off motivations of your heart to deep for you to even recognize, and replace them with pure eternal gold. Don’t miss this opportunity to die.

~ Steve Stutzman (To connect with Steve, click on his name and visit his Facebook page. To take a strip off of this article, visit my Facebook page and send me the hate mail… this was my idea. Trudy Metzger)

We are excited to have Steve & Dorcas join us, November 22-23, 2013, for our next Shattering the Silence Conference, for both men and women. We will hear their stories, their hearts and be blessed by their teaching.

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To register, visit http://www.faithgirlsunleashed.com, go to the Events page, and scroll down to the November conference. We look forward to seeing you! You will be blessed and challenged. You will laugh, and you will probably cry. But most importantly, you will encounter Jesus, and His healing touch!

©TrudyMetzger

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