Dear Victim: How God views you…

Yahweh, your God, is intimately present in your battle, as a mighty and victorious warrior, fighting for you! Having overthrown your enemy, He serenades you, singing over you with great delight, like a Papa mesmerized by His child! He (Based on: Zephaniah 3:17)

The battle is not mine, it is not yours. We are loved. We are fought for. We are accepted. And our Heavenly Papa–Abba–holds us in His arms and in His heart. He is not a far-away-never-present Papa; He is ‘over us’ watching, loving, laughing and finding joy in us.

He sees His creation; a child in His own image and likeness, not the brokenness that we feel. He sees us through the eyes of love, acceptance and grace. We are His; we belong… no longer misfits. In this we find our true identity, our freedom.

Take a moment to whisper a thank you to this amazing God, and spend a moment basking in the light of His infinite love. It is life-altering to experience the wonder of Him.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Dear Victim: You are an overcomer!

As I thought about nearing the end of this commitment, I thought of how victims of abuse don’t have an ‘end’ to reach for; it’s a lifetime kind of thing, dealing with memories, forgiveness, flashbacks, tears, more forgiveness, and a blend of victory and struggle. I’ve talked with enough elderly victims to know that, while healing comes, there are aspects of what happened that never leave us.

The past cannot be undone. The story cannot be done away with. The pages are written, and they cannot be edited. The steps taken, cannot be backtracked. And the scars etched on our spirits and psyche are a testament to that harsh reality.

Truth is, the road looks long, many days. There are seasons in the healing journey that feel like there is no hope of ever reaching that place of purpose, redemption and being an ‘overcomer’. It seems far away… and we move at what seems a snail’s pace toward it…. And in those moments hope has a way of escaping us.

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But there is a sweeter truth; an overriding reality; our title isn’t an earned one. It is a gift, given to us by the One who already overcame on our behalf; the One who took upon Himself the curse of what was done against us.

In school, when we played ball, if we had an injured student who couldn’t run, they were allowed to have a ‘runner’. They would hit the ball, and the runner would take off the instant that ball connected with the bat, and when the runner made it to home plate, the diamond symbol we used for score keeping was drawn next to the batter’s name, just as if they had ran the bases.

Jesus was our ‘runner’. He ran the diamond, landed on the home plate, and gave us the title ‘overcomer’. On our worst days and in our lowest moments we are overcomers and have purpose because of Him. And in those moments He is our hope. When we feel nothing, He is our hope. When we crush beneath the pain and cannot breathe, He is our hope.

He demands nothing in the way of performance or proving ourselves; He invites into a place of resting and being held. There’s no ‘washing up’ to be presentable. He invites us stained and bruised.

And there, held in His grace, stained, bleeding and wounded, He whispers peace and reminds us of the only thing that really matters, “You are loved, eternally and completely…. just as you are. You are mine. You are an overcomer.”

Ah, yes… You are loved, completely and eternally. I am loved… We are are loved. And together we can press forward, some days at a snail’s pace, but never abandoned, never alone. We’re in this together.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Homeless Hearts, Living The Gospel of Jesus & Healing from Abuse

“I had a rather exciting event,” I said to Tim, soon after walking into the kitchen, having returned a bit later than planned. “And it cost me just over $14!” I added a bit later.

“Let me guess,” he said… “You met a homeless person and took them out for a meal?”

“Ah, you know me too well!” I answered. “But you’ll have to wait until I write a blog about it to find out if you are right.”

*****

She was short and hunched over, at the far side of the register, wearing an old coat, multiple clothing items, layered. Unkempt her framed her wrinkled face and empty eyes spoke of hard times. Her crooked fingers fumbled awkwardly with something.

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A man stood beside her, younger and more put together, bagging a few grocery items. I wondered at the unlikely pair, as they stood there in close proximity. And then he walked away, leaving her behind. That’s when I realized they were not together, and with him gone, I saw her more clearly. She fumbled with money; several stacks of coins were held together by plastic wrap, others were loose in a plastic bag. In front of her lay her meager purchases; a bit of fresh fruit and not much else.

The girl between us, young–maybe in her early to mid twenties–had purple hair, multiple piercings and gorgeous eyes and smile. A smile she had shared generously when I first appeared behind her. She reminded me of our daughter’s one friend; sweet, yet edgy, and all around a likable girl. She looked at the old lady fumbling with her coins, not appearing the least bit impatient.

The cashier a middle-aged woman with compassionate expression, watched too. She repeated the amount the old woman owed her. It was $14 and change.

The scene unfolded quickly; much more so than writing it out or reading it. And in that moment, when the clerk told her what she owed, I realized the little old woman was trying to scrounge together a few dollars for groceries. Until that moment I thought she was tucking things away, trying to get her money in place.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cashier, “is she trying to pull together enough money to pay for her groceries?” The cashier nodded, “Yes.” The young girl looked at me quizzically. “I would like to pay for that,” I said. It wasn’t some halo moment, and didn’t feel like a big deal, really. It just popped out of my mouth, and the compassion I felt when I said it, was familiar.

I was four again, and mom was in the house with not enough groceries to make a decent meal… then five and the Mexican gypsies appeared, holding out empty bowls, begging for soup. We had so little, still my mother with a bit of fear and fretting offered them each a ladle of her hard work; our meal. Those things stay fresh in the memory forever. And they always come back in moments like this, or when I see a homeless person begging. And I don’t really care at that moment how they got there, and why they are in such a destitute place. I just care that they know someone cares,  and I do something if I can.

The cashier looked momentarily shocked. “You’re sure?” she asked.

“Yes please,” I said. “I’d like to do that.”

The old woman shuffled over then, holding out her fistful of money, just as I prepared to insert my card, and with the cashier trying to explain, “She’s paying for you.” The old woman couldn’t speak English and stared in bewilderment, eyes squinting at me. I motioned to her groceries, pointed to myself and said, “I will pay.” She raised her hands in question, as if to ask a wordless ‘why’. And I couldn’t explain, so I put my hand on my heart. She did it again, and I put my arm around her shoulder and said, “Merry Christmas”. It was all I could think to say that she might understand as a gift. Still she squinted at me.

The debit machine acted up and things were taking a bit longer. I looked at the pretty young girl with the purple hair, who was next in line between us and said, in true Canadian style, “I’m sorry.”

She put her hand on her heart then, and said, “Oh no! Please…” Not knowing what to say, but clearly not bothered by the disruption.

The old lady then tried to hand me her money, but I pointed to her and said she should keep it. She still said nothing, but shuffled back the her bags. And I returned to my place in line and started to put my groceries on the conveyor. I heard the clerk ask, “Are you okay? Are you crying?” And I looked up to see tears in the cashier’s eyes, the young girl choking with emotion, saying she was okay, and a little old woman still staring at me with disbelief in her squinted eyes.

She shuffled out the door, tears in her eyes too, and I blew her a kiss and said, “bless you”, because I didn’t know what else to say or do as she waved one gentle, timid farewell. And the emotion hit me deep inside for a moment, remembering that time long ago.

I don’t know who said what, but somehow between the cashier and the young girl, they started talking to me, and it all took me off guard. Finally the cashier asked, “Do you know her” And my answer was, “No. I don’t know her. But I know about poverty.” And they asked if I had been ‘like that’–presuming they meant homeless–and I said, “No. But my parents….”

I didn’t go into any detail beyond that, but knew my parents had experienced such desperate times that they had lived in a barn with missing barn boards when my second oldest sister–first daughter of dad’s second marriage–was born. Times were hard, many times, in childhood.

The young girl looked at me, immediately after paying, placed her hand on my arm and said, “Thank you for making my day!”

It all happened ‘without a thought’, really, and kind of made my day too. There was the subconscious awareness that Jesus has really blessed my life, and if I can bring practical love into one life, now and then, I am honoured. And I expect this woman, like Rick, another homeless ‘friend’ I’ve met several times in Kitchener, will wander through my heart from time to time for many years to come. And I will pray for her just like I pray for Rick, not out of religious duty, but a sense of deep personal gratitude for the goodness of God in my life.

And it strikes me that as individuals who have suffered sexual abuse we often ‘fumble through our bags, and wallets and paraphernalia’, trying to pull together enough resources to survive.  We see it in front of us, the nutrition we need to survive and grow strong, but most of the time we haven’t the wherewithal to acquire it on our own. So we pull together what little we have, and pull through another day, just getting by emotionally.

Then, one day, someone sees our struggle and looks beyond the exterior, which can be quite unpleasant and certainly in many layers, and they reach out to meet our need. We awkwardly accept, feeling unworthy but deeply moved by the compassion. And we walk away from those moments, recognizing we have been forever changed.

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Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Angry at God? Feeling Condemned? What if God Can Handle It?

To be angry with God isn’t okay. Or so I’ve been told throughout my life. We must reverence God, and resign ourselves to His will, and simply accept what He does, without question. Or so they say. And for many years I was afraid to be angry with God. So I wasn’t. Or so I thought…

mad at God

Even so, when people struggled with anger, and expressed it, I said, “God can handle it… He’s not afraid of you, or what you feel.” And I believed it. At least for them. But my real belief was that I had no anger towards Him.

That all crumbled one beautiful summer morning, when all seemed right in the world, except the storm clouds brewing in my heart….

I was in ministry, and we all know people in ministry have it together and always trust God. Except when we don’t. We’re just humans, after all, trying to love God by loving others.

I was in Scarborough for ministry-related purposes when it all came down the pipe. It was a blend of things that collided, leaving me undone. And in that spontaneous moment, anger I didn’t even know was inside me, pushed from a place deep within and I yelled at God. My thoughts  were, If nothing good can come out of the hell I’ve been through, then this is not worth it! That pain was all for nothing! And in that moment I was certain nothing good could or would come out of those years of trauma, and God had let it happen anyway.

It all happened so fast, so spontaneously, that my dignity was the farthest thing from my mind, as a dark reality that had been inside of me for over 30 years spilled out. In a ‘mini-series’ of flashbacks, scenes from childhood flashed at lightning speed through my mind, so that I could not contain it. And, right there, pulled over on a street in Scarborough, I yelled at God.

Of course my windows were down because it was summer, and my A/C wasn’t working. A man stopped and looked at me suspiciously, and I mumbled, “Shuffle along… nothing to see here”. And he did, God bless him. He didn’t wander over and ask if he could take me to the nearest psyche ward. And I sat there, in gut-wrenching sobs, letting that buried hell wash out of me.

At length I was empty of tears, and composed myself to drive home. But my words haunted me. My anger haunted me. What if that was it? What if God was done with me? And where had that anger come from? What if, on my ride home, God would let some semi truck run over me, flatten me out and show me that He is bigger and doesn’t have to take my anger lying down? Crazy thoughts raced through my head…

Fear, so powerful I felt nauseated, washed over me. If only I didn’t have to drive…  But I had to, and I did, my heart numb from pain, fear and grief. As I drove, I tried to talk to God. I tried to say I’m sorry for yelling–because I really was sorry–but everything fell flat. No affirmation from God, no feeling of being forgiven. Only the heavy reality that I had yelled at the Almighty; the One who constructs the Universe with a simple command. I, a minuscule fragment of that Universe, had yelled at the Creator. And the only comfort my heart could find was knowing that God is good, that He loves me and my little meltdown had no power to change that.

I was never more relieved to pull into our driveway. God hadn’t struck me  dead; I was home, safe and sound. Gradually, in resting, the shock of my yelling wore off, and I realized that this anger had burned deep inside for years. I had determined to always reverence God, and never, ever yell at Him or even allow myself to feel angry. Besides, how could I be angry with a God who has given so much? And with the realization that the anger had been there all along, another awareness settled more powerfully: I am His. I am loved. He can handle the truth. And He forgives.

But it wasn’t until I read the story of King David bringing the ark of God to the City of David, where Uzzah drops dead for inadvertently touching the ark, that I discovered the Bible addresses this thing of anger at God.  In 2 Samuel 6:8 (rewritten using the words and meaning of the original text): “And King David burned with anger against God, because of His outburst against Uzzah…”

King David burned with anger against God… Let that sink in for a moment!

We’ve translated it to ‘was displeased’ or ‘was angry’ but the original word וַיִּ֣חַר  means to burn with anger or be kindled with anger. King David was angry with God. Still, God honoured his request to bring the ark to his city; the anger didn’t disqualify him. God didn’t knock him flat. In fact, He called King David a man after His own heart.

In reading Bible stories, and simply in doing life with God, I am convinced that He longs for authentic relationship with us, not performance. He longs for us to trust Him with our pain, our grief, our joy and, yes, even our anger… but not to stay in anger. And, I, for one, need God too desperately to stay angry. While I yelled out of spontaneous desperation, I wouldn’t have if I had not first trusted Him and felt safe. And God, in His kindness, met me there in that grief and loved me.

He has give us permission to call Him ‘Abba Father’; “Daddy”, an endearing term reserved for intimate relationship. And every good parent longs to know their child’s true heart. Even the anger.

And God is a good Daddy…

crying child

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Josh Duggar; Saint with Banged Up Halo, Or Scoundrel Imposter Defaming the Beautiful Gospel of Christ?

About the time I had almost forgotten the Josh Duggar scandal the action ramped up again. This time not about child molestation charges, but rather an affair scandal disclosing that Josh had an account on the notorious Ashley Madison affair site. Explicit details are easily found online, and are disturbing for a man who promote(d) family values while holding such an account. And that is true whether he ever consummated his intentions or not. In this there is double hypocrisy. And the troubling reality, quoting his sister Jessa, is that ‘he was (…) just a little too curious about girls, you know’….except that she excuses it somewhat by the fact that he was in puberty. He isn’t any more, and yet is still experimenting in ways and places that are not appropriate.

Presumably it is true, with all the ‘evidence’ they’re including…. and with the public apology issued on the Duggar website this afternoon. At first the apology included a line about Josh’s secret addiction to porn and infidelity, but, alas, it has been edited out…. This editing out of parts of a confession, particularly under the circumstances, doesn’t build confidence in the least. Rather, it confirms what some of us have believed since the  previous scandal’s interviews, that truth is edited for the public eye, at least by some of the family. ( If the link above does not work, or if the apology is removed, please contact me so I can remove the link.)

The whole thing made me sad and sick, when a friend sent me the initial  link. Sick because I wanted to believe Josh was forthcoming in May…. And sad because it’s the same broken song I hear sung often in Christian circles when sin is discovered and the church everywhere is encouraged to forgive quickly, celebrate God’s grace and move on. And then too often the tune repeats itself, like an old record with the needle stuck, as the cycle continues, because we don’t get to the next level of consequences and accountability. So to feel better and make things go away, we push everyone to forgive and forget and believe the best in everyone.

Heck, I want to do believe the best. Because I want abusers to be ‘for real’ when they say they are sorry. I want to know that a quick miracle of grace and moving on will guarantee that every child is safe with that person. I want to believe that they are trustworthy and are making good moral choices. And I want to believe that they are not just sorry they got caught. However, to accept such idealism as reality, without boundaries to protect the vulnerable and hold the offenders accountable, is irresponsible. Especially based on the realities playing out all around. Still, one can’t be faulted for desiring it. Who doesn’t want a safe world?

Even now I believe in hope, freedom and restoration, and celebrate the beautiful Gospel of Jesus. But I don’t believe in turning a blind eye to the blatant and glaring truth. And it certainly isn’t appropriate to push a grace and forgiveness agenda, to make Christians seem squeaky clean, when things are seriously messed up. And right now they are.

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What troubles me most, is that the scandal in May came and went with nary a peep of a confession about affairs and affair sites. And before anyone says it was a private matter, I’ll inject that it wasn’t and it isn’t; it is a wide open public matter. Just like the sins of King David who was in the public eye and God exposed him so the whole nation saw it. The minute someone is in the public eye that way it’s best to be transparent, or eventually be exposed for public failure. It’s that simple. And I’ll add that it’s especially true of Christians, and even more so those who fail morally while promoting family values and sexual integrity, whether pastors, or others who advocate in the name of God, because of the damage done through hypocrisy. Ironically, according to the data, while we didn’t hear any confessions in May, it just happens to be when the account was shut down, after two-years. I’m thinking that it would have been wise to admit to the hypocrisy at that point and get some serious help.  A public disclosure and confession might have made a few extra ripples back in May, but they would have been worth it because it would have built trust and credibility. This public disclosure isn’t causing ripples; it’s causing tsunamis.

It’s this ‘not coming clean part’ that breaks down trust as much as the moral failures themselves. Maybe more so; sincerity and authenticity, even after failure, are the foundation of trust. (Not talking only about Josh here, but in general). It’s a disgrace to God, to the Christian community and to families to have an opportunity to be forthcoming, and waste it on self-preservation. It is one thing to fail and sin. We all sin. No, we don’t all molest children and we don’t all have affairs, but we all sin. And inevitably sin breaks trust when it involves using, betraying or hurting other people. But the level of trust broken by the initial sin does not compare with adding insult to injury, and hiding another scandal for later trauma. This does near irreparable damage, relationally.

And it isn’t really about Josh. I mean, there are nearly 40 million people who were reportedly making use of the site, out of our 7.3 billion world population. And 95%, approximately, of those are male. At first this posed a question or two, for me, starting with where they find the women for the affairs…. Or were the 5% of women on the site just very busy. But then I discovered the company allegedly made up fake female profiles and it was all just a money grab that exposed a lot of men’s willingness to cheat on their wives, and a few women as well. (Then again, 5% of 40 million is a substantial number of people…. certainly more than just a few. )

With numbers that high, there are a lot of marriages in trouble. And, like Josh who could have made his confessions in May, there are presumable a lot of people holding their breath and playing Russian Roulette, of sorts, with their marriages and taking their chances that they won’t get found out. That’s a dangerous gamble. Quoting the God of the Universe, it is safe to say this: ‘Be sure your sins will find you out!’ They will, sooner or later.

And of course the ‘hey, let’s attack all Christians with sarcasm, because one was hypocritical’ blogs are popping up, and our faith in general is under attack because ‘one of ours’ seriously misrepresented God. I won’t bother to link to any as the language and disrespect isn’t worth it. At the same time I can’t blame the unbelievers and atheists; if I was still there, I’d be having a hay day too. Especially after all the preaching against immorality… We really can’t blame them…

When I think of recent scandals involving prominent Christians and hear the defences from within Christian communities, trying to protect and cover up, and then listen to the Christian outcry against Planned Parenthood and selling baby parts, I cringe. It is embarrassing. I look around at the moral failure of those claiming God’s name, and see the damage done to God’s name. But it’s not really the failure that does the damage. It’s the hypocrisy. It’s the not being honest about that failure, while pointing furiously at the world around.

But for all the hypocrisy, and whether these men and women are saints with halos that look like a train wreck, or whether they are scoundrel imposters defaming God, the one thing that doesn’t change is my faith in God. God is good. He’s not too excited about protecting His name. He simply is God; the very essence of love and goodness. He is interested in making us whole and will go to great lengths to have our darkness exposed so that the light can shine in. And He’s a God of consequences, so wherever the chips may fall on this one, it probably won’t be as harsh as Achan’s death in the book of Judges. He is also a God of mercy and doesn’t write off the fallen messed up lot that we are.

So to all 40 million Ashley Madison users, the Christians in particular: there is still grace and mercy for your sins. Consider this your opportunity to come clean and not make excuses. Your sins have brought shame on Christianity, but then so have my sins. The aftermath and consequences of your sins will play out over time, and will be used against people of faith for many years to come, but even that God accounted for when He chose the way of love, the way of the cross, and died for you… for us.

To Josh, I pray you get some real help, whatever it takes. (And, yes, I actually have prayed for you, your wife (especially your wife!) and your family, and will continue to do so. Those are more than words.) I’m all about the grace and mercy of Jesus. I am also all about not writing things off with the line ‘it’s under the blood’. You have disappointed many of us who tried to believe you were sincere in your repentance, and have proven to be untrustworthy. Clearly your conscience kicked in when the first scandal broke loose, and you closed down your Ashley Madison account, but you still chose to protect your image rather than admit you are a very broken and disturbed man. (I was one who chose to believe you were sincere, and encouraged forgiveness with boundaries….)  I pray this breaks you to a place of genuine humility and repentance, so that you understand any grace coming your way is just that; undeserved…which is why it is called grace. And whatever consequences that come are the result of sin and your choices, not because your sweet wife didn’t give you enough… or any other excuse. Own it, without blame or excuse, and repent before God. And as for image, it’s gone, so that’s the good part; you can be real and lose nothing but gain everything.

We all face the music and bear the consequences of our sin and choices, but there is always hope through repentance  and faith in Jesus. That is the gospel that does not change, and therefore deserves to be shared and preached in every situation, even while going through those consequences.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… and God loved the world so much that He chose to come–Emmanuel, God with us–to die for those sins, so that whoever believes in Him–including Josh Duggar, and including me–would not perish but have everlasting life. He didn’t come to condemn the world, in spite of our sins, but to offer us salvation. (based on Romans 3:23; John 3:16-17.)

Thank God for Jesus. I needed Him, and 40 million Ashley Madison users do as well, as does the whole world.

That’s why Jesus came.

Love, Grace and Peace,
~ T ~

Suddenly Life Changes, And God Just Stays the Same

Because of our Heavenly Papa’s merciful heart, we are
not utterly destroyed, His compassion is never ending.
His mercies are as fresh as the morning dawn.
“God, your faithfulness is astounding!”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (paraphrased)

Rose Gardens_New Mercies

August is a month of change at our house. Big changes. Our oldest daughter, Alicia, is moving out and renting an apartment in K-W, shared with her ‘bestie’ Sue Horst. Heading into year two of Community & Criminal Justice, she decided she wants to be closer to her school. And I can’t say I blame her; time on the road is lost time when life is already full of demands.

Our second daughter, Nicole, is moving to Hamilton to start year one of Social Sciences, and living on res, sharing space with someone she has yet to meet. She plans to spend several weekends each month back home, working for Floradale Feed Mill, where she started as a co-op student several years ago.

I’m happy for them. I’m also a bit uneasy at moments, when I think about what this all means. Adjustment. Change. Change. More change. Will they live home again one day? Is this it? Our family forever changed, as we knew it for the past 13 years, since Kordan joined us, making us a family of seven? Will it be the four gentlemen and I, until they too start to venture on their own, eventually leaving us as empty nesters?

It is odd, to contemplate such a thing, but I remember how quickly it all happened at the other end of things… Nine months, one week, one day and roughly 3 hours after we said “I do”, Alicia joined us, and then seven years later we had 5 beautiful children, with two in heaven through miscarriage. So it would be naive of me to think it happens any slower at this end. In some ways, it seems already, it happens faster.

Yes, I’m happy for them. I was on my own a month before my sixteenth birthday, a troubled teen with no life experience to speak of, and somehow made it. That ‘somehow’ is the wonderful grace of God and His mercy. I’ve thought much about that this last little while as I look at the dramatic changes around the corner….

It is the goodness and mercy of my Heavenly Papa that saw me through some seriously rough times, and it what I rest in for our children. I am proud of the responsible young women they have become! And I know He has a good plan for them, and a purpose beyond what I can dream or imagine!

So I release my children to spread their wings and find their way, knowing that every now and then–no matter what life brings or where the road leads them–they will call me and tell me they are coming home… and they’ll ask me to make a specific meal… or can they do laundry here… or some practical thing that will remind me we are family, and always will be.

Love,
~ T ~

© 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
full brochureLancaster County 2015_C


© Trudy Metzger

The Dark Room, A Flickering Lamp & A Bruised Heart

Imagine being stuck in a dark room, with only the tiniest flicker of light in an oil lamp. All it needs is for someone to raise the wick, just a little, and it will burst into light, but you are weak, thirsty, and exhausted… not to mention that you have a ball and chain around your leg, and couldn’t reach the lamp, if you tried, because you haven’t the strength to drag the weights with you. You shiver, huddled up against the cold, damp concrete.

Suddenly, you sit up, straining to hear. Yes! It’s the distant echo of footsteps…. They draw closer. You cry out. Surely they will come, find you, and help. You wait, then cry out again as the footsteps grow louder.

Someone walks in the room, and for just one moment your heart fills with hope… In the dim light your eyes meet…  Empty, careless, they greet you, then turn dark with judgement… then back to apathy… They shrug… then turn, immediately walk over to the lamp and lower the wick. The light goes out…

They asked no questions. assuming you chose that place. With the light now out, at least they are not confronted with your condition… You cannot see them, but you hear the loud rhythmic echo of footsteps on cold concrete, accompanied by the sound of their voice, singing about Jesus… fading as they disappear…

Cold and alone, you wonder who that Jesus is, anyway…

****

When we judge harshly rather than listen to the soul struggle of another… When we see their ‘condition’ and make bold religious assumptions, we snuff the life right out of them with a few words. And then we go on our merry way, singing about loving Jesus, leaving a confused and struggling soul, if not a ‘dead’  one, in our wake.

But God says He’s not like that. That means we are a dreadful misrepresentation of His heart, when we do life that way:

Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV)
3 A bruised reed (God/Jesus) will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

Bruised Reed

If you are in that dark room–whatever it may be–and your spirit that ‘flickering wick’ (smoking flax), know that God loves you. He gently raises the wick, and blows with the wind of His Spirit to bring that flicker to a full flame. And if your spirit is bruised by life, know that He will not break that fragile part of your heart, nor will He lead people to you to do so. Anyone who treats that pain with harshness, does not represent God. Not at all!

And if you are the one who tends to judge harshly, repent. It could have been you, in that place of need. Learn to show compassion and represent God with grace and hope, turning up that wick so that the oil of the Holy Spirit can flow through, bringing the flicker to a full flame.

My desire is to be a conduit, through which Jesus can flow and bring hope to the many bruised hearts and broken spirits. To love as He loves, and sacrifice as He sacrificed by giving my very life in the name of Love…. because He is worth representing well.

Love,

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Old Hymns, Sexual Abuse & Does Jesus Love the Children?

It slipped across my Facebook page so quickly I almost missed it. “The Hymns Collection by the Wiebes” caught my eyes. I’ve heard of them, often. I even ‘Liked’ their page, but for some reason never saw the updates. I scrolled back to the post. Hymns

The Hymns Collection cover art

I have a thing about Hymns. I love them. But I can’t listen to them. Okay, let me try that again. I love some of them, and I can’t listen to most of them… unless I’m alone. The powerful connection between hymns and the years of sexual abuse and violence in my life is so intense that I come unraveled easily.  The thing is, the tears are not usually about the abuse. In fact, for most hymns, the tears spill over in thankfulness. They remind me that God was there, then, when the brutality and trauma held me captive. I listen to them now, and realize how His grace kept me in moments when my mind should have gone mad.

My brother Wil and I talked last week, at his home and he said what I’ve often said, “You know, it’s a miracle we didn’t lose our minds,” and shook his head. We should have… would have… But God…

And that’s the story those hymns tell, of a time in days gone by. Granted, there are several that were sung at meetings when false guilt about sins committed against me tormented my soul and I couldn’t find peace for trying. Like ‘Just As I Am’ and ‘Almost Persuaded’… Those hymns I struggle with so that I can hardly listen to them. They tangle my spirit in such a tight wad that I feel like I’ll never get untangled. And then my spirit shuts down completely until I feel dead and numb.

That was the second thing that happened, when I saw the collection of hymns; I felt the risk of my spirit getting all knotted up. And I wanted none of it. But, seeing I was free to sample the sound, curiosity won out, and I clicked play. I anticipated a snippet of a song, like iTunes offers, and then I would return to my own playlist. Having hit play, I returned to reading some blogs I follow, and searching new ones. I read stories and testimonies written by believers. Several atheist’s blogs, and an agnostic/atheist. He wasn’t sure.  He didn’t think there was a God, but wanted to find Him, if He indeed exists…

In the background, the music plays… The sound, peaceful. The words, familiar. My spirit is at rest. ‘Just as I Am’ plays, without tears, without incident. Angela Wiebe’s voice, angelic, sweet and about as heavenly as any I’ve heard, takes the sting right out of the memories.  My spirit does not shut down. Listening to the words, now, I hear the sweetness of response to God’s love; the running into His open arms, ‘just as I am’, to a place of safety. And I realize He was there, then, in those troubled times of guilt and shame. 

I kept reading… Stories of choosing forgiveness, while struggling with grief of the loss sexual abuse brings. Stories of wondering if God noticed at all. Someone frustrated with the loneliness of it all… no one wants to break the silence; not the church, not the media, not anyone, she said. Everyone is content to turn a blind eye.

Don’t I know it! I feel my heart sinking, as the loneliness of what I do stares me in the face. I push it down and keep reading….

And then it happened… Tears blurred my eyes as the words on the page ripped ruthlessly at my heart. Words telling of a child–or was it several children–molested, raped and murdered by their parents. I didn’t read further. The other stories were of overcoming, victory, struggle and reaching for hope. Adults beyond the actual abuse, now dealing with the aftermath. This one was different. It was current. Children…

Oh God, have mercy! My heart choked up on that one sentence and something snapped, and then everything inside me broke. The tears started…

“...Lifted up was He to die, “It is Finished!” was His cry…Hallelujah, what a Saviour” The song plays, victorious, followed by ‘My Jesus I love Thee’, the mournful sound of strings, as if weeping for the children, cries out loud for my heart. And I know Jesus weeps. He loved the children. He loves the children.

That was 10:00pm… Now, here I am, many hours later, the clock moving steadily towards 3:00am, and still the tears fall. Music has always created a deep tenderness in my spirit, far back as I remember. To read of those children when my heart was at it’s most vulnerable, because of those hymns, did a number on me.

I tried to go to sleep, in bed beside Tim, who wrapped his arms around me when he found me crying for the children, so that I could not even speak. I tried to settle down, but the minute my head hit the pillow, I saw them, their little eyes weeping, pleading and frightened. And the tears started again, as my soul cried out, “Oh Jesus… Oh Jesus… be with the children… hold the children…”

It is late, and the hymns are still playing…

“…To our bountiful Father above, we will offer a tribute of praise… for the glorious gift of His love, and the blessings that hallow our days… ”  I lift my tear-stained face to the heavens, and offer praise from a wounded heart to an incredibly faithful Heavenly Father. Arms, scarred and weak, I raise in worship to the One who carried me back then, when the hymns seemed to mock my pain.  The One who carries me still…

canstockphoto0936908

I want to pray, but no words form. And then suddenly my heart finds rest.. . He will carry them too.  Jesus will carry the children.

Jesus will carry you.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger