The Crossroads… (Part 4)

Here I am
Begging for certainty again
But simple trust
Is what you’re asking me to give
[…]
I’ll reach for your hand in the night
When the shadows swallow the light
‘Cause I’m giving up, giving in
Once again a childlike faith
Is my only way
To see in the dark
~ Jason Gray ~

(…continued…)

In the past few days, or week, since having conversations with S on some of these things, he may well have taken action on things I challenged him on. One of those things was that, up until that time he had not even checked up on D’s victim. If he has done so since, I am glad so long as it was for her sake and not any other reason. I cannot speak for him on that. I have concerns about some comments he has made that showed shocking disregard for her wellbeing.

I communicated with S regarding D, asking him why he doesn’t warn people – in particular for the sake of vulnerable individuals attending events. The attack is relatively current and not resolved in the courts, and D is still messaging and targeting vulnerable women. His behaviour is consistent with predator behaviour, thus making him a current risk. However, S maintains he is not responsible to inform, and takes D’s word over that of the victim, whose story he has never heard  (I have heard both) – and insists people misunderstand D’s heart, and that I don’t know the truth. (As stated earlier, there is always more story that is easily revealed, but what has been revealed is extremely incriminating.

S further states that LOP seminars are not for victims – which I understand to mean not specific to victims. To my question about warning the public, he argued that all are welcome and if D was told no to come he’d be the only person not welcomed to attend. And if he wants to pay for people to attend, that’s his business and S has no control over that.

In my view it is about protecting victims, and letting them decide whether they want to attend an event where someone will be present who has recently sexually assaulted a young woman, or be sponsored by that person. Some will choose to attend events where known predators are present, but many, if not most, will decline. And not all parents will want to fund attendance if they are concerned their sons and daughters are at risk. But in either case, the assault is current – in the second half of 2017 – and it should not be kept quiet. And,  because the assault is current, I reiterate, he remains high risk. That risk is increased by his ‘can’t remember’ approach to responding to the allegations of things he has done. This indicates he is either in complete denial making him among extreme of high-risk predators, or he has victimized so many that he chooses that line because he’s done it to so many, also making him among exceptionally high risk predators. The individual who is not in denial easily remember his/her crimes. And the repentant one most certainly does. I do not profess to know which of those two things are the truth about D. In either case, he remains high risk and attendees need to know in advance that they will not be informed of such current predators.

I understand that those who have offended need to get help and healing as well, and personally work with them. When my clients share that they struggle with temptation, I look them in the eye and tell them that I care about them, and then I add, “If ever you give in, I will report you to the law.” And I give practical advice on how to manage such temptation, not the least of which is recommending a licensed counsellor who works with this. They are keenly aware of my boundary, and have thanked me for it.

But, that all said, it is unfair to individuals like D’s victim and others who are vulnerable, to see him all “spiritual-daddy” like and trust him, only to be sexually assaulted as one victim was, or spoken to in sexually inappropriate ways, leaving them. Furthermore as long as he deceives those who are trying to help him, or in any way puts blame on the victim, he is not safe. That goes without saying. There’s not great science or profound study that teaches this; it’s common sense. And when someone who has sexually assaulted continues with that type of behaviour, the place they should go for help should be a very different place than a venue where the masses flock for healing.

When I asked S about the way D throws money at people while disregarding some of his own family’s needs – S’s response was that D is can’t say no to pleas for financial help, and asked what he’s supposed to tell him to do. To his credit, S has not seen the messages forwarded to me by the women, of D offering them money versus them asking for it. Of course, it does sound a lot less ‘predator motivated’ if it is ‘responding to pleas of money’. And since S has not, to my knowledge, read even one of those messages and I have read many, I can understand him falling for that line. … Sort of…

The reality is, I take this part of my ministry seriously. We (women) are repeatedly told that we are too emotional to handle things ‘wisely’ regarding the topic of sexual abuse. To that, I respond with this: Someone has to protect the vulnerable. And if men of God feel no sense of duty to protect the vulnerable from predators – whether male and female – it falls to us. If you will not speak out and protect us from breast-groping, buttock-grabbing, crotch-feeling predators, then who will?

And the answer is, I will. I will do my part. It may not be much, but it is something.

I have no interest in taking down LOP or S. I am, however, boldly committed to warning people that men like D, with current sex crimes and men who brazenly pursue hurting women – therefore known predators, but whom S does not acknowledge as predators – have been (and based on responses from S.) continue to be free to roam without anyone assigned to ensure the safety of other attendees. And with no warning to these attendees.

Guard yourself. Guard your youth. If you care about their innocence, be aware when they start calling other men ‘Daddy D’, or are being funded by men who display predator-like behaviour. If they are young and attend LOP, attend with them. Whether you are male or female, young or old, if you see the predator-type-individuals doing their thing, be bold and speak up. Do not give these individuals access to the women and children you love. It is your duty to rise up.

…To be continued…

***

Proverbs 31:8
“Open your mouth for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

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

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

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

To every honourable man… “Thank you”

Recently, in the middle of a crazy situation involving sexual abuse, it struck me how blessed I am in our marriage. I told Tim that. Again. Our marriage isn’t not perfect, and we’ve had moments of ‘gasping for air’, so to speak, just to get through. Times it felt like we wouldn’t make it. But, thank God for grace, determination, forgiveness and the kind of love that fights through when feelings are weak and life is hard. And thank God Tim is so respectful. I’m blessed.

I’m blessed that with all the sexual perversions I see, that I can still look Tim full in the face and think, “What a sexy man of God!” (And I love his beard!) I add the ‘sexy’ part, not flippantly or even sensually, but because I truly am blessed that God has protected that ‘appeal’ in spite of all the sexual corruption I encounter when supporting victims. That is a real gift, because God intended sex to be a wonderful part of marriage, and I’ve heard of people becoming asexual when working closely with this kind of thing, or becoming so repulsed that it wrecks their marriage. So I am thankful that Tim is every bit as appealing to me today as he was 24 years ago when we made our vows.

The other thing that struck me, though, is that I see men as generally good-hearted, respectful and kind. A compliment gets a thank you. And a man who holds the door open also gets a thank you. There are gentleman in this world, who remember chivalry, and they deserve my respect and appreciation. (I also understand why some men are hesitant to hold the door). Even in my teens, a rebel among other things, I appreciated a sincere compliment. (That said, when compliments were sexualized, I responded with the lift of a finger. Just being honest.) When I think of the men I know and/or encounter, I feel respected and my general perception is that most are not corrupt to the core. I think most struggle sexually, with few exceptions. And those ‘exceptions’ are, no doubt, still tempted but have learned to turn their eyes away. Being tempted doesn’t make a person perverted or evil. It makes them human and dependent on grace. Falling into temptation also doesn’t make them perverted and evil. It makes them human and in need of grace. Excusing such behaviour, that’s a different ball game.)

That all got me to thinking about what it must be like to be a man. A few men in one community, church or club, can make the whole seem perverted and not trustworthy. If a sex predator aligns himself with that church, club or community to gain credibility or access to vulnerable people, then the whole lot become a bit suspect because victims really are not sure about their affiliates. Using those affiliations to gain public trust and respect of people and get access to vulnerable people is pretty low down. Because it makes them well buffered and virtually untouchable, and leaves victims 100% voiceless.

That is, until a few find a voice… and more find a voice and eventually the truth is revealed. But by that time the church, organization or ministry – and especially the other men there – will pay a high price for not having been more discerning and for (apparently) turning a blind eye. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t look the other way. Sometimes they were just too trusting.

Being a man suddenly isn’t that appealing. (In spite of the fact that, as a little Mennonite girl I desperately wanted to be male and thought surely God could still do a miracle and transform me into a male. If he can make babies from scratch, surely turning a girl into a boy wouldn’t be that hard. Boy, am I glad He didn’t, because it would be hard being a male in today’s world.) It isn’t appealing to me, but it is honourable when stewarded well. The strength of character it must take to be a good and honourable man, when those who are brutal and abusive shape how women see you, must be immense… and discouraging. That really struck me. And I thought about men, how I generally view them, and realized that percentage wise, they have a very good track record in my life.

In my ‘close’ experience the greater percentage have been kind, gentle, empowering and value their wives, and respect women in general. And then there is that small percentage who are cruel, controlling, abusive and demeaning. Some with strong religious affiliations and presenting a spiritual image, others with no such claims. But men, in general, are blamed and shamed, because to many victims all men represent what was done to them, so they trust none.

I was blessed. Men invested deeply in my healing. As much, if not more than women. But they played a different role. They didn’t ‘hold me’ to ‘give back’ what had been taken. (That wouldn’t have worked!) Sure, a few of them gave me healthy hugs, but they pointed me to Jesus, to God as my heavenly Papa, for Him to restore that brokenness, rather than trying to be that for me. They showed me I am valuable and worth caring for. They listened, but they let God be my Hero. And most of all they loved and respected their wives and daughters.

So, to every man who is honourable (even if imperfect), to every man who does not take advantage of vulnerable women, and every one who honours his wife and respects women in general… to every one who handles his sexuality well and does not use it against women and children: Thank you. (Even if you struggle and are tempted.) I respect you. You are noble. You are the unsung heroes of our time, and I can only imagine how hard it must be to not bow to shame and defeat on behalf of the abusers. I encourage you, hold your heads up, and don’t give in. We need you. You are the healing many of us need. We see you love your wives and children well. You give us hope for our children and grandchildren.

To honourable men: I am sorry I even need to write the blogs I write, speak out about the abuse…. I’m sorry for how that must, at times, make you struggle with your manhood. Know that I honour you, and I believe there are more of you (by far) in my world than there are abusers. And if I am wrong and you are outnumbered, I honour you yet more.

As always, and with deep honour for these men…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018