Blog By My Old Order Friend

I received a phone call from my Older Order friend, and the author of this blog, a few months ago, asking if she could read something to me. It came at a time when I felt completely drained spiritually, and exhausted emotionally, after receiving a lengthy letter in the mail, attacking me, and our ministry. As she read it, the tears spilled over. It was a most timely reminder that God does not forget us, or abandon us. He meets us in our broken place, and feeds, fills and restores us. She offered to send to to me via snail mail, and gave me permission to publish it on my blog, and use her name. If you find yourself in this place of struggle, a place of fatigue or discouragement, I pray that you will be as encouraged as I was, by Martha’s blog.  

I used to view God as a policeman, who sits around somewhere, waiting to find someone at fault… who comes after you with flashing lights. He hands over a ticket, which means, “I’ve been fined.”

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Instead, God draws us… invites us… Not with flashing lights, but with a glow that comes from the very Father heart of God. An invitation, if you will: “You may kneel in this pool of blood… It was shed for you. All your guilt, and shame and sin have been redeemed before you were ever born. And that pool of blood, instead of a ‘fine’ or a ‘ticket’, offers a receipt… a receipt that says, ‘ You’re free. I’ve paid for you!”

What a Saviour! We have reason to rejoice. We have reason to be alive!

When I think of Elijah, I think of third degree depression. He was discouraged…. “What’s the use. Nobody cares… I am all alone… what I do doesn’t mean anything….They seek to kill me, for doing what is right.”

What did he do? He ran for the juniper tree.  “I’m done! Just let me die!”

What did God do? \he met him there. He said, “Elijah, what are you doing here? The journey is too great for you. Arise and eat.”

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Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that amazing?

God called him by his name. God knew him.  He saw Elijah’s pain. Not only did He call him, he provided for him. He understood his pain, his depression, his hopelessness.

Rejoice! That God is still alive today. If you find yourself under the juniper tree, or heading that way, take heart, God meets us there.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan. There was a man travelling to Jerusalem, when he was overtaken by robbers. They beat him and took all his goods.

Along came two men, a priest and a Levite. Exactly what their missions were, I cannot say. We get the picture that they were tending to important religious matters.  These religious men couldn’t be bothered by the likes of the injured man.

Along came the Good Samaritan. He had compassion and stopped to offer help. He took the injured man to a place of comfort and healing.

Where do we find ourselves in this scenario? So busy with religious duties that we pass by the hurting? Are we the ones beating and robbing, taking what isn’t ours–be it money, or reputation? Or are we the one with compassion?

Or, if we stop and take a closer look… Are we perchance the person lying there, wounded and bleeding, not able to walk without support??

If that is you, take heart. You are in a good position. Just as God met Elijah under the juniper tree, He will meet you. It is for this very reason that Jesus came. In Isaiah 61 we read that Jesus is coming to heal the broken-hearted, to give sight to the blind, and to free those who are bound, to bring good tidings.

Are those not good tidings?

~ Martha ~

Creation Declares God’s Glory

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse

Romans 1:20

I see His fingerprints everywhere….

A twitter friend sent a tweet, sharing a song with me, in response to my blog When I Feel Lost… He is My Everything.  The song, One Desire by Kari Jobe, touched me deeply, so I’m sharing it for you to enjoy.

… A God who paints the flowers…

I’ve contemplated much about silence…. And I wonder, when we retreat in silence, whether it is because of depression, financial loss, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, or any other wounded-ness, what causes us to turn our pain inward? Why do we hide the truth from friends, family, church and community? Is it merely social graces, because our society expects us only to share the good, the nice and the positive? Or is it because we fear God’s rejection, or perhaps the judgement of fellow humans? Maybe even the other way around–God’s judgement and rejection from people?

….shaping each tiny petal…

If it is in any way connected to our perception of God, then we do not truly know Him, or His kind and gentle heart of love. As I enjoyed nature, I see His fingerprints everywhere. A God who paints the flowers, shaping each tiny petal… a God who splashes colour on the wings of a bird… who shapes the delicate wings of a butterfly… Could He reject you? Really? Because of a difficult phase of your journey? Would He turn His back because you are suffering mentally, emotionally or spiritually? That is not the Jesus of the Gospels.

Louis Giglio, All Creation Sings How Great is Our God

Is it possible… Have we misunderstood God and, in our misunderstanding, have we misrepresented Him to others, that they would fear our rejection, and His? In taking time to experience Him in nature around me, I am more and more aware of how lovely He is. How completely gentle and trustworthy His heart.

…a God who splashes colour on the wings of a bird…

This morning I went on a walk, alone. With God and my camera. I’m finding that if I carry a camera, I am more observant and I notice beauty in God’s creation that I might miss if I am not deliberate. As part of my discipline, to connect intentionally with God, I am looking for His fingerprints in our universe, and learning to see Him in the ordinary again.

Creation Calls by Brian Doerksen
…who shapes the delicate wings of a butterfly…
…Could He reject you?
…Really? Because of a difficult phase of your journey?
Would He turn His back…
…because you are suffering…
… suffering mentally, emotionally or spiritually? That not the Jesus of the Gospel!

Jesus came to bring life… to save us… to make us whole. That’s the Jesus I know.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

When I Feel Lost… He is My Everything

Society, culture and the church, maybe especially the church, have made it taboo for us to admit or talk about depression, in its various forms.

Sometimes nature is God’s way of saying, “I’m here. You’re going to be ok.”

As always, silence is the monster that stands guard and prevents us from revealing the truth, and fear is the fodder that feeds the monster. It prevents us from shedding light on that truth, by sharing our struggles without shame, and bringing hope to those trapped and alone.

We fear that, if we expose what really happens in our minds—whether past or present—and share the spiritual battles we face, we will be judged, rejected and labeled. The fears are valid. Odds are some will do this to us.

For this reason I have spent many years silently fighting through bouts of depression, willing myself not to see that I struggled. I thought if I could pretend it wasn’t there, then it would go away. But it didn’t.

In my early years as a wife and mom, post-partum depression had a terrible impact on our family. The first few years I did my best to hide it completely from Tim. With time I allowed him small glimpses, but never fully opened up to him for the first seven years. It was a dark, lonely road.

Some of my children remember, vaguely, who I was then, and what life was like. Trapped in a mind that was unwell, I withdrew into myself. I tried to be a good mom, the best that I could be, and sometimes I did well for a time. But when ‘real life’ would take over, I became overwhelmed, and every little thing sent me into a temper, or caused me to withdraw in silent depression.

This cycle brings shame, defeat, and more depression. That is, until we find the root of it. My ‘depression’ is never true, clinical depression, but rather a spiritual depression. And, without fail, the root for me is a false belief about God. And that belief inevitably leads to a false belief about myself. I am created to reflect God, and if my perception of Him is off, my representation of Him will also be off. Most likely, if my perception of Him is not right, then I will lose trust and instinctively I turn to trusting myself more than God.

I am not unlike Jonah, running furiously in the wrong direction because I don’t like what God is telling me to do, knowing it will cost me. Or Elijah, camping out under a Juniper, running from death, all the while asking God to take his life so the enemy won’t kill him. Our thirst for control lands us in some dark places, just as it did the great prophets of old. Still, God uses us. He has a purpose.

As I think of it, I am very much like them. Except they didn’t hide their struggle like I do. Like our culture has trained us to do. They wore their anger and depression on their sleeves, not hiding the truth from God or man.

We would do ourselves huge favours to live more like them. No pretentiousness. If we would stop feeding the monster of silence through our fears, we would be more free.

And the wailing wall. I like that too. It is another thing we could use. Imagine us all, lined up at the wailing wall to mourn loudly. They even had professional wailers. I could do that, I think. Once I got past my pride and concern about image. I could stand at the wall and wail for others, all the while venting my own feelings.

How have we become so dignified that we must pretend? Why can’t we just be honest and say, much like King David, “Life is horrible. Everything is going wrong. My enemies are prospering… When, O God, will you come through for me?” And then, in true King David style, we could humble our hearts and say, “But you are my God, and I love you. I know you have my back and I have nothing to fear!”

Just imagining such freedom brings me joy. If I could speak my heart, without people flinching, that would make me feel safe. If I could look you in the eye and tell you, honestly, how I feel, with no fear of judgement or rejection, then my hear t would feel at home. So that is just what I will do. Except for the looking you in the eye part.

In the past little while this spiritual depression has begun again. As a result, I have become more introspective. Reflecting on the things of God and the things of my heart a bit more intently,because they are so intertwined, not only with each other, but with my core identity.

When things are not right with God, I feel lost. And then all is amiss. In Him I find the answer to my need, even while all else is not right. He is the breath I breathe and the life I pour it. He is my everything.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

The Wastelands of My Heart

What if I was created with no purpose at all? The thought latches on to my spirit, like a leech. I feel my heart , suffocating. My soul cringes. What if Solomon was right? What if life is meaningless existence, with no new thing under the sun? What if nothing really matters, when it’s all said and done?

Empty… Hopeless… Defeated

Today I invite you into the secret place of my heart, a place where swords swing and dust flies, as wars rage between the life I was created for, and the lies of the enemy. It is a place I prefer to hide from the public, wishing rather to focus on the positive, bright side of life.

 

This is not because I want to deny the hard or negative thoughts, but because I don’t want to give power to the negative. The things we focus on most, have greatest influence over us, and shape us. (Proverbs 23:7Luke 6:45) The things we speak out, are the things we give power to. The things we dwell on, most profoundly impact the state of our mind, our spiritual health and life in general. If I am going to speak words, or write them, I want them always to bring life and hope, not darkness.

Sometimes, however, we have to share the darkness, in order to point another, who is still caught in it, toward the light. That is my hope in writing this.

The darkness I write about is a very real part of my life, and has been since early childhood. I share it to encourage those of you who struggle with feelings of defeat, worthlessness, and discouragement or depression. I want to encourage you not to surrender to these lies. I too, battle depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and the fear that I am destined for failure. These feelings are real, but they only have the authority we give them.

People see me, outgoing, confident, and fun-loving. And I am. In a way. But, if you could look inside my thoughts, you would find a raging battle, many a day. You would see this does not come without determination, faith and choice. The reality is that I have spent my entire life fighting negative voices, negative thoughts, and negative feelings.

In almost everything I do, whether ministry, or other work, these demons confront me, warning me that nothing I do will ever matter, scolding me for believing I could make the smallest impact in anyone’s life, let alone in this world.

As the voices grow louder, I see myself again as the toddler, with vacant eyes, in a violent home in Mexico, hiding behind a wood stove, peeking out to see if my world is safe. Like I did then, I try to close out the voices, but they’re too loud.

I am again an 11-year-old, down on my knees, asking God to spare my life and that of my family. But this time it is not physical life I’m asking Him to protect. It’s the fire that burns in my heart, the passion, the will to live with purpose and meaning. Everything in me wants to retreat in fear, to hide, to withdraw. I want to withhold my heart from even those closest to me, to surrender to the voices. It would be easier. If I would withdraw from the enemy lines, maybe the accusing voices would stop and the dark feelings disappear….

It is as though I wander, in the wastelands of my heart, looking for an oasis, a place to be filled, something to give me a sense of purpose and meaning. I want my life to matter. I want to help people, to bring life to others, but for all my effort, it feels futile, at times. Especially when I fail, and it feels like the dark side is winning.

How can I give if I myself am empty? What have I to offer, if I fight the same demons, the same darkness and the same fears?

It is so easy to reach for people to validate me. Or for ‘success’—by this world’s standards—and success evades me, mocking me. Like the annoying schoolmate who would run around the corner, poke his head back around and blow a raspberry, it taunts, daring me to pursue, but already declaring me the loser.

Sometimes I’m drawn into the game of proving myself to those around me.  The deeper I’m sucked into that vortex, the stronger the negative voices grow, as they pull me toward the ‘black hole’ of depression and defeat.

For almost nineteen years, my husband, Tim, has watched at close range, as I fight this battle. He has entered in, prayed, loved and supported me. But, at the end of the day, it is my battle to fight. No one can make choices for me.

So what is the secret? First, I shift my focus from self, to God and people. Negative feelings that take root are the result of unhealthy self-focus. Rather than producing positive change, these negative thoughts consume you and suck you into lies they tell. Secondly, I choose to move forward in faith, even while my feelings continue to lie to me.

Isaiah 35 speaks prophetically of the life and the hope that Jesus will bring, and  verse 6 says: ‘…waters will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert….’

There is no wilderness, no desert, no wasteland more dry and hopeless than a mind consumed with negative thoughts. When Jesus enters this wasteland, and defines who I really am, defines my success and my purpose, the negative thoughts lose their power.

When negative thoughts bombard you, and the enemy tells you that you will never succeed, that you will never amount to anything, don’t take it lying down.

Invite Jesus into the wastelands of your heart and a stream will begin to flow, bringing life to the desert places. Know the truth that you are His, you are loved and valued, and the power of the lie is broken.

© Trudy Metzger 2012