24 years ago we made a vow…

Tim and I promised each other, twenty-four years ago today, that no matter what, come hell or high water, we would stay and fight for our marriage. Hell has come and the water has risen until it was so deep we had to learn to swim… or float… or doggy paddle; anything to keep our heads above water. We’ve struggled to hold true to those promises in various ways, and multiple times.

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Our first baby was born nine months, one week, one day and two hours after that ceremony. (But who’s counting? Especially when eight months and 3 weeks would have raised the eyebrows of more than a few.) In the 6 years that followed, God blessed us with five more healthy children, and carried us through losing two others. We cried. We misunderstood how the other grieves, and at times felt hopelessly lost in this thing we call marriage.

Over the years we both have been in situations at various times that, if we had been so inclined, could have led to infidelity and unfaithfulness. But we communicated and risked opening our hearts to each other. Sometimes it meant one of us seeing the risk the other was in, and sometimes it meant seeing it ourselves and together working through navigating those relationships… and ending them.

We’ve each failed the other. We’ve looked out for our own interests instead of the other. We’ve had to own our wrongs, and say “I’m sorry”. And, when we could have walked away from each other, always we chose to stay and forgive, and support each other.

We’ve had crises and challenges and blessings, all blended together into a sometimes confusing mosaic. But when I step back, I see beauty, love and grace. We’ve hurt each other and been disappointed, and wondered if we’d make it through. Yet we’ve never, even in the hell of life, stopped loving. Even in our ‘fights’ – such as they tend to be with both of us not liking conflict – we have kept our love alive. (Yes, you can be angry and love someone. You can hurt deeply, and love them. And you can look at them and say “I still love you… I just can’t keep doing life this way”.)

I am, by nature – or maybe because of past experience – a hedgehog with rhino tendencies. I extend grace, and more grace, and more grace, and then something tips the building blocks neatly stacked, and it all comes tumbling down. And when it all erupts, we haven’t much choice but to stumble through the mess on the floor and work through it. Tim is, by nature, a hedgehog. That’s how we did the first ‘many’ years of marriage, as two hedgehogs – one with rhino tendencies.

Gradually we have learned (and are learning still) that if we talk about things as they happen – which we have done times since all hell broke loose nearly two years ago -things are so much better. When I’m cranky, I take inventory about what’s happening to my heart. Sometimes it’s just hormones. (Seriously! this middle-aged stuff…!)  But it’s not all bad. As my naturopath Dr. Jim Farquarson told me, it’s a time when God invites us to the past and heals a lot of stuff that we’ve ignored. (Okay. I can do that!)  Sometimes when I’m feeling hurt it is the result of a subtle little thing that I’ve decided ‘isn’t a big deal’ because I want to be mature. Many times that works and such grace is good. But sometimes, if it lingers, the best thing for me to do is to tell Tim. I’ve learned that often if I tell him, it breaks that negative power, and it’s over “just like that!” with the little things that build up and cause explosions. So we have less and less ‘Mt. St. Helen’ moments in our marriage all the time, and more peace.

Through it all, we’ve never stopped holding and loving each other. Sure, a few times there were several days of space and distance while we sorted ourselves out, but rarely did that stop us snuggling, even if in silence, and often falling asleep in each other’s arms. That intimacy of physical closeness – with or without sex – has been critical to us thriving. (Please understand, Tim has never violated me physically or sexually. Not in word, not in deed, not in an affair, and not by using pornography. This deeply impacts my trust in physical touch. He has hurt me in other ways, but not sexually. If that is your marriage, I encourage you to seek help. And, in any case, please don’t compare with us. Every story is different.)

Our closest friends have seen our struggles, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t know if we’d have survived if we had kept it all secret. (Special thanks to these closest friends who knew the battles and loved us anyway. In part it is thanks to you we survived those times and came out thriving!) I’m good with confidentiality, but I’m not good at ‘hidden things’ and ‘secrets’, so having safe places to process hurt and anger has been a lifesaver for me, and for us. Twenty-four years later, I spend my life with my best friend because we pushed through those struggles, and are pushing through still.

Tim, you are my best friend. I can imagine my future a thousand different ways and be excited about it. From continuing in our ‘extraordinary ordinary’ life… to pursuing my PhD (scared as I feel at moments), or being rejected from the PhD program… From staying where we live now, to downsizing as our family continues to shrink… I can imagine staying home more, or working a 9 – 5 job, or pursuing my current line of work more – or some variation of it….

I can imagine my future a thousand and one different ways and be excited. But I cannot imagine a future without you…  without my heart breaking.

You are my best friend, my lover, my constant support. In the past two years you have carried me through deep loss and grief. When my heart was so crushed it physically hurt to breathe, you held me. I don’t cry easily, even when life hurts like hell, but in your arms the tears unlock and I am comforted by your love. You have healed me and built confidence in me. You’ve showed me that amazing men exist; men who don’t worship sex, porn and control. (And as I said last week… thank you for staying away from that stuff. In this you honour our marriage so well, and spare me the shame and betrayal many women feel.)

Because of you I generally view men as trustworthy in spite of my past, and because of you I feel respected by all men. You have taught me the stability of faithfulness through the certainty of your love. You call out my strengths, you challenge, you encourage and above all, you bless me. You have learned to fight for me… for us. And you have, in all of these things, showed me the heart of God. Because of you, I trust Him with all that I am… because you have showed me that He is trustworthy. Your faithfulness replaced fear and terror of Him, with love and trust, and helped me see that He adores me.

And if next week some hell hits, or the crick begins to rise, we will paddle and swim and float… And we will fight our way forward. I love you, with all my heart! Happy 24th Anniversary!

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Wedding Plans, Old Talents & a Big God Solving Little Problems

It’s a funny thing how a daughter’s wedding becomes a life-focus for a time. Since their engagement, November 1, 2016, my subconscious has been busy planning, dreaming, experimenting and scheming, in an effort to make her and her fiancée’s dreams come true. Rustic and beautiful, burlap and lace, twinkling lights, old jars and doors and windows, tree stumps and slabs, and barn board. And food. Of course! A menu planned by our almost-son-in-law and approved by his bride-to-be…and blessed by the mothers. Those are the main ingredients for their day, from a planning perspective.

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The past six years of my life have predominantly revolved around heavy, painful and intense ministry, inviting Jesus into the messy of people’s lives, and writing about it. And it has been a very good thing. It also has been heavy enough to squash some of my creative side. A thing this wedding has re-awakened. The more I plan and dream, the more the creative juices flow, and I find myself enjoying the therapy of projects, little and big. as I run them by our daughter for approval and bring to life the ideas in my head, matching them to their dreams.

From mini jars of jam for favours, to sewing cushions without patterns–because I can’t follow patterns anyway, if only because I don’t want to when I can make it up as I go along–to hammering wood together, cutting burlap, and various other little details, I’m enjoying the process. I forgot how therapeutic manual labour and brainstorming can be, and how freeing.  I continue to meet with clients  and offer support, though I’ve scaled back considerably on the number of sessions I do in a week, but all my spare time is invested in various projects.

So many creativities that once were part of my life, long dormant, and now one life-changing event has awakened them and I’ve not had more fun in years! Weekend after weekend, Tim and I have spent time at Mom and Dad Metzger’s place, and weekend after weekend, Dad, Tim and I have measured, sawed, and swung hammers, bringing to life these dreams and ideas that will give birth to the wedding of Alicia’s and Andrew’s dreams.

It’s been fun, spending that time with his parents, and teaming up for projects. At 79, Dad Metzger is still impressively active, and a brilliant man, pitching in with the building projects and throwing in suggestions. I realize again how blessed we are by their support and engagement in our lives.

And Tim, as always, remains my hero. And a saint, the way he walks with me, and partners together to unscramble all the crazy ideas in my head, improving upon them as we go along. He’s organized and wise, and patiently listens to my scrambled thoughts–which are all neatly organized in a perfect picture inside my head until I try to tell him what I see–and helps me create that picture. And of course we sneak in moments of hugs and kisses, all covered in sawdust and straw… because barn board has to be collected from a barn… and taking time to remember how crazy we are about each other is vital in the busyness.

And in the middle of all this, with busy things happening, God has offered unexpected little surprises and blessings. We needed a dance floor, because the wedding is outdoors and unlike King David, we have no street for dancing, only grass, so I started to dream up this idea of building one instead of renting one. Mostly because the children didn’t rent one and I was worried about just using the grass, or the risks involved with laying down plywood. So I searched Kijiji and in a matter of a few days the items we needed appeared, saving a bundle on the dance floor. But the best part of all was the night we took our daughter to Hamilton and stopped to look some flooring. There wasn’t as much as advertised, and therefore not enough for our project. We contemplated matching it because the price was decent, but I felt unsettled and in the end Tim said we should listen to my gut feeling. We started for home and I spent the drive on Kijiji, and that’s when it happened….

An ad popped up at just that moment, offering 300 square feet of flooring for free, set at the end of a lane. We detoured from our beaten path and there it was; gorgeous laminate. Lots of it and in excellent shape, like new.

Other little blessings have been sprinkled throughout each day, and every part of this planning phase, right along with the challenges. I’ve concluded that permits and bylaws are an unnecessary evil that must necessarily be lived by once you find out they exist. Still, you wish you had no idea when it all comes down. Putting up a tent for one day of celebration causes great stress when the rules come into play, when a township is religious about the laws, unlike other townships all around. But we got through it, and Rae Ann was nothing short of kind, in spite of the temporary migraine the stress of it all induced. And I step back and thank God that this really has been the biggest stress and drama we’ve encountered, because I’ve heard nightmare stories about wedding planning. I don’t think I could do all that, and stay sane while trying to pull it together.

I thank God for being part of everything in my life. He is gentle and tender, always present, in everything I am and do. It is humbling, really, to think about that. God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heavens and the earth, chooses to dwell with us… with me. He enters into my journey, every step of the way. I talk to Him about the flowers I planted for the wedding, even though for some unknown reason they are scraggly and struggling to get rooted. A few have died. And every day I send a little plea to the heavens, asking God for a miracle, to make them do well, like past flowers have. And every day they look scraggly, and I realize that I’m still chattering to Him about how much it would mean to me if they did well for that one day. And if they don’t do what they should, we’ll say they have that ‘rustic’ look, which is the theme anyway, and all will be well. And God will still be good.

All in all, we are 7 days in from one of the biggest events of our lives (are we really old enough for this?!) and as the climax builds, I have moments where I catch my breath with all that needs to be done. There are moments of mild anxiety. But each moment I tell myself that it’s not about the details, it’s about two young people who love each other and are starting out like Tim and I did 22 and a half years ago. And I pray that they will be as blessed as we are, and even beyond, in their love for each other and in all things. I pray that she will always adore him, and he will always protect and cherish her, even when they are frustrated, hurt or confused, and when hard life hits. I pray that they will know God together and individually, and sense always His affection for them. Because He has carried Tim and me through loss, trauma and hard times we never imagined  that January day at the altar. And He has, undoubtedly, smiled and laughed as we bumbled along doing life as we do it. Above all, He has walked with us and blessed us. For this we are thankful, and that is my prayer for our two young lovers.

And now off to one more week of burlap, lace, barnboard, food-making, and pulling together those final details.

….What in the world will I do when this is over?

Love,
~ T ~

 © Trudy Metzger

 

 

 

 

About that Online Lover You Fell in Love with…

…but never met. Or met a time or two and he is so ‘busy’ traveling the world over that he ‘misses you dreadfully’ but it’s just not working out to settle down with you… and whose ring you wear on your finger–either engagement or wedding–because that time you actually saw him, you decided to tie the knot because you’re so crazy about each other… and, yes, the guy who is constantly studying to become a doctor or some other great person, and needs your finances to get it done… Yes, about that guy…

He has no intentions of coming for you. He doesn’t love you any more than the other women he is scamming. And he might even be a she.

And, guys, about that drop-dead-gorgeous woman from some exotic place, who can’t wait to be in your arms as “Mrs. You”… Reread the above, and replace ‘him’ with ‘her’, ‘guy’ with ‘gal’ and any other gender-specific info as well… Because she is quite possibly some guy needing cash. You get the idea.

It happens with both men and women, but for the rest of this post I will focus on women, because it’s where I have the examples.

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The first time I heard of it, if I recall accurately, was on a Dr. Phil show.  A widow who looked to be in her 60’s  or thereabouts, still grieving from the loss of her husband maybe a year or so earlier. In her loneliness, she fell for his schmoozing, and started supporting him financially with various needs. By the time her children realized her ‘boyfriend’ was an online fraud, she had lost an exorbitant amount of money, and even with Dr. Phil’s help and after having the man in the photo on the phone–keeping in mind his identity was being used by someone else–come on the show and tell the woman that he is a gay man and in a relationship, the woman refused to believe it was a scam. I wasn’t able to find the video to share here, unfortunately, however if you do a Google search of “Dating Scams” or something similar, you will find videos and stories in abundance.

The second time I heard of it was when a single friend shared about her new boyfriend. He was a rather romantic fellow, having sent a bouquet of yellow roses–symbolizing friendship, not love–because a patient man knows love takes time.  She was smitten. Completely ‘taken’, and in only a matter of weeks. When she shared the picture and name with me, along with his career, something didn’t sit right. The guy looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. This niggled at my mind until I gave in and did what any good friend would do… I did a search of his image, and discovered a very different ‘real’ name; the man behind the picture was a low-profile politician in USA. And then I had the unpleasant duty of breaking my friend’s heart before this impostor broke it worse.

The third time was soon after the second, when visiting with a new friend, and it turned out to be a fascinating ‘twist’ from the usual… My new friend shared of her family, ‘introducing’ me to each one by way of childhood stories and what they were up to now, in adult life. One sister, she said, had been ‘in love’ for many years with a gentleman from overseas. He was somewhat younger than she, but that didn’t bother him, but it also meant he was still in University, and trying to get through studies while maintaining a job and other commitments. Needless to say things were tight, so out of the goodness of her heart, she had supplemented his income quite heavily. My guards went up and immediately I questioned if he was real. She assured me he was ‘real’, as he had come to visit and meet her family, and were now talking marriage. My radar still said something was very wrong, so I asked if we could do a search on his image, and see what happens… Moments later, to her amazement, his picture popped up with approximately 20 different identities, in various countries, and studying at a variety of universities to become many different things. Her sister was being scammed.

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The photo used by FB scam artist Stutzman Niccolo Larry 

Since then numerous women have asked for my feedback on various relationship issues, pertaining to online dating, and I’ve seen it too often. For an example of one such profile, and the one who most recently broke another friend’s heart, here is a scammer who goes by Stutzman Niccolo Larry on Facebook posing as Sadettin Saran, a swimmer who is now the owner of Saran Holdings. (If you do decide to check out Stutzman Niccolo’s page, be sure to send him a friend request. Several hundred or thousand requests in a short time should keep him…or her… busy awhile.)

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The ‘real’ man behind the image: Sadettin Saran.

How does the scam work? Some guy–usually with a strikingly handsome profile pic, at least perceived to be that by the scammer–starts sending messages to a woman on Facebook, or through some dating site, flowing with compliments and sweet words. How these people choose their targets (aka victims), I haven’t figured out, but my guess is it’s a mass ‘hit’ on women, to see which ones respond, and which ones seem most likely to fall prey to them. My clue about the ‘mass hit’ is that when I’ve ‘creeped’ these ‘lovers’ on behalf of someone, the men usually have only female friends, with an exception of maybe 2 or 3 males on their list of 60 to 100 friends. Simple math would endorse my reasoning, but it is only a deduction for which I have no proof.

So, be it one ‘hit’, or be it half a hundred, the women who receive the messages are entirely twitterpated by the attention, and stop thinking reasonably. (And if you don’t know the meaning of twitterpated, check  out this little educational clip.) In more formal and professional terminology, Dr. Sam Vaknin writes, “The unpalatable truth is that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse.” Coincidentally he writes from the perspective of self-love, aka narcissism, in his book “Malignant Self-Love; Narcissism Revisited”, which is the very thing that drives these scam artists. Few things are more narcissistic and selfish than using vulnerable people. So sense and reason have fled for them as well.

Looking at this ‘love intoxication’ from the vantage point of the fraud victim, this works strongly in favour of the fraudster, and not so much for the vulnerable individual getting the attention. If ‘love’ imitates substance abuse, and the behavior changes are ‘reminiscent of psychosis’, then these crooks are of all crooks most brilliant. By making a vulnerable individual feel like a million bucks, lose their head, and then present a sob story–because that is the next step–they are able to take advantage of otherwise reasonable and intelligent people.

In the most recent situation where I was asked for advice, and my ‘spidy sense’ told me it was ‘one of those’, I predicted the next move before it happened; she would be asked for money shortly, I said. A day or two later I received a message saying, “You were right… He just asked for money.”

These crooks are as predictable as the day is long, with slight variations on the minor details. They know their game, and they look for your vulnerability. I hate to break it to you, but it’s very much a ‘let me give you a hug so I can pickpocket you’ kind of love, and they have no regard for you. You deserve better.

The solution? Be wary of people who fall in love with you quickly online. Research them. Search Google for similar images by ‘right clicking’ on their pictures and choosing  that option. (Only works on Chrome, that I know of.) If you’re so inclined, report them, which may mean first joining in the game and asking for their phone number so you can ‘hear their voice’ or some such excuse. And if he sounds like a teenage girl, he’s probably not the hunk for you. If he sounds as sexy and masculine as anyone you’ve ever heard, he’s also probably not the one for you. And if it never works to meet, he probably doesn’t look like his picture and has to make excuses.

If he does meet with you, now and then, and eventually marries you or becomes engaged to you before disappearing again, I suggest you take your ring(s) to an appraiser to see if they are worth more than a buck or two, or twenty or a hundred… Then, if he just can’t come live with ‘his beautiful bride’ or spend time with his fiancée, whom he ‘misses immensely’, it may be because he has so many brides or fiancées that he doesn’t have time for all of them in a year. In that case, cash in the ring–and hope it’s worth more than a buck or two–and assume you were never married. Take the money and go out for dinner with a good friend who will love you and not judge you for being duped.

Then wait patiently for the right one to come along, who will treat you with the respect and love you are worth.

Less gushy and more sincere will carry lovers through many years of wedded bliss, while bumbling and stumbling through the nitty-gritty of real life. That messy stuff, with real humans and real problems, is the best kind of love in the world. It’s not perfect and trip-over-yourself-romantic all the time, but it’s a safe place to land without pretenses and performance, and it fights forward together and doesn’t use manipulation to rob you blind. It’s real, and it’s love. That’s the kind you’re looking for. So ditch that dude (or dudette) and prepare your heart for someone worthy of you.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

To Love, Honour, and … Whoa!! … ‘say what??’ (A glimpse into our marriage, on our anniversary)

t&t127Twenty-one years ago, today,  I walked down the aisle of Countryside Mennonite Fellowship, alone, toward my ‘soon to be husband’. In our culture the father didn’t walk the bride down the aisle, back then.

I was on the verge of the most amazing years of my life, and making promises, most sincerely, with no concept of their experiential meaning.  How could I? It was all new, uncharted territory. But I understood the words, and I meant every one. And I still do.

My expectation of marriage was simple: love and be loved. I had longed my whole life to feel safe, loved and valued, and that’s what ‘love and be loved’ meant to me. In this way, I entered marriage most practically, and that worked out well because my husband is a practical man. For Christmas, weeks before our wedding, he gave me an apron. He gave me some other gifts too, but it’s the apron I remember most. And I still laugh about it, just like I did then. It’s in my kitchen, having lasted all these years because I’m just not an ‘apron kind of girl’. My kids wear it, now end then, and always it makes me smile. Only recently I told them the story for the first time and one of my teens laughed at the idea of their daddy giving me an apron. “And it was free!” I added, drawing another burst of laughter. Tim had won that apron at a curling bonspiel. What else was he to do with it? The dusty rose colour, with quilted pattern, really wasn’t his colour.

We’ve never been the kind of couple to indulge in the constant spilling of endearing terms. We tried it. And we still do, on occasion, but it’s not really us. The most likely to come from me is ‘My Love’, and it warms my heart if it does nothing for his, just to say it, because he is my one true love. I’m crazy about this man I married. And sometimes I’m just crazy in a whole different way, and he still loves me. He calls me ‘Precious’ and ‘Beautiful’. But not often, and that’s okay. When he does my heart dances in a little flip-flop, all out of rhythm and off-beat, because I know he’s practical and there’s nothing practical about that language.

My favourite thing is when he squeezes my toes when he walks by our bed…  or when he sees me coming, and positions himself with arms open, just because he knows how much I love hugs. Simply being held can make my very upside down world flip upright pretty fast, when he has his arms around me. And he knows it. When I’m sad, and he holds me like that and kisses my forehead, I know I’ll get through it. In these little ways he calms storms in my heart and my spirit, and offers security. Or when he randomly starts praying for me, and I don’t even realize at first that it is a prayer, and I’m about to ask, “What was that?” and then it registers, he’s praying… talking to God about me.  When things are really hard and he’s praying, and says to God “Your daughter is tired”,  or some such thing, I remember Whose I am, first and foremost. And I wonder if it makes God smile, just a little, to have Tim hold me up that way, as if reminding Him I belong to Him. Or maybe it’s Tim’s way of saying, “God, this one is over my head… You take it from here.” Either way, my heart feels safest in those moments.

Every day isn’t like that. Some days we are busy and forget these things. Some days we’re struggling through our own things, or in our relationship, and we overlook each other or take our love for granted. Sometimes we’re even cross with each other. Those days we have to work a lot harder at seeing all the wonderful and beautiful things God has blessed us with.

And then there’s the days when we flirt with each other all day long, in little ways… or maybe sneak in just one moment… Like last night. Tim looked at the wishbone on the window sill and commented on no one having made a wish. I liked the wishbone when I was a kid. We siblings tried to sneak it away to dry, because it breaks so much better, and I always loved that mom kept it. So I keep it too, most of the time.

“Let’s do it!” I said, picking up the wishbone and offering Tim one side. I made sure our grip was fair, and then we pulled. He won. That was my wish, that he would win. But I didn’t tell him that. I always make dumb wishes because I don’t believe in it anyway, and it’s more fun in my head. He smiled, a secret “I had a cool wish’ kind of smile.

“So, what was your wish?” I asked.

“I can’t tell! Then it won’t come true!” he said.

“That’s for birthday cake wishes,” I said. “It works differently with wishbones.” He looked skeptical and I tried to look as convincing as I could, to no avail. I kept asking, making flirtatious eyes at him…. I tried the sassy wiggle… But he just grinned and defended his position. And then I saw the twinkle in his eyes and I knew…

“Ha!” I said, “I know what you wished for!” I had been away for the weekend, and felt unwell upon return, and then was busy for a few days…. and each night we hit our pillows…  “I know exactly what you wished for!”

“I’ll never tell,” he said, and kept grinning.

“You don’t have to! …but… I bet I can make your wish come true!” I said.  It ended there, until much later,  and we moved on to other things, to the normal busyness of life, as is necessary with a family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because we love these five people God has brought into our home. But sneaking in these moments of playfulness and secret flirting is a healthy part of marriage, and keeping our love alive and young.

Back to all those promises, made many years ago… I’ve had no difficulty loving Tim, most of the time. I’ve been more of a challenge, with all my broken pieces to heal, though Tim never let on how hard it was, loving me. He just kept on loving. And when it got difficult for either of us, even when it would have been easier to quit, we battled through the hard times together. We have no regrets for pushing through and learning to tread water when we felt like we were drowning! Those hard times only made our love stronger.

The honour thing has also been easy for me, but not because I am some saint. It’s been easy because Tim has made it easy. In twenty-one years of marriage he has made mistakes, just as I have, but he has been a leader like I’ve never known in my life. His gentle, patient love and acceptance have showed me the heart of God, my Father… my Papa… in a way not one other human has. And there are others who have done well. But not as well as he has…. as a husband, and as a daddy to our children. So I honour him easily.

In practical reality, I have a policy to never confront or correct him in public, or speak in a way that belittles him, or is critical. It’s a decision I made a few weeks after our wedding when I heard a woman challenge her husband when he exaggerated in his story telling, and I saw the look in that man’s eyes. I vowed then I would respectfully ask Tim about it in private, if I felt he misrepresented facts or needed correcting. Even in this way, the ‘honouring’ has been about as easy as the loving, because Tim is not a man to inflate a story, for the sake of his ego. His weaknesses are in other areas, but they are my little secrets.

The third part of the vows, the ‘obeying’ part has always bewildered me a bit, in all honesty.  I get it about honour, respect and love, but slip in that word ‘obey’, and it all gets a bit murky for me.  And it’s not because Tim is a ‘lord it over people’ kind of man. He’s not. He’s a servant at heart, and what’s in his heart comes out in day-to-day living. Even the word ‘reverence’… yeah, that one I can understand, especially with a husband who is so kind. A long time ago–when I learned that in one culture, in Egypt I believe it was, a woman greets her husband at the door, kneeling before him while he places his hands on her head in blessing–I asked Tim if I could do that. To meet him at the door every day, and kneel before him, and have his hands on my head so he could bless me sounded like a wonderful thing! He grinned and, in an almost exasperated tone, said I wasn’t  allowed to do any such thing. I still think about it sometimes, but I’m kind of glad now, because my knees aren’t very good and he blesses me just fine standing up. Anyway, I get the reverence thing.

Letting Tim lead makes sense. Sharing the responsibility of parenting and each of us having a unique role… For sure! I’m not too threatened by our gender differences.   Not agreeing all the time, and ‘submitting to one another’ is about partnership, and it’s biblical, so we try to live that way.  And, believe it or not, giving him a lead role and ‘submitting’ to that leadership… even that doesn’t frighten me. He is easy to submit to, because he lives a life of surrender and Christ-like servant-hood, and always takes my heart into account when he makes decisions. He listens closely to my desires, my dreams and my fears, and he looks to me for input, so when he makes a decision it is balanced with all of those things. It hasn’t always been, but most of the time it has, and is. So his ‘authority’ and my ‘submission’ means nothing to me in the way of being degraded or demoralized, as some view ‘submission’ and authority. Rather, it means there is someone watching over me, offering me protection, care and support. And I like that! It means that when he blesses what I do, I do it with personal passion and his blessing. Bonus! And when he says ‘no’ or ‘wait’, I trust he is doing it for my best interest.

So, regardless of the wording we choose, and whatever is or is not lost in translation when we say ‘obey’, I am blessed to have a husband whom I love and honour, and under whose authority and leadership I willingly place myself. I am blessed that he never takes advantage of me, or abuses my trust or his leadership. Rather, it is to him that I owe my thanks, for using his place in my life to empower me, launch me, and bless me. I have accomplished more because he is in my life, than I would ever have done on my own!

If I had to make the decision again, to walk down that aisle alone, as I did 21 years ago, I would! And if I was to say vows again,  understanding their experiential significance, I would still promise to love and honour Tim, and accept him as my leader, to be protected and empowered by his authority.

tim & trudy 1994

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Thank you My Love. Happy Anniversary! 

Love,

~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

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So I Skipped Church… Part 2

I had not more than taken that glimpse into young love, when a family happened by. Two energetic teenagers soon climbed up the railway track–or whatever you call the structure holding it up–as mom stood by reminding them to be safe.

I smiled. Boys will be boys. And sometimes girls will be ‘boys’ too… ‘tomboys’… I would have been the first in line to try the shenanigans one day. Too old now, but not too old to remember catapulting from on top of the stable in the barn, as a pre-teen and young teen.

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Mom said something about wishing she had brought a camera just as I offered to take some pictures and we stood there, with our cell phones, exchanging emails to make sure we could connect and get the pictures to them. I took a few of them as a couple, and heard a little tidbit of their story. They told me the pictures would make it all the way to Australia, where he was from, as he would definitely want to share them with his family.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI continued on then, to my car, where I sat a while just watching the creatures and the people. An elderly couple, whom I had met on my walk, sat under a tree, resting. (People with their backs turned don’t really count, when it comes to rules about taking pictures…) Though older, he reminded me much of Steve Masterson, and I found myself missing Steve and Jackie who, like Howard and Alice, had a powerful impact on my life, and on Tim’s. They were most delightful conversationalists, and I thought how bitter-sweet it is, to meet people only once and never to really know them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI snapped a shot of the view we shared, then packed up my camera and headed back to Elmira…

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Tim–who went to church with our boys–texted and asked if I would pick up a coffee at Tim Hortons. A double-double. As I pulled in, an Old Order gentleman walked out, carrying his tray of coffees. Across the parking lot, two friends waited–one on a buggy, one on a bike. I make exceptions about taking pictures of people where there are horses and/or buggies involved. Or bikes. (Okay… I just made that up, but hey, it works.)

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After picking up Tim’s coffee, I did the final jaunt home. Nicole had baked the ‘Potato Flake Sourdough Bread’ that I had put in pans the night before. (An outstanding ‘friendship bread’ type recipe that I was given starter for this week, and we all love. I wish I didn’t… I’d rather stay away from bread.)

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My heart was full. I met God in ways and places that are as beautiful as worshipping Him in a traditional church service. I value and believe in the importance of believers gathering together to worship God, as a God-family, but maybe salvation and ‘measuring up’ are not so closely linked to the ‘where and the how’ as we might imagine.

I’m not like the pastor who proudly announced that he never missed church a day in his adult life–not even when his wife had given birth the day before. I’ve missed church when nobody in my life gave birth and nobody was sick… I just played hookie. And not only once. I’ve done it  a few times for no reason at all. Quite a few. And I’ve done it because church was too difficult when hard times caused me to struggle and I didn’t feel safe with people….

And that thought takes me back to the beginning of my little escapade…

Just off of our street, shortly after Barnswallow Street turns to Whipperwill, is the most gorgeous apple tree. I had stopped there on my way out, to capture the apple blossoms. As I contemplated how life, with all of its bumps and scrapes, seems at times to contradict the promises of God, I thought of one of those photos, and that is the extent of my ‘morning sermon’ that I would like to leave with you, in the form of this picture.

God's PromisesGod does not lie. His promises are forever. And, as some of my dreams are coming true, I remember the many times I doubted and struggled. Times I was sure God used me as a pawn in a giant chess game. But always He has carried me through–sometimes kicking and screaming–but always with purpose and destiny.

Wherever you find yourself in your journey with God, and no matter how difficult it is to keep believing in Him and His purposes, hold on to the truth of His promises.

© Trudy Metzger

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So I Skipped Church… Part 1

I reckon this post is going to make a few people want to scold me… (Feel free… my email is trudy-dot-metzger-at-rogers-dot-com… or post it in the comments.) ….Going for a walk on a beautiful Sunday morning, when I should/could be sitting in church. Especially with being in ministry and all.

But, to be perfectly honest, I had no inclination to go sit anywhere for any length of time, listening to anyone, no matter how gifted, how eloquent, how sincere…or, perhaps–though far less likely–completely broken.

It is broken and quiet I long for these days–if not broken, then quiet. Sit me down with a struggling Christian, the homeless, a prostitute, even a murderer, and suddenly my heart is at home. (Yes, I have sat with murderers. Very nice ones, too, who in a moment of desperation killed someone because they snapped. One of them has slipped into glory and, I have no doubt, is dancing with Jesus… or waiting for that dance in some ‘intermediate state of sleep’, depending on who is right on that ever-debated theological  view. (Not that either one is of great consequence… if she’s sleeping, she needed a rest, if she’s dancing and singing, she is in everlasting wakeful bliss. Either way God isn’t much going to ask our opinions on the matter.)

But that is just the kind of thing I was in no space to listen to, or even some neat and tidy sermon or good Christian testimony, when I could go walking with God, enjoy creation and perhaps meet some of His children, out on that same trail.

It isn’t that I don’t love a good sermon. I really do. In fact, having attended the Gospel Express fundraiser on Saturday evening, I already had a wonderful message to contemplate.  Two, really.

Chaplin Rosemary Redshaw spoke first, sharing stories of how God works in prison. One young man, in segregation on charges of murder, wanted to meet with her. When she went in, she took a Bible and prayed for him, at his request, after hearing his story. The young man could barely read, but she left the Bible any way. She didn’t see him often, after she was replaced in that department.  Eighteen months later she was asked to go see him again, and to her amazement, he had taught himself to read and had accepted Christ. The fearful young man who had greeted her that first encounter, was no more. He had grown strong and confident. What was most amazing, to me, is that he was innocent of the crime, and acquitted. Now that’s a testimony! An innocent man, goes to prison to be set free from bondage.

She told other stories of how God moved among inmates, and encouraged the audience to continue to support Prison Ministries.

Melvin Kuepfer was asked to share next and, as he did, the Holy Spirit moved powerfully again. I don’t know the man. Not more than who he is. But I know some of his children, though not well, and have met his wife and find myself always drawn to her.  He shared an overview of a seminar they teach in prison, offering four 2-hour sessions.

I found myself wishing he could launch into all four, right then, and give us the eight hours of teaching. I would have sat there a long while hearing the kind of truth he shared. The kind that is direct, gentle, Holy Spirit-filled and life-changing.

But it was a bit like that friend who lets you ‘taste’–meaning one little lick–their lollipop or some treat, when you’re a kid and that’s all you get…

As they walk away, leaving you with the desire for a lollipop of your own, all you’re left with is that bit of sweetness, and the awareness that there are more, somewhere, just beyond your reach.

And that is just what happened… I dreamed of ways to get him to teach these sessions… Maybe in our home… Rent a room in a church… I thought of the many people I know and work with, who would drink deep from that well of truth.

My heart was challenged and filled as I left home at 10:30 for my walk on Sunday morning. And, at the Mill Race, the world was peaceful. Few creatures scurried about at that hour. Maybe they had gathered for their own service, and only a few rebels, like me, played hookie.

I met Howard and Alice, the couple who took me in when I was a hurting twenty year old. We spoke for a few moments, and parted ways. I walked to my favourite place, the bench where I spend time with a little chipmunk every time I walk the Mill Race. I had different shoes on yesterday, and he wasn’t too sure about me…. Sniffed my shoes and took off like a bullet, but returned after a bit and joined me on the bench again. Only one chickadee showed up. The rest must be more religious about services.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a bit of quiet time, just sitting in the sunshine watching a few critters and all the people walking by, I wandered back toward my car, leaving seeds on various tree stumps, as I walked along.

I stopped at the railway track to put down some seeds, when a young couple walked by. I hadn’t planned to–because I mostly don’t take pictures of people, out of respect–but as this young couple walked away, their sweet young love drew me in, and I found myself sneaking some shots. Later, when they returned, I made a confession and told them where to find the pictures. That assuaged my conscience quite a lot, and I didn’t make any silent promises never to do it again.

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The first picture was a bit blurry. How appropriate. It is just like life and love. We start out with slightly blurred vision, when it comes to relationships. Some go so far as to say Love is blind, but I disagree. It’s only blurred vision. And maybe that is just as well, or most of us would be single for the rest of our lives. None of us are perfect and if we focused too much on it before being madly in love and deeply committed, we would never make it. I hope this couple never loses that closeness, even if, now and then in life, they drift apart for a moment as in the third picture.

To Be Continued

© Trudy Metzger

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The Golden Chalice (Guest Column, Steve Stutzman)

My friend, Steve Stutzman, shared the following story with me some time ago, via facebook, and asked me what I think. I began to weep as I read it, and that’s precisely what I told him in my response.

“I’m sitting here weeping… and can’t seem to stop. Does that answer your question?” I wrote back.

“That bad, huh?” he asked, with typical Steve-kind-of humour.

“If it was that bad, my heart wouldn’t have been yanked around like that. It’s very touching! God has given you a gift for expressing yourself, and touching hearts, that’s for sure!”

Steve has graciously allowed me to post the story here on my blog. My prayer is that you will be blessed, as I was, by this beautifully written story.

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The  Craftsman looked down at the masterpiece in His hands. “Perfect”, He muttered under His breath. “Just Perfect.” His helpers gathered around in awe to admire this latest of all creations by the Master. Made of fine beaten gold, and overlaid with crystal-like glass, every element and curve of the vessel gleamed. Without it gave the appearance of having been carefully carved, and within it had a polished surface. “I’ll put My Life in it one day”, the Craftsman said, as if to Himself.

The helpers quietly discussed this elegant piece of exquisite  design. “So beautiful”, breathed one. “Yes, but so fragile”, said another. “Surely something so delicate and precious must be protected, not bumped or jarred”, commented yet another. “Probably no one but the Master will ever be allowed to hold or use it.”

Then the helpers fell silent. A  far away look of musing appeared on the Master’s face, and a tear slid down His cheek, and fell onto the vessel in His hand. “Oh yes” , He crooned. “Yes, others will hold it. I fact, I shall make many of them, each one very like the first, yet each one very distinct. And I will give them to my servants, to have, to hold, to cherish. Some will be filled with the finest of wines, and be treasured, polished and prized. But some…” the Master choked a little, then went on. ” some will be dropped, shattered, or broken. It is up to the servant, how he chooses to treat my Masterpiece. But ALL of them will be close to my heart, for I am the Master Designer.”

As the helpers watched, they realized that each element of the chalice had been so eloquently designed, so perfectly fitted, so excellently  conceived, that regardless of how broken the vessel may become, the Master could rebuild it. And not only so, but each element, when rebuilt, reflected the colors of light and wine more succinctly. Truly, the Master has created the ultimate vessel.

One day, the Master smiled at me and handed me  a Golden Chalice. It was a good thing, He said, and I had obtained His favor. I cried that day. I wanted the Golden Chalice, my heart longed for her…. But I had no idea how to care for a Golden Chalice. I wanted to drink of the wine, but had no idea how to refill the Vessel. And somehow, intuitively, I realized the Master cared intently how I treated this masterpiece of such great value.

He never really told me why He made it of such finely beaten gold, or why the beautiful crystal cover.The Chalice doesn’t come with a printed owners manual. The Master told me He wrote the owners manual deep inside me, and I could find it written there if I looked hard enough. It took years for me to grasp the delicateness of the Chalice, and I fear I have dropped and broken it more than once, to my shame. Today, not a day goes by that I do not realize the delicate, fragile, yet priceless nature of the Chalice given into my hands.

I feel anger rising in me when I see a Golden Chalice used to play in the mud or the sandbox.  When servants believe they can use their Chalice to scoop the muck of daily work, then expect fine wine in the evening from the Chalice, the Master is not pleased. When  servants drop the vessels, and grind on them with their heels,  what exactly do we expect the Master to feel? The Golden Chalice was made to be treasured, protected and loved…. not only used.  I can only conclude that either servants do not realize the value of the Chalice, or else they are intentionally trying to anger the Master, and either scenario is not good.

I suppose you realize I am writing about women. My heart is grieved with the way I see men today in so many places treating the precious vessel given to them. I weep for the shatteredness of the little girls that no one protected, no one treasured, no one loved. All they wanted was to feel like a princess, to be convinced they were a Golden Chalice, to be filled with the very best wine  of confidence and beauty. When somehow a man feels it is his divine right to trample all this into the ground, and drive the women in his life like a rented mule, and use the Bible to justify it, I will freely admit to being more than a little annoyed. Do we not somehow see the disrespect this is to the Master Designer?

Yes, women can be a little difficult to understand. And no, God never intended for them to be in charge. But somewhere deep inside the man lies a roadmap to the woman’s heart. Somewhere down there  lies a realization that this beautiful creature, the crowning of all of God’s creation, The Golden Chalice, represents the Bride of Christ. She is most precious and delicate to Him, and God’s intention was that the way we treat her be a picture of Christ and the Church.

Seize that inheritance. Kill the Goliath of anger . Fight through the issues of your own life and past, and begin to set free, with your words, the beauty in the woman (and daughters) in your life. Treasure and protect the Chalice, carry it very carefully. Wash it with your words, gently. Being invited to drink of the wine from a Golden Chalice is one of the most intimate and priceless things a man can ever experience. It must not be desecrated and cheapened. The Master is watching.

~  Stephen Stutzman ~

© Trudy Metzger

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Rejection & Misconceptions Regarding Gender-based Differences in Lobido

Without a deeper purpose, I would be the last one to stand in line, to hang all my dirty laundry out for the world to see. Especially if the laundry is all on the line, and I feel I’m left hiding behind semi-transparent sheets. It’s a vulnerable feeling. But the private messages from you, my readers, and general response the past two days reassured me again that it is the right thing to do. There is a purpose.

I received a negative response from one individual–and it wasn’t particularly up-building, so it landed in file 13, and it is only the third negative response I have received since starting my blog. All in all, I would say the topic material is received in a positive light, and helpful for many. Thank you for sharing with me. You have no idea how much that encourages me when I’m going places, publicly, where I have rarely ventured even with counsellors or friends. Many of you understand both my battle, and how I feel, as you express your own fear of commenting publicly, because of that vulnerability.

Thank you for being sensitive, not only because I have overcome abuse and violence, but also as a writer, when I put my heart out there. I am convinced I have the most amazing audience in the world!

Everyone experiences rejection, on some level, in marriage, whether real, or perceived. With abuse victims there is often an increased sensitivity to rejection, and this sensitivity also means more perceived rejections.

What fascinates me is how much we hear about men being the ones with the high libido, and therefore the ones who are often rejected by women. I’ve heard it in pretty much every marriage event I’ve attended. When I invite them to conferences, I’ve had women say, “If I hear one word about men and their high libido, I will up and walk out. I am so tired of no one addressing the other side of that”, and similar comments.

Meeting with women, and working through marriage issues with them, I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve heard the complaint that ‘all he ever wants is sex’. Or ‘I wish he would just keep his hands off of me!’ And the few times I’ve heard it, it has usually been accompanied by, “I wish he would pay attention to me other times too. Then I would love his advances in bed”, or things of that nature. The exception is in the case where husbands ‘grab and grope’ but otherwise put no effort into relationship building or healthy non-sexual physical touch. This is a source of deep frustration for women. Most of them feel disrespected, and neglected on many levels.

I am convinced that, a high percentage of the time, women do not have a lower libido than men. We crave relational attention, communication, affection and non-sexual cuddling apart from the bedroom scene. If we feel loved, valued and accepted, the odds are… Never mind, gentlemen…. Do your math…

What I do hear, constantly, are women who feel neglected both in bed and out of bed. Not only do these women tell me that the relational and communication aspect is lacking, but their husbands don’t initiate intimacy, and reject them when they initiate it. The topic of sexual intimacy is not up for discussion, leaving these marriages vulnerable and shaky, with literally months, if not years, without sexual intimacy.

The women who tell me their husbands are not interested in sex, are not an indication that women generally have a higher libido, or that we’ve been misled by statistics. It simply indicates that more men shut down sexually in marriage, whether due to sexual sin, childhood sexual abuse, addictions or other reasons, than most of us are led to believe.

This needs to be addressed because the women, who feel rejected, battle shame and inferiority. They are hesitant to open their hearts and talk openly about their struggle, not wanting to admit that their husbands don’t find them attractive. (Just like every girl in high school wishes she was the prettiest, every wife wants to be attractive and the apple of her husband’s eye. To admit to another woman that she is sexually rejected and relationally neglected is a very difficult and humiliating thing.)

Each one worries that either she is not beautiful, or maybe her husband is having an affair, or into pornography or masturbation. Some know that is the case, but feel lost and dis-empowered. Not knowing how to impact the marriage for good, they suffer in silence. Others walk out on marriages, without a backward glance.

Yet other women admit to turning to pornography, emotional affairs and masturbation, as a source of fulfilment, while continuing in cold, distant cohabitation. They are afraid or unwilling to broach the subject of their struggles with husbands, who, in some cases, are into the same thing. When I hear these ‘confessions’ it’s usually accompanied by, “I’ve never told anyone that before. Please don’t tell anyone.”

This rejection of each other, and ultimately God’s plan, along with the silence and secrecy, is detrimental to marriage, to the family unit and God’s kingdom. Every woman wants to be pursued first outside of the bedroom, at a heart level, and then celebrate that connection through intimacy in bed. I think that every man, based on those we have talked to and read about, wants his wife to think he is an amazing lover, but he also longs to be built up, believed in, and encouraged in day to day life.

Somehow the vicious cycle of rejection starts in the little things we overlook, because of a lack of communication and generally misunderstanding each other. It snowballs, because of our pain and selfishness and leaves many a marriage shipwrecked unnecessarily.

The key is to get help sooner than later. To ignore it will build up walls of self-protection until eventually, the relationship is all but severed.  Wise counsel and a listening ear from someone who understands is crucial in order to end the cycle.

In the past few days many of you have contacted me, asking for connections to counsellors, or looking for guidance. If I have not yet responded, I will. And if you have not had the courage to email, but would like help finding a counsellor, mentor or resource, please don’t hesitate. (Visit the Contact Trudy page, and fill out the form. It is private and will only show in my email inbox, not on the website.)  We were not created to do this alone, and if I have connections in your area, I will do my best to connect you to someone.

© Trudy Metzger

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“I Do”… Love, Sex & Rejection: When CSA & Violence Impact Marriage

(Part 2)…

We lived in our ‘temporary heaven’ until Wednesday night of that same week. I crawled into bed feeling romantic and cuddly. Tim crawled into bed with one mission in mind: sleep. One quick ‘peck’ and he fell asleep. He snored instantly.

To me this apparent rejection was worse than the first night. All my insecurities and inadequacies flooded over me again. I felt empty, lonely and rejected. I thought couples always hug and snuggle before going to sleep. I was certain there was something about me my husband didn’t like, and this was his way of letting me know.

I shoved all those feeling into my mental discard file, this time slamming the lid. I was angry with myself for feeling hurt. Angry with myself for not being able to express the feelings of hurt and rejection. Angry with Tim for falling asleep with nothing more than one dutiful, unromantic kiss. And no snuggling. I was angry at life for my confusion about men and my insecurity about myself.

Anger exhausted me and I fell asleep until the morning. When I awoke Tim was still sound asleep and I was no less upset.

I decided I would shower and go to the dining area of this lovely Mexico resort to get us some breakfast. I wasn’t doing this to win my husband’s heart via his stomach, however noble such motivation would have been. I was doing this to avoid dealing with reality and yet secretly hoping to get a message to Tim. ‘I’m hurting and frustrated; please rescue me.’

Before I made it out of bed, mission one was complete: Tim was awake. “What’s wrong?” he asked as I crawled out of bed.

“Nothing,” I said as I made my way to the shower.

A night-hawk heading for the shower at 5:30 a.m. for no apparent reason is a bad sign. Especially since the earliest we had managed to be up and running, so far, had been 9 a.m., often barely catching breakfast. Tim assumed I was being honest and nothing was bothering me except sleeplessness.

In the shower life didn’t improve. I dropped the shampoo bottle with a startling thud, sliced my ankle trying to shave, and the water suddenly went cold. I exited the shower with an angry racket.

Why had no one told me that love and marriage are hard work? Or had they told me and I didn’t get it? I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I was disappointed and didn’t know how to deal with it.

I dried and combed my hair before slipping into shorts and a T-shirt and heading out to get some breakfast. (I should confess here that, while we were still in the Mennonite church where we would remain for eight years, we had a very non-Mennonite honeymoon, leaving all our cultural attire in Canada.)

In Mexico everything happens ‘mañana’. This word means tomorrow or at some time in the future. ‘Today we’ll relax and do only what should have been done yesterday, the rest can wait for tomorrow’ seems to be the philosophy of the vast majority. When I arrived for our breakfast that morning I had my first annoying run-in with this philosophy.

After several moments of deliberating, I filled our tray with fruits and a few baked goods before heading for the pop machine to get some coke. We lived on coca-cola during our honeymoon because of the water contamination risks. The pop machine was empty that morning and, as I debated whether to wait or return later, a kind gentleman came to me. In broken English he apologized for the tardiness of the man in charge of refilling the pop machine. No one else had keys to access the machine so all they could do was wait.

I decided to wait a few more minutes hoping he was on his way. While I waited I started to think about Tim, all alone in our room, wondering where his bride might be. I regretted not having told him that I was getting our breakfast.

Each time I was ready to give up waiting for our drinks, the kind gentleman would return to assure me it would only be another minute or two, and I would wait for just a few more minutes. Given my luck that morning, I figured the pop man would probably arrive the instant I turned to leave for our room, and be empty again by the time we came back later. It would be better to wait.

When the pop man finally showed up, he apologized and handed me my coke. By the time I returned to our room I had been gone an hour or more and Tim was very much awake.

“Where have you been?” His voice remained gentle, but there was no mistaking the concern.

“I went to get us breakfast.” I said it as though he might have known. I offered no idle chatter. There had been few people in my life, prior to Tim, who had cared about my feelings. I wasn’t ready to risk further rejection by telling all.

“I was worried about you,” he said.

“Why were you worried? I just went to get breakfast.”

He told me how out of character I was, making all that noise in the shower. And then I just disappeared, leaving him in bed, alone.

Hearing the hurt in Tim’s voice, I felt terrible. I was frustrated that I didn’t know what was wrong with my expectations or how to change them.

“I overreacted to something. I don’t feel like explaining,” I said.

Tim encouraged me to talk it out, and we did so without coming to any profound conclusions, but it cleared the air and helped me see the importance of opening my heart to Tim.

We agreed to do our best, in marriage, to always talk things out. To not carry feelings of hurt or rejection in silence, but to explore and work through them.

It took years for me to understand that my sensitivity was because of childhood abuse, and during those years I struggled with easily trusting Tim with my pain. Still, he patiently loved me, even when I was unlovely. When I withdrew in silence, because of fear, he gently pursued me.

Tim is human. He is not perfect. I don’t idolize him, and I don’t want anyone else to idolize him. I could as easily put together a list of his faults, and the areas he struggled. But I won’t. That is his story to tell, and I will always honour his more reserved nature, and his preference for privacy on many levels. Like any human being, he made mistakes and makes mistakes. But in the areas where I was completely destroyed and broken, he loved me well, and for that I am truly grateful.

© Trudy Metzger

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