You Are Not Alone… You Will Make It… Together We will Conquer…

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You are courageous; it isn’t easy facing painful memories. You are resilient; pursuing freedom takes time and determination. You will make it; those of us who have walked that hard road and fought those demons, believe in you.

You are not alone; many of us have suffered abuse, violence and the stripping of our souls…

Together we will heal. Together we will press forward. Together we will restore hope and wholeness to  a generation of wounded children. Together we will be a Voice for the children of today, and pray for a better tomorrow.

Together we will make a difference.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

(…) The Church’s Response to Abuse (Part 2)

Don’t come to Church!
There comes a time when an individual can be asked not to come to church. But it is not the right answer every time.

The identity of a teenager who offends, in many countries if not most, is protected. While there should be vigilance–always, always–public exposure is not usually an option, by law. The teen needs help and guidance and whatever ‘judgment the courts determine to be appropriate, but banning from church is not one of them. At least not most times, though there may be an exception.

The adult who has victimized people in church, people who must face their offender and be continually traumatized, is a different story. In my opinion, an offender ought to have enough remorse to choose to go somewhere else, to protect the child. It’s easy math. And every now and then they do.

But, as it stands, more victims leave churches than abusers, based on the people I deal with, because the ongoing trauma becomes overwhelming. They forgive, they try to move on, but Sunday morning, when they should be hearing the truth of the Gospel, they are confronted with the trauma of flashbacks to naked genitals or breasts, or some other sexual exploitation in the past. A wife goes home with her spouse after church, and struggles all week with intimacy because the flashbacks make her feel gross and disgusting. The husband how remembers being molested, goes home and withholds himself, and possibly turning to pornography, feeling completely inadequate. (Let me inject that, surely we can try to understand that this is not about a lack of forgiveness–as is often the accusation–but about post-trauma anxiety and flashbacks.)

Why would an adult who has molested someone choose to impose such a thing on a victim, Sunday after Sunday, robbing couples of intimacy and forcing them to relive the violation? Is it not reasonable, in such a situation, to encourage the offender to find a church family elsewhere?

Instead, it seems victims are the ones who eventually uproot and find some other church family, or simply stop attending, spiritually stripped, having endured accusations of being unforgiving or making things up. The lack of healthy care and understanding for victims, combined with religious demands to ‘forgive and forget’ has done it’s share of damage, and has in essence told victims to either ‘shape up or get out’, while offering little in the way of healing.

Get Out!

I spoke recently with yet another victim of a now-church-leader; the third that I am aware of, who eventually just left, while the offender went on to become a leader. The victimizations ranged from coercing a peer in early teens to reaching under skirts, yanking down panties to molest–something I recently discovered is/was a very common occurrence with hired ‘maids’ in some homes–and grabbing and groping… well into his twenties. And in every case the victims ended up paying the price, while the offender managed to fly under the radar, with nothing more than a mild slap on the wrist for ‘sexual immorality’. That should not be. And yet it happens repeatedly.

If an offender refuses to take ownership, and comply with the laws of the land and church-imposed boundaries, or if there is any indication they are causing ongoing trauma, it is not asking too much to tell them not to show up. There is no repentance in self-preservation and rebelling against those boundaries, and that person should be deemed unsafe in every way.

Feel Free to Attend, but with Supervision and Boundaries
In the case of the church I worked with in 2014, a team of people met with the intent of creating accountability. There was no agenda to cover up or protect the offender, but neither was there any agenda to destroy. In all my life I’ve never seen such a healthy approach as I saw in that meeting, and in the  months that ensued.

A recommendation was put up for discussion, to allow the offender to attend church, but to always have someone supervise. Every trip to the bathroom, every exit from the auditorium, every event, someone would be assigned to watch over the offender. There would be zero opportunity for offending again. There would be guidelines of not working with children, or being involved in any way that would compromise their safety. Had his presence made victims vulnerable, I might have felt differently, but as it was I thought it was brilliant.

The thought of being ‘babysat’ was offensive to the perpetrator, saying he felt the church was not proving forgiveness. As a result, and of his own free will, he chose to leave the church and find a new church family. If my memory is reliable, the pastor felt it his responsibility to contact leadership at the new church to inform them of the situation, not out of spite, but for the protection of the children there.

All in all, the situation was handled responsibly, and in the best interest of the victims and church family.

What About The Law?
The law was involved early on, in the case of the church I worked with; even before the church was made aware. So, for an example of law, I will share from a conversation I had with a police officer in the past month.

My conversation with the officer led me to believe that when it comes to religion, she is on the outside, looking in, and trying to make sense of it all, and she wondered at the driving force behind that behaviours of churches and Christians, as it pertains to obeying the laws of the land in regards to child abuse. I tried to explain–not justify–from my perspective, what I see; fear, pride, the belief that we Christians are subject only to God’s law and not the laws of the land, among other things. I’ve had the same conversation with 4 police officers since May, where they talk about the religious community covering up and not getting victims or offenders the help they need, and it leaves them shaking their heads. It should.

But what this last officer shared, didn’t stay there. After questioning, she mentioned how several years ago she had a case unlike any other. A pastor, she said, had walked in one morning, accompanied by an offender who had molested his daughter. Immediately after having done so, he went to his wife, and told her, packed his bags and left so his daughter would be safe. The pastor was drawn in, and that is where the man stayed until morning, when they stood in front of the officer saying they have a crime to report. The entire police staff was flabbergasted, she said. Not one had experienced such a thing before.

She told me how the man ended up doing jail time, getting counseling and was eventually reinstated in his home, but is not allowed to be with children unsupervised at any time. He is humbly compliant, and understands that this is to make 100% certain it never happens again. This situation, is the ideal, when it comes to handling abuse cases, she told me.

I wasn’t involved with that situation, and don’t know the people, but from where I stand looking on, I see redemption, while complying with the law and facing consequences. The church is aware of what he has done, and works to make it a safe place for children all around, while allowing him to be part of his family and the church.

A Tragedy Cannot be Undone, only Redeemed
There is no way to make a bad thing good. It can’t be done. There is only redemption of evil in the lives of God’s people, and in the working of society. What our enemy means for evil, God will use for good, but the wickedness can never be made good. We have to accept that, and call the wickedness what it is.

That said, we undermine the grace and mercy of God, when we refuse to extend the work of Jesus on the cross to all sinners… including those who molested a child, or children. There must always be forgiveness for them. While the practical working out of healing should be done with great wisdom and seeking God’s heart–and God always fights for the children and the vulnerable–to sentence offenders to hopeless judgment, doesn’t sit right in my spirit.

I’ve worshiped in prison with those who murdered someone. And I’ve hugged them if they wanted to be hugged. It makes zero difference to me, at the foot of the cross, what you have done; you are my brother and my sister. Besides, I remember that “but for the grace of God, there go I”. And I mean that. Coming out of the sexual confusion of my childhood, it is nothing short of the grace of God that kept me from growing up to be in prison with the murderers and pedophiles. When it comes praying ‘thank God I am not like the sinner beside me’, the words choke heavy in my throat and I cannot spit them out.

Instead, I thank God for His liberal grace and generous wisdom so that we might be forgiven, extend forgiveness, while still choosing to respond carefully in every situation. Bitterness and hate destroys lives, as does overlooking sin and neglecting to address and deal with abuse. Somewhere, in seeking the wisdom of God, there is a better way…

We were molested, many of us, and we inevitably hurt and grieve the loss of innocence. We need to be given space to do that, and to express that hurt without being judged. But, horrific as that moment was, or the thousand times over, none of us really want to stay stuck in that darkness. Advocating for other victims, fighting for the safety of children and creating awareness are some of the many ways to take back our freedom, our God-given voice, and to bring good out of evil, without empowering evil through bitterness.

Together we are a powerful force for good, for redemption and for hope, if we avoid the pit of bitterness, and a sense of being entitled to live in it and speak out of it. Our life purpose is not defined by what happened to us, but it can empower us for greater things. The choice is ours. Always.  And I, for one, want to care for the hearts of all, but I want only to partner with those who bring hope out of darkness…

Yes, together we are a powerful force for good, for redemption and for hope!

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

I have the right to be bitter; I was molested… And the Church’s Response to Abuse (Part 1)

The Crime and the Calling
Standing against sexual abuse and violence is a noble and godly thing to do. It really is. And I applaud anyone who does so with a pure heart. Because I cannot think of many topics that stir deeper feelings than child molestation. And rightfully so. What is more horrendous than an innocent child or young person stripped of sexual innocence by an adult? I can’t think of a thing, really, that does the thing to my stomach that such a story does.

Especially now, as a married woman who understands what sex was supposed to be in the first place, as designed by God; a beautiful and fun bonding between husband and wife. For an adult to impose such a thing, and impose a life-sentence of struggle on an innocent child… to rob that victim of unhindered marital joy…

Even writing about it, like this, creates inner angst and tension on behalf of that child that the makes me want to vomit. And that’s not exaggerating. That’s how the mind and body should respond, with powerful resistance, against such a thing. And the instinct to protect children should rise, immediately, to the surface.

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The Danger in Fighting Against Abuse and Violence
But that is the very thing that makes it such a complex thing to stand against. Those feelings, legitimate and justified, must be acknowledged but cannot be the driving force, in and of themselves; there has to be a deeper goal to be effective. Those feelings must not be it, lest we move out of hate and bitterness. Because then the very thing we fight against, gains power over us, and makes us slaves to it. When we become bitter and hate-filled, and out to make the offender(s) pay, on our terms, a toxicity sets in that does nothing–not one little thing–to protect victims or change the world.

Bitterness is counterproductive in every way. Besides rendering your voice empty and irrelevant to those in positions to help change the world, its toxic poison will suck your soul dry faster than any hurt imposed on you. Every time. And not only that, it will suck dry those around you, if they don’t leave before it poisons them. In either case, it will leave you empty and friendless, or empty and lacking healthy support. It’s not worth it.

As Believers, What Do We Reach For?
There are good and positive things that can be done in dealing with molestation, without turning to the venom of destruction and the poison that is so prone to dribble from our lips. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve done it. I’ve lost sight, in the past, of what my heart really longs for in all of this; redemption, justice, boundaries, mercy, truth and ultimately restoration with God… even in situations where the last thing that ever could happen (or should, for that matter) is reconciliation between offender and victim.

In religious settings it seems often there is a dreadful imbalance in situations where an abuser is exposed, caught or turns himself or herself in. It is either carefully guarded and covered up in denial, or the individual is abandoned and thrown under the bus. Most often it is the former. And, to the latter, many ‘justice seekers’ would shout a hearty ‘Yay… serves them right’ and jump on the bandwagon that finally someone is listening.

At the risk of receiving hate mail, I will say publicly that I think both are corrupt; both are wrong. That’s my view. Justice and truth without mercy is barbaric. Mercy without truth and justice is endorsement of evil. As I watch the two sides play out around me, in various situations, I think surely there must be a better way! Surely there is some humanity, somewhere. Humanity that says, “Enough is enough!” to the senseless victimization, and humanity that says, “we are all broken and need help, so we’re going to get you that help.”

And then, beyond humanity to Christ-likeness, that says, “Someone died for my sins; He died for yours too.” To offer the grace and love of Jesus to my offender is the most freeing thing I have ever done. Freeing for me.

To not share that truth with others, is to keep them in bondage. And yet, as angry voices–and yes, they should be angry–shout around me, some with bitterness and hate, I find myself retreating, publicly, for fear of tomatoes… or worse, thrown at me. It is not the healthy anger that makes me cringe, it is the hate and offensiveness. And I am not alone. Other victims have written me, saying they are afraid to publicly state they have forgiven, for fear of being judged or ‘hated on’.

What Then is the Solution?
While abuse angers many of us, as it should, the greatest headway in change will come from calm, composed persistence. There is a time to expose, but doing so with venom will stop the ears of people we want to speak to; it is overwhelming. Furthermore, if there are defenses already in place–take for example a pastor, parent or other person of influence–where the person feels it is an attack on them, the attack and raging approach will trigger subconscious response–either tuning out or defending.

An approach that lacks attack, and rather appeals to the intellect, the heart and compassion of individuals in positions of influence, will produce a much healthier response. Reasonable dialogue is necessary, and exploring healthy solutions without demanding the heads of abusers on a platter, will go much further than raging and bitterness. And if we want to really make a difference, then we need to manage those feelings with honour.

What Can the Church Do?
When a molestation case comes to light in a church, there is inevitably much upheaval. In 2014 I was hired by a church several hours away, to work with a very difficult situation. I learned more in a few months, about what pastors and leaders go through, than I had learned in the preceding 44 years of my life.

When a pastor cares for his church and wants nothing but the best for everyone, abuse and molestation allegations cause heartbreaking struggle. When the offender owns up, admitting to the crimes, and it is confirmed reality and not allegations, the truth is harsh and offensive. The crimes need to be dealt with, and the person needs someone to walk with them, and the victims need to be protected along with all vulnerable church attendees, children in particular. How is a pastor to do all of those things, and not be harshly judged by some, if not all involved and aware?

Some want the offender banned from attending. Some want the church to ‘forgive and move on’. Others want boundaries and protections in place. Some want it taken to the law. Others say that’s not biblical, even when the laws require it. The latter, for me, is not optional; a crime must be reported. The Bible says that the law is for the lawbreaker, and if that lawbreaker happens to sit on a church pew, he or she is no less a lawbreaker.

How to handle incorporating the abuser, or banning, as the case may be, is something each church family must fumble their way through. Each situation and solution presents complexities that make a black-and-white-blanket-solution nigh impossible to implement. And while the protection of victims should alway take precedent over the abuser, I hesitate to judge harshly when I see a church trying to care for both.

I say that as someone who instigated inappropriate sexual interaction with a peer in my early teens. Sure, she came into agreement before we did anything, but I will always see her as the victim. I was a few months older and I suggested it, therefore I feel I need to own that. To this day, it is more important for me to know that she is cared for than to have my pride protected. She deserves that; I made her vulnerable. And any offender who steals innocence should pursue the well-being of the victim, over their own comfort. It’s the least any of us can do who have wounded another.

So what, then, should a church do? What are some options?

(To Be Continued…)

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

FYI, You’re Crazy! And Your Memories of Being Abused Aren’t Real…

canstockphoto11708263I met him on a comment thread, just the other day, when my friend Boz Tchividjian posted an interview on his blog. In it I share a bit about our home and upbringing, and answer a few questions about the book I released earlier in March.

His name is Tom. I’ve not met Tom in real life, as far as I know–at least he has not identified himself–but he began a line of questioning on just how I came about remembering my childhood, after years of pushing down those harsh realities. He was gentle and polite, so I engaged. (I found him quite delightful, actually. So this blog isn’t really about him… but he’s the one who took me down that road) At length, he identified his concerns regarding Memory Recall Therapy, and found it hard to believe I didn’t use these methods to try to recall things in my past.

I’ve heard that hypnosis is one method used, but I’m not curious enough to bother myself about learning just what that entails or what the other methods are, as I have long made it clear that I do not support trying to remember things. I am very supportive of confronting abusers (or alleged abusers, as the case may be) when memories return on their own, but to force them, I am not in favour of, nor have I ever engaged in such activity. And the reason I don’t want to understand it, is because it is useless information at this time.

I’ve read up on Rapid Eye Movement Therapy, because I’ve had clients going through this either overlapping with my coaching sessions, or before them. When it impacts a client, I am interested, or if it is information that is useful to me in what I do. (For this reason I have done a fair bit of reading PTSD, Bipolar, and various other disorders, as well as self-harm, sexual sadism, violent sexual self-harm etc, masturbation, addictions and the psychology behind them–because these are things I’ve worked with, in clients.) But to study other ‘strange’ or questionable treatments and therapies, when I have no intention of using them, is as helpful as studying accounting and business to learn how to play a violin. Poor time and resource investment.

This stranger, Tom, did leave me with one article to read, in his final comments, and the article frustrated the life out of me. It brought to memory another article I read a year or so ago, regarding the use of hypnosis for the purpose of remembering past events, but I cannot find that article, or recall it. What I recall is that I skimmed it, and agreed with the author (some PHD, and in the Britain Journal of Medicine, if I recall accurately) that it was hokus pokus, though I’d go further and say it is spiritually dangerous. Not being able to locate that article is only a small part of my frustration.

In the article from Tom, found here, these questionable recall methods are tackled and ‘debunked’. On this, I agree with the article, 100%. (When I’ve been asked if it’s a good idea, my answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ I feel strongly about it!)

In this same article the term “The body remembers even if the mind cannot” is also addressed, referring to ‘body memories’. I know little about this, but use a similar statement in my book, when referring to my damaged right wrist that required therapy in my twenties, a wrist that was wounded when my father struck me, as a young toddler. It is a story mom and siblings recounted to me, of my wrist hanging limply after being struck violently.  Beyond that, ‘body memories’ are not something I am very familiar with.

What frustrates me most in this article is that all ‘returned memories’ seem to be called ‘recovered’, and the baby seems to have got dumped with the bath water. That this topic is studied ‘at a distance’ and disqualified as illegitimate, when the hands on reality proves otherwise–when done *apart* from memory recall therapy–seems careless. And I would take on any psychologist, psychiatrist or other ‘ist’ in this area–no matter how ‘educated’–and let them ‘experience’ the truth with me. (Yes, that’s an invitation! It isn’t arrogant; it’s confidence in what I see, over and over again.) Work alongside of me for a while, make it a study, and I promise it will be proven that people block memories, and those memories are easily validated, usually by the pepetrator. And there will be no memory recall therapy used.

Several years ago I had a client (who gave me permission to share parts of her story) with recurring nightmares, always of a real time, real place with real people, involving trauma. Having heard the nightmare a few times I asked if they had ever talked to the ‘real live’ people in that nightmare and asked if they know of anything that happened in that particular room. (I discouraged telling what was in the nightmare, to avoid creating the ‘memory’ for the other person.) Having contacted one, my client contacted me, shocked; the individual confirmed the event. Ironically, when it came out there were other victims. (Surprise, surprise.) And, coincidentally, having dealt with it, my client suddenly started to heal, and did a radical U-turn.

More recently, I worked with a client who (first of all, also gave me permission to write) and ‘recalled’ memories, on her own, out of the blue, that she had blocked for years. False memories? Think again! We met with the man who molested her, and took not one, not two, not three but four witnesses to confront him. (One was a couple from his church, one was the husband of the victim, the other was my husband.)

I started the meeting with, “Do you know why we’re here?”

He said he knew, but immediately added, “but it wasn’t sexual.”

“Uh.. yes it was,” I said. He argued again. A few ’rounds’ of this and I knew we were headed no where fast. And then it occurred to me…

“In that case,” I said, looking around the room at the three gentlemen present, ” you wouldn’t object to each of these men doing to your wife, right now, what you did to that girl?” His wife sat beside him, vulnerable.

“Okay.. it was sexual. It was sexual,” he said, and broke down weeping.

That established, we moved forward with his apology, and him addressing the victim’s husband, asking him to apologize to her, on his behalf. While there is much more to write about that story, it isn’t relevant to today’s blog, so I will leave it.

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According to that article, my client’s memories would be casually tossed aside as being ‘not valid’ because she had blocked them for many years. And yet, the confrontation confirmed them. My frustration, then, is that the ‘professionals’ who do this–and many don’t–are potentially contributing to the mental deterioration of these clients that could otherwise heal.

To have my own memories challenged is one thing. There’s sixteen siblings in my family, and we all have similar hellish memories, so no one needs to convince me, or them. We know the truth and stand by it, every one of us–though obviously our experiences vary. As does my mother. And, heck, even my dad owned up to his wickedness, so not a lot of affirmation needed, on my part. But to carelessly disregard an individual’s memories, in every case, is tragic and ends with the victim being violated all over again. Not only are we saying the abuse is irrelevant, now we’re saying they’re crazy on top of what they already suffered. (And I say ‘carelessly’ because there are ‘false memories’ that have also been proven, and people with mental illness live, at times, in some alternate reality that they have created. I have known such people, and it isn’t fun to watch, but to use a blanket statement to negate all memories that come back over time, is foolishness.)

Even in my book, where I mention the older teens who use a group of my siblings, the scene has been corroborated. One of the teens–I discovered a few weeks ago–apologized to one of the victims. And yet that memory didn’t resurface, more than the time or two I mention in my book, until my thirties, then disappeared again until January 2012, when I finally had to deal with the reality of it.

This article, for that reason, has little credibility based on my experience, regardless the letters behind the name, because I have too much proof that it is not accurate. I will stand by the truth that I know, and continue to help victims of abuse heal, mediate with confrontation, and offer life and hope in the process.

And my encouragement to you is, if you know your memories are real, don’t let anyone push you back into the darkness. Forgive the abuser, but don’t be afraid to establish healthy boundaries. Invite Jesus into the pain, to heal your broken heart and spirit. And, having done so, move on to embrace a life of purpose.

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches
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Interview with Boz Tchividjian, Founder of Grace

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled,Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Continue reading interview here: Rhymes with Religions

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

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One Day Giveaway: World Book Day (Contest Closed)

The Contest is Now Closed and the winners are: Sara Reimer (paperback) and Talitha Lepp (Kindle). Thank you to all who entered!

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This morning I discovered that today is World Book Day, so I did a quick search to see what it’s all about. In short, it’s a celebration of all things ‘books and reading’, and if you want to do more I suggest a Google search of ‘What is world book day’, which gives you better results for today than simply using ‘World Book Day’ for your search.

To celebrate the reader–that’s you–I am doing a giveaway of a Kindle version of Between 2 Gods, and one hard copy. Simply send an email to (Contest Closed: Email has been removed) with ‘World Book Day Giveaway’ in the subject line, and all your contact info in the body, with a short ‘blurb’ about why you should win.

That’s all there is to it, there’s nothing more….

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Available in Canada, USA, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Must be 18 years or older to qualify. No purchase necessary. Duty fees may apply if shipped internationally; these are the sole responsibility of the recipient

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

Social Media and ‘Self Promotion’: Did Jesus Start All This?

This thing of ‘self promotion’, on Facebook, Twitter and any number of other social media platforms–‘follow me’, ‘like me’, ‘friend me’–is it blatant, arrogant self promotion? Is it obnoxious and rude? Or did Jesus start it all when He tweeted, I mean ‘spoke’, those two little words: “Follow Me”? And did the Apostle Paul, who was as human and imperfect as you and I, add to this with his own name-dropping tweet: “Follow me, even as I follow Christ”

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Were Jesus, Paul, and other heroes of faith promoting themselves? And the prophets who galloped through towns, warning the people to hear what they had to say, and act in response, were they just full of themselves? What about Queen Esther, then nothing more than a Jewish girl, with no ‘platform’? (You know, like that person who follows you, and you check out their profile and they’re following like 400 people, and 9 are following them back, and you’re like, “Whoa… you must be a creep! No one wants to follow you. Yeah, that was Queen Esther.) Was she simply trying to ‘step on heads to get ahead’?

Or is it possible that God called each of these individuals to deliver a message, and they decided “… ‘come hell or high water’, I’m delivering it. And even if half of my friends ‘unfriend’ me, and most of my ‘followers’ unfollow me, I will deliver”? Is it also possible that they faced the same attacks, in different ways, as men and women today face, for speaking truth?

The pastor who reads a particular scripture–like perhaps the one on gluttony, or gossip… er… Ummm… I mean, the one on homosexuality–and half the people gripe or don’t come back. Should he stop preaching on gluttony, or gossip, to appease those in the congregation who struggle against it, or (especially) those who indulge and really don’t care? Should he rather focus on homosexuality, so the others feel good about themselves, and go home to celebrate God’s goodness with yet another massive meal, while heaping condemnation on the man or woman who spends every night on his or her knees, pleading with God to take that same-sex desire away? Should he be silent? Or should he say, like Jesus, “Follow me”, and like Paul, “Follow me, even as I follow Christ”? Even if he is judged for it?

Maybe it’s the person who preaches love and grace, because of the grace he has experienced in his own life, and he offends the ‘hell fire and brimstone’ preachers, with his offering. Should he stop? Should he preach something he is not anointed to preach, in order to appease those who want to manipulate minds, by using truth out of context, in ways it was never intended, by God, to be used?  Is this preacher touting his own agenda, and trying to lift himself up?

What about those of us ‘crying in the wilderness’ today… the wilderness of abuse, like my friends *Boz Tchividjian  and **Pastor Dale and Faith Ingraham, or those fighting to end the sex trade and create awareness, like my friend ***Kelita…  Are we putting ourselves in the front-lines of a despised topic, to draw attention to ourselves, to create a following? Or, like the prophets, like Jesus, and like Paul, are we saying that God has given us something, often through painful personal experience and redemption, that will bring you hope? I propose that we are crying out, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, because He is coming to you… to us… to the broken’!

One of the things we who are called to share a message of hope have to become comfortable with,  in today’s world, is ‘getting out there’ and putting our message in front of people. Gone are the days of the publishing companies doing the legwork. “If you are not comfortable marketing your product, you’re best off to self-publish and print a few for your close friends,’ is a bit of advice that came my way, because the publishers don’t do it for you anymore. This was a bit jolting for me, to learn this, at first.

The truth is, I love marketing things… and other people… if I know those people and things will help someone. But marketing my message, my story, my book? Putting it vulnerably on paper, and then setting it in front of crowds, through blogging, social media, news stations etc, that was a stretch. None-the-less, I resigned myself and pushed forward with the process of traditional publishing. Is it comfortable? That would be overstated. Am I confident about it? Absolutely! Does it mean a few friends and acquaintances misunderstand me, are offended,  and judge me? Yes. But I am okay with that.

Every life-changing spiritual message that ever was uttered or written, was judged, and offended many. I anticipate the same. So, like Jesus, I will say, “Follow me…” being quick to add, “I know One who can heal you!” And like Paul I will say, “Follow me, even as I follow Christ!” And like Jonah, every now and then, I’ll board an excursion to the bottom of the sea, until the fish can stomach my nonsense no more and throws me up on dry land, so that I face reality, and once again declare the message God has given me.

Ultimately, you and I have but one question to answer: Did we do it for Jesus, to lift Him up, to spread His Love, to offer our hearts in compassion? Or did we do it for ourselves?

Love

~ T ~

*Boz Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham, founder of G.R.A.C.E. (see link above by clicking his name) and a professor at Liberty University. I am honoured to call him friend, and that he wrote the foreword for ‘Between 2 Gods’!

**Dale & Faith Ingraham are faithful advocates for abuse victims in the church, addressing this difficult topic, and offering healing to victims. To learn more, click on their name above.

***Kelita Haverland, who had a very difficult start to life, has founding healing in Jesus and shares her message of hope, through the talents God her.  She is a talented musician and comedian, with the ability to move an audience from laughter, to tears, to both at the same time. She will be in southern Ontario in early May, and we will partner together for events. If you would like to schedule an event in your church or community, please email info@generationsunleashed.com, and we will send through available dates.

© Trudy Metzger

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

First Blog: September 2010, “Running on Empty”

When Sex, Abuse Scandal & Religion Meet Jesus…

When sin collides with grace, redemption is the inevitable outcome. When Jesus met the woman at the well… when He had a woman, whom we believe to be a prostitute, wash His feet with her tears… a prostitute, draped all over Him… When a woman was brought to Him for stoning–caught ‘in the very act’ of adultery (how much more embarrassing and shameful can it get?)… And when the Samaritan woman, who believed herself to be nothing more than a dog, because that was what society taught and believed, begged for her daughter’s healing… Even Nicodemus, the ‘uber-religious’, cream of the crop law-keeper, a Pharisee, when he humbled himself…

In each case, when the broken, discarded, and sinful encountered the Messiah, something beautiful happened. And when the religious came, with humility–the Pharisee calling Jesus ‘Rabbi’, or teacher–even then, sin met grace, resulting in redemption. Only the arrogant missed out, like the rich young ruler came, having kept the law to perfection, but having missed the heart of God’s religion…  And even he, I suspect, was transformed in ways that only showed later; the part of the story never written for us know.

And that is what happened to me, when my sins, and the sins committed against me, met Jesus. I had an encounter with grace, in that moment, that changed the trajectory of my life, and the lives of the generations to come. I didn’t know, immediately, that it also impacted the sins committed against me; I would learn that over time.

In my memoir, Between 2 Gods, I tell that story, boldly, unapologetically. The things that were done against me, and the things I did, should never appear in black and white for the world to read, many would say. Yet the Bible is full of scandalous stories that, if the ‘forgive and forget’ teachings were biblical, could not be told. So I tell my story, knowing Peter cursed Jesus and Jesus’ only response was, “Do you love me? I have a ministry for you to do”; no condemnation. I write it knowing King David, a man after God’s own heart, had sex with Bath Sheba while her husband was murdered at his hands. And I write it knowing Dinah was vindicated when her rapist was brutally murdered by God’s people.

I should not be able to meet those who have read my story and be able to lift my eyes, without shame or the desire to run and never look back. But I tell it. And men and women alike have read it, and I’ve faced them, without shame. But they were friends, mentors, and publishing contacts. Now I have told that story, in black and white, for the whole world to read, and I still feel no shame. The reason I feel no shame is because, in that moment, when I met Jesus and collided with grace, I lost my footing and He caught me. My identity, in that instant was restored , as He took my sins upon Himself and did the walk of shame for me, up that hill to Golgatha: the place of the skull, or ‘death’. He died for my shame and paid in full.

Because of that redemption, and because He removed my shame and restored my identity, I tell the story of sex, abuse ‘scandal’–as we would call it–and religion, and that one amazing encounter with Jesus, with Grace. And I tell it for you, who are struggling with your own story, your own sin, or those committed against you–which was never your shame in the first place–so that you will know you can be free. Your story can be your friend. You can be free.

I write from my Mennonite experience, sharing the beautiful and the broken openly, knowing full well abuse and violence are present in all cultures, some more and some less. My book is written for every culture, but exposes only my own. It is written for the broken, who cry without a voice. It is written for the religious, in every culture, who love Jesus and celebrate His redemption. It is written for those who have never experienced trauma but wish to understand and support those who are wounded. It is not written for the religiously arrogant who have no compassion and only wish to cover up and hide sins; it will do nothing but feed their arrogance.

 

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tim & trudy 1994

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Between 2 Gods is now available for pre-order, Kindle, on Amazon. To pre-order (USA) click Here and for Canada click Here

It is also available for pre-order, Paperback, at eLectio Publishing: Here

Between 2 Gods_new

Dear Anonymous Mennonite Friend

IMG_2128IMG_2129Dear Anonymous ,

I’m sorry for whatever happened in your life to make you this bitter and hateful. The letter speaks for itself, and for you–as all anonymous hate letters do–but I will let the readers make of it what they wish. I see no need to respond to most of it.

I will, however, address (with evidence) one item of misinformation regarding the ‘lie’ you claim I told. Evidence, for the second item I will address, would be documented at Family & Children Services (F&CS).

The minister I spoke to is from local church, along with another staff member as a witness.   (If you are involved in this case and would like to have their names/contact information, please email me using the Contact Trudy page and I will connect you with them.)I shared the details of what transpired the night your friend fled home in terror, leaving a child in the care of a man she feared, and I was encouraged to call F&CS, even months later.  (You will note in the text screen shot below that I never hinted at it being a Mennonite minister. I have the other texts as well, and there is no harassment.)
text to friends of anonymous letter

At some point, after speaking with them, I called F&CS using a hypothetical situation, to find out what my obligations are for reporting, months after the fact. They said they have to investigate and determine the danger/risk, it is not up to me. (I told them I hesitate to answer because I am concerned about backlash from the Mennonite community–see letter above for evidence/reason for such concern) They questioned me until they got enough information to make a house call, but even looked up the address themselves and guessed at the child’s age, because I did not know. (This, I presume, would all be documented at F&CS and is the extent of my ‘harassment’, as you and your police officer friend call it.)

I’m sorry that your friend cannot face the truth of what happened that night. Abuse only ends when confronted, regardless of what tragic past experiences trigger the abuse. And I hope she and her husband go for counselling and get the support and healing they both need.

Having said all that, your letter begs one question–what truth are you afraid of having exposed, to react this strongly to something that has nothing to do with you?  (And to which you clearly do not have facts. Harassment charges never come from a citizen doing their duty and calling F&CS, especially when advised by a church leader to do so. )

I offer my forgiveness for calling me a ‘BEAST’ and a ‘loser’. And, again, I am truly sorry for whatever it is that causes such darkness to spill from your soul onto paper.  I pray you will discover just how incredibly much Jesus loves you, and find peace.  I have nothing but love and compassion in my heart for you, and for your friend.

Sincerely,

Trudy

Ps. Mark, Stuart, Glen, Kenny and other pastor/minister in your church(es) are welcome to contact me about this or any other Mennonite abuse cases. I respect the three that I know and have heard many good things about Glen.  I’ve already met with other Midwest leaders and, in all but one situation, everything has been handled with grace and integrity. When one leader got angry, he later apologized, in front of two fellow ministers, his wife (I believe was there) and one other individual, and then thanked me. That takes humility.

© Trudy Metzger

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