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

metzger039 (6)

t&t126

Thank you My Love. Happy Anniversary! 

Love,

~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

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Spiritual Abuse Part 25__Excommunication: My Story… Continued… (3)

Having decided to leave the question of whether my hair was dyed, or not, between me and God, the preachers moved on. The meeting dragged on, and on. I was numb,

They concluded that I was not living in victory and my priorities were not as they should be. And, as a defeated Christian, who had defied the church constitution regarding musical instruments and watching TV, and because I was not making an effort to come home for weekends, I would need to be excommunicated and treated as an unbeliever and a heathen.

While I was still welcome to attend church, I would be treated as an outsider. I would be ‘marked’.  They would make an announcement on Sunday. Without them saying so, I was well aware that the announcement would be made throughout the ‘sister churches’, so they would know not to ‘greet me with the Holy Kiss’, if I showed up at church.

I felt a strange sense of relief and terror almost simultaneously. Being freed from the burden of countless man-made rules and religious agenda, was like breathing pure air for the first time in years.

The freedom was, well, freeing. But, with no ‘truth’ to counteract the lies of experience I was vulnerable and fearful, creating conflicting emotions. If ever I felt bipolar, it was in that moment.

And then there were Bible verses that had been used to instill fear, mostly by my father, causing me to believe that excommunication had the power to sentence me to hell. (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) Little did I realize that these verses had nothing to do with making up rules not grounded on Scripture, and then judging people by them as though they were vile sinners. Nor had they taught me the verses where Jesus condemned Pharisaical religion. I only had enough information to mess with my head. I left that meeting more confused than I had ever been.

Arriving back at Grandma Katie’s house at about 10:30, I immediately disappeared into her basement. An unused, moist-smelling, family room with an old couch became my haven. I needed time alone. To think. To feel. To adjust.

I curled up on that old couch and sobbed. My thoughts were broken, scattered. Were they good tears? Bad tears? Did God hate me? What if they were right? Would I go to hell for not being ‘one of them’? Had I rejected the ultimate truth? Would the devil now slowly invade me? Overtake me? Destroy me?

My body shook with a blend of terror and uncertainty, as I continued sobbing uncontrollably.

Suddenly I sensed something in the room.  Someone…  a powerful force. As abruptly as the sobbing had started, it ended.  It would be more than twenty years before that memory would return and with it, an understanding of what took place in that moment, as my heart cried out to God.

In my early twenties, when I started working through the abuse of childhood, youth and eventually elements of Spiritual Abuse, I asked God, “Where were You when this was happening to me?” I listened. I waited. And I sensed Him there, suffering with me. I was not abandoned. I would later learn that this was ‘Theophostic Healing’, or something similar to it.

It was only in the last several years that I revisited the memory of excommunication, for the first time since it happened, to explore what happened to my heart. What I felt. What I believed because of it. As I did, the scene in that basement returned. I was alone. Abandoned. Rejected. Hated by God. Weeping and crushed at the very core of my being. At least that is what I believed.

The memory of the couch returned. The moist-smelling basement. Then the sudden awareness of a Presence. I recalled the fear I felt, wondering if Satan really was coming to claim me. I didn’t even ask God where He was. The instant that moment returned, God gave me a vision of Jesus, standing in the room with me, watching over me.

Nothing had changed in the Heavenly realm, based on that moment with a handful of preachers. I was still loved. Accepted. Understood. I was His.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 22__Abuse from Lay Members

One of the hardest things for the mind to comprehend is how a victim of sexual abuse or violence, often becomes a perpetrator. Statistics indicate approximately 30% of sexual abuse victims become perpetrators, representing approximately 40% of all perpetrators.

There are no statistics available on Spiritual Abuse, that I could find, so I share these sexual abuse statistics, not to say it is the same in spiritual abuse cases, but to make a point. If a percentage of victims of any form of abuse become perpetrators, then it stands to reason that sometimes the congregants sitting in pews will live out of learned behaviour, and become spiritually abusive.

I’ve said it before, but it is worthy of repetition: Not all hurts and wounds in the church are spiritual abuse. We are human beings, and we fail one another. It’s kind of like a family unit. The difference between the dysfunctional family and the one that is not dysfunctional, is not that there are none of the same bad behaviours. The question is, “Is the behaviour accepted as normal and is it a constant thing?” We all have dysfunctional days, when someone gets in a crank and the whole household pays. These ‘off’ days are normal. If every day is like that, it becomes stressful, and negative behaviours and attitudes take over. That is dysfunctional.

The same is true in church. Are you always afraid of leadership? When the phone rings and it’s your bishop, your preacher, your pastor or your priest, do you immediately wonder, “What did I do wrong?” Or do you find yourself encouraged, thankful that you were remembered?

The extent of the dysfunction and Spiritual Abuse, will directly influence the impact it has on the congregation as a whole and whether that behaviour becomes the norm in the church family. Yes, there are times that a single member, or several, will be abusive, however, if a large percentage are, then odds are that leadership is abusive.

My mentor, John C. Maxwell, teaches, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” When leadership walks in humility, yet in God-given authority, it will reflect in the congregation through a healthy church. Yes, there will be issues, but leadership will listen, and hear with their hearts, and then gently mentor their people through those issues. If leadership is abusive, they will dominate, and do whatever they have to do, to protect personal pride. There will be control and a Jezebel Spirit, or a blend of Ahab and Jezebel, as some leaders retreat in apathy and fear, some resort to manipulation, while others throw their weight around.

Members observing this kind of behaviour will potentially become abusive as well. And leaders sometimes encourage it, if it helps their agenda.

What is the solution? Leaders need to be just that–leaders–and ask God to search their hearts and give Him free rein to expose what lies hidden. When leadership is first surrendered to God, laying down pride and agenda, then God is able to flow through, and heal the people. Healing in a congregation always starts with leadership and spreads to the congregation. If a Jezebel Spirit is hidden at a leadership level, Spiritual Abuse will happen, likely at a leadership and congregation level, and chaos is inevitable.

Discerning believers will see it, likely confront and be rejected, and will either walk away or retreat in apathy. Other Jezebel Spirits will either fit the agenda, or will rise up in resistance and leave the congregation.

Where leadership is humble enough to take ownership, God will begin to heal and restore what the enemy has stolen. He promised. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

 

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 17: Empowering Women in Leadership (….Continued)

Only weeks prior to the conference, while attending the John Maxwell Speaker, Coach, Trainer Certification Conference weekend, in West Palm Beach, Florida , I met a gentleman from Toronto Ontario. About two minutes into our exchange, he paused. “Would it be ok if I pray with you?”

I’m a bit sensitive about letting strangers pray intimately with me, and instinctively checked in with God, to get a sense of what He was saying. Peace. Total peace.

“Yes,” I said.

“May I hold your hands to pray?”

I am especially sensitive about any form of ‘laying on hands’ because of the caution in the Bible about that connection. Again I checked with God and felt peace, that it was okay, so I gave permission.

He began praying and immediately the Spirit of God began to move powerfully, as he spoke the very things God has already spoken; Things that I had written out and shared with some friends, mentors and leaders.

Suddenly, he took a step backward and gently, yet boldly, began declaring things, and the power and presence of God overtook both of us.

“You are born for such a time as this, as Queen Esther was….  You are called to be a trailblazer…, You will go where none have gone before…. You will lead men…. And they will begin to lead in those areas….”

I cannot recall everything he said, nor does it matter. What I know is that I was not comfortable with that calling, and yet, as uncomfortable as it was, it resonated deep in my spirit, as truth.  I was already in ministry, but I had never considered myself to be a trailblazer, or as leading men. When pastors began affirming that call, a few months later, it all made sense. But that didn’t make it more comfortable.

One of my biggest fears, or at least something way out of my comfort zone, is writing to men, speaking to men, or leading men in any way. Yes, God has placed in me an interesting blend of Jael, who drove a spike through the enemy, Esther, who said ‘if I perish, I perish’, and Deborah, who was prophetess, a judge and a military leader all in one. Even though I am a strong ‘spiritual warrior’ type, I have never wanted to lead men, and still, quite frankly, cringe at such a thought.

Over the past few weeks, as I wrote about Spiritual Abuse, an interesting phenomenon took place. The number of readers visiting my blog jumped dramatically, starting on the first day I tackled the topic and levelled out at 1200% growth. What was even more interesting was the number of men who followed, commented and promoted the blog. (Thank you!) But, what most intrigued me was the amount of gentlemen who messaged me directly.

I am accustomed to hearing from women. I get inbox messages from strangers frequently, but rarely from gentlemen, so that was new, and fascinating.  There were a variety of religious backgrounds, and wrote thanking me and encouraging me to continue writing. While that doesn’t make me comfortable in it, it does encourage me to continue sharing my heart.

God has called us all to lead, and to share the gifts and talents He has placed in our hearts. And we are most definitely all called to present Jesus and truth. But don’t take it from me, take it from God.

Joel 2:28
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.

Acts 2:17
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

As believers we need to release the notion that only men are called to lead or speak. If ‘women be silent’ were intended as an all encompassing, stand alone command, then the above verses would be contradictory. A prophetess is not known for silence.

To Tim, and the pastors in my life who continually partner with me and empower me, ‘Thank you’. It is in living in submission to the leaders in my life, that I am empowered to lead others. And it is in embracing the call that God has placed on me that gender boundaries in my readers become irrelevant.

To all who have sent messages encouraging me and challenging me, ‘Thank you’. I don’t write for the thanks, however, to know that readers are encouraged makes the investment of time and energy easier, especially with a heavy topic like Spiritual Abuse.

As the body of Christ, let’s encourage each other to be God’s voice in the earth.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 15: Men of God, Rise Up! You Are Created For Relationship

When the man in my story longed for companionship, he had legitimate relational needs that were unfulfilled. And those needs went beyond a sex drive. His wife, having divorced him, was married to another man, leaving him to live a lonely life for many years in the Mennonite culture, with no one to understand or support him.

Going to church leadership and vulnerably sharing with them, only to be told that he should ‘become a eunuch’ so that he wouldn’t have to deal with ‘that’ aspect of loss, was a slap in the face of his manhood. It was particularly offensive, from an inconsistency perspective, because the bishop had carefully covered his son’s tracks, when his son was caught sexually violating other children and youth in the church, myself included. And I’m not talking ‘petty abuse’—if there is such a thing—like being a kid and grabbing a girl. It was rape and extreme violations in at least one case, to which there was a child witness, making it two victims in one offence. The bishop, knowing what his son had done, didn’t advise him to have surgery and become a eunuch.  He hid the abuse, while exploiting others and giving this messed up advice to sincere seekers.

After creating Adam, God said that man was ‘very good’, that meant everything about him was good, even his sex drive. Everything except the ‘alone’ part. That, God said, is not good. Adam was in perfect relationship with his Creator, living in ideal circumstances, and still God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is compatible with him.” (Genesis 2:18)

After Adam named the animals, received instructions on tending the garden, and God had called him into spiritual battle, then, and only then, God set out to correct what was not good. He put Adam down for a nap, excised a rib, and created Eve.

In relationships a man’s natural instinct is to protect and provide physically. Back in the day, men would tenaciously protect their lovers, their children and their belongings. If anyone trespassed on their turf, threatened a man’s wife or daughter, the guns, swords or fists came out. (We even see this in Peter, with Jesus, when Peter cuts the ear off of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave.)

Am I saying it should still be this way? No. Not mostly. But I am saying we have all but taken the man out of men and then asked them to do relationships well, without doing the part they were originally designed to do.

It is not possible for a man to be oppressed, and completely controlled by a religious system (or other system—ie; the government) and expect him to do well in relationships.

To reclaim what was lost, we must first understand what was lost, and then return to God’s original intent.

When the fall took place, and sin entered the world, Satan set out to destroy all that was good. God placed in Adam a warrior heart, to protect from evil. Satan took that and made him a murderer (Cain, for example), teaching man to protect himself, his material things, and his agenda, rather than fighting for his wife and children, spiritually, and protecting them from evil in every way. Satan lied to man, misguiding him and stealing his original authority.

God commanded Adam to tend the Garden and gave him dominion over the earth—in essence God  said, ‘Your needs are met, you are rich, let the earth serve you’. But Satan deceived man into believing that if he serves the earth, he will have his needs met, and he will become wealthy.  Satan lied to man, causing him to look to himself for provision, rather than to God, leaving no time for relationship.

And then, when Eve came along, the most beautiful creature Adam had ever seen, there was perfect relationship. Adam made Eve personal, naming her, and calling out of her true greatness. ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I will call her ‘woman’, because she was taken out of man.’ Adam embraced Eve at a heart level. “She is part of me, we are equal, we are one,” is what he really said when he named her.

There in the Garden the man and his wife were in a state of complete undress, and not ashamed. Unbroken trust. Unconditional acceptance. A love that knew not competition, no threat of abandonment, no fear of loss or rejection.

But Satan could not leave it at that. By shifting man’s focus from being a spiritual protector, provider and the one who ‘calls forth greatness’ in his world, and causing him to focus on survival, the enemy made man a slave in every area of life. He stripped man of his God-given identity, replacing it with a substitute that would only serve to distract him and make him feel inadequate.

It is not possible to be stripped of identity and walk in confident relationship. When a man discovers who he is in God’s eyes, his identity as a leader and a warrior is restored. He walks in authority, leading others into truth and revealing the heart of God, rather than retreating in apathy, or demanding control.  He begins to see the gifts and talents God has given his wife, and he encourages her in her dreams, viewing her as a helper and a partner in a bigger vision. He no longer uses her for his own gratification, whether in bed, at the table or to keep his house and laundry in order, while neglecting her heart. He values her for who she is, rather than taking her for granted for what she does.

Jesus came to earth—God in human form, the Spirit of God dwelling in a body of flesh—to be the perfect example of what manhood is. It is rowing against the tide, swimming upstream, being a revolutionary, a rebel by religion’s standards. Because that’s who Jesus was. He refused to bow to a this-world system. He was a man among men. The kind we, as women, still long to be led by. If you are not already that man, you have the potential to become that man.

Men, God invites you to return to your original calling, as protector, provider, the one who affirms and empowers those he leads; Calling out wholeness where there is shame, calling out confidence where there is fear, and taking authority over the evil that threatens your wife and family. They feel abandoned when you retreat. They feel insecure when you see only their failures. They feel lost when you are not there to lead by example, with love and prayer. They feel unprotected when they are spiritually abused by the church and you don’t stand up to fight for them, for their hearts and souls.  God is calling you….

Will you rise up and allow your manhood to be redefined and restored by God, and embrace relationships once again?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 14: Men of God, Rise Up! Empower Those You Lead!

When God commanded Adam to tend the Garden, creating in him a passion for the great outdoors, and instructed him to keep evil out, making Adam a warrior at heart, He also gave him one other interesting command.

“Name the animals, Adam, ” God said. And then He brought the animals to Adam, to see what he would name them.

Think about that for a minute. Is it as simple as it sounds? And, if so, why didn’t God simply speak their names into existence and place them permanently in Adam’s memory?

Why would God tell Adam to choose what to call the animals? What was the purpose? And what would that look like?

“Hmmm…. Let me see… You look like an elephant…. and you look more like a hedge hog… yeah, ‘hedgehog’, I like that.”

I didn’t get what ‘naming the animals’ meant until my friend Bob Hamp, a pastor at Gateway Church Texas, known as ‘the freedom-guy’, visited our church. Bob explained that to ‘name’ someone or something back in the Bible times was to ‘call out the characteristics of’, not simply ‘give a name to’ someone or something.

For example, Adam’s name, given to him  by God, calls out the characteristics of his identity. “Adam” (Hebrew אָדָם comes from the trilateral root אָדַם ( ‘ADM ), means “red”, “fair”, “handsome”. In the Book of Genesis, Adam occurs as a proper name in chapters 2-5. As a masculine noun, ‘adam’ means “man”, “mankind” usually in a collective context as in humankind, and may also refer to the individual human. The noun ‘adam’ is also the masculine form of the word adamah which means “ground” or “earth”. It is related to the words: adom (red), admon  (ruddy), and dam (blood).

If we apply this to Adam naming the animals, we see that he was given authority to call out the characteristics of the animals, to ‘name’ their identity, so to speak. The lion is ‘the king of the jungle’ because Adam called out that strength, and so on.

And this is the next level of authority God gave to Adam, and to men in general, along with the authority to fight spiritually for your families; to ‘call out’ of those under your leadership, the qualities and characteristics that are desirable and honouring to God. This is why the words a father speaks are so important. Call your son a lazy fool, and you are actually ‘calling into existence’ these things. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. This is why. Words impact identity and core beliefs.

It is a known fact that when a father affirms his sons and daughters, and speaks life and truth over their identity, that they are more likely to do well, to succeed in every area of life, than those who lack this affirmation. A mother can affirm and speak positively, and give her sons and daughters much to empower them but, ultimately, it is the male affirmation that empowers more than any other. If Daddy is proud of his little princess, nothing else matters. If Dad thinks his teen daughter is beautiful, she is less likely to run to the wrong guys. If Dad is proud of his son, the son is less likely to look to the wrong source for identity. Yes, some still choose the dark path, but statistics indicate the odds decrease.

Women who are affirmed by their husbands, whose husbands ‘call out’ of them characteristics of beauty, grace, value and love, by word and deed, are going to have more fulfilling marriage relationships.

As I sit across the table from women today, their one constant cry is to be acknowledged, affirmed, noticed, loved and valued. There is a vacancy in the hearts of many women because their husbands have chosen apathy or abusive behaviours, and sometimes both. Apathy towards their wives. Apathy towards their children, towards life, and abusive behaviour toward anyone who refuses to surrender quickly.

Men, God is calling you, again, to pick  up your spiritual swords and take a stand against sin and evil. To reclaim the authority He offers you, and say, ‘regardless what the rest of you choose, whether you are content to follow in the footsteps of past generations, or the footsteps your nation has chosen, I am taking leadership personally and, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!’

This requires ownership, sacrifice and commitment. It means that the church is done babysitting your family. The bishops, and preachers, and ministers are not the ones you run to, to bring your wife and children in line. Nor do you take the authoritarian approach. Rather, you call out of your sons and daughters the characteristics of godly young men and godly young women.

It means that you will love your wives with sacrificial love, the kind of love Jesus offered through His death and sacrifice. It requires developing relationship, investing your heart and connecting at a soul level. It means you get to know those God has placed in your care and reveal His heart to them.

As you take this role seriously, and repent of apathy and control, God will bless you. You will find that the trips to ‘higher uppers’ in the church will become less and less necessary, because your wife, your sons and your daughters will have the attention and affirmation they are looking for, and you will be respected. Because respect is earned.

Men of God, will you let God name you, calling out your true identity, and, in turn, call out greatness in your wives and children?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 13: Men of God, Rise Up! Reclaim Spiritual Authority

As fate would have it, my main, not to mention ‘new’, computer crashed. I awakened Saturday morning with no access to my documents and the writing I had started for the next few blog posts. However, I am not willing to lose momentum now, so, to the best of my ability I will keep my commitment to post at least once a day. In the meantime, I wait (patiently…or not so much) and thank God for my IT manager… who also happens to be my husband and best friend. If I miss a post, that explains why.

The topic of spiritual authority is one of the most important topics, not only in Genesis, but, throughout all of Scripture. Yet it is rarely taught in many Christian cultures, particularly those that want control over ‘the flock’. However, since it is God-ordained and God-given, no human has the right to take it away.

Genesis 2: 15-17, 19
15 
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” […] 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

God gave Adam authority over evil and death, and commanded him to protect the Garden from it. In the next verse it says, ‘…for Adam there was not found a help ‘meet’ (suitable, fitting, compatible) for him”, which means Eve was not yet created.  This was Adam’s primary responsibility, an area he didn’t do so well. And, unfortunately, an area men continue to struggle in, because of the impact of sin, but you can change that, starting today.

Gentlemen, God has called you to protect your ‘Garden’—the place He has given you—from sin and evil, and to be actively involved in war against Spiritual darkness and attack. Control and imposing strict man-made rules are not the answer. The answer is much more personal than that. It is about entering in, hearing, praying, communicating ‘with’, not only talking ‘to’ your family. It is about bringing the power of God to your family, by personifying Jesus Christ, and His serving heart, to your family, through your love and care.

Like Adam, the temptation is to retreat, to let ‘Eve’ take spiritual leadership, or leave her spirit empty and hungry. The cost for apathy is too high, in every way. We’ll talk about that more in a post exploring Adam and the fact that he was designed for relationship, and we’ll look at how this initial authority intertwines with, and impacts relationships.

Religion, as a controlling entity and not functioning as God designed it, has stripped men of this spiritual leadership, in many ways. I cannot tell you the amount of fathers I know, who ran to the church leadership when their sons or daughters strayed from the constitution, or lived in all-out sin, because it was the easy way out and it’s what the church expected them to do. Rather than being there, they let the church deal with it. It became a battle against their children, rather than a fight for their souls. It destroyed family relationship rather than uniting them.

I’m not saying the church should never be involved, there is a time for that, but not before you have loved those children through sacrificial living. Not until you have wrapped your arms around them–or put your hand on their shoulders, if you’re not a ‘hugsy’ family–and prayed with them and for them. Not until you have blessed them and repented for your failures.

Men, your sons and daughters want you to notice them. They want you to fight for them. They want you to get your hands bloody and slay the spiritual dragons in their path. To dress the dragon right, merely gives it power, because it blends in and cannot be seen. While that can give you temporary peace, God forbid that it be given that kind of hidden power. Don’t let the external be the focus, when God has called you to fight for the soul and spirit. Yes, teach the practical ‘living it out’, by being a trustworthy example, but enter into battle with them, close up. Stand between them and the dragon, so that they are not so consumed with fighting the dragon, that they miss connecting with God.

And, finally, allow your children to battle with God. No one gets closer to God, than the one who wrestles with Him. To wrestle, one must touch, and to touch God is to experience life. It is the young man or woman, who has never wrestled with God, who is most at risk of never truly knowing God. And it is much safer for them to wrestle with God, than to wrestle with the enemy or even a religious system. God has their best interest at heart, in the purest sense.

If you have never wrestled with God, if you have been so busy wrestling with religion or fighting with your family that you have neglected to ask God the hard questions, as  King David did, then start there. When you wrestle, you give your wife and children permission to wrestle and you give God permission to be God.

Men of God, will you stand once again in the authority God has given you?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/