Soul Stripped Bare, I Stand Before You, Dancing

It is quite a feeling to wake up one morning and realize you have officially placed your soul in front of the world, naked. It’s been a process, the peeling back of the layers, to get to this place. Sometimes a painful process, sometimes exhilarating and sometimes just ‘plain old normal’ and peaceful. All have been good; all have been necessary. For today would would have felt overwhelming if one of these things had been missing.

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I was tired last night, but it felt a bit like New Year’s Eve, so I played Angry Birds to keep myself awake. Seconds before the clock said 12:00am, I shut everything down and waited. I posted a short status update: “Today is 3/3/15.” It’s all that would come to me, believe it or not, in a moment like that–excited and tired.

Tim, who had dozed off, as he should have, opened his eyes, “How long now?” he asked.

“It’s past midnight now,” I said.  He leaned over, gave me a kiss, whispered, “Congratulations!” and he was gone again. It took me less than 60 seconds to join him in dreamland.

To wake up this morning with that ‘Christmas morning’ feeling, or, better yet, “Easter morning”, took me a bit off guard. Between 2 Gods has been on pre-order since January 30, and the publisher, my friends and I have been busy sharing about it. It’s almost like it’s been out there for over a month. In fact, this week, as people started to receive their orders, and private reviews trickled in, it all became very real. With that reality came the encouragement of countless people identifying and encouraging me to keep pressing on. People from my former church denomination–some still in it–contacted me, also encouraging me, appreciating that I had not bashed my culture, and that I had not shared the abuse scenes graphically.

This morning notifications popped up on my iPhone.. messages on Twitter, on FB, in email… And the first one I opened was from a conservative Mennonite pastor. If I hadn’t been so excited, I think the tears would have started. I could feel them spilling all inside of my heart, washing out things that were there so long, but they wouldn’t reach my eyes. (Unlike now, as I try to put into words how that feels, to have a pastor–whose wife wears a veil/covering–bless what I have done. I will hold on to that for a great long while, and thank God that, on this day, it was the first thing I read. And, of course, now I’m sitting in a coffee shop where an outburst of tears might distress those around me, so I hold back again…)

Watching the Bestseller rankings rise and fall on Amazon has been fun. Making it to #1 in main category, and #1458 in all of Canada is a big deal to a newbie. (You seasoned authors have the right to laugh; you know exactly what I’m talking about, if you did the Amazon scene.) And staying on the Amazon Bestsellers for all of the 32 days since opening for pre-order was also thrilling.

We are humans with feelings and emotions; we should be excited about milestones and achievements. Truth be told, there will come a time when the memory of these moments will carry us through hard times, and remind us that we can trust God. It’s one of the advantages of years of experience; we see God’s faithfulness to redeem hard times, and we celebrate the good times, but always we hold on to His promises.

Whatever lies ahead, of good or of pain, these days of reading reviews, men and women alike connecting with my story, have blessed my heart in ways I’ll never forget. I’ll always remember the the first people to read Between 2 Gods, and offer that feedback were a couple, Dave and Becky, who spoke truth over me for almost a week before the official release. I’ll always remember that the first message on this day was from a conservative Mennonite pastor, and that he thanked and blessed me. And I’ll never forget the first three Amazon reviews were 5-star, with kind words, promoting the truth of Jesus.

I’ll always remember that my Heavenly Father smiled on this day, this project, and that He called me, and I answered. And that’s really all that matters.

Thank you all for the incredible support you have showed. Whether words of encouragement, sharing links, or reading Between 2 Gods, you have blessed me, and blessed others. If no one  was willing to read it, it still would have brought much healing to my heart, to go through the process, the tears, the prayers, and the struggle. But hearing from others, knowing they’re finding hope and healing in reading it, and finding Jesus in their stories, is my greatest reward; it is what I longed for most!

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My heart is full, my spirit dances!

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

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

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Happy… Day! (A Valentine’s Day Afterthought)

First thing Saturday morning–using the term ‘first thing’ somewhat loosely–my husband kissed me (after brushing his teeth, and me having brushed mine) and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Oh yes… that’s today... I thought. “Happy Day to you too,” I said, laughing. He grinned, knowing I’m torn between the romantic notions of the day, and wanting to boycott the obvious marketing ploy. “Happy our Day”, I added, just to make my point.

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We’re pretty down-to-earth people, Tim and I. Mostly, what you see is what you get. So, if you don’t like what you see, run. Because it isn’t going to be much of a show beyond the obvious. Tim is laid back, yet strong and determined. He’s not overly social, but enjoys time with close friends in a ‘not too big’ a group. He steps out of that box for ministry, and pushes himself to be ‘present’ in bigger crowds, reaching out to hearts that are hurting. He is always a calm and peaceful presence. Being a man of few words, the few he speaks carry weight, and what he says is direct.

I’m outgoing and crazy, sometimes, and love crowds, sometimes. When it comes to speaking, the bigger the crowd, the more energized I am, though I’ve learned to enjoy the smaller groups and not feel suffocated by the ‘nearness’ of the people. The intimacy of it is growing on me. There are also times when I’m somewhat recluse, and prefer alone-ness, and, if the whole truth must be told, I return from most social events, depleted to sheer exhaustion. Like Tim, I speak directly, but haven’t mastered the art of condensing an entire book into a chapter, a chapter into a paragraph and a paragraph into two or three words… or a sentence, to be generous.

Life at home reflects who we are; practical and fairly direct. So, when days like Valentine’s Day roll around, we don’t get too caught in the hype. Sure, we’ll exchange cards at some point, and there might even be some little gift of flowers, chocolate, candy or even boxers and a negligee–in spite of the fact that the latter never gets its value in wear–or some such thing.  We do these things, some years, and other years it’s a card only, and we’re just as happy. (The bigger fuss was a big deal, years ago, but with time Valentine’s Day became more about our family, with little gifts for our children and a special family dinner.

Last year we went all out and decorated something crazy and I thought we’d do it again this year, but, alas, the busyness of life took over. One child is dating and she and her boyfriend pretty much boycott the Hallmark holiday, calling it a silly money-grab. While they’re gracious about others fussing over it, they celebrate their relationship other days and other ways. Another daughter headed out to a friend’s house, one son is in Germany for three months, leaving us with two boys.

That said, this Valentine’s Day, we stayed in our everyday duds, chilling at home and doing things that need doing, like cleaning, writing and tax preparation stuff. (Yay!) And we organized everything for a huge dinner, which we enjoyed at noon Sunday. There was turkey–with cranberry sauce, of course–dressing, corn, squash, and mashed potatoes for first course. And, for dessert, lemon meringue pie, banana cream pie, and my personal favourite, chocolate cream pie–all homemade. (Okay… I cheated on the crust and used Tenderflake.) Dinner was delicious. But more importantly, we were together as a family–minus our son in Germany–and shared love and laughter together.

No matter the day, Valentine’s Day, or how we spend it, I know this, I am loved. While I welcome special dates, from time to time, I would choose the ordinary, every day kind of love that we have, over one day of fuss and 364.5 days of mediocre co-existence, if it had to be one or the other. And I’d rather wake up each morning next to the man who loves me practically and sincerely all year, and indulge in genuine kisses, than to look at the flowers on the table the week after Valentine’s, eating lonely chocolates kisses, having never had his heart.

For those who choose to celebrate the day large, and live that love daily, good on you! The rest of us shouldn’t feel jealous, cheated, or guilty.  It is a wonderful thing to celebrate love and relationship in a way that is meaningful and personal.

For us, one day soon, it will happen… as it does, spontaneously, two or three times a year…  I will look at Tim with pleading eyes, probably somewhere around 9:00pm on a Friday or Saturday night, and the words will pop out, “I’m hungry for mussels.” And he will know exactly what that means. As much as he likes the quiet of home and the comfort of his chair, he will slip into a coat or jacket–if the weather still demands it when it happens–and we’ll drive to Kitchener for a late night date at the Symposium. Or maybe he’ll walk in the door this summer with a handful of gladiolas or some other roadside stand flowers, and I’ll pretend he spent a fortune, and laugh when I remind him that the first time he brought them, he announced with great pride that they were 25¢ a piece. And the moment will be filled with love and memories of days gone by, and I will know, again, that I am loved.

And, who knows? Maybe next Valentine’s Day we’ll leave the kids a few treats and a note saying, “We love you, there’s soup in the pantry–stuff for grilled cheese if you want to go all out–and please don’t lock the door when you go to bed.

Now off to enjoy this new Canadian holiday, Family Day… Tim plans to take our youngest skating, the teens are chilling with friends, and I have more writing, laundry and cleaning to do. In that order of preference…

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Get updates on Between 2 Gods (Memoir scheduled for release on March 3, 2015)

To Donate: Generations Unleashed, and Help Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Church

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

2014: Embracing A Year of Adventure & Change

Each year New Year’s Eve rolls around, and we gather with family or friends, or both, and celebrate all that has been in the 12 preceding months. The good. The painful. The devastating. The incredible.

Through laughter and tears, we thank God for it all; it blends together to shape our lives, to make us who God wants us to be, if we give it all back to Him.

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Looking back over 2013, it is with mixed emotions, particularly from a ministry perspective. We did more retreats and conferences than any other year to date, and that growth seems to be continuing in 2014. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a few more thoughts about 2013…

There was a time I said I would never do ministry among ‘my people’–the Mennonite culture–because I feared rejection. Still, when God laid it on my heart in late 2012, I found myself, almost instinctively, planning a conference for this spring as though it was everything my heart had ever dreamed of. When fears surfaced, I pushed them down, reminding myself that the thing God calls us to, He also gives us the strength for.

The conference took place in April, and went off pretty much without a hitch. Worshiping God with so many believers from my background is one of the most wonderful things I’ve experienced in my life. There was life. The Holy Spirit was present, without question, healing hearts, stirring souls, and denominational barriers were broken. At least for some of us, and for a time.

That weekend opened a floodgate, and many new doors to ministry. I was busier with one-on-one sessions in the months that followed, than I had ever been, and that continues to this day. With those open doors, and those sessions, came more stories of abuse, violation, and violence against children. And as we worked through those stories, and mediated between victims and perpetrators, resistance grew.

Since April 2013, we have experienced more attack, more resistance, more lies circulating than we have in three years ministry. That tells me something. We’re getting dangerously close to exposing something the devil has a vested interest in hiding. It has nothing to do with Mr. & Mrs. Martin, or Mr. & Mrs. Weber, or Mr. & Mrs. Bauman or Mr. & Mrs. Wagler or some Ms. Anybody, or Mr. Anybody Else. Sure, they and their families might slip into a rage over the exposure of hidden sin, or they might retreat in shame and silence, and some will hate on me and spread lies,  but it’s not about that.

It’s about God and the Devil. Ultimately God loves truth and justice, and the devil hates it. When lies come against truth, those walking in the truth continue to walk in the love of God and the truth of Christ. But when truth comes against lies and the devil, those walking in lies get all riled up and begin letting the enemy use them as tools to spread darkness and hate. And they suddenly busy themselves trying to cover their evil at any cost. And that brings backlash to anyone involved in bringing that darkness to light.

I said I expected it, when I went into ministry in the area of sexual abuse in the church. And I thought I did. I thought I was prepared. But when it came, it still blind-sided me. I wasn’t as noble as I desire to become, in how I responded or reacted. From time to time, when I met the people who were responsible for spreading hate against me, in stores or churches, and they glared or turned and walked away, I struggled. It took the grace of God to be kind, to wish them well, when, at times, I would have rather ‘said my piece’.

And that struggle is okay. God never asked us to not feel the anger, hurt or pain. He asked us to walk in the Spirit in spite of those feelings. I failed at moments, but constantly my heart cries out to be more filled with the Holy Spirit, and become more like Jesus.

It has taken a lot out of me, the battle in the mind. Hearing absurd lies about oneself, and having friends turn their backs, gets a bit wearing. But it has not changed anything as far as vision is concerned. Whatever God leads me into, even if it ends in twice the ‘hell’ I’ve fought this year, I embrace it.

Having said that, it appears as if 2014 may be a different flavour, and He may not be asking me to do any conferences here, with the local hostility. I’ve felt no ‘pull’ to find a host church for a similar conference, and don’t feel the slightest bit compelled to plan anything of that nature. (That will change in an instant, however, if God speaks the word.)

The only exception is a women’s conference, if it works out. We have a dynamic Old Order Mennonite woman from USA, who I hope will speak at a conference for women. She has a powerful testimony and is an anointed, Spirit-filled believer with a gift for speaking. If that works out, we will have her come join us for a local conference in late 2014.

All other conferences, so far, are scheduled out of the country, beginning with a mixed audience, Shatter the Silence Conference in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. We will work in partnership with Pastor Dale & Faith Ingraham, of New York, whom we had at our conference in April 2013. With true ‘servant hearts’, they will join us in sharing through testimony, and teaching.

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brochure insideAfter the conference,on Saturday evening, we will also do our first ever sessions–like a mini-seminar–for married and engaged couples. We will teach God’s design for marriage, and share vulnerably about the impact sexual abuse has on marriage.

It is exciting (if not a bit scary) to think about opening that part of our story to the public. Exciting in that I know it will help other couples, and scary because we’ve never shared that part of our story. Even my closest friends know only little snippets of our journey, and the hell we went through. I’ve never even written much about it. There was so much trauma, at times, and it was where the ‘hell of childhood’ came out in night terrors, flashbacks and angst like I had never known or acknowledged in my life. I think of those early years with Tim as my safe place to ‘feel the past’, really, for the first time.

Even now, as write, I’m back in that era… I even went back in time and purchased Silverwind music on iTunes, and am listening to ‘Only Jesus’. How I remember listening to that song, over and over again, knowing there was truth in the words. “Like a bird, whose wings are broken, wishing I could reach and touch the sky, Then the word of God was gently spoken, Suddenly my heart was free to fly… Only Jesus…. Jesus… makes my heart soar like a bird… Only Jesus… Jesus…  can free my soul with His word…”

Tears pour unashamedly as I listen to the words, the music, and remember what once was, and the healing God has brought into my life. And the sweet truth that, when His word was spoken, my heart was healed, set free.

And that is the message we will share with couples in Chambersburg Pennsylvania, who are fighting the demons of past abuse, and hiding the shame of that struggle. That part thrills me.

There are several other ‘out of country’ events in the works as well, including a 4-week conference/speaking tour in New Zealand and Australia this fall, God willing.

Writing will continue to be a big part of my life. Possibly even more than in the past. A friend awakened an old dream to write fiction–something I tried years ago and did not enjoy then, and didn’t feel was my niche. But I may just give that a ‘go’ again, when I finish my current projects.

There is also ‘rumblings’ of a bill being passed that will prevent me from continuing with one-on-one sessions, as I do them now. While I have never called myself a counselor or psychotherapist, the reality is I work with trauma and using a Christ-centered approach to working through that trauma with people. It’s effective. It produces results. It’s life changing for my clients. But soon–I’m not sure when, exactly–it will be against the law for me to do what I do, as I do it now, I am told.

This will change my life dramatically, unless we work around it. Instead of sitting with clients 3 to 5 days a week, I will look at moving into doing more conferences and speaking. It’s a tragedy, in my opinion, though I’m sure the motivation is to protect the public. Or at least so they say.

Makes me wonder what the world was like before the government controlled everything. Probably some negatives, but maybe some positive things too?

The only way around it will be to do fundraising, and offer a free service to people in need of a listening ear. And, as donors get on board with Generations Unleashed to make that possible, we may just end up being busier than ever. What I know for sure is that God has redeemed every potential negative in my life and in ministry. No doubt this is a set-up for something very different than it appears to be.

As this change and the unknown lie before me, and our ministry, all I can say is, I can’t wait to see what God has in store. Each year brings with it pain and tears, intermingled with great joy and celebration. Looking back there isn’t a year in my life that I would erase if I could. Some are hard to remember. Very hard. Particularly those early years of marriage and parenting when the hell of the past revisited me mentally…. If it were not for the husband God gave me, with a patient and godly heart, I don’t know what might have happened to me.

But even those years God is redeeming and using for His purposes and His glory. Knowing this about Him gives me confidence that 2014 will be a Kingdom building year. A year of relationships. A year of Redemption. A year of Change. A year filled with God’s blessing in every trial and every success.

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2014, I welcome you, with all you offer. My God has given you to me, and I am jumping in with passion, purpose and commitment!

© Trudy Metzger

Return to First Blog: September 2010, “Running on Empty”

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