#GiveBackTheShame… #StopVictimBlaming…#RememberVictims #30Days

An observation I’ve made in speaking out about sexual violence, is the imbalance of the whole thing. Mention the corruption and wickedness of the thing, and comments or private messages trickle in (or flood in, as the case may be) reminding that the abusers are human too.. they need grace too… they must be forgiven too…

But mention that God loves the abuser (hates, even despises abuse) and that His grace is enough, that His love will forgive, and those same people are strangely quiet. No reminding that the victim is stripped at a soul level. No pointing out that many are suicidal, or find a way to survive (if only barely).

And I ask myself what is wrong with that picture. What is with defending perpetrators, or at least protecting them from the harshest reality of what they have done? One person said that if they fully grasped what they had done, they’d commit suicide. That may or may not be true, but I will add that is no reason to protect from truth, especially when the victims in their wake do struggle with suicide and can’t get away from the truth. My prayer would be that with the revelation of the incredible wickedness of molestation would be accompanied by two things. First, an awareness of the grace and forgiveness of God. Second, the need to be accountable for the crimes and sins and release the victims from blame.

Thinking about the imbalance, and how often victims are lost in the shuffle, neglected, overlooked… even blamed… my heart is drawn to focus on speaking words of life over victims in the coming days. I would love to commit to a short daily thought for 30 days, empowering victims, but my schedule will make that difficult. That said, I’m going to try. Even if it’s nothing more than a photo with a few words of hope, encouragement and empowerment.

For 3o days, when I post anything at all, I want to focus only on victims. Not because I hate offenders, or wish to incite hatred. But because victims have been silenced too long and I know the difference it makes to reclaim our God-given voice, our God-given identity, and put the shame and the blame back where it belongs… and be free.

give back the shame

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

If God be For Us… & Mennonite Friends Encourage Us…

I sat in my chair, Tuesday morning, with a quiet ‘questioning’ in my heart. “What if I’m not equipped?… What if God doesn’t want me to move into this ‘abuse in the church’ territory?… What if… What if… What if? … And what if I’m not all He wants me to be and I’m ‘in the way’ for Him to do what He really wants to do in breaking the silence, and bringing freedom to my people from sexual abuse?…

The thoughts tumbled, emotionless, through my mind. They were very calm, reasonable thoughts, bringing no sense of alarm or distress. And then the thoughts escalated… “What if I’m not even ‘acceptable’ to God?”

Strange… these are not things I have struggled with or even thought about in, well, a very, very long time. Why now? Just before a conference?

As I contemplated the unbidden mental ramblings, I had a little conversation with my Almighty Friend. There are things I know, and those things are not up for grabs or question just because the enemy is on my case. They are what I stand on when the haunting begins. And to remind myself of them, I talk to God about them, because I’m not interested in engaging in conversation with the enemy. (Though I do remind him, from time to time, of my place in God’s heart.)

I thanked God that He uses my broken efforts and, even if every ‘questioning’ in my mind has a point–that I am not perfectly equipped, that I am not hearing right in every situation, and so on–that He is still God, and accepts what I give, and uses me for His Kingdom.

At that very moment I received a text message from a Mennonite friend, saying she is praying for me, praying that I will be protected from every attack of the enemy. She guessed it must be really bad, just before a conference like that.

I thought for a moment before I realized the questions in my mind had been just that. An attack to disarm me, to remove my God-confidence, to shake me up and look to my own ability, rather than simply falling hard on God.

I slipped to the local hardware store, not long after, and immediately, as I entered, my eyes caught a friend from my former church, when I was still Mennonite. She waved enthusiastically, wrapped up her conversation and came over. We stood and chatted for almost half an hour. She encouraged me to not quit, to not give up on a much needed ministry. Her home life was idyllic, as far as family environment goes. Loving parents. Wealthy. Generous. Kind. Sweet, sweet home. Her mom died when she was a newly wed, but apart from that, life was good. Easy.

“You must look at someone like me and think ‘they just don’t get it’, don’t you?” she said.

I shook my head. “No. I look at someone like you and I think, ‘you’re so blessed to not have experienced abuse.”

“But your ministry is needed,” she said. “I talk to enough women, and listen to their pain, that I know. I know how bad it is.”

Tears welled up in her eyes numerous times as she spoke. Her heart is beautiful, filled with compassion in spite of her idyllic home. That’s the best case scenario, to be protected and sheltered, yet compassionate and wanting to help. She encouraged me, before we parted, to keep on even if there’s resistance. Just keep on.

I left the hardware store with my few purchases, as if on eagle wings. It amazes me, always, how some people have a way of lifting you up, encouraging, and leaving you better than when you came.

I did a few more tasks before slipping out to see an Mennonite woman, whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the past few years. She’s not young any more, and the wisdom of her years comes through in conversation.

As I pulled in the lane, she dropped her yard work, and scurried over to my car, clapping her hands in delight. Her eyes sparkled, as if hardly able to contain what she wanted to say. When I stepped out of my vehicle, she greeted me enthusiastically, “Good for you, Trudy, good for you! I’m so happy you haven’t given up! So happy you’re doing this conference! Come! Come!”

She whisked me into her house and found a quiet spot, away from others who might listen. She put her finger over her lips, “Shhhhh… They might be listening…”

We talked for about 40 minutes. She shared with great excitement some things that are happening, every now and then declaring, “Good things are happening!”

When the time came to leave, she whispered after me, “You go Trudy! You go!”

Two in one day! What more can a person ask for? A text had come in just before I pulled in her lane-way, but I had not taken time to read it, distracted immediately by my friend’s enthusiasm. I opened it.

“I see an anointing being poured out thsi weekend. Oh Trudy, your obedience is providing a place for God’s Spirit to fall. I’m standing her crying at the kitchen sink. To think I have been allowed to see waht my heart has been groaning for. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. He is going ahead of the weekend. Hearts are being softened. Ears are being opened. What you say will go into the territory that has never heard. How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim the gospel. You have beautiful feet…”

Overwhelmed, the tears fell from my eyes. Last evening I sat in my chair, preparing for the conference when a friend texted about another suicidal woman who needs someone to walk her through her pain. The tears had fallen then too, as I realized the magnitude of what God is doing, and the extent of the need. “Oh God have mercy!”

But tonight the tears were overwhelming relief that God has not forgotten. That it is about Him and up to Him and He has warriors all around, rising up for His Kingdom, and inviting God to rise up and take His rightful place in their lives, their homes and their churches.

My heart was full. I returned home to task waiting for me, checked my emails for anything urgent and was further overwhelmed by another message. It read:

“Hi Trudy!

Just wanted to assure you of my prayers this weekend as you go through this very important conference.  May God speak through you more powerfully than ever before and may every heart present soak it up to the nth degree!  May an army rise up to defend the victims and may there be resources and powerful answers to help the perpetrators overcome their addictions!  God bless you with the right thoughts and words and above all, may the Holy Spirit fill your heart and mind and being in every way, that all attending would be so overcome by God’s love and Presence!  May hurting and wounded hearts find their healing in Jesus Christ and in loving and caring people around them!!  You go, Trudy!!  There is a multitude of people behind you cheering — “go, go, go, Trudy!!!!!!”  We/I will be eager to hear reports next week or whenever you get around to blogging or putting something on facebook.  =)

Grateful to God for women who are like lionesses, reaching the “masses”!!

~ B~

PS     I’m referring to the book, Lioness Arising, written by Lisa Bevere… I see you as one of “those”!!”

Never before have I had such an overwhelming series of encouragements, with such powerful messages cheering me on, as I did on that one day. And all except one of them came from people who are within the Mennonite culture, as pre-conference support.

canstockphoto3166049

And the texts, emails, phone calls and conversations at grocery stores have continued to trickle in from my team, mostly from conservative churches, letting me know they are standing with me, and fighting for the people.

I am humbled, amazed, blessed, encouraged, challenged and thankful! So very thankful that God goes before us, and takes care of our needs. So thankful that He reminds us, through His children, that He has not forgotten us, and that He blesses our work.

Thank you to so many of you for standing with me, in faith, in prayer, in confidence that God has a good plan in all of this. He is moving… healing… restoring.

Please continue to pray for this weekend, that the Holy Spirit will have free reign, and chains will be broken.

And, though I seldom ask for personal prayer, if you have a moment and I come to mind, I’d appreciate prayers on my behalf as well. It is no small thing to enter this hidden place, and reclaim what the enemy has stolen.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

A Week in the Life of… And the Things Humans Say…

What a week! I intentionally scheduled very little for Easter Monday, knowing that my children would be off school. And it was a good thing, since I ended up running a fever, and fighting a cold-flu bug. The rest of the week was filled with appointments, so I took it easy that day, doing little more than feeding my family and answering the phone.

Calls came in steady, asking about the conference, especially from the Old Order community, telling me they would like to come, and they’re hoping many of their community and surrounding Mennonite communities join in. It’s time for the silence to shatter. One of the leaders even called to ask questions, and told me he knows I am working with a client from his congregation. “Be encouraged,” he said, “you’re making a difference.”

Another woman called to to chat and share her heart, and talk about the passion she has for helping the local Mennonite community. We talked for almost two hours, and were encouraged by each other. It’s the beginning of a friendship.

Monday ended on somewhat of a calm note for me. After meeting with one client in the evening, I relaxed in my recliner. I had only a low-grade fever but otherwise felt quite well. A good night’s rest and I would be set to go for a busy few days…

On Tuesday I met a friend for coffee. We touch base once a year, or so, getting caught up on what’s happening in each other’s families, their businesses, and our ministry.

Immediately after coffee, I met with a client at a local church that has graciously allowed me to use their space, from time to time, for this purpose. And from that moment life became a whirlwind.

I learned that my client, a young woman in her twenties, the mother of two children, had attempted suicide the night before. She has battled through this before, but this time she lost hope, and acted spontaneously. Thank God that He spared her life! It took a while for me to absorb the reality, and I didn’t really until the day after. We spent our session talking, or just sitting quietly when words failed, and other times simply praying. At one point she fell to the floor, weeping in agony, and all I could do was pray quietly, and let my own tears fall.

I had another meeting scheduled, so I left for a time, and then returned later to meet with her and several other individuals, in an effort to bring safety, support and stability to her world. And, to an extent, we did. We talked, sometimes cried, and then prayed. At the end of our session as I prepared to leave, one of the individuals looked out the window and saw a heart-shaped cloud.

from phone April 2013 113

The last client I met that day, comes from the Old Order church, and I meet with a ‘team of two’ each time. We spent some time talking through ‘the stuff of life’ and current struggles, and I learned that someone had spoken harshly, and shut down their very spirit and heart. I went back to the deep identity we are given in God, and the position of authority we are given through Jesus, and affirmed them.

After I made sure my client was grounded and doing well, I returned home. I had walked out the door just after 8:30am and returned just after 10:30pm, exhausted, but fulfilled. Seldom are days that packed.

On Wednesday morning I received a call from another local newspaper, wondering if they could do a story, and would I meet so they could take my photo? Why not? It’s good advertising–the story that is–and the picture will help people identify me and hopefully create a connection when we meet in the grocery store.

The reporter asked me to bring any books I use in mentoring my clients. I told her I use only my Bible and conversation to help people, though I have several books I recommend they read. She asked if I would bring only my Bible then.

At noon I met the pleasant young reporter. I took my new Bible, since giving my other one to Abigail. The reporter took a half dozen pictures, and it was all over. Funny how it all worked out, because the rest of my week was jam-packed–except Friday, which was too late–and that short stretch was all the free time I had, just when she needed me.

I met with another client who is in a very difficult place. We worked through some things, but a heaviness and a sadness hung over her, making it hard to end the session. But commitments must be kept, and I cannot be a god to anyone, so I had to release her even when it was the hardest  thing in the world to do.

With a burdened heart I drove off for the evening…

I met Juanita, my super-sweet friend, with whom I go visit Aylmer Amish country from time to time. It was a refreshing conclusion to a busy two days. I love the Amish cooking, the sweet, beautiful kids, and the earthy feel of unadulterated country living. The Wagler families, and their friends, are kind and welcoming. (I think we need to create an ‘Amish Experience’ retreat centre.)

I had left my phone in the car earlier, and by the time I returned at the end of our visit, to head home, I had numerous messages. Two stood out in particular, in stark contrast to each other, each leaving a powerful impact.

The first was a message from a young woman who identified herself as a former classmate of one of our daughters. She shared some of her struggles, but more than that she thanked me for being a voice of hope… a light in her world. It was an honour to hear from someone so young, and an encouragement to discover that God is bringing hope to her through the blog. She specifically mentioned Abigail’s story, and how much it has helped her.

The other message was disheartening. Many of the people I work with have suffered much abuse–emotional, physical, sexual, and sometimes even spiritual–and therefore many of them struggle with depression, suicidal tendencies and cutting. Percentage wise it is probably over sixty percent that deal with some form or self harm or suicidal ideation. Most of them are Christians who desperately want to be free, and are slowly gaining the tools to overcome. One truth at a time they discover their true worth, their God-given identity, and with that they overcome the lies.

It takes little to be the undoing of that truth, early on, when clients are still vulnerable and weak. And that is just what the second message was about. One of my clients had received yet another message laced with guilt-tripping, and reminding her, harshly, that her struggle was a slap in God’s face after all He had done for her.

I felt sick. Physically. I didn’t question the intent, but I knew it had the potential to push my client to a place of darkness and struggle against suicide. It is so counter-productive, and find myself constantly undoing the damage of words spoken. It feels at times like a step forward and a dozen backward, all because of words spoken when clients are too week to handle them, or to process them. And I think to myself, what if Christians actually stopped to ask themselves if Jesus used that kind of verbiage and manipulation… what if they spoke only the way He spoke, and used only His methods, His way? Wouldn’t it change things for those struggling?  

After touching base with my client, and letting her know that God loves her and has not forgotten her, I returned to my ‘present’. I told stories, and even did some reading to entertain Juanita as we drove home. She is a saint of a friend! (Granted her halo is probably a bit bent out of shape, possibly thanks to my influence, but she is an amazing friend!)

It was late when I returned home….

Thursday morning I awakened to our son visiting our room. It was his birthday. Kordan turned eleven, my little boy not much longer, as he grows into manhood. It is almost shocking how quickly it all happens.

In the morning, after the children were off to school, I met a friend for coffee. Later I had a meeting at the bank with Tim, and then home again to get the birthday supper made, complete with a ‘Starfy’ birthday cake. It’s all my little guy really wanted for his birthday–the Starfy game for his Nintendo DS, so we got that, and a few other little things, and I made a cake to match.

from phone April 2013 145from phone April 2013 137

And here it is Friday already. I’m still fighting the bug I picked up on Easter weekend, and my back has been bothering me ever since, which is weird. I never have back pain. Only once every couple of years. So to be walking around with my back all stiff and feeling hunched over is kind of strange.

I have no plans, no meetings, no appointments throughout my day. It’s been an intense week, and I’m happy just to be home, and rest my body. There are things that desperately need my attention here, that may or may not get done. So far, at 1:25pm, I have spent my day on the phone answering questions about the conference, and responding to texts and emails. For the rest of the day I anticipate getting more calls about the conference, and hopefully I will get a bit of writing done…. (At least enough to get this blog posted!)

And that is how one week slips into the next, in my life. If I learned anything at all this week, it is to double check my words, my tone, my message and my motivations.

When I see the trauma well meaning words bring into the lives of my clients, I stop and wonder if I do that to others around me. Do I communicate the love of Jesus, and inspire deep conviction to live for God, or do I tear down, through control, through manipulation, through condemnation? It struck me more powerfully than ever, this week, how humans destroy the spirits of those who are struggling with their words, even though often well-meaning.

As my life touches others, I pray that the love of Jesus shines through, and they walk away a bit stronger, more encouraged and with more hope than they had when they came. I pray they long to know the Jesus I love, because they have seen and felt His grace.

And I pray that you, too, will check your words, guard your heart, and ask yourself the question, “Do my words give life, because they reflect Jesus, or do they shut down the heart and soul of those I meet, through condemnation, manipulation and guilt-tripping?”

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series