Filling freezers, Statistics, Glass Houses and ‘Why do we want to believe in miracles?’

Forty hours ago I logged out of Facebook and asked Tim to reset my password. He did. And I don’t have it. So I can only go on when he signs me in. I then went to WordPress and relinked my blog to my FB account so that I can post blogs automatically. While I do not spend a lot of time on FB, most days, it is easy to get caught up in the opinions and debates of current events. Some of that is good. Some of it is not. All of it is time consuming. And the fallout of various aspects is more than I have energy for in the middle of finishing up my PhD coursework.

Since posting it I have managed to squeeze an 836 pound beef in our freezer, canned 14 jars of stewing beef, and completed my final quiz for my Statistics course. (This beef will be shared, not hoarded. In fact, about 20 pounds already left the house this morning. And, for the record, it was ordered prior to this ‘craziness’ going on).  Now I’m working on my final paper for Stats course, and am about to start my final course, a reading course and research project to be completed between now and August. And then comprehensive exams. They will be the ‘make it or break it’ of my degree. The aftermath of medication last year, combined with a concussion after being rear-ended at 100km/h (65 m/hr) have made memory work a challenge. Exams require strong memory capabilities, or the determination to get everything into longterm. For stats, I overcame this by rewatching class lectures between 2 and four times, and rewriting notes 3 to five times. It has been extremely time consuming!

As I was doing all of these things, I’ve been contemplating why we humans reach for miracles. More specifically, why do I? I’ll admit, apart from taking Bible stories at face value, I’ve not seen many miracles and used to be a skeptic. And then one day a friend who knew I was having a lot of issues with my one knee ‘giving out’, and accompanying pain, called me up and invited me to church. We’re having a healing service, she said, and I think you should be there. I agreed, because she is my friend.

Nothing wonky happened. But I did muster the courage to ask for prayer, and a group of strangers gathered round me, and prayed. The problem left and never came back. That was about 14 years ago.

I am one of those who gets to have a colonoscopy ever 5 years. It started first in my 20’s, when I had significant rectal bleeding with no explanation. After the colonoscopy showed nothing, the specialist chalked it up to stress. That made sense. I was just starting to acknowledge and work through the trauma of my childhood. Nothing more was done.

In my 30’s, they started with the scopes every 5 years. Just keeping an eye on things after weeks of the same issues. At one point, I believe it was two weeks into another round of bleeding, we had a worship night. I had my eyes closed, hands raised, and when I opened my eyes i was surprised (and deeply moved) to be surrounded by a handful of individuals, including one of our elders, praying over me. A woman, who had no idea what was going on with my health, was among them. She placed her hand on my abdomen and began to pray. As she did so, I just knew the bleeding had stopped. That was around ten years ago. The bleeding has never happened again.

Were these miracle healings? Frankly, I don’t care what they were. I’m thankful for the outcome. Even so, I like to keep one foot firmly planted in the practical and scientific realities of this present world, while keeping the other firmly planted in the mystery of God and the spiritual realities that we cannot fully grasp. It keeps my faith in balance and rooted in the eternal, not the temporal. It helps me live in a place of trusting God, in the unknown.

And maybe seeing a loved one fighting a fierce battle with cancer right now, forces me to grapple with the absence of such mysteries as miracles. I have prayed. I have wept. I have tried to hold onto a fragment of faith in the miraculous, when the practical screams it is a lie. When the fight against cancer is a quiet,  persistent evidence of the absence of miracles. And when faith in God’s goodness boils down to knowing, “Even now. Even here. Even in this, He is good.” And to somehow reconcile myself with that certainty, when there is no evidence that good can or will be done in a given circumstance.

Maybe, hearing another’s ‘miracle’ offers us some borrowed hope in a place or circumstance destitute of such hope. It is a reminder that God is sovereign and He is goodness. It is the very essence of His nature. And where no miracle is granted to the naked eye, a greater miracle, reserved for the spirit to see, is born.

With the passing of time, my world has become more and more that of ‘living in a glass house’, thanks to my work and how public it is. I am ok with that, for the most part, as I have nothing to hide. I am human. When I fail, I will apologize. I aim for due diligence, and throwing in disclaimers in my writings, and apologize if I have erred. It’s who I am.

However, the standard of perfection that is required to function within Christian context is one to which I cannot live up. I never have. I never will.  It has been months of ‘off and on’ discussions with Tim, wondering how long I can do what I do, within the context and ‘audience’ of my work; conservative Anabaptists and ex-conservative Anabaptists. I’ve lived simultaneously the past four years in another (secular) world (university) that is, ironically, far more grace-filled. It is strange to say that out loud, but it is true. This contradiction has been challenging to process. It is in university I was trained to be culturally sensitive and separate the horror of sexual abuse I encounter from the Anabaptist culture in which it takes place. It is in university I was trained on Restorative Justice practices (that strangely echo the teachings of Jesus). It is in university I was taught to separate the crime from the criminal and remove crime labels from their identity. It is in university I learned to extend grace to myself, when profs would say, repeatedly, “Trudy,  you don’t have to be perfect”, and “It’s ok to make a mistake.” Most of my profs have said that, and several have gone above and beyond, entering into my world, my life, my story in ways that few people ever have. I never looked for it, and didn’t even realize how much that can do for a person, other than seeing what it did for others when I entered in. One prof (not a believer) in particular, sat with me for more hours than I can keep track of, and would say, “Someone has His hand on you.” I understand why people are drawn away from religion.

I could now do a list of things that do not align with Christian values, but I won’t, because I have no expectation that a secular entity will uphold my Christian values. Instead, I will thank God that He reveals His kind heart through those who do not believe. I will thank Him that He has protected my faith in Him, in spite of … in spite of so many things, even while He is eerily silent in the space of other prayers that are wanting in answers.

Today, while miracles are glaringly absent in the wilderness of many of my prayers, I will grieve those disappointments while holding on to this one thing: God is a God of miracles. Even if the only miracle is that I (or you) can somehow hold on to Him and embrace hope in spaces and experiences that, humanly speaking, should drive us to cynicism, atheism and rejecting God.

Maybe, at the end of the day, that is the greatest miracle. To live daily finding joy and hope in God. That my heart has not grown cynical, in spite of daily reminders that incredible evil lurks ‘among God’s people’ (along with goodness). To separate that evil from God and see Him is good and kind, and to separate that evil from the ‘personhood’ of the evildoer and still see him/her as holding value and being worthy of kind treatment (albeit good ad firm too). These are miracles of another sort.

I will trust Him as I process things what seem upside down in my world. Harsh judgement from the religious, Christ-like kindness from unbelieving professors and peers, sexual abuse blithely brushed off in religious community where children should be safe, and much more.

Because the thing about miracles is that they don’t make sense. They are the unexpected outcomes. So I will continue to believe that my God is a miracle working God.

As for Facebook… for now I will likely pop in from time to time. I care deeply about my friends. Hundred and hundreds of the 5000 are familiar to me. Many have engaged privately, so that you come to mind even in my day-to-day-not-on-Facebook work and world. You are not just ‘one of many’.  Your wellbeing, each one of you, matters to me. That does not change with my absence from Facebook. Maybe I’ll be back one day. Maybe sooner, maybe later. Or maybe I will find the world of real interactions is much more life-giving without it, even in a world suspended in time, with no gatherings. Either way, I am taking this time to be thoughtful, to live with grace, and to continue to seek the heart of God, and let Him seek mine. The processing of experience is my responsibility. The outcome of things that come into my life, good or bad, invited or not, is my responsibility.

And I choose redemption and grace.

As always…

Much love,
Trudy

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Update on Mennonite man miraculously healed in Tanzania

A happy Thursday (Edit:…just kidding… it’s Wednesday!  this sitting at home thing…!) to you all! What a delight it is to be alive! To see the sunshine, and hear the birds sing! I love these things at any time — and even the snow that many abhor — but especially now, when the world looks upside down. To see that God’s creation still sings and shines, that makes my heart happy!

And I have no doubt that is how Jason and Mel Hunt and their family feel, in Tanzania. A few days ago I shared the story of Jason collapsing, believing he was at the end, only to miraculously revive again. That is one of the best things I had heard in a week or two, so I shared it. I have no regrets about sharing his testimony of unexpected healing. It is truly good news.

My only regret , and there was one… though I don’t like that word, came when friends cautioned that many will take his experience as ‘the cure‘ and act irresponsibly because of it. I had not thought of that, and at first thought my friends were overreacting and their concern not warranted. Especially given I had put in a disclaimer that I was *not* promoting it as a cure, but rather because it seemed to me a story of hope in the midst of tragic times.  Nonetheless, I listened to their cautions and edited the post, removing anything that might hint at the experience being touted as a cure.

Others were less gracious and said he is a liar, to declare so boldly he had COVID-19 without test results. My response immediately to that criticism was that this does not make him a liar; it makes him overly enthusiastic.

Then, yesterday toward evening, I received word that test results for COVID-19 came back negative for their family. (Keep his wife and daughter in your prayers. Last I hear, yesterday night, they are still sick and in need of prayer). This means he did not likely have COVID-19 in the first place. The post was causing enough of a stir that I decided to remove it until such a time as I had time to edit out any ‘offending parts’. This is something I have rarely done, but in the interest of avoiding unnecessary offence, I removed the post entirely.

We can somewhat assume the tests are conclusive and he likely did not have COVID-19. But that is not really the bottom line, and his overstatement is not the greatest tragedy in the world.

It is only a tragedy that he was too sure of himself if:

  1. he is not humble enough to learn from it. Otherwise, is is an incredible learning experience, not only for him but for all of us, me included. Or maybe especially me and him, but I think all of us.
  2. the church has no grace for a testimony that is powerful but overly enthusiastic and certain of details that were not relevant to the miraculous outcome. To write off such a profound recovery because the recipient is human — as are we all — is to limit the work of Christ among humans. It means I can only see Him if you are more/less perfect. If I took that approach, given the hell and horror I see in Christian community, I would have turned to atheism long ago.

Before posting the original story I checked into the legitimacy of the claims, and again numerous times since. I added a disclaimer in the original blog, and I would have been wise to edit out any reference to COVID-19. In that I erred. Yet, I had and still have every reason to believe that the story told, happened as told.

In spite of the kerfluffle and humanity of his way of verbalizing it, I am no less amazed by God, and I think no less of Jason for it.

If there is not grace for his humanity, then the church has nothing left to offer the world. Nothing. Because that’s who Jesus is.

I have said many times, there is grace enough for the vilest sinner (including sex offenders) and if they are truly repentant they can receive that grace. I believe that with all my heart. (That does not equate to giving sex offenders free regn under the guise of forgiveness, but that’s another topic for another day).

What has baffled me in this is that it seems there is less grace for a man who is overconfident in a medical self-diagnosis and includes it in his testimony, than there is for the sex offender who sheds a few tears and does not change his ways. Surely, surely, there is grace for both, but especially in a case of ‘intending no harm or sin’ in the process.

I do not regret telling the story. If I did not think we can learn from it, then I would have regrets. I hope and pray that we can see past the humanity and see Jesus at work among us. If we can’t see Him in our collective brokenness, what have we got — what has Jesus got — that will bring any measure of peace and wholeness to us and those around us?

Having removed the original post, here is the portion of his testimony that does not make any assumptions about what his illness was.  Praise Jesus!

Last night as I desperately fought for breath to live, I just kept stumbling through the house around the fireplace and kitchen trying to hang on to a measure of breath. The rest were holding me up, crying and praying, (and probably wondering who was going to cart my body out to the coffee field). Finally at 3am I was really fading so wheezed out my goodbyes as I slumped up against the fireplace. I told them no one was to do mouth to mouth on me because I didn’t want the infection to increase in their lungs. As I sat there fading out to everyone’s amazement I got so hot from the fire at my back that I started to sweat buckets and my lungs suddenly started opening up and oxygen came into my lungs. God intervened.

[…]

The improvements over the last few hours has been exponential. Even Mel has made incredible progress. God is intervening.

[…]

I will mention the whole household came down with symptoms today. And the whole household has made exponential gains in the last eight hours. Most are sleeping peacefully now. […] We need to run forth knowing that love will always conquer fear.

[…]

All the prayers are being answered.

*****

My prayer is that you all stay safe and healthy, and if your health has been compromised, that God will heal and restore you.

Remember, God is kind.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

Homeless Hearts, Living The Gospel of Jesus & Healing from Abuse

“I had a rather exciting event,” I said to Tim, soon after walking into the kitchen, having returned a bit later than planned. “And it cost me just over $14!” I added a bit later.

“Let me guess,” he said… “You met a homeless person and took them out for a meal?”

“Ah, you know me too well!” I answered. “But you’ll have to wait until I write a blog about it to find out if you are right.”

*****

She was short and hunched over, at the far side of the register, wearing an old coat, multiple clothing items, layered. Unkempt her framed her wrinkled face and empty eyes spoke of hard times. Her crooked fingers fumbled awkwardly with something.

canstockphoto13723877 (2)

A man stood beside her, younger and more put together, bagging a few grocery items. I wondered at the unlikely pair, as they stood there in close proximity. And then he walked away, leaving her behind. That’s when I realized they were not together, and with him gone, I saw her more clearly. She fumbled with money; several stacks of coins were held together by plastic wrap, others were loose in a plastic bag. In front of her lay her meager purchases; a bit of fresh fruit and not much else.

The girl between us, young–maybe in her early to mid twenties–had purple hair, multiple piercings and gorgeous eyes and smile. A smile she had shared generously when I first appeared behind her. She reminded me of our daughter’s one friend; sweet, yet edgy, and all around a likable girl. She looked at the old lady fumbling with her coins, not appearing the least bit impatient.

The cashier a middle-aged woman with compassionate expression, watched too. She repeated the amount the old woman owed her. It was $14 and change.

The scene unfolded quickly; much more so than writing it out or reading it. And in that moment, when the clerk told her what she owed, I realized the little old woman was trying to scrounge together a few dollars for groceries. Until that moment I thought she was tucking things away, trying to get her money in place.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cashier, “is she trying to pull together enough money to pay for her groceries?” The cashier nodded, “Yes.” The young girl looked at me quizzically. “I would like to pay for that,” I said. It wasn’t some halo moment, and didn’t feel like a big deal, really. It just popped out of my mouth, and the compassion I felt when I said it, was familiar.

I was four again, and mom was in the house with not enough groceries to make a decent meal… then five and the Mexican gypsies appeared, holding out empty bowls, begging for soup. We had so little, still my mother with a bit of fear and fretting offered them each a ladle of her hard work; our meal. Those things stay fresh in the memory forever. And they always come back in moments like this, or when I see a homeless person begging. And I don’t really care at that moment how they got there, and why they are in such a destitute place. I just care that they know someone cares,  and I do something if I can.

The cashier looked momentarily shocked. “You’re sure?” she asked.

“Yes please,” I said. “I’d like to do that.”

The old woman shuffled over then, holding out her fistful of money, just as I prepared to insert my card, and with the cashier trying to explain, “She’s paying for you.” The old woman couldn’t speak English and stared in bewilderment, eyes squinting at me. I motioned to her groceries, pointed to myself and said, “I will pay.” She raised her hands in question, as if to ask a wordless ‘why’. And I couldn’t explain, so I put my hand on my heart. She did it again, and I put my arm around her shoulder and said, “Merry Christmas”. It was all I could think to say that she might understand as a gift. Still she squinted at me.

The debit machine acted up and things were taking a bit longer. I looked at the pretty young girl with the purple hair, who was next in line between us and said, in true Canadian style, “I’m sorry.”

She put her hand on her heart then, and said, “Oh no! Please…” Not knowing what to say, but clearly not bothered by the disruption.

The old lady then tried to hand me her money, but I pointed to her and said she should keep it. She still said nothing, but shuffled back the her bags. And I returned to my place in line and started to put my groceries on the conveyor. I heard the clerk ask, “Are you okay? Are you crying?” And I looked up to see tears in the cashier’s eyes, the young girl choking with emotion, saying she was okay, and a little old woman still staring at me with disbelief in her squinted eyes.

She shuffled out the door, tears in her eyes too, and I blew her a kiss and said, “bless you”, because I didn’t know what else to say or do as she waved one gentle, timid farewell. And the emotion hit me deep inside for a moment, remembering that time long ago.

I don’t know who said what, but somehow between the cashier and the young girl, they started talking to me, and it all took me off guard. Finally the cashier asked, “Do you know her” And my answer was, “No. I don’t know her. But I know about poverty.” And they asked if I had been ‘like that’–presuming they meant homeless–and I said, “No. But my parents….”

I didn’t go into any detail beyond that, but knew my parents had experienced such desperate times that they had lived in a barn with missing barn boards when my second oldest sister–first daughter of dad’s second marriage–was born. Times were hard, many times, in childhood.

The young girl looked at me, immediately after paying, placed her hand on my arm and said, “Thank you for making my day!”

It all happened ‘without a thought’, really, and kind of made my day too. There was the subconscious awareness that Jesus has really blessed my life, and if I can bring practical love into one life, now and then, I am honoured. And I expect this woman, like Rick, another homeless ‘friend’ I’ve met several times in Kitchener, will wander through my heart from time to time for many years to come. And I will pray for her just like I pray for Rick, not out of religious duty, but a sense of deep personal gratitude for the goodness of God in my life.

And it strikes me that as individuals who have suffered sexual abuse we often ‘fumble through our bags, and wallets and paraphernalia’, trying to pull together enough resources to survive.  We see it in front of us, the nutrition we need to survive and grow strong, but most of the time we haven’t the wherewithal to acquire it on our own. So we pull together what little we have, and pull through another day, just getting by emotionally.

Then, one day, someone sees our struggle and looks beyond the exterior, which can be quite unpleasant and certainly in many layers, and they reach out to meet our need. We awkwardly accept, feeling unworthy but deeply moved by the compassion. And we walk away from those moments, recognizing we have been forever changed.

canstockphoto20576384

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

A Child’s Prayer for His Molester

The young boy walked into the coffee shop, a shy smile on his face when he saw me. I rose from my place, walked over to greet him and invite him to my table. Tall for his age, at ten, he would have passed, easily, for twelve.

We met first when I popped in on a friend, and he and his mother were there. My friend steered the conversation, almost abruptly, toward my work with sex abuse victims; her reasons soon revealed; it had recently come to light that the woman’s son, Perry, was molested. In the ensuing moments, I heard a story of betrayal and grief, as raw pain spilled from a mother’s heart.

Listening to her story, I thought how, moments earlier, Perry had come to tell his mother he was heading to the park. Upon seeing me, he stretched out his hand and introduced himself, confidently, holding eye contact–something that stood out from one so young. As Perry’s mom shared how they had walked with him, reassuring him, and removing guilt for the crime committed against him, assuring him it was not his fault, his confidence made sense. Nonetheless, she wondered if I would consider meeting with him. They had involved a social worker, a counselor and done all they could, but felt he needed someone, and feared he was withholding something.

When he walked into the coffee shop, the confidence replaced with a shy smile, I wasn’t surprised. What young boy looks forward with great enthusiasm to talking with a virtual stranger about being abused? Still, he had said he wanted to talk to me, when his mother explained what I do.

We chatted at length about school and what he loves to do, his hobbies, and other casual conversation. When we were both comfortable, the conversation turned…

In the ensuing moments, I heard the heart-breaking struggle of a child, stripped of innocence and hurled into a world of knowledge that he should not have discovered for many years. He told me how the neighbour boys made fun of him, because he had tried to do to another little boy what was done to him, and got caught.

“How does it make you feel, now, talking about it?” I asked.

“I feel bad,” he said, head bowed.

“Do you know why it makes you feel bad?” I asked.

“Because it was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.

“Right. You told the social worker, and apologized, right?” I asked. He nodded. “So what do you do with those feelings?” I asked.

Perry shrugged, then looked up at me with tears in his eyes, “I talk to God.”

“What do you say?” I asked.

“I tell Him I’m sorry. And I ask Him to forgive me,” he said.

“Do you understand that He has forgiven you?” I asked.  Again, he nodded. “What else do you say to God?”

“I ask God to forgive the person who hurt me, to help him never hurt anyone again…” he said.

In that moment, in the middle of a conversation with a little boy, I wanted to kneel down and weep for the children who are so carelessly overlooked, many times. Instead, we continued the conversation and I reassured him, saying I believed he would never hurt anyone again, and how kind it was that he would pray for the person who hurt him.

canstockphoto7696245

Later,  alone, I wept. Is there anything more heart-breaking than a child, whose innocence is so disrupted, carrying the burden & consequence of their abuser’s sin? And is there anything more touching than to hear his voice, praying for his abuser? If I could have captured that sweet voice, sharing his prayer, I would like to think it might have changed thousands of lives…

Oh, church, I plead with you to hear this little boy’s heart cry. He is not the first child to carry this burden and pray this prayer. Tragically, he won’t be the last. His innocence was stolen, creating in him a temptation to hurt other children. Fortunately, he got help before he ever reached his teen years, and the likelihood that he will offend, with appropriate support, is low, but he will always carry the scars of what was done against him.

We must rise up–pastors, parents and men and women of God–and stand in the gap for these little ones! God does not take lightly the violation of a child’s spirit. It is the only sin for which Jesus said, it would be better that a millstone were hung about that person’s neck, and they be drowned in the sea.  He goes on to say that a child’s angel always beholds the face of God, indicating there is an intimate connection between God and children, and angels and children. Should we, God’s sons and daughters, not reflect that same care? Should we not look upon such injustice and act?

Matthew 18:10
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

God is raising up warriors to stand in the gap for these little ones. He is calling pastors, teachers, parents and godly men and women…. Will you turn a blind eye, or will you do the right thing, and honour God?

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)

Between 2 Gods: a Quest for Hope & Truth, in the midst of Abuse & Violence

Announcement: For those interested, the cover of my book, Between 2 Gods, just came out this week. Last night I set up a Facebook page where you can join, and be part of prizes and giveaways that will be announced after the book is released, March 3, 2015. I am going to try to be creative about prizes, and go beyond giving out free books… so don’t miss out! On the BETWEEN 2 GODS page you can also get updates and share your thoughts and comments, or ask questions. (Click on the photo or the red link to visit the page.)

B2G

It’s happening! It is really, truly happening! The dream I dragged around, from place to place, at age twelve– in the form of lined-paper-leftover-school-books, hoping one day to publish my very own book–has become a reality, at long last.

I mentioned it casually, a time or two, in past blogs, I believe, but now we are doing the countdown. I’ve spent much of this past year writing my book, and now, here we are, only 45 days from the release date. That’s six weeks and three days. I’m sure I could find the minutes and hours if I wanted to do a Google search. But, hey, who’s counting? There are so many things I need to do, between now and then, that sitting here ‘counting the time’ isn’t really an option. Every now and then, however, it hits me in the gut, that feeling of anticipation, fear and everything else in the mix: It’s almost here!

And I am most definitely excited. One doesn’t have dreams at twelve, that come to life at forty-five without feeling that excitement. The part of the dream that I would never have imagined at twelve, is the content in my book: my life story… the stuff I was living, right then. I tell it as it was: raw. Though i have tried to  buff up the edges a bit, and withhold a bit of the harshness without altering the accuracy. Of the people who have read it, the response has been positive and encouraging, but feedback has consistently come back with the truth that it’s a lot to take in. Captivating, they tell me, yes, but jolting.

I’ve been honest in my telling of it.  Most readers will go through a whole gamut of emotions. One person, who does not come from a background of abuse, wrote about the anger she felt. She raged at abuse, done in God’s name. It was the fist such response and it shocked me, and scared me a bit.  Some wrote how they couldn’t stop laughing at certain places, in spite of harshness in other places. Yet others expressed grief and sadness. But all found the thread of hope intertwined with what could be a very dark story.  And then my heart was happy!

I would also caution that my memoir is not ideal for a young audience. While I have written discreetly enough to  disguise particularly heavy scenes, relating to sexual abuse, it is still too much for the young reader. If I had my way about it, no one under eighteen would get their hands on it without supervision, if at all, But, then, the Bible is full of some pretty difficult reading too, so I will leave this in God’s hands. I know I read things in the Bible, knowing good and well it was x-rated information and, in hindsight, I only wish I would have had someone safe to talk to about it. So, more than withholding my book from those under eighteen, my prayer is that they will find someone safe to talk to, particularly readers  who identify with my story, and work through their own pain.  And, given statistics, that identification will be the higher percent of the population, either from personal experience or a loved one close to them.

The previous paragraph, that’s a ‘warning’ that some of my readers will almost certainly be offended by some of the content in my book. To be honest, it was a battle for me too, to tell it as it really was. So much so that one day I said to Tim, “That’s it! I can’t do it! The book is off!” Tim calmly supported me, and gave me some time to reconsider. When I ‘recovered’, I spent some time asking God to help me say it in a way that is not destructive… to tell the truth, but not harm or destroy anyone in its wake.  And then I found peace. The verse, in Titus 1:15, plays in my mind: ‘to the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled”, and I realize it is not all on me.

If you find yourself offended by the content, I’m glad. You should be. I am too. And when it makes you feel sick to your stomach, imagine the little toddler who lives it, whose very spirit is offended by the darkness, and who has no voice to fight back, and no one to tell about it. Never mind words to express it. (If I had told someone safe at three, the things I saw and experienced, I might well have had a different story! But God had a redemption plan!)  Unlike you and I, who get to make adult choices, these toddlers and children simply absorb that offense, deep into their spirits, and carry it with them through life. I plead with you to be offended for their sake, and educate yourself for their sake. And please don’t tell me, or others like me, to not tell the truth.  Don’t silence us, because it silences the voices of others like us–babies, toddlers, children and teens–who today suffer what we suffered back then. And then fight for them. You can yell at me, if you need to , to express your frustration with my bold telling of my story. I’ll work through that pain. But they have no words, no voice and none who will hear them. Many, if not most, lack the gifts I have–people who care and listen, and a way to form words, in black and white–to get the darkness out of their spirits.

Instead, it tangles itself, like untamed tentacles, around and into the very fiber of their spirits and identity, forcing them to believe that ‘this is who I am’.. that ‘this thing done to me, defines me’… ‘this is all I have to offer’… and so they remain in bondage to that pain. Not long ago, again, a young woman looked at me and said, “I start to feel as though I was made to be used”. That’s the darkness speaking! You were made for so much more! We were made for so much more! I was made for so much more! That truth has to become personal, for freedom to come!

And that’s the darkness against which I cry in my memoir. That’s the voice I try to share–the unheard toddler, the lost teen, the wandering adult–because they cannot speak. And with their cry, told through the eyes of my own experience, I tell my journey vulnerably, offering Hope. I share with the world the wonder of the One who never lost sight of who He created me to be, even when I had lost all sense of connection to Him, or the child He created.

It has not been easy, telling the truth and reliving it, but I’d do it again, no matter what lies ahead, knowing it will bring hope and freedom to even one person. Just one. If a million strip me for it, and one writes a ‘thank you for helping me’ note–and someone will–then I am committed to thanking God for this incredible opportunity.

You, my friends, have been a source of encouragement through 2014, as I plodded through the ‘muck’ of that writing process. You carried me through your notes, your prayers, your love. And, speaking of prayers, a few of you wrote to say you pray for me every single day!! Can I tell you how much that shocked me and blessed me?! To pray, now and then, is truly a blessing! To pray every day… every day!… That’s breathtaking.  Thank you!

My prayer for each of you is that God will bless you in ways beyond your wildest imaginations and expectations in 2015. For many  of us 2014 was a difficult and painful year, for various reasons. Some of us it was the emotional strain of life–in my case ministry and writing–for some it was the loss of jobs, and finances, and for quite a few it was loss of family and loved ones. I could list a lot of friends who suffered such loss in 2014, and whose grief spills generously into 2015. Yes, it was a hard year…

My prayer is for blessing, peace, healing and restoration in the midst of the ‘stuff of life’, for each one of you! Thank you for blessing my life! My prayer is that in 2015, more than ever, I will be a blessing to you!

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)

Trudy’s YouTube Channel

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

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Return to the First Post in ‘Abigail’s Story’ Series

 

 

 

Is the Answer to Become a Conservative Mennonite Again?

It started in pleasant conversation, with a friend from my former denomination–CMCO Mennonite–and turned into an ‘as-pleasant-as-an-abuse-conversation-can-be’ interaction. We’re on the same side of this battle, her and I–both standing firmly against the wickedness of abuse–and in agreement that the silence must be broken, and help offered to victims, and perpetrators helped and held accountable.

Photo Credit: Toronto Grand Prix Tourist (A Toronto Blog)

I don’t know how it came about, exactly… I carry in my ‘knowledge compartment’ many ‘secrets’ for countless people, and about countless people. Now, they’re not really ‘secrets’ any more, if they are the stories and experiences of my clients, because as we work together, I walk them through the process of repentance, confession and bringing to light the hidden darkness. (Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever is made manifest is light.) Having exposed these things, the darkness is dis-empowered, the secret is broken, and the power is gone.

Still, they are ‘secrets’ in the sense that I am one of very few people whom they choose to tell, besides the people they have wronged or been wronged by, and whatever trusted friends they choose. These stories I carry, without a word to anyone, in my ‘knowing’. I don’t carry the burden of them, because Jesus has taken that burden.

The other kind of secrets, however, are a very different thing. The kind where I know horrible things and the person, or persons, involved have covered up and maybe even lied about it. These still are not mine to carry, but they do offer a different burden. It is troubling to know that ‘good Christians’, including leaders, would not take ownership for sins that have brought great spiritual destruction to others. It bewilders me. (And I don’t care if it happened before church membership, or before accepting Christ. That excuse is nonsense. Take ownership! )

And that is what popped out of my mouth…. The thing I said out loud is a ‘secret’ that I have known for several years, involving several church leaders. It was not told to me in confidence but still I cannot talk about it carelessly, and I don’t. Mostly I don’t tell details at all, unless I am conversing with someone who I think might be able to help, or influence change. I have watched as the aftermath unfolds and chains pass on, but there is nothing can be done on the legal front. (There has been some effort, by some people within the church, but things are managed quite carefully. And they are such ‘nice’ people, some of those with hidden things, that the wool is quickly pulled over the eyes of other leaders.)

Lest anyone think I ought to first go speak to my ‘erring brother’, I agree. And I have. I sat right in his house and asked him if he made the past right, and he said yes.  And with one victim he did–at least he said his piece in church about having become involved in immorality. But when another case was revealed, and another man told me what this leader had done to him, I asked that man, “Didn’t he come back to you and ask for forgiveness?” (Because he had already told me he made things right.)

The man shook his head, weeping and said he never heard from him. “For three years he used me…” he said, tears flowing down his face.

And that is the troubling truth I spilled out a few days ago. “What do I do with this?” I asked. I laid out the picture, how the leader used the man, when they were teens, and how the leader had been used by his older brother–who is also a leader–who had a sexual relationship with his cousin, and all three of their children having continued to abuse others.  And nothing can be done because everyone is past sixteen and those who know don’t want a kerfuffle in church, and those not in church have no proof. Just their tears, scars and struggles…

There was a pause.

“What am I supposed to do with all that? What is the right thing to do?” I asked again, earnestly. Her response completely blind-sided me. She is very thoughtful. Calculated.

“Now…” she paused, as if collecting her thoughts and arranging her words, just right. That, or she was’t sure how I would take what she had to say. “I think you are very balanced in what you have to say. You really know about how to work with this stuff…”

She paused again and came in with a most stunning question. “Have you ever thought about coming back to the church, and pulling with us?” She said some more things about that, but it all blurred together as I processed. No one had ever invited me to come back before.

“It would never work,” I said. I didn’t need time to think about it much. Because I already have. Probably a thousand times or more. “I would never be received back into any Mennonite church.” How to explain what I have seen play out in the lives of others…

“Why wouldn’t it work?” she asked ask sincerely, and innocently, as if not able to imagine the rejection that would be inevitable..

To write all that flashed through my mind at that moment would make a fine little book. To condense it, difficult.

“It just wouldn’t,” I said. “I wouldn’t be received.”

“What do you mean by that?”

I explained something she might have known, having watched me all those years ago, struggling to fit in. But it seemed to have evaded her. I think she just accepts me as I am, and doesn’t quite understand the fires I dance through, still, and did since childhood, for the things I say and do. For simply being who I am.

“I never fit in, even back then, before I had experienced another world, another culture. I don’t fit the mould; I’m not quiet, reserved… and could never go back to trying. I’m more of a Deborah… a Jael… I’ll put a nail through the head (figuratively speaking) if that is what it takes to do God’s work. I’m different… And I spent my whole childhood, a misfit, not able to line up. I couldn’t do that again. And, even if I did, I would be silenced so fast…”

Again she needed me to explain it. Her sweet innocence really believed that I could come back, follow the rules, and be a real asset to the healing and redemption in the church. To the ending of sexual abuse.

Oh how I wish! Would I be willing to go back if I knew I could change the lives of hundreds of children? Absolutely! Hated or not, and rejected or not, I could and I would! But, alas, as others have tried and I have watched them be put out of their churches for everything from ‘sewing discord’ to ‘bad attitudes’ to ‘lack of submission’. And, looking at the lies and rumours I have had to bear for my work, even being ‘outside’ the church–and I mean blatant lies, that someone conjured out of thin air, coming from leadership (I just heard of another deacon’s wife spreading lies this week)–I cannot imagine I would make it more than a day, or two.

Oh, sure, I said, there are some who I think would receive me well. Even leaders. And I mentioned one couple, not far from here, who I think really would try. Genuinely. They wouldn’t understand me, but they would love and accept me if I came back. I know it. But I would be a thorn in the flesh of the church, and the emotional, psychological and spiritual angst it would stir up, to experience on the inside what I have experienced from a distance, would throw the strongest of souls into deep depression.

Even at a distance that is a demon I have fought, almost daily, in working with ‘my people’, and dealing with sexual abuse in my cultural background. Almost daily, before my feet ever hit the floor, I lecture myself about God’s love and goodness, reminding myself that He has my back, that He knows the truth, that He is on my side. Because I know when I start moving my feet, and the rumours trickle in, I will need that ‘helmet of truth’ firmly in place.  I know that if I am not grounded with Him, I will be a bleeding soldier at the end of the day, with no hope left. With Him, I am a bleeding soldier, but His blood gives me life, even as I seem to bleed out on the ground.

Would I go back to the church of my childhood? No. Because I know better than to believe that dealing with the sexual abuse within, would work any better as ‘one of them’ than it has from a distance.

Really, what she said was very sweet. It seemed sincere in every way. Not some manipulation to get me back inside the walls. Not at all. But a genuine belief that we could work together.  And that was quite an honour, to be sure.

My prayer is that God will raise up godly men and women within, who have influence at a leadership level, to tackle this darkness head-on. My prayer is that walls crumble. That there is help for victims and perpetrators alike. It is the only way to bring an end to this violence, crime and evil.

So, while I may don the attire for a purpose, and though I will always have love and compassion for ‘my people’ in my heart,  I think that question is settled, deep in my heart…

But to imagine it, for just a moment in my head,  was fun. If I were to return, the bigger question would be ‘which kind of Mennonites?’ and I have already narrowed that down to two options…

It would be Amish or Old Order Mennonite, without question…

July 7 2012--2 Wagler family 158b

 

 

© Trudy Metzger

Donate to:  Book Translation Project

To Donate: Generations Unleashed, and Help Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Church
(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

Trudy’s YouTube Channel

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

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Return to the First Post in ‘Abigail’s Story’ Series

 

 

 

A Picture Blog… “Close to Home”

Sometimes words fail. Like this last week…. There are things I want to write about… things I want to tell you, but the time isn’t right. And so I wait, in silence… patiently, or impatiently… until I am free to express and share…

In the meantime, I spent hours this week wandering through the beautiful wooded area of the Mill Race at St Jacobs. It was there, on a snowy night, where Tim and I admitted our love for each other, to ourselves… It is there we made a promise to wait until marriage for sexual intercourse… It is there we named our first baby, on that same night…

And it is the Mill Race where I go to be alone with God and nature… to wander and enjoy the peace and wonder of who He is, even when He seems silent, or far away. It is where I go when my heart feels lost and empty… when I am devastated or angry…. or any other reason that might make me feel the need to be alone.

This week I went to still my restless heart and enjoy the tranquillity  of God’s creation.  And then I wandered some other places and took more pictures…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

© Trudy Metzger

 

To Donate: Generations Unleashed, and Help Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Church
(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

 

Trudy’s YouTube Channel

 

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

 

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

 

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

 

Return to the First Post in ‘Abigail’s Story’ Series


The Dawn of A New Day

Sunrise. It is a precious moment. One I rarely experience and each time I do I lecture myself to do it more frequently. In heeding my lectures, I confess, I am a slow learner.

As I again witness the dawn of a new day, I marvel at God’s creation. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork’. The psalmist David may well have been watching the dawn of a new day when he wrote those words. He enjoyed God’s creation.

As the darkness fades, the sun begins to shed its light, before we even see it peeking over the horizon. It is gradual and comforting, inviting me to worship the God who designed this incredible plan.

I watch and my heart is moved. My God is so wonderful!

 

I remember the day my soul experienced the rising of The Son. When my spirit was set free from the darkness that had me bound. In His love, God revealed Himself slowly and gently. He was kind and patient, like the sun slowly spreading its light, He showed Himself to me. Then there was that moment when the sky, blazing a fiery red, burst into light, and I saw Him. I felt His arms surround me, warmth streaming through my body, stirring my cold, sin-hardened heart to new life. It was a glorious dawn.

The memory makes my heart cries out, “Jesus, Jesus! How I love you! I, who did not deserve you, have been blessed by Your love, Your embrace! Thank you Jesus!”  The birds chirp excitedly, as though hearing the thrill of my heart.

Yes, the heavens declare the glory of God; all creation speaks of the awesome Creator of the universe!

And as I listen, I hear Him whisper gently, “There is another dawn more magnificent than this. The joy you experience as you witness the rising of the sun does not begin to compare with the joy you will know when you come into my presence forever. It is for that glorious dawn that My Son died and rose, shedding His light on the darkness of sin that covered the earth, so that you could be with me.”


Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
Continue reading…

© Trudy Metzger 2012

To enter the Free Book contest, click HERE.
Note: Enter a maximum of once daily per person.

When I Feel Lost… He is My Everything

Society, culture and the church, maybe especially the church, have made it taboo for us to admit or talk about depression, in its various forms.

Sometimes nature is God’s way of saying, “I’m here. You’re going to be ok.”

As always, silence is the monster that stands guard and prevents us from revealing the truth, and fear is the fodder that feeds the monster. It prevents us from shedding light on that truth, by sharing our struggles without shame, and bringing hope to those trapped and alone.

We fear that, if we expose what really happens in our minds—whether past or present—and share the spiritual battles we face, we will be judged, rejected and labeled. The fears are valid. Odds are some will do this to us.

For this reason I have spent many years silently fighting through bouts of depression, willing myself not to see that I struggled. I thought if I could pretend it wasn’t there, then it would go away. But it didn’t.

In my early years as a wife and mom, post-partum depression had a terrible impact on our family. The first few years I did my best to hide it completely from Tim. With time I allowed him small glimpses, but never fully opened up to him for the first seven years. It was a dark, lonely road.

Some of my children remember, vaguely, who I was then, and what life was like. Trapped in a mind that was unwell, I withdrew into myself. I tried to be a good mom, the best that I could be, and sometimes I did well for a time. But when ‘real life’ would take over, I became overwhelmed, and every little thing sent me into a temper, or caused me to withdraw in silent depression.

This cycle brings shame, defeat, and more depression. That is, until we find the root of it. My ‘depression’ is never true, clinical depression, but rather a spiritual depression. And, without fail, the root for me is a false belief about God. And that belief inevitably leads to a false belief about myself. I am created to reflect God, and if my perception of Him is off, my representation of Him will also be off. Most likely, if my perception of Him is not right, then I will lose trust and instinctively I turn to trusting myself more than God.

I am not unlike Jonah, running furiously in the wrong direction because I don’t like what God is telling me to do, knowing it will cost me. Or Elijah, camping out under a Juniper, running from death, all the while asking God to take his life so the enemy won’t kill him. Our thirst for control lands us in some dark places, just as it did the great prophets of old. Still, God uses us. He has a purpose.

As I think of it, I am very much like them. Except they didn’t hide their struggle like I do. Like our culture has trained us to do. They wore their anger and depression on their sleeves, not hiding the truth from God or man.

We would do ourselves huge favours to live more like them. No pretentiousness. If we would stop feeding the monster of silence through our fears, we would be more free.

And the wailing wall. I like that too. It is another thing we could use. Imagine us all, lined up at the wailing wall to mourn loudly. They even had professional wailers. I could do that, I think. Once I got past my pride and concern about image. I could stand at the wall and wail for others, all the while venting my own feelings.

How have we become so dignified that we must pretend? Why can’t we just be honest and say, much like King David, “Life is horrible. Everything is going wrong. My enemies are prospering… When, O God, will you come through for me?” And then, in true King David style, we could humble our hearts and say, “But you are my God, and I love you. I know you have my back and I have nothing to fear!”

Just imagining such freedom brings me joy. If I could speak my heart, without people flinching, that would make me feel safe. If I could look you in the eye and tell you, honestly, how I feel, with no fear of judgement or rejection, then my hear t would feel at home. So that is just what I will do. Except for the looking you in the eye part.

In the past little while this spiritual depression has begun again. As a result, I have become more introspective. Reflecting on the things of God and the things of my heart a bit more intently,because they are so intertwined, not only with each other, but with my core identity.

When things are not right with God, I feel lost. And then all is amiss. In Him I find the answer to my need, even while all else is not right. He is the breath I breathe and the life I pour it. He is my everything.

© Trudy Metzger 2012