When Life Disappoints

It’s an easy thing to write about trusting God, and share all kinds of happy thoughts, when life is good. But what about when life disappoints? When you’re fairly certain God opened a door, and just as suddenly it swings shut. Maybe even pinching your fingers, or slamming you in the face

That’s when trust requires faith.

For the past several years I have wanted (almost desperately) to study. But always the doors have closed, before they even opened. The advantage to that was that it never hurt too much. No fingers caught, no bruised nose. Eventually, I laid that dream down, intending not to revisit until my children are fully grown.

And then it happened… the door cracked open again, and I stepped in. Yes! This time I actually got in the door. Just the front door, but in the door none-the-less. I signed up to ‘audit’ a class, with the option of completing for credit, on the condition I register for full time next year.

This would have been completely impossible, financially, except for one thing. The Seminary will fore-go (or cover) one third of the tuition cost, if one third of the cost is sponsored, and as long as the student pays one third. On top of that they have payment plans that don’t rip people off, and that’s how they help students follow their dreams in ministry.

That’s a bit more manageable, for someone like me, being in ministry and raising a family. I felt hope rise up. But there was one catch….

They encouraged me to enroll for one class and see what I think. In the meantime they would see what they could do about ‘the catch’ in the plan. The sponsor must be a church, not a person, not a business. I have businesses, and individuals who believe in me enough to sponsor me, from time to time, and I have not exhausted the list of possibilities. I was quite confident I could raise $7000. No problem, I thought. So they said they would see if they could work something out.

I started studies, and immediately fell in love with it. I knew I would. I’ve always loved studying. Even exams. As long as I get to choose the topic. Throw some trigonometry or calculus at me and my tune might change, or I may doze of altogether. But anything to do with English, Science, Religion/Faith, or Politics, and I’m right there.

So when we jumped into studying Second Temple Judaism, and learning about Alexander the great, and how he ruled from 356BC to 333BC…. and how he conquered from Mesopotamia to India with an army of 35000 men… and how those men trusted him with such loyalty that they would line up and march over cliffs to show that allegiance and strike fear in the hearts of kings… and about Josephus… I was so excited. Several years of intense study for a Masters Degree. Yes! Couldn’t wait!

That’s when the door swung shut, suddenly. I learned, that, having looked at their policy, the Seminary cannot accept donations from people willing to sponsor. The donation must come directly from a church, to them. A local congregation has to believe in me enough to put up $7000 for me to have them sponsor a matching amount, and leaving me with the same.  My heart sank.

First off, many churches don’t want to touch a ministry like mine. It’s probably the most awkward ministry that exists, and it disrupts ‘image’. No, the work I do, thrives in the secular world, far more readily, where social justice is fought for, than in ‘the church’, where acknowledging such things is still quite scary for many, if not most. (God bless the churches who dare to go there–I am connected to a small handful.)

(I learned a few hours later that they would also accept multiple churches going together to sponsor that portion. But it has to be churches, and one church would need to be willing to collect the money and send payment.)

I ran the list of churches that I know who are comfortable with this topic. I had a few. They exist. But not many that I know. And to follow all the CRA rules and make it happen ‘above board’ is the next hurdle, with no easy solution.

It’s hard, when life disappoints, and the dreams you could almost taste and feel, wake you up to a new reality. I haven’t given up. Not yet. Not even on the sponsorship thing.

They say, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.” But I say, “Where it is God’s will, there is a way.”

And since I believed with every ounce of my being that this was God’s will, and that He was opening a door, I can’t let it go ‘just like that’, without another step forward, and another prayer. I will see what creative ideas God sends my way, and give them all I have.

Then, when I have done everything in my power to follow this dream, if the door still swings shut, then I will let it go. But not a moment sooner. Because even when life disappoints there is reason to give our best, to go as far as we can, and not lay down and die.

But always, always, we must choose to trust God, no matter the outcome, if we want to live in the fullness of His blessing.

©TrudyMetzger

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

When Should You ‘Tell All’ to Your Teens About Sex?

One of the hardest things about tackling the topic of sexual abuse, and breaking the silence and advocating for survivors of abuse, is that it requires constantly staring the past in the eye, one way or another. This can be wearing, if not managed well, and requires introspection to ‘nip in the bud’ any negative impact being in this kind of ministry can have.

I am blessed to have a supportive husband, who also is tuned in to the impact ministry has on me, and together we try to stay balanced. But for all the balance in the world, it is faith in Jesus that keeps me strong and focused, without being sucked into the horror of the stories I hear, let alone my own past.

Yesterday I took a day off of my series on Sexual Abuse and Violence, to honour a friend who died suddenly and tragically, in a crash. The thought of what his family is suffering right now quite overwhelmed me. When I hear of tragedy such as this, and the painful aftermath, I realize again that this is not what we were created for. This pain and trauma, caused by sin and death, is more than the human mind and body are created to handle. That is why we need Jesus.

It is this comfort, that Jesus is willing to carry for us, those things that we were not created for, that helps me shift my focus. I shift from the tragedy of death and sin, to the triumph of the cross. From the  wounds I carry, to the battle I need to fight. And from the battle I need to fight, to the Saviour who already conquered sin on the cross, and took authority over death.

With that in mind, I dive back in….

Training our children about sexuality has been (mostly) a fun journey, after we made it past the initial awkwardness. Okay… that is my opinion. Tim, who is reserved and private, would hardly describe it that way.

On her twelfth birthday, after all the action had settled down, I was on our bed studying when Alicia joined me. I was finishing my Grade 12 studies, having determined that a GED was not satisfying. I wanted to work for my diploma. I wanted actual exams and classes to attend, and reclaim what I had missed out in my youth.

I laid my books aside to chat with Alicia, when she asked why it is important for women to cover up and dress modestly. (I had said ‘no’ to an outfit not long before this)

I explained that it is good and important to cover our bodies out of respect for ourselves and people around us, but that balance is important. We don’t want to not be so hung up on it that it becomes all-consuming and a religious ‘measuring stick’ to determine salvation. She wanted a better answer. The ‘why’ it even mattered. What was wrong about exposing our bodies.

Ah yes, that little bitty detail… Perfect material for a bedtime chat.

I can’t tell you exactly what trail led us there, but enough questions later, Alicia knew about erections, penetration and how men are wired to be visually stimulated.

Her eyes about popped out at the penetration. “It actually has to go inside?!”

I assured her that it’s all part of God’s plan, that it’s not painful as it sounds it could be.  I told her that by the time you’re married and in love, it’s a God-blessed relationship and it is all ‘right’ and good.

We were wrapping up the conversation when Alicia asked in a whisper, “Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

Playfully, I answered in a whisper, “I think he’s hiding in the bathroom.”

“I would hide too!” she exclaimed, “if someone was telling all that about my body!”  No sooner had she spoken the words than Tim walked in the room. He got that look on his face that said, ‘I don’t think I want to be part of this conversation.’

“Am… I…. interrupting something?” he asked.

“Not at all! You’re welcome to join us, if you wish,” I answered.

With a grin he declined and said he’s heading downstairs, leaving Alicia and me on our bed, giggling.

When I went to teach Nicole about these things, when she turned twelve, she calmly told me, “Mom, I already know that stuff.”

“Don’t you want me to explain it just to make sure?” I asked.

“No.”

Okay then. No need to waste words.

With the boys we explained nocturnal emissions, and how that wasn’t something to be ashamed of, or worry about. Even random ‘leaking’ or spills were nothing to feel bad about, just a matter of ‘covering up’ in public. We told them of other changes their bodies would go through and the need for good hygiene. (That hasn’t always worked…. ) And then we told them about the female cycle and the importance of being gentle with their sisters, explaining the rise and fall of their emotions.

“Well they must already have that,” Bryan said matter-of-factly when we explained the mood swings to him. I guess that part is obvious.

It’s a wonderful thing when children are respectfully informed. I also believe it is biblical. But that’s at least 500 words worth, so I’ll save that for another day. In practical day-to-day living, things run more smoothly, and boys are very understanding when their sisters are not well, and they know why.

The past few days one of our daughters has been in a lot of pain because of menstrual cramps. Last evening our whole family was watching the Olympics and she moaned around a bit, then looked up and asked, “Bryan, would you mind getting me a cup of water please?”

Without hesitation, and with a look of compassion, he did it for her.

When Tim prayed at dinner, he prayed that her cramps would go away and that she would feel better.

I am convinced of this, when my boys get married, they will be sensitive and caring. They will be prepared for what goes with a woman’s monthly cycle and will treat their wives well.

It is no wonder that the enemy loves silence in Christian circles. There is so much power in the truth! Yes, every family needs to be discerning in the ‘when and how’, but to not do it at all, because of fear and awkwardness, is a cop-out and a tragedy.

Have we done it perfectly? No. I doubt it. But the door is open and our children know we’re available. They know God thinks they’re pretty awesome, right down to their sexual identity. It was His idea after all, the way He designed us just before He said, “It is very good!”

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Sexual Abuse & Violence: Understanding God’s Original Intent

To understand the abuse of something, we must first understand its intended purpose. The first step in preventing sexual abuse is proper education. While this is not ‘fool proof’, it does serve as somewhat of a protection. As parents it is our responsibility to teach our children healthy sexuality, and healthy sexual self-image.

This is first and foremost rooted in a healthy view of God. If I trust God, I trust His purposes. If I trust His purposes, I respect His original intent and recognize that any deviation from that plan is ultimately destructive in my life. God didn’t create us and then, as an after-thought, slap on a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ so that He could sit back and be entertained by our struggle. Sometimes we treat Him as though that is how it is.

 

In the Garden of Eden, God made Adam. Adam was not incomplete as a man. He was whole, in the image of God, nothing lacking. Except human companionship. God could have left him there like that, but God saw that it was not good for mankind to do life alone.

Why? What harm could it or would it have done?

Adam was made in the image of God, but on his own he could not fully reflect God. More than anything else, God is relational, loving and giving, always working for the good of His children, always giving life to others. Without human companionship, Adam would have had no choice but to be introverted, having no one to invest in relationally. And Adam could not have reflected God as Creator and life-giver. To create life requires two humans and One God, again establishing God’s design for relationship and His interest in His Creation.

Just as God breathed life into Adam and Eve, He placed in them the ability to procreate, and have children, just as we are God’s children. This made them parents and, again, they reflected God. To this day we reflect God, or our beliefs about Him. not only in the procreation experience of intimacy and childbirth, but also in the way that we parent.

I have, on occasion, heard teachings that only Adam was created in God’s image, and Eve, as his helper, was merely pulled out of Adam. Almost as an afterthought. But the creation process was not a random series of experiments by God, in a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-His-pants’ style project. Every step, every move in God’s plan had a purpose, communicating specific messages so that we would understand who He is. To reach in Adam’s chest, and create Eve out of Adam’s rib, was a deliberate act of God, creating a strong bond between them, and it made her no less created in His image. Genesis 1:27  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Individually we reflect God, and, in a marriage union, as one man and one woman, we reflect God together. Our sexual identity is deeply personal, and intended to be protected, guarded and saved for marriage. In marriage, our sexuality is still deeply personal, but shared vulnerably with our spouse, as a symbol of complete acceptance and unselfish love. It is a level of intimacy that, in an ideal world, is shared only between one husband and one wife. (God knows we don’t have a perfect world. Virginity, celibacy, and monogamy are a rare thing, even in the church.)

Repeatedly the Bible says that a man and a woman are to leave their families and become ‘one flesh’. (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8; Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:31) It was God’s original intent that we bond sexually with only one person, that we become ‘one flesh’ and nurture that relationship in selfless sacrifice, as a reflection of His faithfulness, His unconditional love for us, and His full acceptance of us.

When we mess with God’s purpose, and pervert the natural (and obvious) plan for us, especially in the area of our sexuality, we mess with our core identity. As image bearers of our Creator God, we misrepresent Him, we defile ourselves, and pay a high price, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

This is especially true when this innocence is forcibly taken from us through childhood sexual abuse, exposure to pornography against our will, rape or any other form of sexual violence. There is pain even with wrong personal choices, but it cannot compare to the trauma that goes with these violations.

If there was not such incredible power for good, especially spiritual power, in our sexual identity, then it would not and, indeed, could not have the power for evil and destruction that it has. It would be a neutral experience. Only something with powerful potential for good, has the potential for dynamic evil. Spiritually, one potential cannot exist without the other. The greater the potential for good, the greater the potential for evil. That is part of the curse of the knowledge of good and evil.

Stop and ask yourself this question, “What has caused more damage in our world than sexual perversion?” And, if your answer is ‘murder’, I would add this question, “How often is murder linked to sexual sin?” It is not uncommon for an ex-lover, or a ‘would be’ lover, to commit murder. Granted, many other things can trigger it, but there is a sexual connection in over 90% of male-offender murders. (See Statistics Here) This alone should convince us that there is deeper and more spiritual power in our sexuality, than a physical act. If it has the power to unleash this kind of demonic power, then it has to be spiritual.

Even when murder is not connected to anything sexual, many victims would echo that death seems less traumatic than the thought of being violated to the extreme. These most horrific of sexual violations, no human being should need to live with.

Within the context of marriage between a husband and wife, sexuality is blessed by God, and is a form of worship. When God created man and woman, He said, “It is very good…. Be fruitful and multiply.” When we function within God’s plan, we stand in agreement with Him in saying, “What You created is very good. We honour You as our Creator.” When we honour God, we worship Him, and when we worship Him, we are made whole.

It is little wonder that the church of Jesus Christ is a broken, wounded Body, limping through life, with little of substance to offer the world. If we cannot fight for this most basic area of our God-given identity, by fighting for innocent children who are brutally violated by professing Christians, then we have lost sight of God. If we don’t honour God, in the area of our core identity—in reflecting His image—the consequence is, as described in Romans 1, that God will turn people over to unnatural desires….

Jesus would not stand by and accept our self-preserving shrugs and excuses, as we pretend ‘it doesn’t happen in our church’. He would clean house.

We as the Body of Christ have failed God. We have looked to religion. We have protected image. We have sacrificed our children for our pride. We have played God. And society is a direct reflection of that sin. Romans 1 is in full play and we are not innocent.

May God forgive us, if we will only repent.

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series