Old Hymns, Sexual Abuse & Does Jesus Love the Children?

It slipped across my Facebook page so quickly I almost missed it. “The Hymns Collection by the Wiebes” caught my eyes. I’ve heard of them, often. I even ‘Liked’ their page, but for some reason never saw the updates. I scrolled back to the post. Hymns

The Hymns Collection cover art

I have a thing about Hymns. I love them. But I can’t listen to them. Okay, let me try that again. I love some of them, and I can’t listen to most of them… unless I’m alone. The powerful connection between hymns and the years of sexual abuse and violence in my life is so intense that I come unraveled easily.  The thing is, the tears are not usually about the abuse. In fact, for most hymns, the tears spill over in thankfulness. They remind me that God was there, then, when the brutality and trauma held me captive. I listen to them now, and realize how His grace kept me in moments when my mind should have gone mad.

My brother Wil and I talked last week, at his home and he said what I’ve often said, “You know, it’s a miracle we didn’t lose our minds,” and shook his head. We should have… would have… But God…

And that’s the story those hymns tell, of a time in days gone by. Granted, there are several that were sung at meetings when false guilt about sins committed against me tormented my soul and I couldn’t find peace for trying. Like ‘Just As I Am’ and ‘Almost Persuaded’… Those hymns I struggle with so that I can hardly listen to them. They tangle my spirit in such a tight wad that I feel like I’ll never get untangled. And then my spirit shuts down completely until I feel dead and numb.

That was the second thing that happened, when I saw the collection of hymns; I felt the risk of my spirit getting all knotted up. And I wanted none of it. But, seeing I was free to sample the sound, curiosity won out, and I clicked play. I anticipated a snippet of a song, like iTunes offers, and then I would return to my own playlist. Having hit play, I returned to reading some blogs I follow, and searching new ones. I read stories and testimonies written by believers. Several atheist’s blogs, and an agnostic/atheist. He wasn’t sure.  He didn’t think there was a God, but wanted to find Him, if He indeed exists…

In the background, the music plays… The sound, peaceful. The words, familiar. My spirit is at rest. ‘Just as I Am’ plays, without tears, without incident. Angela Wiebe’s voice, angelic, sweet and about as heavenly as any I’ve heard, takes the sting right out of the memories.  My spirit does not shut down. Listening to the words, now, I hear the sweetness of response to God’s love; the running into His open arms, ‘just as I am’, to a place of safety. And I realize He was there, then, in those troubled times of guilt and shame. 

I kept reading… Stories of choosing forgiveness, while struggling with grief of the loss sexual abuse brings. Stories of wondering if God noticed at all. Someone frustrated with the loneliness of it all… no one wants to break the silence; not the church, not the media, not anyone, she said. Everyone is content to turn a blind eye.

Don’t I know it! I feel my heart sinking, as the loneliness of what I do stares me in the face. I push it down and keep reading….

And then it happened… Tears blurred my eyes as the words on the page ripped ruthlessly at my heart. Words telling of a child–or was it several children–molested, raped and murdered by their parents. I didn’t read further. The other stories were of overcoming, victory, struggle and reaching for hope. Adults beyond the actual abuse, now dealing with the aftermath. This one was different. It was current. Children…

Oh God, have mercy! My heart choked up on that one sentence and something snapped, and then everything inside me broke. The tears started…

“...Lifted up was He to die, “It is Finished!” was His cry…Hallelujah, what a Saviour” The song plays, victorious, followed by ‘My Jesus I love Thee’, the mournful sound of strings, as if weeping for the children, cries out loud for my heart. And I know Jesus weeps. He loved the children. He loves the children.

That was 10:00pm… Now, here I am, many hours later, the clock moving steadily towards 3:00am, and still the tears fall. Music has always created a deep tenderness in my spirit, far back as I remember. To read of those children when my heart was at it’s most vulnerable, because of those hymns, did a number on me.

I tried to go to sleep, in bed beside Tim, who wrapped his arms around me when he found me crying for the children, so that I could not even speak. I tried to settle down, but the minute my head hit the pillow, I saw them, their little eyes weeping, pleading and frightened. And the tears started again, as my soul cried out, “Oh Jesus… Oh Jesus… be with the children… hold the children…”

It is late, and the hymns are still playing…

“…To our bountiful Father above, we will offer a tribute of praise… for the glorious gift of His love, and the blessings that hallow our days… ”  I lift my tear-stained face to the heavens, and offer praise from a wounded heart to an incredibly faithful Heavenly Father. Arms, scarred and weak, I raise in worship to the One who carried me back then, when the hymns seemed to mock my pain.  The One who carries me still…

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I want to pray, but no words form. And then suddenly my heart finds rest.. . He will carry them too.  Jesus will carry the children.

Jesus will carry you.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger