Update: Anabaptist Church’s ministry moves Bronx nurse to tears

Last evening Rich shared an update that left me in tears. It is so beautiful, the doors God opens, and how the care of His children gives the weary frontline workers a safe place:

***Quick report on today’s opportunities to deliver Subway/ DD/deli sandwiches, sodas, box of Joe (DD) and box of hot chocolate to the ER workers at Jacobi Medical Center. Our contact, the director of communications at Jacobi, asked us to meet her at the ambulatory entrance to the trauma center, so we pulled up there and offloaded our food and drinks, enough for about 60 people. Our friends Stan and Sharon from our church made these cool little cards with verses on one side and “If you need prayer” contact information on the back and we taped the cards on the sandwich wrappers. Sandy prayed with our hospital friend who received the food with gratefulness. She said that her father has just been admitted to the hospital this morning, and she talked about the stresses of this time at the hospital. She also took a small packet of masks that our friend Sharon had sewn and told Sandy that they could definitely use these masks for patients and other people who come to the ER.

Our friend Brendan from our church got the Subway sandwiches, so it was a neat team effort. Our daughter Bri was closing down the Eastchester Dunkin’ Donuts this afternoon because the owner (he has seven Dunkin’ Donuts) needs to consolidate his dwindling work force. So the owner told Bri to give the doughnuts and bagels to her parents to give to the hospital. Sandy returned that afternoon to DD to pick up those items and she spoke with a police officer in line. She had the opportunity to speak with that police officer and pray with him, and he recommended that she take the free doughnuts to the EMS station. Sandy thought to herself that this is what she loves to do, pray for people.  She took the doughnuts and bagels and headed off to where she thought was the local EMS station, but the GPS took her back to Jacobi. So there she was at the Jacobi Medical Center. Sandy sat in the car and prayed about what to do. She saw an ambulance pull up and decided to go up and offer the food to the paramedics. A male nurse came up behind her from getting out of his car and said “May I help you?” She said “I just came to encourage you today.” He lifted his glasses to look at her and told her “I had to step away from the madness for a little while and take a break.” The man started to cry and Sandy asked if she can pray for him. She stood there, praying for this big male nurse, with tears running down his cheeks. The man told her that he and his coworkers had just stepped outside earlier that afternoon and held hands and prayed, because there is so much stress. Here is this big guy, broken up and crying, telling her “I just had to step away from it for a while.”

Brianna has two coworkers who have each lost family members to COVID-19 in the past week. One of her co-workers lost her Grandpa, and they couldn’t even go to visit him while he was in the hospital. Another of her co-workers lost her Uncle. The co-worker who lost her Grandpa is now at home, sick.

Our friend up the block on Corsa Avenue is perhaps a few years older than us, and she has been hospitalized since Friday with COVID-19. Today they had to put her on the ventilator, which seems kind of like her health is headed in the wrong direction. Please pray for our friends and neighbors around here, and pray for us. The “news” out there gets more real when it is the news right here in our community.

Rich ***

Today they planned to serve the local EMS.

Again, if you would like to financially support the costs of this ministry,  the following email is the church’s PayPal: bjcgive@gmail.com

******

One medical professional, I am told by a friend, had to wrap over a dozen dead bodies in black plastic yesterday, March 31, 2020. Unless we are them, we cannot possibly imagine being responsible for that task. The strain of this, knowing that with each infected body they are exposing themselves to this virus, and with that exposure they risk infecting their families at home, is almost too much for some. Yet they press on, knowing they, too, could be that body. You don’t work that closely with death and not feel your own mortality. It is no small wonder that a medical professional would be reduced to tears when a kind strangers shows up to care and pray.

It is my hope that hearing these inspiring stories will give more believers the courage to be bold in love, practical service and prayer in this COVID-19 crisis. We live with pre-conceived notions about the people around us. A big tough nurse, on the outside, does not show us a tender soul on the inside, taxed to the endth degree by present circumstances. To be surrounded by thousands dead and dying in your city and hospital, as these healthcare professionals are in New York, would be most difficult. Not only is there sickness and death, there is the awareness that loved ones are being torn apart in their time of suffering.  That is a form of suffering all its own; one these healthcare providers are obligated to enforce. One we do well to be aware of, to pray for the healthcare providers, all frontline workers, the sick and dying, and to support those in our lives who are isolated in ways that wear down the mind and body.

I think of my brother fighting a hard battle with cancer. He has been courageous, as has his wife. We, as family, have tried to visit regularly — with some able to go more frequently than others — and cook for them. Now they are isolated, going through this battle without the physical presence of friends and loved ones. I hear her voice, the loneliness and heaviness of the journey, and ache for them.

These are difficult times for many. I am more introvert than extrovert — ambivert would be most accurate — and adjust easily to being home, or being alone, though I do miss friends from time to time, and especially miss seeing our children and grandchildren. For many this is depressing and lonely. For those in abuse situations, this is a terrifying time. As someone who grew up in violence, I remember well how times of stress and financial hardship escalated violence and death threats. For those spouses and children, this isolation is a most hellish thing.

In some way most of us, or all of us, have been impacted, in big or small ways, and for many this increases the risk of depression and suicide. As believers in Jesus, we have love and hope to offer, even if only by extending a listening ear.

For this reason the churches who insist on meeting, rather than allowing themselves to be ‘scattered to serve’, boggle my mind. Whatever the motive — whether to prove they can do their thing, or to keep the money rolling in, or whatever else might be their motives — it does nothing to convince the world of love. Absolutely nothing. It is selfish.

If we would all lay aside our temporary losses and call one another to love, prayer and kind deeds, would we not exemplify the love of Jesus beautifully? This is what drew me to the little Anabaptist church in NYC. They are heroes. They are human. They are not seeking to be noticed or idolized. (So please don’t). But they are living the love of Jesus well. They are preaching with their hands and their feet, and encouraging through prayer. They inspire me… make me ask, “What can I do to show His love?”

And amid the pressure of completing this term of university, I’m trying to find little ways of making a difference.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will have opportunity to serve our fellow mankind,  to rise up like we never have before, to carry the burden of the inevitable cost and consequences resulting from this tragic time. We need to prepare our hearts today for this call, and the doors God will open for us to take His love into the world around us.

To have one foot firmly planted in the present reality — so we can be present and supportive, and the other firmly rooted in eternity, with a heart invested in Jesus and people, this is my desire and my commitment.

My prayer for you, for me, for us today is quite simple, “Jesus, hold your children tonight. The lost ones. The found ones. The struggling ones. The secure ones. We invite you to be present in our stories, in every part. Help us, who know you, to be mindful of those in need around us… to lean in and listen to the fears around us and offer love and compassion… to hear the hearts that feel lost and alone, and offer encouragement. Help us to represent you well. Always. And in all ways. Thank you for loving us in our brokenness. Now, help us love others in their brokenness too. Amen.”

NOTE: If you have a good news story you would like me to share in the midst of the tragedy of COVID-19 , send it to my personal email. There will be no shortage or tragedy in coming days, and that tragedy needs to be acknowledged. But we also need to hear encouraging stories, and see humans coming together to support one another, and blessing those who are in the front lines.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

When Christmas Cheer Brings Christmas Tears: A Season of Pain for Victims

There’s no denying it! The Christmas season is upon us! And, though it didn’t last, the winter wonderland  that made its bold appearance well before December, put some of us in the mood for it. As more and more twinkly lights appear, and Christmas music plays in stores and on the radio, the cheer of the season gets inside of me. I love the thrill of Christmas, with happy sounds in the air, and beauty all around.

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Unfortunately, for many people, the season is one of the most difficult of the year. With festivities and ‘happiness’ everywhere, to them it is a bold declaration of loss, a reminder of pain and grief. Often unacknowledged. This can be the result of any number of losses—whether the death of a loved one, loss of employment, or family abuse and violence—all of which deserve acknowledgement—but, for the purpose of this column, and not to diminish other losses, I will focus on the loss of innocence, through sexual abuse. While many thrill at having parties and family gatherings to attend at Christmas, for victims of sexual abuse these events often cause anxiety and panic attacks. As adults get together with their siblings and parents, their children who have been abused by these family members, dread it. And, because there is so much cover-up and secrecy surrounding abuse, the victims often carry the anxiety in silence, unable and unwilling to disrupt family ‘peace’.

This need to protect family ‘peace’ at all cost, is something that is ‘caught’ more than taught, as the pain of victims is overlooked, often starting in early childhood. When ‘Uncle Joe’ comes by, and little Sarah doesn’t want to say ‘hi’, shake his hand, or give him a hug, mom and dad are quick to insist on being polite, and force the interaction or even punishing her, without so much as a thought that maybe Sarah is justifiably afraid of Uncle Joe. When little Jason doesn’t want to sit on Grandpa’s knee, or throws a fit when aunt Mandy wants to take him for a walk, the same coaxing or discipline is applied. Rather than taking children aside, and exploring their feelings and fears, we force ‘niceness’. As a result, many years later, that same forced niceness continues, as does the loneliness of dealing with sexual victimization. Both parties—victims and perpetrators—act as if nothing ever happened. And victims shed lonely tears after the gatherings, or, worse, simply shut down.

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Adding to the confusion is the religious focus of Christmas, and celebrating the birth of the Messiah, all while the sins of fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbours, remain carefully cloaked. The sin that this Holy Child supposedly came to save us from, is protected at all costs. This begs the question, did Jesus really die for that sin or do we believe, somehow, that it is one sin He can’t handle? Or, more likely, do we excuse the sin and overlook the devastating impact? Either way, the wonder of the Christ-child is lost behind shadows of shame, false guilt, and emotional angst, leaving victims feeling abandoned by God and angry with Him. Rather than stirring love, and ‘goodwill toward man’ the Christmas season becomes a burden.

It is not uncommon for me to receive emails and messages from abuse victims, this time of year, sharing the pain, grief and loss they feel, and the dread of needing to attend family events. It isn’t self-pity; it is deep trauma. Most victims long for one thing, more than anything, and that is to have the burden of silence lifted, their pain acknowledged, and to have the abuser say, “I’m so sorry for robbing you of innocence. It was my fault. I have no excuses.” For many, this is the gift they long for most, this season.

If you have victimized someone, sexually, consider taking ownership for your crime this Christmas. Find a mediator to communicate with the victims, so that you don’t add further trauma, and tell them you are sorry, offering no excuses for your crime, and without demanding forgiveness. It won’t undo the past. It won’t ‘fix’ the victim’s ongoing trauma. But it will give him or her permission to grieve, without self-blame for something you did against them. It will be awkward, for a while, but you’ll stop tripping over the elephant in the room, all decorated with Christmas lights and superficial festivities, and discover the real meaning of the season.

 

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(For the Elmira Independent: December 4. 2014)

© Trudy Metzger

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When Mother’s Day Hurts So Much That God Cries

I opened my eyes, trying to shake the image of my son, lying on the ground, badly wounded from the explosion. He was unresponsive, almost lifeless, his breathing shallow.

The feeling of helplessness and agony that overwhelmed me, flooded back. I felt weak, nauseous. Willing the images to leave my mind, I sat up in bed.

What a way to start the day, and not just any day. The nightmare that woke me up, early Mother’s Day morning, started with numerous car crashes. Some family members were wounded, others killed. It ended with a massive explosion that nearly killed our son. It held no obvious meaning, and served only to torment my heart…

In church, a few hours later, we had communion. Jesus. Broken. Bleeding. Wounded…. for me. A Son who suffered and died, with purpose.

The nightmare flashed through my mind again. I thought of Mary. It was her son too, who hung on that cross.

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I put my head on Tim’s shoulder, and big tears splashed all over his shirt. I didn’t sob, but the tears kept splashing down on him. He saw the water spots, looked at me, and I smiled past the mess I was, willing myself to shut off the intense emotion, and that picture. I had told him the nightmare earlier…

“Dumb nightmare,” I whispered quietly, almost giggling with confused emotion, feeling a bit foolish that something not real could impact me so profoundly. 

Tim’s eyes held compassion and understanding. He is my safe place, here, on earth, no matter what the pain, the battle, the emotion. A true rock, he seems unmoved, though not untouched, by who I am.

I thought of all the mothers sitting in church that morning, or at their tables, with breaking hearts and brave faces. Maybe I was crying for them, because their tears were stopped. It wasn’t really about that horrible scene in my nightmare, I knew that.

Or maybe it was for the mothers still in bed, unable to get up, because of grief…

Or maybe it was for Mrs. Bosma, whose son Tim was taken from his young wife and little daughter… and for Sharlene Bosma, who didn’t have a husband’s shoulder to cry on this Mother’s Day, because of evil… pure evil… committed against her, against them as a family.

My nightmare ended when I awakened. But their nightmare continues, broken, and inconclusive. And I stop writing, to pray, because my heart aches for them. It aches for strangers I have never met, and yet, because I am a mother, and a wife, and a daughter, I feel it deeply. And because, through Tim’s work, I know of people connected to Tim’s family. And somehow that makes it more real.

It’s not the movies, it’s not a news report. It’s broken hearts, carelessly scattered for the world to see, by men with evil plans…. plans to hurt, to harm and to bring pain.

The reality of that evil hits me with a powerful force, like water from a filthy river, knocking the wind of hope from me, for a moment, as I contemplate that evil, and all the suffering mothers.

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The words of a wise man, depressed by life, go through my mind… What meaning is there in life… what new thing to look forward to? What has been, will be again, what has been done, will be done again… (Ecclesiastes 1)

And it seems that’s just how it is, and has been, since Abel disappeared, soon after the Garden. The first ‘missing person’ ever reported, when God came to question Cain, and it seems the evil has escalated and multiplied since then, knowing no boundaries, going from sibling rivalry to taking captive an innocent man like, Tim Bosma, with no apparent motive. And the mind can hardly grasp it, when the innocent suffer like that, simply for trusting.

But then I remember again, the Son whose mother stood at the cross, weeping and grieving at His innocent death. I see His body, again, mangled for the love of us, and bleeding hope all over place on that ugly hill. The Hill of Death–Gogatha, the place of the skull–and that hope flows like a river.

It runs down that wicked hill, and keeps flowing until it covers the earth, and fills the dead with its life, wherever it is received. (Ezekiel 47:1-12) And the skeletons and the dry bones, and the corpses of empty existence dip in that river, and they begin to dance, and run. They sing like never before because Hope has touched them…

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It is then I realize that my tears come from deep within my spirit, forming a prayer–in a place so deep I cannot express it. A place where words are lost, and only tears speak the language of that place…

And I think maybe they are God’s tears, flowing from my body, showing His heart of compassion. Weeping, not for His Son on the cross–because His Son conquered the cross, conquered death… hell… and the grave. His Son rose again.

It is His tears for His children, who are touched by evil. His tears, for us, because of the consequence of sin. His tears for me, waking from the horrible nightmare and having to see my son like that. His tears for Mrs. Bosma, and Sharlene and her daughter, whose nightmares go on and on…

His tears, falling, and splashing His love and compassion all over us, because He came–Emmanuel, God with us–to suffer, to grieve, to understand the worst of pains that a human can suffer.

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Being God, He suffered the grief of watching His Son brutalized. And being Jesus, He suffered the beating, the captivity, and the cross. All this, to understand our sorrow…

So this Mother’s Day weekend–yes, even on Monday, the day after Mother’s Day, because your grief continues–if your mother-heart breaks for any reason at all, my thoughts, my prayers and my tears are with you.

Especially with you, Sharlene and your little princess… and Mrs. Bosma and your family. This evil thing you have suffered should never have happened…

…God’s tears are with you…

Our prayers continue for Tim Bosma’s safe return. And, when you look back on this part of your story, we pray you will see only one set of Footprints, knowing that God carried you through this time.

© Trudy Metzger

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