Have a Real Mother’s Day!

Holidays and special days are a funny thing. We run around saying the ‘right’ words for the occasion without much thought for the other person, unless we know them well. Cheerfully we greet women with a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’, if they have children, at church, at the grocery store, or just about anywhere we see them.

I think about this every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But, with today being Mother’s Day, I will focus on Mothers. Some of us are blessed with good relationships with our mothers or children, some of us struggle through broken or dysfunctional ones, some have been completely abandoned and rejected, and some are a blend. How does a chipper ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ greeting even begin to honour every mother?

In this stage of life I feel blessed to have a communicating relationship with my mother. For years it was virtually non-existent. And the scars and aftermath of the first fifteen years of my life–the years before I left home–remain, but have healed over and now remind me of God’s grace. What was lost then has not been fully restored, but God has redeemed it in my life. And I am blessed with five children who will be home for brunch today, and a mother-in-law whom I’ve grown to love deeply over the years, who will also be here later. These years are blessed and Happy Mother’s Day fits. It is, just that. Not perfect, but happy. And ‘blessed’, by the way, means happy or filled with joy.

It isn’t that because I have been a perfect mom. Not one of us is. Though it can seem like some are, and it’s easy to look around and start comparing with a friend who is ‘the perfect mom’, or judge ourselves or our mothers harshly for failures. But not of us are perfect, and we never will be. We vow to be better than the generation before us, and in our zeal we ‘perfect’ one area, while missing another, and we still fall short of becoming that perfect mother we want to become. Still, we are blessed if we have children, and have a relationship at all.

Today is Mother’s Day. And there are women–many who are my friends or family–who woke up this morning with deep dread and pain, because today is not their day. They have prayed and wept, like Hannah of the Bible, for an infant to be conceived in their womb, but the prayers seem to have a rubber coating, as they bounce off ceilings and echo from wall to wall. Disregarded. Ignored. Forgotten. That is how it feels to the ‘mother at heart’ who sits in the rocking chair of her early dreams, with empty arms. No child to hold. No grandchildren to dream of. This pain is real and it runs deep.

So this Mother’s Day I challenge myself and others to be mindful of those in places of grief. Don’t stop celebrating what is right and good and beautiful; wish mom’s a Happy Mother’s Day or some other blessing. But take a moment to say a word of encouragement to the mom whose child has passed away, or whose children won’t acknowledge her today, or the one whose children are but a dream in her heart. Bless the one who fosters or ‘adopts’–legally or emotionally–the abandoned children and gives them a place in her heart.

Today is a beautiful day. It is a sunny, warm Mother’s Day here in Ontario, and it couldn’t be more gorgeous! I pray that the One who made this day, and who gave us the honour of birthing children and raising them, will meet you, every one in your personal inner struggle or celebration, and lift you up, encourage and bless you. For those trying to conceive, I pray that God will grant you the desires of your heart, and fill your arms with a child. It is a good and beautiful thing, and a God-given desire. To those who are lonely and abandoned–whether mothers, or children longing for their mothers–I pray that God will fill your hearts with His love and grace. To those who have lost their mothers, and to those mothers who have laid their children to rest, I pray God will comfort you in your tears and sorrow.

Today is a beautiful day. It is sunny and warm, and couldn’t be more gorgeous. But even beautiful days welcome tears, grief and sorrow, in the midst of laughter all around you, when that is where your heart is. Whether it is a day of laughter or tears, or a blend of the two, I wish you God’s blessing! You are valued, you are loved!


~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger


Sexual Abuse, A Pair of Sunglasses & my friend Danette

A friend from days gone by in the Midwest church, whom I consider a friend still, though we don’t really see each other any more, messaged me. She still had my book ‘Growing Up Amish’, which I had loaned her, and how would be the best way to get it back, she wondered, or when would it suit for her to pop by.  I was coming that way a few days later, I told her, and would stop in for it.

It was intended to be a quick  ‘stop, grab a book and go’…. I rang the door bell, and waited for Danette to answer, expecting her to have the book in hand. “Do you have time for coffee?” she asked, instead.

There were things I could be doing, I knew that, but it had been years since we sat and chatted and I really do love conversations with her, and her heart… it’s beautiful. Like, really beautiful. And even though our lives have traveled worlds apart and we don’t talk often, when we do, I trust her with things I don’t entrust to everyone.

“I’d love that!” I said, ignoring that niggling that I had things to do.

We sat for the next while–it must have been almost two hours, or more–and talked. Danette is passionate about helping women; mentoring them in faith and just being there for them. She didn’t share how her compassion for abuse victims was birthed, and I didn’t ask, but clearly her heart is there for victims. She asked a lot of questions about my healing journey, and I spoke candidly. Not having experienced abuse herself, she admitted it is hard to understand, fully, the aftermath.

“Is it almost as if people who have been abused, are handed a pair of sunglasses, and from that point forward it is as if their world is tinted a different colour? And to the rest of us, the world is clear and we can’t even imagine what they see?” she asked, presenting an analogy that works well for me.

“Yes,” I nodded, thoughtfully processing the word picture, “but it’s not only that. It’s as if each victim is given his or her own shade of sunglasses, and while we can understand or imagine, to an extent, what another victim experiences, there are always things that are unique to that person. So we can’t even fully understand each other.”

Having said that, I recognize that this diversity is also real for those who see the world without the ‘tinting’ of sexual abuse. However, the aftermath of abuse is complex enough, and adding our unique way of processing to that complexity does not make it easier. We talked at length about how abuse ‘messes us up’ and how damaged we feel, and how confused our spirits are, and the struggles that go with it. She asked me a question then about how I overcame that ‘broken’ reality.

canstockphoto8821086 edited 2d

“I didn’t, really,” I said, “I accepted it.” Danette looked surprised. And we talked for some time about what it looks like to be broken and messed up, but living full of hope with that knowledge. And I wished, in a way, that I could say things like “if you love Jesus, and know that He loves you, He’ll take it away like magic, and one day your mind won’t process through that filter”, but I couldn’t.  I still can’t.

And that’s not meant to squash hope of healing. I am healed. I am happy. I am whole. I am loving. I am life-giving. Because of Jesus in me. And I am broken. Because of what life was, the ongoing scars and memories. And the moments that catch me off guard, resurface these realities. I’m not ashamed of that. I’ve accepted it.

Truth is, there was a day when I realized that one event, abuse, actually changed who I am. And there is no undoing it; it can only be redeemed. I am messed up, and I will always be. It’s just the way it is, and has to be. Extreme trauma changes how our minds work. I have quirks as a result of it. I have struggles. And I have strengths. These all work together to make me who I am; weird to some, heroic to others, judgmental to those wanting to cover or hide abuse, obnoxious and bold to those who don’t understand my passion and don’t know my caring heart–those who have never asked question and have, themselves, simply judged. But I am incredibly loving and compassionate to all who dare to get to know me and push past the shattered edges of my heart. Even offenders. Even those who cover up. I am always kind.

I am learning to not only accept this person I am; I’m learning to love me, by focusing on Jesus and loving Him. The more I see His love for me, the more I love myself and, yet, the less I focus on me. It’s an irony and a beautiful thing! Jesus says we are to love others as we love ourselves. And, well, it’s a bit hard to love anyone else at all, in the way Jesus said, if we hate ourselves. If I hate myself, and who I am as a result of life, then I will not love others with a genuine love ‘as I love myself’. (Here the question randomly pops in my mind; is that where the pretentiousness comes from in some people, when they act all ‘loving’ but come off as being not authentic? Is it them, trying desperately to love–out of themselves rather than allowing Jesus to flow through–while hating themselves? Are they sincere, but lack the ability to express love, because of that self-loathing? )

But back on track… The reality I contend with is that the ‘sunglasses’ I was given are pretty dark. Sure, the light of Jesus has healed my broken heart, but I can’t ‘un-know’ the things I experienced. So no matter what healing comes, that ‘knowing’ will influence my awareness of evil in the world, and maybe especially in the church. I am sensitive to it, and feel things before they ever get exposed, in people. I hear of some abuse case, in people I once knew as a ‘youngun’, and no great shock wave strikes, most times. It’s as if I knew it all along, and that’s why I felt ‘creeped out’ around them. That’s my shades.

On the bright side, my awareness of redemption, hope and overcoming is far stronger than it could have been apart from having encountered abuse. It is because of those very sunglasses that I can turn and look the Son full in the face, and tell every other suffering person, “He’s here. He loves you, loves us. He really does! And we can make it! We’ll do this thing together, hand in hand,arm in arm,–(figuratively speakings, since I’m not much for touching more than a quick hug with anyone beyond family and closest friends)–and you will live again!”

Yes, tainted sunglasses, smeared and smudged by the sins committed against God in my childhood, changed how I see this world. But they now also keep me a little less focused on it. I’m a little less attached to religion because of it. And I hate sin a whole lot more.

But my Jesus… How I love Him. Tainted shades and all, I look Him in the face and know I am loved. And the dirty smudges of sins ? He wipes those away, little by little, as He reveals more of Himself to me. I’ll always see the world through the shades of what I know to be true of its darkness. But I will always see the reality of this world through the truth of Jesus.

It’s a beautiful day! Bright and sunny. Thank God for sunglasses!


~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Dear Beautiful Naked Lady…

Dear Naked Lady,

When it first occurred to me to write to you, in a passing thought, it seemed a crazy idea. But the more I let the thought play in my mind, as an option, the more I realized that I want to do it… it matters.

I’ll start with an introduction, so you know who I am, in advance. I love Jesus. That’s the first thing about me. (And who wouldn’t love Him? A kind man, who heals, forgives, brings hope and love to all… yes, even to naked ladies… and Bare Naked Ladies too. He loves the whole lot of us, equally, whether we love Him or not.) Yes, I love Jesus, and I love naked ladies too, in the same way Jesus loves you; I care about your heart. And I even love the Bare Naked Ladies, but not so much their music, but that’s just my personal preference. The second thing about me is, I love my family. I have a husband who means everything in the world to me, and five children I love and am proud of. They’re amazing children, and if I can say that when they are teens, and have desire to strangle them, that’s pretty good, they tell me. We do human things like get frustrated with each other, treat each other with less love than deserved, and hurt each other. But we forgive and we keep loving.  Finally, I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, and whom I love. I consider myself to be one of the most blessed and lucky women alive. I work with victims of sexual abuse and violence, rebuilding the broken places, restoring lost identity, and offering hope. Anything else there is to know about me is probably fluff. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. Either way, none of it defines me.

The reason ‘knowing me’ matters, is because it influences the ‘why’ of this letter to an unknown naked lady. You see, I try to be an affirming and loving influence and presence in the lives of the people I mentioned in my previous paragraph. But I find myself in some cases having to first spend some time with you, before I can even get close to their hearts. You have come between some of us, not because I’ve stopped loving, or because I judge those who spend time with you, but because it is an inevitable barrier of shame and guilt, when people spend time with you. Not only does it makes us–the real live, non-airbrushed, and a bit wrinkled and imperfect ones…not to mention fully-clothed–seem imperfect, it also robs our sons, daughters, husbands and wives of innocence and intimacy.

Let me tell you the story of how it first touched our family… At age eight, one of our children was exposed to Triple-X Porn, when an older neighbourhood child suggested going into his house while his parents were away. Oblivious to what had happened, we observed changes in our child’s behaviour. A once affectionate child–generous with hugs and offering occasional kisses–suddenly resented me, but continued to accept both from Daddy. (As a female, I represented the violation that video imposed on my child. It was only women, no men.) For years we struggled, watching our child go from sweet, affectionate and carefree, to lying, deceptive and distant.

Those years I grieved and prayed. And every now and then, when my heart felt heavy, still not knowing what happened, I would go to my child’s room, sit on the edge of the bed and speak truth… “You are God’s child, full of integrity… I believe in you… I’m proud of you…” And then I would keep on praying.

One day, through a bizarre set of circumstances, the truth spilled out. Our child had gotten into trouble–pretty big trouble, really–and we had a conversation. We weren’t angry, and offered no scolding. It was a calm affair of walking through it, to help our child find peace and take ownership. As we wrapped up the conversation I asked if there was anything else, anything at all… we’d get it all out in the open and start fresh. And that’s when the story tumbled out…. and the ugly things witnessed at eight–things no child, or adult should have to see or know, things so unnatural and perverse the mind can hardly fathom it…

That day we got our child back. The lying stopped. The distance was gone. Just like that. But we lost years of closeness because of one careless moment, two naked ladies, and a child in our neighbourhood.

A few years went by and one day we discovered that another child found your picture using a Nintendo DS, after hearing about you at school. We caught it by accident, soon after our child met you, so we didn’t lose years of our life  together because of it. But I’d like to tell you how that conversation went.

I picked up our child at school and announced we’d be going for coffee. We went to a nice little place in a local city and said to order anything… anything at all. One strawberry shake, a chicken quesadilla and a piece of New York style cheesecake later, we seated ourselves and I shared what would be the topic.

“You know, Mom,” my child said, “you’re not very good at tricking.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, as soon as you said we’re going for coffee, I knew why,” my child answered.

I explained that I wasn’t trying to trick or surprise anyone, but wanted to give a bit of space for quiet contemplation on the ride, rather than diving in immediately. (At least let’s get some food in front of us, for a distraction if nothing else, before we tackle this!)

The appetite was a bit lacking at first, until I explained there would be no scolding or ‘correction’. It would be a conversation about how to get through this, and how Daddy and I could help. I told my child how natural it is to be curious–same gender and opposite gender–and that curiosity is not something to feel badly about. It is God-given. And then I talked about managing it well, with honour and integrity, and saving the fulfillment of that desire and curiosity for marriage. (Yes, I’m old fashioned that way. More importantly, I care enough about my children’s hearts and minds to not wish them the scars I carry. And they know I wasn’t much of a saint, that way. In fact, I contemplated at seventeen doing what you do–exposing my nakedness to make money, but my self esteem was so low I was sure no one would want to see my body. Thank God. In a way. Though it would have been so much better had I known I was too valuable to go there. But back to my story…)

My child listened intently, eyes wide, and heart troubled, as I explained these things. We taught our children about sex, body and that uncomfortable and awkward stuff that happens when we become adults. They know. Even so, when I asked if it ever occurred to come talk to Daddy or me, I was greeted with a shaking head.

“So what did you do with it?” I asked. A shrug was all I got. “Did you talk to God about it?” This time a nod. “Do you know you are forgiven? Do you know He loves you?” More nods. “What else did you say?” I asked.

“I asked Him to help me stop!” Big tears welled up, lips quivering.

“And how did you feel when He didn’t answer, and you kept on struggling?” I asked. (Remember, this is a child not yet a teen, at the time of the event. This is a child, begging God for help to stop looking at your naked body, because it feels so violating.)

The tears, they just got bigger, and the lips quivered more, then pain spilled down my child’s face, landing on my heart like sharp little knives, cutting places no mother’s heart should be cut… “I got impatient.” The words, spoken softly, almost desperately, broke what was left in my inner place.

“You do know God answered that prayer, right?” I asked.

Quizzically, almost doubting, and then it connected, “With you and Daddy?”

“Yes!” I said, “We’re here for you now. It wasn’t a mistake that Daddy found the pictures. It was God answering your prayer!”

The nodding continued, between bites of quesadilla and tears bubbling over to wash them down, and I could see something good happeneing. “God makes something beautiful out of everything,” I said. “Do you believe that? Even this, He will make something beautiful out of it.”

Doubt, head tipped to the side, “I don’t understand.”

“You know,” I said, “I think He already has! We’re having this conversation and Daddy and I could have not known, and you could have struggled for a long time. And now we’re walking with you through these years in a way we maybe wouldn’t have, because we like to think our children are innocent, and we want you to be, and sometimes we miss the struggles. So this is already beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I guess,” was the answer, but my heart heard something deeper, as the last of the quesadilla disappeared and the cheesecake extended its invitation. We chatted awhile about other things, and my little one was visibly at peace. We agreed that if temptation hit, a device would land in front of me, or in my hands, with no explanation–if there were no words or desire to talk–and I would take care of it, and ‘know’. And it is the knowing that makes all the difference.

So, you see, my naked lady friend, we’ve had you in our lives for some time, off and on–many years, already–and I thought it was time to write and introduce ‘us’. We are not angry with you. We do not hate you. We don’t resent you, or look down on you. We would prefer to hang a towel or blanket over you when you visit, but not because you are disgusting and thoughtless.

canstock_lady in towel

We think you are beautifully created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made–and that is what I tell my children. And we think you don’t understand just how beautiful you are. We think that the desire to ‘know’ you and see you, is blessed by God, in the context of His plan, so we are not repulsed by you, or that desire. I am writing to remind you of who you are: beautiful, precious, loved by God, and worth so much more than the ‘thing’ you have become on screen–an object of lust. An object. Your heart… somewhere in your heart, I hope you grasp that. 

And just as I told my child, I tell you now, “God redeems everything, my naked lady friend. Everything. If you let Him. He is a gentleman who will not force you, or abuse you. But if you let Him, He will redeem your life, your nakedness and lewdness. He makes all things beautiful in His time. He’d do that for you. If you let Him.”

I hope you never visit my family again as an object. I hope the next time we see you, it is in human form. And preferably dressed. Until then, my heart will continue to love, care and pray for you. Yes, I pray for you.

Here are two of my favourite songs… I didn’t pose naked for the camera, as you do, but I was no different than you…. And the only thing that makes me different today is that I know Jesus loves me: I’m still human and sinful, but redeemed. When you know that, my sister and friend, it will change everything. You will feel beautiful. God wastes nothing. You are beautiful! You are loved! You are precious! You are worthy… because of JESUS…

Nothing is Wasted

~ T ~

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© Trudy Metzger

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