Interested in a free Kindle Fire HD6? (Who isn’t?)

On the heels of my recent posts on how to spot a perpetrator, and healthy responses to sexual behaviour in children, I wrote a blog on how to recognize victims…. Well! It disappeared! So I tried to rewrite it, and it fell flat. So, instead I’m posting an opportunity to enter for a Free Kindle Fire HD, when you purchase ‘Between 2 Gods; a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community’ through eLectio Publishing.

kindle draw

If you’ve been thinking of buying my memoir,  here’s a good reason to do so now… Because until August 15 you are automatically entered to win a Kindle Fire HD when you purchase a paperback. And, if you haven’t been thinking about buying a copy of Between 2 Gods, maybe now you should… because if you win the Kindle, you will be able to read a kindle version of my book  that comes with every paperback purchased through eLectio Publishing. And you can share the paperback… but only if you want to of course.

All the best in the draw! And please let me know if you win!

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The day Heaven Knelt in the Sand…

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(….)
I was confronted with love, so pure and unadulterated, I almost couldn’t absorb it. Deep love, for me. The God of heaven, kneeling before me—positioning Himself as my servant—and writing in the sand to scatter my accusers. The God of heaven, looking up at me to say, “I have no condemnation to offer you. Go, you are free from the sin that had you bound.”

The God of heaven who disregarded the law—even broke it in the eyes of those religious ones—to show me love, asked for nothing in return. No money. No sexual favours. No strict adherence to any law, for this freedom to be mine.

Love: a gentle offer, a quiet invitation. Yet, a bold confrontation of all I had believed, demanding a response; bold, only because of its stark contrast to my beliefs and experience. It defied almost everything I knew, and to accept it required trust; a thing that was destroyed in me, almost immediately after my birth. How was I to trust Him, a strange God? And would it last? …

To read entire blogpost: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2015/03/26/2-gods/#ixzz3VV5g1528

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

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Do You Know Who You Are?

NOTE: (Used by permission from client.)

She seated herself across from me, at the coffee shop. If walls could speak, everyone in the cozy little shop would have known her story. We had been there before. Her tears, her pain, her words, had all been spilled in this place, where coffee spills would be expected.

As her mentor, my goal is to help her find her voice, build confidence, and break free from the bondage that has had her trapped for many years.

It is humbling… even daunting, to mentor someone my senior. Some would say it’s inappropriate but I have had a mentor younger than myself, and it was good. Then, some time ago, when a nearly-seventy year old woman told me, “Today you became my mother,” I decided I would mentor people older than myself.

Sitting across from her at the coffee shop, I no longer concerned myself over age. She was stuck and insecure, and I was committed to walking her through that. Mostly we would explore her life story, and her faith journey. She is a believer, but struggling. In opening up her story to me, and by offering her grace, love and no judgement, we would work through the trauma of the past, establishing healthy identity. In her faith, we would explore her belief systems, and replace lies with truth.

“What does God think of you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, speaking with that, ‘haven’t a clue’ tone of voice. She said she had never really thought of it before. After some thought these words tumbled out…

“Irritating…. not worth the bother…. undisciplined… lazy…. weak… wimpy… ”

Since meeting her a few weeks ago, as a complete stranger, I have learned a few things about her. She has a heart of gold. She loves truth and justice, and has suffered extreme emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse. Though ‘religious’, by all outward appearances, her perception of God when we met was so scarred that I could visibly see her spirit close when I said the word ‘God’. She could not go there. But her spirit was not closed in the sense of wanting help. She desperately wanted to get ‘unstuck’, and have help in her faith journey, by working through the deep spiritual wounds.  I asked if Jesus was ‘safe’, and He was. We started there.

But in working through the journey, if we truly want to be free, there comes a time when we have to return to the place of deepest pain, and start healing, and uncovering the core lies. Lies about who God is. Lies about how He sees you. Lies about personal identity. And that is what I was pursing in my client when I asked the question.

Knowing this, it didn’t surprise me when her answers were mostly negative. The one positive she gave me was, “He’d say I’m honest.” Even that answer fit with the rest. She was honest enough to say what she really believes He thinks of her, rather than answering with all the ‘right’ answers. We were talking heart stuff, not trying to pass an exam, and her honesty was key.

I wrote down the list as she gave it. And then I did something I’ve ever only done a few times… I wrote her a note from God:

Dear Annette,

I think you are irritating. The way you persist, on and on… It’s just not worth the bother. You are undisciplined… lazy… weak… and wimpy. Why should I care about you, or help you?

~ GOD ~

When I completed it, I laid it in front of her and asked, “Do you really believe God would leave you a note like that? She read it. Shook her head.

“I don’t think so either,” I said. “I think it would look more like this,” I said, placing a new note in front of her.

DEAR ANNETTE,

I can’t stop thinking about you…. Long before you were born, I wrote a book about you. I recorded every day of your life in it… It’s going to be tough sometimes. (You already know that!) But I can’t wait for you to get to the end…. then it will all make sense. It’s such a beautiful story.

BTW, I have a son… He thinks you’re pretty amazing too! (Worth dying for, He said!) He asked me to adopt you… So I did!

~ Love, Your daddy ~

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Tears filled her eyes. A God she longs for. A God she desperately wants to believe exists. The God of the Bible, whom so many of us have misrepresented–including me, far too often–but the only true God. The loving Heavenly Papa who sees our struggle and, rather than judging us, visits our planet, in the form of a little baby, to experience our pain. All so that He can say, “I understand. I will die for you.”

Slowly… One painful baby step at a time, Annette is getting to know this God. The note didn’t quote scriptures verbatim, but every message in it came from the Word of God. All I did was make it personal, and help her grasp God’s love for her, without the ‘oppression’ of a religious tone.

Freedom comes when we know God. (That’s in the bible too!) When we understand who He really is, apart from religious guilt and obligation. Apart from performance. When all we are, and all we have, is all we give, and He looks on us with love. Because Jesus died for us.

Freedom is being who God created us to be. When we know God, we see ourselves as He sees us, and we are free to be that person. Through Jesus, God restores all things, including our identity.

That’s the journey Annette and I are on. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see God’s children free from oppression and lies, free to know who you really are.

Today I leave you with these questions… How does God see you? What does He think of you? Are there some lies, deep in your spirit, about who God is… or isn’t? Lies about who you are… or are not? Are you willing to get to know Him, to see Him as He really is, so you can see yourself, as you are in His eyes?

 

© Trudy Metzger

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My Father’s Chair: Forgiving, Releasing and Blessing My Father (Part 1)

My friend Judy, her then-boyfriend-now-husband, Clarence, and I seated ourselves in the back of the Queensway Cathedral for the David Meece Concert. We were bending church rules slightly to be there, but it would be worth it.

On every front it was a day for bending and breaking rules, it seemed. I had spent my day in the sun, with peroxide sprayed generously through my hair, to keep it from turning a mousy brown/blonde colour. Church rules forbade us to get our hair coloured or dyed in any way, so this was the next best thing. Peroxide, I determined, was a healthy product and it did the job. I had no idea how unhealthy it was for my hair.

Being the third wheel on a date was a first for me and I had anticipated an awkward evening out, but it wasn’t. We had a great time, talking and laughing on the drive.

I was going for the ‘party’, to bend the rules a bit, but little did I realize that David Meece, and his testimony, would have a powerful impact on my healing journey. More than seven months had passed since Howard and Alice asked that life-altering question and I had made progress, but it was still a long road ahead.

I had attended few concerts in my life, Christian or secular, making David Meece’s concert one of the first, if not the first, ‘real’ concerts I attended. The smoke, the flashing colours, the other effects, all drew me in. It seemed quite a show, to me as a young Mennonite, who had again become accustomed to all things simple, conservative and humble. Not a culture shock, really, as I had done my time in the bar scene in my mid teens. I had seen loud secular bands in action. This had a different spirit entirely, a different message from that of the bar scene. A message of hope. But it was very different from the Mennonite world I had returned to, three years earlier.

David, a child prodigy, is a highly gifted musician and I wished I was closer to the stage, so that I could see him play the piano. It was out of this world the way his hands moved. He sang a few songs, talked a little, sang a few more and talked a bit more. That’s how he did his concert.

As he told bits and pieces of his story, emotion stirred deep within. Here was a man with a dreadfully painful story, doing something with his life. And telling his story publicly, without shame. Just telling it, like it was. And sharing the love of Jesus in the process. Lifting up the One who carried him through it.

The night was powerful! He sang The Man with the Nail Scarred Hands, We Are The Reason, Seventy Times Seven and other great songs that touched me. But it was Once in A Lifetime… My Father’s Chair and When I Was Seventeen that broke me. In a good way. I felt understood. As though God was speaking directly to my heart through these songs, and David’s story.

Two stories had an impact that remain with me even now, twenty (plus) years later. The first one was tragic, yet created mental image that had the audience in stitches. I laughed and cried at the same time, when he told how his grandma stepped in when his father threatened him. I believe his dad’s intent was to kill David, but those details are vague now. She jumped onto David’s father’s back, and, if my memory is right, started beating him and fighting for her grandson.

I identified with the trauma so powerfully that I wept, while laughing at the image of Grandma piggybacking on her son’s back, fighting him down to protect her grandson. That level of risk and protection touched a place deep inside of me. I was an emotional mess, as it drew out of me much buried pain, bringing release from some of my own journey of abuse and trauma.

The second story that made a lasting impact was the night David’s father died. He told how he was in a hotel room, either that night or soon after, filled with anger for his dad and hurting deeply. Lying on the bed, God showed him an image of his father, not as an abusive adult, but a hurting little boy. He shared how something broke in his heart and he was finally able to forgive his father.

I left that concert with renewed commitments….

I would forgive Dad, Seventy Times Seven, for abusing me and not being there… for My Father’s Chair being empty when I needed someone to father me. I would give God the Rest Of My Life and live my Once In A Lifetime. It was almost as if the titles of songs he sang, and the songs on the albums I purchased, were a message written for me, to keep my focused on healing.

There was no way I could have known how that night would impact me, and how, one year later, I would see my father the same way David saw his father in that hotel room, but under very different circumstances.

And that moment, of seeing Dad differently, would make all the difference in the years to come….

To Be Continued….

© Trudy Metzger

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Completely Understood & Unconditionally Accepted

When Wil and I arrived at the family gathering I spoke to my older brother, Cor, with Wil as my support. Cor is the fifth oldest sibling in our family. He’s the fourth son, and my mother’s firstborn. Dad had four children when he married my mother, having lost his wife and youngest son only months apart. Together my parents had twelve more for a total of sixteen children, and that doesn’t include the over half-dozen they lost through still birth and miscarriage.

With Cor being ten years older than me, and the oldest at home for most of my years there, it felt natural to go to him and explore what we could do to help dad.

Like Wil, Cor was compassionate and understanding, but agreed that without more memories, specific times and locations, nothing could be done. We could not confront Dad until something more concrete surfaced, or other victims came forward.

It was about that time that bits and pieces of conversations started to replay in my mind, from when I was nine years old. One of my cousins on dad’s side, who was thirty years older than I, had contacted my mom. I had heard this cousin’s name before, and remembered her parents, my Uncle *Jake and Aunt *Helen, who came to visit us in Mexico. I didn’t know *Maria well, having only seen her a few times in my life. After Maria contacted my mom, I overheard conversations that made no sense at the time. My mom seemed upset with her. It had something to do with my dad, but just what it all meant, I didn’t understand.

As I confronted memories and betrayal in my life, these conversation bits resurfaced, with no meaning at first. And then it all began to fit, like pieces of a puzzle. Maria must have told my mom that dad abused her. That was it… I was certain of it.

I had been at Maria’s wedding when I was twelve and knew her husband’s name, so I called Canada 411. This was back when we didn’t have internet to do a quick search, so I called and asked them to search every town in the general area where they had moved. There were no guarantees that I would find her, but if she was my one shot at validating what I was already certain was true, then I would search the ends of the earth to find this woman.

It took some time before I remembered the name of the small hamlet where they lived. I worked my way from there, and found Maria. I called her. Out of the blue. Told her who I was—her twenty-one-year-old cousin. Could I come see her? Maybe on Sunday?

Maria was thrilled to hear from me and welcomed me for a visit. Would I join them for lunch? Her husband was good with the barbecue and would be thrilled to show off a little, she was sure of it.

That Sunday I did the one-hour trek to Maria’s home. I felt bad. I had not told her the purpose of my visit. I wondered how awkward it would be, or if I’d have the courage to follow through. Maybe, once there, I would lose my courage, and leave well enough alone. What if questioning her stirred up old pain and destroyed her?

True to her promise, Maria’s husband served up a delicious steak. The meal was wonderful. Her young son was quite taken with me, so I spent some time with him.

Mid-afternoon Maria and I were alone in the house, chatting. I hesitated, then jumped in. “Maria.. I have a question… You don’t have to answer, if you don’t want to, but I have to ask….” I paused. “It seems to me when I was about nine years old, maybe ten, that I overheard something at home about you… that you had called mom… It didn’t make sense at the time, but now, when I think about it, it makes sense…. I’m sorry to ask… Did my dad sexually abuse you when you were a little girl?”

“Yes.” Maria said calmly. No anger. No shock, as I had anticipated.

Even truth that you suspect, is shocking when confirmed like that. So it’s all true… That’s who dad is… it’s what he is capable of…

I felt I needed to explain. “I ask because I’m sure he abused me too. My memories are vague… all broken up. But I know something happened. Would you be comfortable telling me what happened?”

She hesitated only for a moment before the story spilled out. She had worked as a ‘helper’ for my dad and his first wife when she was only eight years old. Dad’s first wife, a sweet woman, was pregnant with baby number five, and not well. She was bedridden, over the time of the birth, though I don’t recall how long leading up to or after. She died after giving birth, due to haemorrhage, but not before giving Maria permission to tell. To say it accurately, she made Maria feel obligated to tell, even guilty if she kept the secret, but her heart was to protect Maria and truth.

After dad’s first wife’s death Maria returned home to her family, where she told a sister, not much older than her, what had happened. Her sister told Uncle Jake and Aunt Helen.’

Whether they had confronted Dad or not, or whether he came on his own, Maria was not sure. But one day, not long after, my dad rode up in his buggy and her parents went out to meet him in the lane. Maria and her sister had listened at the window, wanting to know the purpose of the visit.

My dad had apologized to Maria’s parents, telling them what he had done, and taking ownership. It had helped, but the scars remained for life, leaving Maria with emotional and psychological struggles for life.

On my way home I had an hour to cry. Even though I was not one for country music, I turned on my radio and listened to country music. Within minutes the song started to play… “I’m seeing my father in me… I guess that’s how it’s meant to be… and I find I’m more and more like him each day…” (Paul Overstreet)

I wept as I cried out to God. I asked Him to be the Father who I grow to be like more each day. That I would see Him in me, and people would see Him in me too. The one thing I didn’t want is for generational sins to scar my children. Those chains would end with me.

In that moment with God I felt understood. Truly. Deeply. And completely. My Father was making me more like Himself in my journey of disappointment and pain. He understood suffering, and emotional and mental anguish. And He would walk me through this, fully embraced, unconditionally accepted

© Trudy Metzger

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Fragmented Memories, Unbroken Hope

Am I just making this up? Am I living a horrible nightmare that I will one day awake from and realize I went insane for a time? What if it’s an imaginary world that I’ve created, that is slowly destroying people around me? What if nothing ever happened? What if no one abused me and my mind is actually sick?

Questions raced through my mind, forcing me to reconsider what was truth, what was reality. When I began to question, my heart grew restless, and darkness settled deeper in my spirit. A calm quiet voice would whisper Alice’s words, “The truth will set you free… if it does not bring you freedom, it isn’t truth”

As freedom fled, with the invasion of the questioning voices, I knew the truth was not in the questioning.  I returned to the ‘confident knowing’ that, while memories remained fragmented, like pieces of shattered glass, that would never be fully restored, the memories were truth, and with time things would come together.

Still, I longed to be understood. Howard and Alice and their family were ‘understanding’, but that is a different thing than being understood. I wanted someone in my family to tell me I’m not crazy. That they had seen, or knew somehow that it was true. I don’t think it ever consciously occurred to me that possibly other siblings had been abused, either by my father or some other family member. I wasn’t looking for identification but I feared if all fifteen siblings told me I was crazy, imagining things, that I would actually go mental… That I would lose confidence in truth and reality.

I tested the water slowly, by talking with my brother Wil. We were en route to a family event one weekend when I broke the news to him. His initial response was gentle, but somewhat disbelieving. Not in the sense of ‘not believing me’ but in shock at the realization. He was supportive but, like me, had no idea what to do with the information.

I was concerned that Dad carried this horrible secret and may not have repented. Dad was a religious man but I had no idea if he was a born again believer or not. I had no way of knowing what he had done with the abuse and violence, and sins that had probably followed our family for many generations.

I was seven years old when I had the dream…

The eastern sky lit up in a profusion of beautiful, bright colours. Red, white, yellow, orange… a fiery explosion of light, but not terrifying. Then Jesus burst through the white centre of the light, surrounded by countless angels.

My only fear in the dream was that I would not be fast enough to get to Jesus. I wanted to hold His right hand, to know I was safe, that I would be with Him in heaven, not stuck on the left side, and cast aside. I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me, and clutched His right hand firmly in my own, relieved. I had made it.

When we arrived, heaven was much more like the world in which we live than I had imagined it would be. I had expected castles and mansions, streets of gold and a surreal world. But it wasn’t like that. I saw some of my family, here and there, and when I could not find him, I started to search and ask for my dad.

I was told that my dad could not be in heaven because of something he had done to his girls. I was devastated! I woke up from the nightmare, so happy to have made it, but crushed that my father was not there. Without him, heaven was not ‘right’ in my young mind.

In later years, when memories of the abuse resurfaced, that nightmare haunted me, over and over. What if…

I determined to make it my life mission to know that my father was a saved man and that he had repented for all the sins he had committed, especially the abuse and violence in our home.

When Wil and I spoke about it, we agreed that the time was not right. We would have to wait until God either revealed more than the broken bits of memory I had, until other victims came forward, or when God opened doors in other ways. This would require time, patience and prayer.

Until then I would hold out hope that God had a good plan. Through tears, depression, anger and confusion, I would hold on. Come hell or high water, I would stand firm on that unwavering truth.

© Trudy Metzger

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A Broken Hallelujah

It is one thing to tell the stories of how God brought redemption and the places where hope shone through. It’s another thing to share the struggle. The secret darkness that many, if not all abuse victims suffer through, trying to make sense of life, of God, of purpose and meaning.

When Murray shared with me his burden for abuse in the church, I felt a swelling of life and hope in me that made it all worth it. Even in those early days of acknowledging what had happened, I found comfort in that purpose. Murray was the first ‘testament’ to that purpose and the hope in me literally sent tingles through my body, all the way down to my toes, as I felt my heart would burst. In the wonder of that purpose a glorious ‘Hallelujah’ rose from the depth of pain, making it all seem not so bad to go through, after all.

But on those dark days, when it seemed no good had come, or would ever come, I did my best to hide my heart. A very lost and broken Hallelujah, if there was one at all, withdrew into a world of questioning and hopelessness.

Sitting in the middle of Alice’s kitchen, in the island area, as she confidently proclaimed, ‘The truth will set you free’, and me very boldly declaring I want the truth, was a very different scene than the one that followed in the struggle that ensued.

One night in early summer, several months after I moved in with Howard and Alice’s family, there was an evening when they were all gone. I was home alone for one of the first times, if not the first time, since the truth had been revealed. And that initial revelation had opened a floodgate of memories. Some perpetrators had faces and names. Others were faceless monsters. Some were male. Others were female. Little by little the memories returned.

How many memories had returned by that night, I don’t recall. Some memories rushed back on the heels of that initial revelation, others returned over the years and continue to this day.

Whatever had triggered it, that night a sense of loneliness overtook me. I was all alone. Just me and my memories. I went down to my room. Too secluded. I wandered out to the family room and seated myself in the middle of the room, my legs crossed. I had no particular plan, no goal.

As buried emotions rose to the surface, the tears started and would not stop. For the first time since that moment of acknowledgement, I felt completely overwhelmed. Dark thoughts raced through my mind. Thoughts I had not had in a long time.

The thoughts had started when I was only about 4 or 5, when I wished I would die and go to heaven. At around 7 or 8, the thoughts became a more conscious death wish. At age 11, or thereabouts, they had taken such deep root that I had tied something around my neck to see if I would have the courage to follow through. These thoughts had consumed me in my late teens, after losing my virginity.

Thank God the thoughts had disappeared when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, at age 18, not as a fear-driven act of desperation, but out of a deep revelation of His love.

That night  they returned, dark, relentless, accusing, hopeless thoughts. Life would never have meaning. My life was destined to be lonely. I was unlovable… who would ever want to be with me, knowing the awful truth of who I was, of what was done to me. Of the choices I had made…

So the lies consumed me, making me believe my life was over, that there was no meaning, no purpose to my existence.

Even now, twenty years after that night, I cringe to express the darkness that invaded my mind, driving me to near insanity. But it needs to be told because it is a very common part of the journey of working through abuse. It is not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse or violence to struggle with these thoughts.

If we never tell, how are those who never experience it to know what their loved ones go through in that journey? How are they to know how to support and encourage them? So I tell it, not because I want to, but in hopes that it will save a life. In hopes that if your son or daughter, your sister or brother, or perhaps a friend has gone through it, you will know to watch for the signs. And if you are that wounded child, now possibly an adult, hiding secret darkness, that you will have the courage to tell someone and reach out for help.

Too many lives are lost to the desperate act of suicide because no one knew or understood the pain and trauma. No one knew to watch for the signs and offer support.

What I needed at that moment was a lot of love and a healthy dose of gentle reality. I was deeply loved by friends and family. Howard & Alice had shown that they cared for me, but in my fragile state I had lost sight of that. I was precious to God. But even that truth had escaped my mind.

On that dark night God visited me and reminded me of all He had done for me. Before I knew Jesus, I was engaged to a man much older than me, who I would later discover was a paedophile. He had given me a loving family that was willing to walk through the pain with me. He had given His life, by visiting my world in the body of Jesus, and dying on the cross for that moment.

Yes, I needed to walk through the pain again as an adult, and revisit the childhood trauma to make sense of life.

I needed to ask the hard questions, to cry out to God and ask “Where were you then… Where are you now?” But in the middle of that, truth remained my grounding force, preventing me from those acts of desperation.

And in that place of pain and trauma, as God showed me how He was there for me, I lifted my hands. When it was all I had, I offered Him a broken tear-stained Hallelujah, trusting Him to heal my heart.

© Trudy Metzger

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If I Could Choose My Past, I’d Choose the Pain

If I could go back to my childhood, & choose any ‘story’ I wanted to be my story, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I could look ahead & see what I know now, I would choose to relive the violence and abuse. It has made me a more compassionate person & opened doors to help people in ways that no ‘fairy tale’ story could do.

It’s easy to say these words now, with years and years of healing behind me. (Okay, take out the second ‘years’ in that sentence… that makes me sound too old.) Many have said that ‘time heals all wounds’ but I don’t believe that to be accurate. I don’t attribute my bold statement of being willing to suffer, to the time that has passed. For that I give God all the credit, all the glory.

Even with the healing that has taken place in my life, it is not something I would offer to go through again, without purpose. And that purpose is the people I meet with, many who have gone through much worse than I. It is in hearing their hearts, and encouraging them, that my story finds meaning.

For this reason I will continue where I left off, in Finding Jesus in the Shadows Part 3, and share with you more of what it was like to be thrown into the turmoil of dealing with childhood sexual abuse, and having memories resurface after many years of denial.

With the distraction of a boyfriend behind me, I was free to focus on coming to terms with my past. But first I had to go through the grieving process. It isn’t possible to spend almost three years loving someone, dreaming of a life together and watching it go from wedding plans to history in mere months, or weeks.

The first four weeks following our break up were consumed with that grieving process. Fortunately I was in a safe place to do so. Howard and Alice had asked me to come live with them several weeks before the break up, so I was surrounded by a loving family.

Having made other arrangements for the old army Colonel, I left his home and was officially jobless. That wasn’t all bad for the short-term. I spent time helping Alice, reading, and visiting Howard’s parents, especially his mom, Maryann, who lived in an apartment in their home. I would sit on a stool, at her feet, and listen to her stories, or chatter her ears off. She talked about my ex-boyfriend, and about the process of letting go, always encouraging me. Always reminding me that God had a good plan for my life.

When I was in Bible school she had sent me a letter and included in that letter the verses:

Isaiah 43:2

New King James Version (NKJV)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

Sometimes when I visited she would have me comb her hair and put it up in a ‘bun’ on her head, before placing a prayer cap–white bonnet–on it. Her shoulders were bad, making it difficult for her to do it. I enjoyed doing it for her. Any excuse to be with her was a good one.

These simple things, as well as spending time with Howard and Alice’s family, are what carried me through those weeks of adjusting to my new life. No job. No boyfriend. Traumatic memories and emotions. It all lacked direction, or so it seemed.

One day Alice announced that she had heard a construction company in town, Country Lane Builders, was hiring a secretary. She encouraged me to apply. I cringed. Not because I didn’t want to do it, and not because I didn’t think I could do it, but because I had no training.

Photo Credits (Country Lane Builders)

“Oh, you would do fine,” Alice said

I pulled together a resume` and hand delivered it. The owner, Orlan Martin invited me for an interview. Confident I could learn, that is how I presented myself. To my delight, and surprise, Orlan hired me within days. It was the best thing that could have happened to me!

I soon learned that Orlan and his sons take great pride in excellent workmanship, .  Their customer service was second to none, and in my three plus years with them, there were few disgruntled customers. The few issues that arose, were resolved quickly.

Photo Credits Country Lane Builders)

I loved my job. I trained myself to recognize voices and memorize names, so that, when a customer called, I could greet them before they introduced themselves. (Back in the day we didn’t have call display.) Orlan frequently passed on compliments, telling me how much customers appreciated me, giving me constant encouragement–something I so badly needed.

Bookkeeping, using the McBee manual system, was much easier to learn than I had imagined it would be. For three months I followed the formulas  the previous secretary, Karen Bauman, had written down for me during the 3-day crash course. I balanced to the penny month after month, never quitting until I did. They day I was a penny off and couldn’t find it, was very upsetting for me.

This new job would have been of little consequence, as it relates to my healing journey, but for one detail. The office manager–my supervisor–Murray Martin, who is now the President, was a gentleman among gentlemen. Somehow he found out that I was working through abuse, and gently asked questions. He was kind, compassionate and eager to learn about the healing process.

What inspired his interest, I don’t know, and it may simply have been his nature. It fits to him. It all served a purpose, several years later, when he ended up on a committee in his church community, working with perpetrators of abuse.

As I worked through the aftermath of abuse, my life intertwined with a gentleman who treated me with utmost respect on that healing journey, while welcoming openness and daring to go below the surface. It was encouraging, and gave me hope when he allowed God to use him. One can never know the mind of God in a situation, and the ways He will redeem….

And that was only the beginning…

© Trudy Metzger

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The Radical Risk that Saved My Life Continued… (Part 2)

Had I known what the meeting with Alice and Howard would bring to the surface, what hell I would go through, what trauma I would suffer, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I may have bailed. I may have said, “Jesus is enough. Let’s stick to safe truth. I’d rather stay broken and limp into heaven. Being understood is overrated. I’m good.”

But God had a better plan.

And, truth be told, had I been able to look past the pain and hell, and look ahead to today, to see my children, to see the people whose lives I would touch, I would have said, “Let all hell break loose! I will not stop until I am free!” It’s the years between that were overwhelming, even though they were part of the healing process.

Tuesday night, November 7, I waited with excited fear, for my guests to arrive. I was oblivious. Not a clue what they thought they knew, that could possibly help me.

Finally they arrived. We met in the living room of the home where I lived, caring for an elderly retired army colonel. George doted on me, a man in his mid-eighties, who ‘loved the company of a good Christian girl’, even though he was an atheist. He was kind and treated me with deep respect. Knowing I had guests, he had kindly disappeared to another part of the house.

A couch sat against the west, inside wall. A picture of a wheat field hung, perfectly centred, behind it. I invited Howard and Alice to sit there. I seated myself across the room–which really wasn’t that far away–on a love seat. The uncertainty had me nervous, almost shaky. I tucked my feet up under me on the couch, wrapping my skirt around them. I was chilly.

We chatted for a little while before Howard asked me if I had any idea at all what they might be hoping to share and talk about. I didn’t. So he continued, explaining that they had been praying for some time, asking God for confirmation about this thing they sensed. They explained how Cindy had approached them, and how Max had encouraged them to be there for me.

“Trudy, the question I want to ask you is a very difficult one,” Howard said, his voice reflecting the weight in his heart. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I could feel the tension, the fear, building inside of me. Oh yes! There was no way I was turning back now. I nodded. and said yes, even though I had no idea where they were taking me.

He told me that they had worked in group homes, and that they had mentored sexual abuse victims. He asked me to close my eyes. I did.

“Trudy, as I talk, I want you to think back to your childhood. What do you remember? Go down the dark tunnels, the memories hidden…. He continued talking, things I don’t remember.

“Trudy, do you remember,  did your father sexually abuse you?'” Howard was the first man to truly attempt to father me. I felt afraid, but safe.

I had never gone back there consciously. Never, in twenty-one years did I recall revisiting consciously the trauma of any childhood sexual abuse. I had talked superficially about the violence, the death threats, the fear, the sharpening of knives, the beatings–most of which I had observed, having escaped most of them. But that place, the door Howard was opening had only slipped open subconsciously twice before and each time I had closed it firmly. Could I do it? Was it real? Was I strong enough?

Howard continued talking, but his voice faded…. I had slipped into another world….

I’m a little girl, maybe three years old, with fly-away platinum blonde hair that would not be tamed, and eyes as blue as the sky. I see Dad on the tractor, ready to leave for the field. The sun is setting. Fast.

I run across the yard, panting, hoping I make it before he is gone. He looks down and sees me. The loud ‘put put’ of the old G-John Deere drowns out my voice, but Dad knows what I want. We love tractor rides and we don’t get them often.

He pulls me up and tells me to duck so no one can see me. I hunker down on the floor, hiding behind his legs, watching the family disappear into the night. No one knows that I got to go with Dad. I am special. This is my time.

We arrive in the wheat field. How I loved the field. So big, so beautiful and the grain…. But tonight it is dark. The stars sparkle in the sky, brighter than ever… probably because I am special…  The moon is bright….

Suddenly the stars go black, the moon turns out its light and the wheat field is a haunting shadow… All is black….

My heart falls to the ground, shattering… again… Only bits and pieces come home with me. I leave the rest there, lying in the dirt, in the dark shadows… what I have left, beats more slowly. I leave my tears there too. And my free spirit. Lost in a field of grain… They stay there….

November 7, 1990 Howard and Alice walked me back to that wheat field and helped me find some of the pieces of my heart.

I trembled. Then shook, my knees literally knocking together, bouncing up and down, in sheer terror. My body racked with mental anguish and sobs, as the tears released, that have been trapped for many years.

My chest felt heavy. Would life ever be normal again?

(To Be Continued… )

© Trudy Metzger

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