Wrecked for Love’s Sake

I look into her eyes… the grief… the shame… the hovering darkness… the accusing voices… the hopeless, empty cries…

…and she asks me…

“How do I know I can trust you? How do I know you won’t betray my fragile, broken heart? How do I know you won’t pull out your Bible, quote a few scriptures, pray in the name of Jesus, and then reach out and touch me, taking from me what I’ve never had to give…

…that innocence that I’ve been robbed of, over and over and over again, since birth…

…Will you too, take it, strip me, violate me, use me, abuse me, and leave my heart bleeding on the floor… leave me,  gasping for my next breath…. just to survive….

…And, if you do, will you be the last? Will it finally be all I had left to give? Will the life fade from me…. Are you the one who will be ‘my death’?…

…Or can I dare… do I try, once more… one more desperate time… to trust, in hope that maybe… just maybe… you will not strip me? …

Do I dare risk, and believe that you will cover me, respect me, protect my heart and my dignity… and lead me to the Gentle Healer–the only One who is enough?”

I look into her eyes, and weep…. “Oh God, what have we done? What have we done in your name? Forgive us!”

And in that moment I know, again, it is only Jesus…. only Jesus….

My heart cries out to Him, to use me, to let me be wrecked for love’s sake, but never to get in the way of Love. To let me be a channel, and let Him flow through me, pouring His life into her…. 

…into you…

…so that He can meet every need in you, and show you what He sees in you… how He loves you… values you.

canstockphoto4017560 cropped canstockphoto7353377***

I open my email, having written the above, and I find in my inbox a message from a client.  In the last several weeks I have ‘confronted’ her abuser, who denies allegations, even though there was a witness.  I read the words, and the tears splash in front of me, as I am reminded why I do what I do:

note of thanks

If it is the first time the abuse victim feels truly understood and fought for, then I have given her hope…

©TrudyMetzger

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Jeremy’s Journey: From Abuse & Addiction, to Freedom & Hope

The formal office setting could have been a bit intimidating, at least a little, if had come to be assessed by the young medical professional, and if he had not been so warm and welcoming. It isn’t every day I sit in the office of professionals, interviewing them and hearing stories of childhood abuse, sexual addictions and struggle.

It’s happened before, with a lawyer, my age, who simply needed to share his journey, and weep, and several other medical professionals, but still, it is rare. Whether that is because they have done so well, that pulling a painful story to the forefront is too overwhelming, or the fear of what clients, patients or customers might think, if they were to discover it.

Whatever the reason, it’s not because these hurts and traumas don’t exist there…. it’s just rare that I am the one sitting across from them. When I do, they simply become human beings, without title or position, who need someone to listen, someone to understand, someone to care. Or, in this case, to hear their story, and share it with the public. I’ve been criticized, mostly by one or two people, for sharing these painful stories publicly, as if I am wrecking people’s lives by doing so. On the contrary, I share stories because those who tell me theirs, and ask me to write about them, or give me permission to, want to have a voice, without exposing their identity.

I am careful what stories I choose. There are many I have heard that you will never see in black and white, unless the individuals choose to tell them themselves. They are powerful stories, but the telling of some horrific truths I simply cannot enter into, at least not at this time in my life. I can hear, and have compassion, but retelling makes my mind stop, and the words refuse to come. But the one thing I have hoped for, is to share the story of a gentleman, or two, who suffered sexual abuse and overcame….

Some months ago, in blog post, I asked if any men would be willing to share their stories, and eventually this gentleman contacted me. He would be willing to share his story and ‘tell all’, he said, as long as I don’t disclose his real name. I could come to his office and even record the interview.

After driving almost two hours, I was greeted by a short and slightly stocky, balding gentleman,  with friendly eyes, a big voice, and a ready smile. To break the ice, we chatted, casually for a few moments, about his work and how successful he has become, and to establish boundaries in the discussion. Anything was fair game, he said.

To lead into the interview, I asked if he has ever shared his story with anyone before, in its entirety, and he had not. And so I began with early childhood memories…

canstockphoto3656928

Raised in a Christian home, his parents gave him the best that they could, both physically and spiritually. They were firm, yet loving, in parenting. They were involved in church, but not to the neglect of their children. They had a good and safe home, but they also had their work cut out for them. Jeremy was a high-energy, rambunctious boy…

It all began when Jeremy was babysat, as a very young boy, by ‘nice’ young man next door, in his mid to upper teens, and the babysitter helped him shower before bed. The babysitter joked with him about their bodies, and led into touching each other, covering it with laughter, to make it seem innocent. Beyond that, he said, he had no memories of anything happening.

While there seemed to be no obvious consequences that Jeremy would have recognized, it clearly set life patterns. Now a psychologist, Jeremy says it was studying that helped him understand how this impacted his life.

By age eight a friend introduced Jeremy to pornography, opening a door to a whole new set of problems and confusions. That introduction led to an addiction that would take many years to break.

Initially it amounted mostly to excessive time spent in the Sears catalogue, because there was no other easy access to porn. This lasted until his parents found a ‘home made’ porn book, of pictures glued into a lined subject book, and questioned him. He blamed it on his sister, who was only a year younger than he, but after a through investigation, they didn’t buy the story.

With time Jeremy introduced a boy in the neighbourhood, who was a year or two younger, to porn, and by age eleven he started mowing lawns to bring in money, and used it to buy candy and pornography. Being too embarrassed to purchase the magazines himself, he conned his friend into going into the store, in exchange for candy, to buy topless magazines

Jeremy was diagnosed ADHD at a young age–and it affected him to such an extreme that he was kicked out of preschool before the end of the first week–and was forbidden candy at home, as was his younger sister. His buddy’s home was also highly controlled, with a strong health focus, and as a result he too, almost never got candy. By partnering together, they managed to keep their addictions hidden–both the porn and the candy–while feeding those addictions constantly.

When the computer arrived in their home, unsupervised, providing easy access, Jeremy said the problem escalated to unimaginable levels.

At one point Jeremy’s mom sat down, sensing something was wrong, and questioned him, but he denied everything, and she never asked again.

Driven by guilt, the addiction was a compelling force in Jeremy’s life for many years. Through high school, through his early twenties, and then into marriage, he surrendered, mostly willingly, to the addiction. There were short periods of time when he fought hard, and even gave up the addictions. But it never lasted longer than 2 or 3 weeks, before it would overtake him again, leaving him hopeless, overwhelmed and defeated. Not to mention that he didn’t like who he became when not feeding the addictions.

While this struggle played out, going back to those earlier years, other drama and trauma also played out in Jeremy’s life. His sister developed extreme mental illness, leading to physical attacks and even death threats, starting when she was only thirteen. On several occasions she made actual physical attacks on Jeremy’s life, attacking him with sharp objects or other weapons. He was, at that time, still small for his age in every way, and his younger sister, who was taller, had the upper hand. At night his bedroom had to be locked, to keep her out and him safe. And even that didn’t prevent her from trying.

This struggle only served to deepen the addiction, as Jeremy searched for an escape from reality.

When Jeremy started dating, in his late twenties, there was a sudden and unexpected accountability that he hadn’t prepared for. It began when she asked if he was into pornography. In that moment he decided to be honest, and immediately told her the truth.

Through the rise and fall of their courtship, Jeremy said he pushed his girlfriend far beyond her own boundaries, sexually, but managed to avoid having intercourse before marriage. Still, it added to struggles after marriage. She felt betrayed, almost used, and he was confused by her frigidity after marriage.

The marriage vows didn’t take care of the addictions. Jeremy continued to feed on pornography, going through the cycle of wanting to quit, feeling defeated, and drowning in guilt. And then trying again.

In that cycle of trying to overcome, Jeremy found that all he thought about was the very things he wanted to remove from his life. The end result was that the ‘draw’ to the addiction only grew stronger, leaving him yet more powerless.

Jeremy’s wife gave birth to their first child–a son–still the addictions continued, and their relationship deteriorated. As things grew increasingly worse in their marriage , after the birth of twin daughters, Jeremy’s wife insisted he get help. She was ready to give up on the marriage, struggling constantly with the ‘competition’ of pornography, and feeling like she wasn’t enough.

When trying to have sex with him, she said, she constantly pictured what scantily clad, or naked, woman he had last lusted after. The pornography had become a consuming force in their marriage, threatening to take from Jeremy the woman he loved.

Still afraid to expose his struggle, Jeremy reluctantly joined a Celebrate Recovery group, meeting with men who challenged and inspired one another to rise above, to forgive when they failed, to keep reaching for holiness.

As a result of that group, three men decided to meet weekly, apart from the group, and offer each other accountability. At first it worked like a weekly ‘confessional’, where all that really took place was taking turns admitting to failure. When this proved ineffective, they set up a method of ‘consequences’ in which, whoever failed had to pay the other two men a set amount. This worked effectively, he said, by training the mind on consequences.

“I’ve been ‘clean’ for over half a year now,” he said with bold confidence. He shared how he learned to focus on getting up after failing, rather than beating himself up for failing, and the difference that has made. He acknowledged how much his wife has suffered because of his sin, his choices, and how he wants to extend grace to her, as she struggles through that, and through her feelings for him–or the lack of them.

Jeremy is fighting for his wife’s heart, and for their family unit, without imposing on her the burden of his sin. He didn’t say she has to forgive and forget, and get on with life. He understands the consequences of his wrong choices, and time and patience, as God works, is the answer.

When his son gets a little older, he told me, he will have awkward talks with him about pornography and all that ‘stuff’. He remembers those awkward moments with his parents–even how his dad once admitted to having struggled–and plans to have even more talks… talks that are even more awkward. He will teach his children to protect themselves. Teach them about identity, value and purpose.

Jeremy is breaking a generational chain, by breaking the silence. He has moved from a journey of abuse and addiction, to a journey of freedom and hope through Jesus, through accountability, through honesty.

© Trudy Metzger

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Dirty Laundry that Stinks to High Heaven: Sexual Abuse in Christian Cultures (Part 2 of 2)

There is a cost associated with hiding corruption, or turning our heads the other way, and plugging our ears, so that we can say, We did not see, did not know. Not the least of the cost is the ongoing sacrifice of our children on the altars of Molech.

And, having done so, we are shocked, confused and horrified when our children abandon God. We fall on our knees and cry out, heartbroken, that they would leave their faith–not to be mistaken with leaving their cultural upbringing–and worship other gods.

Many turn from the living God because we have corporately misrepresented Him in leaving them willingly vulnerable by not exposing sin and protecting them. We have hidden the evil done against them, while judging harshly their failures, regardless of their efforts. Failures that are often born out of struggles resulting from the very sins committed against them. And until we acknowledge that we have sinned against them in this, our prayers will continue to echo from the walls of our homes and our churches, empty and meaningless.

But if we repent, and cry out to God for forgiveness for our sins, and if we stop hiding behind cloaks of righteousness that have holes exposing our own evil, then, the God of heaven will hear our prayers for our children and our nation. Only then will we see revival of spirit and soul.

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.

I urge us to repent and stop stuffing our filthy laundry in a corner, in pretence that it does not exist. It stinks to high heaven, creating a stench before the very presence of God.

Isaiah 65:1-9

New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment and Final Salvation

65 The Lord says,

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.[a]
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.[b]
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols (of greed, religion, image, lust and pride) in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.
(…)
Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.

“Look, my decree is written out[c] in front of me:
I will not stand silent;
I will repay them in full!
Yes, I will repay them—
7 both for their own sins
and for those of their ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“For they also burned incense on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills.
I will pay them back in full!

But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
(and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
For I still have true servants there.
I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel[d]
and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
and my servants will live there.

On behalf of ourselves, our fathers and mothers, and the generations past, we must repent. And for the sake of the generations to come, we must stand and break the silence of corruption, and pray that God will have mercy on us. Not only on those who have committed these heinous acts, but on us for our silence, and not fighting to the death for the little children. For this evil, I pray that God will have mercy.

The next generation is already paying the price with the prevalence of sexual immorality, in the guise of abstinence, and abortions, and homosexuality, and more sexual abuse. All this, and more, is happening right under the noses of leaders who chose to look the other way. That blindness has empowered evil. And, were they to discover it, the sword would fall swiftly.

But that is not the biblical response of leaders. A true leader does not judge harshly and quickly the sins of those he or she leads, while shouting, “You have sinned!” A true leader falls to his knees and asks God, “Where have I sinned that your people are doing this under my leadership?”

We see in Ezra 9, when sin is revealed in the congregation, how he responds by taking personal ownership, as though he was the one who committed the sins. Only after personal repentance does he call for public, corporate accountability for those sins. Oh how such leadership would change the Body of Christ!

Ezra 9:3-8

King James Version (KJV–with edits)

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we… been delivered into … confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace has been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

© Trudy Metzger

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When Childhood Sexual Abuse & Violence Impact Marriage

For some time I’ve been contemplating the right time to share about the impact my childhood had on our marriage. Thinking about it gave me writer’s block for a while, so I laid it aside and told first of the journey of healing and forgiveness with my father.

Most of the ‘block’, I presume, is in my hesitance to tell someone else’s story. Even though Tim has given me permission to tell these stories–especially in the book(s) I’m writing–I still am cautious. I live my life and open book, and don’t really know just how it came to be that way, other than I believe it is what God has called me to, but I recognize that this kind of openness feels much more vulnerable for some people. And Tim is one of those people.

Tim is, by nature, reserved, private, calm, peaceful, serious, gentle, kind-hearted and strong. He needs his space, his quiet time, and is easily exhausted by crowds and attention. So for hundreds of people to read about our marriage daily, is a bit more daunting for him than for me. I don’t mind the spotlight, if it is for a good cause, though I don’t much care for it spontaneously. I like to have a plan, a goal and a purpose.

When it comes to sexual abuse, that plan and purpose is always in motion, so to share any part of my journey is nothing to me any more. Ten years ago it was not like that. I still physically trembled most of the time when I referred to it, and felt much more scattered. The purpose was not yet fully defined. As ministry in this area grows, and drawing from my story becomes part of the healing process for others, my fear about sharing has all but disappeared.

Still, I want to be sensitive to Tim, as well as to my audience, to share discretely the things that need to be told. To tell appropriately how abuse affected our marriage as I struggled to come to grips with the violations of the past, while embracing intimacy in marriage, emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually.

Not everything is appropriate (in my opinion) to share on the internet, that I would share in a book written specifically for adults, and targeting married couples. Because of this, I will not be able portray fully the struggles it caused and how we overcame it, but I will share what is appropriate.

Since I have already received very forthright emails, asking some pretty tough questions, I know that many of you can handle the truth. I welcome questions at any time, if, in my effort to be discrete, what I write is vague, or unclear.

Tim and I have fought hell and high water to have a strong marriage. We have been open, honest and transparent through some ‘inner secrets’ that would have been easier to hide. The hard times, including working through the abuse, and having permission to grieve what I lost, has created a strong bond between us. It has given my heart a safe place and there is nothing and no one in the world that competes with him.

As I share the hard times, including times when he did not know how to be there, I do so with utmost respect for the man he is and for his willingness to work through those things. I hold him in highest honour in my life, next to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

I have learned to trust him completely, emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. He always has my best interest at heart. Even when we go through difficult times, and even when he fails me, I am confident of that one thing. And when I fail him, he knows that I love him. We’re human, and as I share our story, that will be obvious. It is the love and grace of God that have brought us to this place, and we share our story with gratitude to Him for that.

With that I will begin to tell our story, tomorrow….

© Trudy Metzger

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The Radical Risk that Saved My Life Continued… (Part 3)

Nanoseconds passed. But it seemed like an eternity of hell in my soul. And then I felt their arms around me, sandwiched safely between Howard and Alice.

“What happened, Trudy? What did you remember?” they ask.

I tried to explain, but it tumbled out, awkwardly. Broken. Making no sense. Bits and pieces of lost memories, like little pieces of my heart that needed to, somehow, be glued back together. Is it just a nightmare? Will I wake up? Momentarily the shock created a barrier between my real world and my mental world.

I had too much tea for supper but I thought about the stairs, about being in the bathroom alone, and I couldn’t do it. You better if you don’t want to do some mopping in front of these kind new friends. That’s a motivational thought.

I excused myself, steeling myself against the terror. One step at a time I willed myself to climb those stairs. I arrived, closed the door, and locked it firmly. The window haunted me. Am I really alone? I could feel them… they were there, and I didn’t even know who, or what they were. They had returned from childhood to haunt me, the shadowless beings that always chased me.

Darkness gathered around my heart, foreboding.

I didn’t bother to take the time to dry my hands before I opened the door, and peeked out. No one. I bolted for the stairs, flying down them three at a time. Noisily. Forget covering up this hell. I’m not okay. I’m a wreck. 

I dropped onto the couch, between Howard and Alice, trembling. I started laughing. It was another survival thing I did. I felt so foolish, juvenile, fighting childhood fears. Trudy, pull yourself together.  The lecture fell flat.

“I was terrified,” I said. “Really terrified. Almost like someone was following me. I know how dumb that is but I’m really scared.”

Alice, calm and composed, and very tender said, “Trudy, while you went upstairs, Howard and I talked. If it’s okay with you, I’ll stay here tonight. It’s probably not good for you to be alone tonight.”

“Ohhhh… Thank you! I really don’t want to  be alone!” I could not imagine trying to care for an elderly man in the night. It was all too overwhelming.

We talked a while longer, and then Howard returned home to their six children, and Alice stayed with me.

I made sure that the Colonel, as I often called him, had everything he needed before we went to bed.  Alice shared my room, my bed. Even the thought of being alone in a room, in the dark, traumatized me.

After chatting with Alice a few more minutes, I fell asleep more easily than I expected, but sleep was restless, broken. No dreams or nightmares, really, just startled to wakefulness, again and again. Every time I woke up, there was Alice, awake.

At around 3:00am a loud thud awakened both Alice and me. We flew out of bed to see what had caused it. Outside my door, George lay on a crumpled heap. He had collapsed, for no apparent reason, on his way back to bed from the bathroom—something that had never happened before. And, of all nights, it had to happen when I was already on edge.

Alice helped me walk George back to bed, and returned to bed, while I checked him to make sure all was well.

“Who was that nice chap that helped you get me back to bed?” he asked.

“That’s my friend Alice. She decided to stay the night,” I said, tucking him back in and turning out his lights.

“Thank her for me,” he said. “It’s good she was here to help.”

Back in bed I thanked Alice for being such a helpful ‘chap’. We talked and laughed, de-stressing from the adrenaline rush.

In the morning I made alternative arrangements for George’s care for a few days.  Alice had invited me to stay with their family, to work through the emotional aftermath.

It was the best thing for me, to be surrounded by children who accepted without judgement, who loved unconditionally. Their youngest son was not quite two, and loved attention. I could have stood in one spot, all day long, tossing him in the air and catching him, without him ever tiring of the game. Between him, a nine-year-old, an 11-yr-old and three teenagers, there was plenty of action.

When we sat down to dinner that evening, Howard welcomed me before prayer. Before starting dinner, the family sang ‘Because He Lives’, a song I had loved in my childhood and teens. We got to the chorus and I tried bravely to sing the words, “because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone…” But I choked up. I knew it was true. I knew that He was my only hope, but I didn’t feel confident that I could do it.

A tear spilled over in spite of my best efforts. I pushed my chair away from the table and fled. I couldn’t do it. It was too painful. Too raw. How was I to sit at the table, singing cheerfully, surrounded by ‘the perfect family’? I didn’t fit. Didn’t belong. Couldn’t identify. I was broken. They were whole. I was empty and stripped. They were full and together.

I curled up on Cindy’s bed sobbing. Embarrassed. How would I face them again? I couldn’t go back up. I would wait patiently until dinner ended, and then I would try again to blend in.

A hand rested on my shoulder, “What happened Trudy?” Alice had come down to make sure I was okay. I tried to explain.

“Trudy, at our house it’s okay to cry,” she said.

That thought sank in slowly. Emotions? Okay? Accepted? Not shamed? I couldn’t imagine a home where tears were welcomed. Where people were loved when they were down, even encouraged. But she sounded convincing.

“Why don’t you come upstairs again and have dinner?” she said.

“Won’t the children wonder why I ran away?”

“I don’t think they’ll worry about it too much,” Alice said.

I walked upstairs with bloodshot eyes, sat down at the table as though nothing had happened. We talked and laughed again.

It was going to be okay. I was going to be okay.

© Trudy Metzger

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