New Hope: Abigail’s Story (Part 10)

These days, when I spend time with Abigail, she is not huddled on a couch, with her feet pulled up, eyes downcast, and unable to speak. I don’t have to draw every word out of her, through deep questioning, just to get somewhere. There are moments, but mostly it isn’t like that any more. Abigail has a sparkle in her eyes, much of the time, she laughs, and engages in conversation, and with people around her. It is so fun to watch Jesus set her free!

The other day Abigail spent some time with our family, in a group setting, and I saw a carefree joy in her that I had not seen before. I told Tim later that I see a little girl in her, just wanting to break free. With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, Tim told me that I had missed a moment when she ran and bounced into a chair, racing someone to get there first. “She has been suppressed for a very long time,” he added.

Abigail and I continue to meet, to work through her pain and her struggles, because the reality is that knowing Jesus does not end pain, or remove struggle. He strengthens us, loves us, and fights the battle for us, but in our humanity we rise and fall with that battle. From time to time she is placed in situations where she interacts with those who wounded her, and the raw memories trigger struggle, and in our sessions those encounters quickly show, and her spirit still takes the pain in quite easily, but one battle at a time she is learning to give it all to Jesus.

And, realistically, for Abigail the fight has only just begun. The enemy will use anything he can, and anyone whom he can, to try to make Abigail give up on her journey to knowing Jesus. He will try to destroy her faith, discourage her heart and convince her to throw in the towel.

Abigail will have to resist his tactics, and stand firm in Jesus Christ, to overcome, because attacks will still bring the temptation to return to old habits–to cut when she can’t feel or feels hopeless. But one victory at a time, a warrior will rise up in her, and she will help others.

Only a few days ago Abigail awoke in the middle of the night, tempted to find something with which to cut herself. In the dark of that night, she reached for the Bible I left with her–my big, fat ‘preacher sized’ Bible, with notes, underlines and scribbles–and clutched it to her chest. She reached for Jesus–the Word–instead of walking to the knife block, and staring at the temptation.

I am so blessed by Abigail, and thank God for bringing her into my life. In only a few short months she has disclosed deep pain, hurt and trauma. We’re still walking through the ongoing journey of freedom and forgiving people in her life, but she is free in Jesus, in spite of the struggle.

Abigail has given me permission to share her story here, in black and white, so that you will be challenged and encouraged. Few people have the courage to do that, while still in the ‘raw’ battle. Especially when people who know her might read her story, and judge or otherwise hurt her, should they recognize her story.

I am honoured to have shared with you, Abigail’s story. Thank you for allowing her pain to touch your heart, and her victory to cheer you on in your own journey. Your messages to me have been encouraging–some of which I have passed on to Abigail, to encourage her.

Please pray for Abigail. She wants desperately to follow and know Jesus intimately. She struggles from time to time, to hear His voice and know that it is Him, because other voices have ruled for so long. We are getting into the Word of God–the Bible–to learn how to identify the voice of God and the voice of the enemy, to know when it is truth, and when it is attack. She is learning that God’s voice speaks invitation, hope, salvation, purpose, love and deep conviction, but the voice of the enemy is one of condemnation, hopelessness, shame, defeat and oppression.

Pray for courage and strength, so that the attacks do not knock her down, and when she falls, that she will know the grace of God is more than enough.

Above all, I pray that Abigail’s story has stirred compassion in your heart for those struggling, and a passion to move beyond the typical ‘pat answers’ of religion, and take Jesus into the hearts of the hurting. I pray that, when touching hurting hearts, you will do it with the love of Jesus, and do so with a selfless heart, and words of life. Our words carry the power of life and death, and words that condemn and shame–something even Jesus did not come to do (John 3:17)–and they have the power to shut down a seeking heart, and discourage the struggling.

May God give you wisdom to reach out to others, without personal agenda, to bring Jesus to the world around, and to fellow believers who struggle. Because the death and resurrection of Jesus really is more than enough for each of us.

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Moment of Triumph: Abigail’s Story (Part 9)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

 Sitting with Abigail in my car, seeing her deep bondage, and knowing her desperate desire to be free, I felt compelled to fight for her, even if it meant getting some backlash. Even if it meant taking on the enemy alone, where I would typically work with a team.

Her spirit was closed, lost. I had never done this before. I recalled she had shared a song that had comforted her some weeks earlier, in a moment of trauma, when she struggled to trust Jesus. The song was hot off the press, released only days earlier, as if it was written just for her, for that moment. I started the car and scrolled through my play list… Nothing is Wasted (by Jason Gray)… “It’s from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom, and you will see… before the end… that every broken piece is gathered in the heart of Jesus, and what’s lost will be found again… Nothing is wasted, Nothing is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer, Nothing is wasted. Well, hope…. is more than you can bear and it’s too hard to bear and it’s too hard to believe… it could be true… and your strength fails you half way there… You can lead on me and I’ll believe for you… And in time you will believe it too… Nothing is wasted…” 

The words filled the car, singing hope over her. I watched as her spirit opened….

I explained that there is power in the name of Jesus, and we have authority to command the enemy to be silent. “Would it be okay if I did that? I promise it won’t be anything wonky, or loud or frightening. I will calmly and quietly tell him to leave.”

Abigail said I could, so I began to pray, and speak into the darkness…..

I spoke with gentle confidence, quietly and calmly commanding the enemy to leave, in the name of Jesus, to take his hands off of Abigail, to stop tormenting her mind with lies, and get out of my car. I asked God to protect Abigail and speak truth over her–I spoke His truth against the lies in her mind–and invited Jesus to be with us.

When I finished praying, we listened to worship music and, with time, I asked her, “What are the voices saying now?”

“One is getting quieter,” she said.

I cheered, quietly, and waited, as the worship music continued. At length I asked her if she was ready to pray. She said she was, so I explained how it would work, and that there would be no surprises. Knowing that she had not been able to pray much, if at all, for many years, I said I would lead her in prayer, and she could repeat it after me. I would pray only about the things we discussed, and I wouldn’t do anything strange, just a gentle prayer of confession, repentance and invitation, asking Jesus to take the place of those blades, and fill her life again.

In a previous session Abigail had told me she doesn’t believe that Jesus died for her. She believed He died for the world, but struggled to grasp that He did that for her. Unbelief in this area, from encounters I’ve had, is often comes from a feeling of worthlessness, brought on by negative life experience. But believing that Jesus died for me, personally, and you, personally, is the core of salvation, so I spoke into that  lie one more time.

“Do you believe in God?” I asked.

“Yes,” Abigail said.

“Do you believe Jesus is God’s son?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said again.

“Do you believe that Jesus died for you?” I asked.

“I believe He died for the world, but not for me,” she said.

“If you believe in God, and you believe in Jesus, then is the Word of God true?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And if the Word of God says that Jesus died for you too, then is that true?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Do you believe that Jesus died for you, Abigail?” I asked again.

“Yes,” she said.

Lies run deep, and the only way to overcome their power is by replacing them with truth. And if it takes a thousand times, then I am willing to ask the questions as often as it takes for the truth to pentrate.

I explained to Abigail that the prayer would be one of repentance, as well as asking Jesus to take the place of the blades, and giving God His rightful place in her heart in life. When she was ready, I began….

“Heavenly Father…. ” I said, then, after speaking only a sentence, I paused, waiting for her to repeat after me.

Silence. More silence. I peeked. Abigail’s big brown eyes were wide open, staring at me.

I smiled. Maybe she misunderstood…

“Can you pray and repeat after me?” I asked.

“Not to ‘Father’,” she said, matter-of-factly.

It was at that moment I realized what I had done, without even thinking to talk with her about God as her Heavenly Father. In Abigail’s mind, associating God with ‘father’, created an unsafe connection, immediately shutting her down, allowing fear, condemnation and oppression to overtake her.

“I’m sorry, Abigail,” I said, “I didn’t even think about it. I can lead you in prayer without addressing Him as Father, but if I leave it there, I do you a grave injustice.”

I took some time to tell Abigail about God, as Papa–our ‘Abba Father’–and explain that when our earthly fathers fail us, God is our protector. He is the one who carries us through the trauma of what is done to us. He is our shield, our warrior.

I took the ‘big picture’ approach, and showed her how God shows Himself as a ‘Warrior Father’ to His children, His people, throughout the entire Old Testament Story. If anyone messed with His children, God rose to their defence. When they wandered into captivity, He let them run themselves into some dark places, but always He fought for them, and offered redemption.

“You need Him, as your Heavenly Father, the Warrior who fights for you, Abigail,” I said. “To not take you there would be to rob you of His protection, and leave you vulnerable.” When we understand God as our protector, we learn to fall on Him, rather than fight our own battles. And if Abigail was to win this, it would not be on her own strength.

I asked Abigail if I could pray and ask Jesus to reveal the heart of the Father to her, to lead her to Him, to be the mediator and ask Him to reveal His incredible love and acceptance. Instead of asking her to address Him as Father, or falling back on intellectual acceptance, I would pray on her behalf, standing in the gap for her pain, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. She agreed, and I again started to pray.

Abigail prayed after me, speaking truth over the lies, repenting, confessing Jesus as her Saviour, and asking Him to fill her life again. It was a moment of victory, a moment of triumph.

I handed her my Bible. “You’re going to need this,” I told her. “Find places I’ve underlined, or just hold it when you’re struggling.” I assured her that God will continue to heal her and, with time, she will be able to read and understand the Word of God. I remember well how hard it was, to a time, and also know how much I love the Bible now.

In the wee hours of the morning, I hugged Abigail good night, after hours and hours of battle.

It was a night well spent, on the heels of an amazing retreat with the women from Milverton Mennonite Church. I should have been too exhausted to fight, having lost sleep in the days leading up to that night but, instead, I felt exhilarated and ‘alive’, doing exactly what God created me for–worshipping Him, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ that breaks chains of addiction, religion, sin, and every other bondage.

Abigail walked into the night, a smile on her face, and joy in her heart. I knew that she would be okay and, regardless of the battle ahead, she would make it through.

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The Struggle of Good & Evil: Abigail’s Story (Part 8)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

As the worship music played, I prayed silently. I thought about the place the blades had in her heart, in her life. They way she relied on them to feel anything at all. If only God could awaken her heart, and restore her soul. Then she would be able to feel without needing to inflict pain on her body, physically.

What inspired me to say it, I don’t remember, but it was significant. “You know,” I said, “it’s a funny thing how many times a song will start playing that totally fits to what’s going on in my car, or what I’m talking about with people.” 

“Abigail,” I said, “would you be willing to ask Jesus to take the place of those blades? Will you surrender to Him”

No more had a spoken it, than the lyrics in Believer, by Kutless filled my car, “…When will you surrender to His grace….”

We both laughed. “See, what did I tell you?” I said. “It just happened again!”

The lyrics continues, “… He promises He’ll never leave you, to bring you freedom from the past, Cause that’s the sacrifice He’s made, He can be your shelter and your strength…”

“Will you ask Jesus to take the place of the blades?” I asked again.

She contemplated awhile.

“I want to, but I don’t know how,” she said.

“Just pray and ask Him,” I said.

“I don’t know how to pray,” she said.

“I’ll lead you in prayer,” I offered.

“If I do,” she finally said, “will it just be that much harder tomorrow? Will the battle be worse?”

“Is that what the enemy is telling you?” I asked, “that’s it’s just going to get worse?”

Abigail nodded.

“I can’t tell you that it won’t, Abigail,” I said, looking her in the eye, “I can’t promise that it won’t get worse. It might. But what I can tell you, is that Jesus will be enough. If the battle is harder, He will be with you, and He will be enough. That I can promise you.”

It is in those moments that I would wish to declare all kinds of promises, that the battle will end, or lesson, and that life will somehow get easier, but I can’t promise those things. Life is a battle, and sometimes it seems that the more trauma we experience, the harder our battle. How I wished at that moment that I could take her battle for her.

“Abigail, would it be okay if I did something I don’t usually do alone?” I asked.

Earlier, in the coffee shop when I asked her if it was her or the enemy smirking at me, I had told her that I wouldn’t take authority over the demonic, even if I could. This surprised her, as it seemed I was content to leave her suffering and oppressed.

“There’s a reason Jesus sent disciples out two by two, to cover each other spiritually,” I had explained. I went on to tell her that the heart must also be ready, or it simply creates more room for the enemy to come in, bringing yet more darkness into her life. I told her I would rather teach her who she is in Christ, and how much more power she has than the darkness, so that it cannot oppress her that way. I would rather equip her, than to ‘clean house’ and leave her vulnerable the next time, not equipped to fight off the enemy.

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Only moments after that statement, just as we started exploring the book of Galatians, and God’s message of freedom, she had retrieved the blades….

Abigail sat quietly, most of the time, holding the blade in her hand, and toying with it. She ran it across her skin, the sharpness teasing flesh, daring her–even inviting her–to go deep.

I saw it, but gave the enemy no power. It wasn’t what I was here to talk about. The timing of when she had seen the blades and snatched them just as we went to the Bible, was significant–clearly a battle between good and evil. It was obvious that the enemy wanted to distract me from the message Abigail needed, of hope in Jesus, and get me talking about blades, and begging her.

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I felt it, and made a conscious decision to not go there. This night was about freedom, truth, and Jesus. It was about Abigail’s freedom, not the enemy’s taunting. I wouldn’t entertain him by acknowledging his tactics…

…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

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Held Captive by a Dark Force: Abigail’s Story (Part 7)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

…As the seconds ticked by, I grew restless. We passed the four-minute mark… four and a half…

I stood to my feet, and walked to the cashier, a mature, friendly woman. “Excuse me, Ma’am,” I said, “I am concerned about the young woman in the bathroom. She’s not doing well, and I told her I would call 911 if she is not out in five minutes. Her time is pretty much up, and I am heading back to knock on the door, and see if she will respond.”

The cashier gave me a knowing look, as if she had already observed that something wasn’t right, and nodded. “I understand. If you need a key to the bathroom, let me know. I’ve got one and will give it to you.”

Would I really invade her privacy in the bathroom, if she didn’t respond? I processed that thought. There’s always the question of, how does one determine how seriously to take a moment like that? To disregard it, in the worst case scenario, would be to lose a life, or risk losing it…

“I’ll let you know if I need it,” I said,thanking her, and walked toward the bathroom. I made it half way back when Abigail stepped out. I took a deep breath. I had remained calm, but the inner tension had been there, more powerful than I had realized until the moment the stress lifted.

We seated ourselves in the corner, again, and the cashier brought us some glasses with water. She told us we could stay awhile, that they were not closing for quite some time. She looked at me, a question in her eyes, but never spoke a word. I smiled, nodded, and thanked her. She just wanted to know if we were going to be okay.

Moments like that, sitting there in relative silence, with the enemy feeling quite victorious, can make you feel pretty vulnerable.  Especially when, only days earlier, it felt like such amazing breakthrough. Every now and then, when I pictured her going home with the blades, my heart would shrink back, and the mild sick feeling would wash over me.

Abigail just sat there, looking at me, the defiant smirk never leaving her face. It was almost chilling, the change that had come over her when she held the blades in her hands. Almost as if she felt stronger, more confident and more powerful. As if they held some secret power.

“Is that you smirking at me, or is that the enemy?” I asked her. The words formed, almost before I consciously processed them. I was suddenly aware that the battle had moved to a whole new level.

“I don’t know,” Abigail said.

If I spoke much at all, I don’t remember it. The shock of seeing her reclaim the blades wiped parts of that night from my memory, and only the memory of grief lingers powerfully, and that feeling of freezing to death.

“It’s cold in here… I’m freezing,” I said. “Could we go sit in my car? I need to warm up.” I had not removed my coat, still, I shivered.

“Sure, I don’t care,” she said. With that we packed up and moved to my car.

My car holds no secret powers, but it has become somewhat of a haven, a sanctuary, where sacred moments happen. It’s my little ‘church on wheels’, where I sit with broken-hearted women and girls, and lead them to the heart of God, and tell them about the love of Jesus. And in my car I have access to a spiritual weapon that I knew we needed in that moment.

If we were to experience any breakthrough at all that night, it would have to be away from the activity of the coffee shop, in a place with less distractions, where truth would speak into the darkness.

We jumped into my car, and I cranked the heat. First things first.

I connected my iPhone to the radio, to play worship music. “What’s your favourite song right now?” I asked. She looked at me, saying nothing. I couldn’t tell if the enemy had silenced her, or if she was unsure. Then I remembered her dream.

I did a search on Google, chose the song, and the lyrics started to play…

 

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

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Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

[x2]From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

(Nothing is Wasted, Jason Gray)

I spoke truth over her, in agreement with the song. When it ended, I went to my iTunes list, and chose an appropriate playlist. Worship, I have learned, is one of the most powerful weapons against darkness.

I watched as her spirit softened. But behind the pain, and the desire in her eyes, lurked a dark force. I saw it. I felt it. It almost seemed as though she could see the light, but that force held her captive.

And that force would need to leave for breakthrough to take place….

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…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

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Under Attack: Abigail’s Story (Part 6)

WARNING: This post contains graphic content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

It was late the following Saturday evening, just a few days after Abigail sent me those texts, saying she wanted her blades back, when I met her for the extra session.

I saw her sitting across the room, in the coffee shop, and it struck me, how good she looked. How much brighter her eyes had become since we met, and how there was even a glimmer of hope, where only darkness had been, previously.

I’m not naive. The battle is still real, and Abigail has a fight ahead of her, but I will celebrate every little positive sign, and every victory, no matter how insignificant it may seem to some. And I told her so.

The light in her eyes was only one of a few things I noticed that night. Her smile was a bit brighter than it had been when we first met, with a bit more real emotion behind it.

When I asked her if she feels more free than she did, she said yes, but added that she still longs for her blades, that the desire is overwhelmingly strong.

The conversation becomes a blur in my memory, because of what happened not long after…

We talked for a while about various things, and I pulled out my Bible to explore some of her questions. I do this cautiously with those who are completely shut down spiritually, because of the abuse of the Bible in their past. I find words of hope for them, and read those.

Whatever it was in conversation that led to it, I felt as though we were making a bit of progress, like Abigail was following. But in one instant our evening spun out of control. I was mid-sentence when it happened, and it took a moment to register…

Abigail dove forward, completely out of character, so that it stunned me too much to react. She snatched something from my Bible and leaned back, defiance and victory replacing the typical reserved demeanour.

As I absorbed the moment, it dawned on me…

The blades.

My heart sank. A wave of mild nausea washed over me as the shock faded and reality registered. I had left the blades in my Bible, having completely forgotten about them.

Oh God! What have I done! My heart cried silently. I felt sickeningly responsible for the weapon in her hand. I had launched her into an all out battle.

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I reached out my hand, pleading with Abigail to give me the blades.

“Please?” I said, desperately.

She looked with defiance, as if challenging me, or taunting. I couldn’t tell for sure. “Please, may I have it back?” I asked again.

I sat there for some time, my heart beating just a bit harder than usual, and my hand still outstretched. That’s when it caught my eye–the other blade–sticking out of my Bible. I snatched it, and popped it in my pocket, not taking any more chances. When it poked my leg, and I realized I was at risk of getting cut, I moved it, but kept it close to me.

It occurred to me, after a little while, that I felt far too responsible. Yes, I had made a mistake by leaving the blades in my Bible, but I am human, and at the end of the day it is not my choice to make. I can support, encourage and empower, but beyond that, I cannot control or take ownership for the behaviour or choices of another individual.

“Do you want the other one?” I asked, as I pulled out the second blade, and placed it on the coffee table in between us. “This is your decision,” I continued, “God gave you freewill for a reason. I cannot choose for you.”

Abigail looked sceptical. “Are you trying to guilt me?” she asked.

“No. I realized that it is not mine to carry. I told you I’d feel like your blood was on my hands, if something happened, but I can’t carry that. You need to make a decision.”

I removed personal items from my Bible, and slipped them into my laptop bag, then placed my Bible beside the blade. “Just one thing…. if you’re going to take the other blade, please take my Bible too. I’m leaving them both on the coffee table,” I said.

There were some long moments, of awkward silence. I’m okay with awkward. I imagine Jesus went through lots of awkward moments too. And if it helps a person, I’ll go through a thousand awkward moments, for their freedom.

At some point she said she needed to go to the restroom.

“Leave the blade here, please,” I said.

“Why?” Her eyes held a challenge, as if to say, ‘what ya gonna do about it?’

“Are you going to cut?” I asked.

“I might,” she said, still smirking.

“I give you five minutes to return, and not a minute longer,” I told her.

“And if I’m not?” she asked.

“If you are not back in five minutes, I will call 911. I won’t take any chances. I am here to fight for your heart and your soul, but I will fight for your life too. Five minutes… No longer.”

Abigail disappeared into the bathroom.

I looked at the time….

It ticked slowly by…

…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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Jesus in a Dream: Abigail’s Story (Part 5)

The morning after Abigail gave me the blades, I received an email from her. The subject line read ‘Jesus in a Dream’. The message was a touching encounter that brought tears to my eyes.

“So I had a dream last night…
That I was a lost confused hurting little girl who had just ran away from home and was at my sister’s house. I didn’t always know what to do but I liked to read. Then one of my favourite authors did something (I don’t remember what) that made me decide to never read their books and I really didn’t like that author any more. 

However one day I went to meet that author, and he had already known what happened, that I was really disappointed and hurt over what he had done. 

Suddenly I was standing in front of this author…. and it was Jesus. He was saying how he knew all about what had happened and that he was so sorry that it had happened.  He asked, Will you choose me? Will you accept me back into your life despite what happened? 

Half still sleeping and half awake I said…

YES, I’ll take u back! 

By this time I was good and awake! We had a little discussion, Jesus and I. He was asking me to trust Him with hurts. I said I would try, but I asked Him why He let it all happened in the first place? He reminded me of the song Nothing is Wasted by Jason Gray. But he also said He understands why I would feel that way. He said that life was never meant to be so hard, it was never how he designed it to be.”

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Not long after a text came through, “Just sent you an email. It’s called ‘Jesus in a Dream’. Just a question, if that happened last night, why does the struggle seem no different today? Shouldn’t it be some breakthrough experience and I should feel better inside?”

“An encounter with Jesus does not necessarily remove the struggle,” I wrote back. “But it does give us strength for the battle. An experiential high creates the illusion of overcoming the battle, but often leads to a hard fall. It is in quiet ‘knowing’ that we find lasting peace.”

Abigail’s text the following morning, indicated just how strong the battle was. She told me she wanted her blades back, but I knew it was an illusion, the tangible substitute for a deeper desire.

“What you really want is hope and a full life,” I wrote. “The enemy is lying to you about the blades.”

“But everything seems so dark and and hopeless. I need them,” Abigail replied.

“You need Jesus,” I said. “The blades create more darkness. More shame.”

We chatted a while longer, and she told me how it seems to her, sometimes, that Jesus is far away. And how God is such a condemning God, and not at all ‘safe’, and ready to send everyone to hell if they do the least bit wrong.

I asked her if God introduced Himself to her that way or, if someone told her that is who He is, if it’s possible that someone has lied to her God. I asked her if she would let her son die for someone she didn’t really care about, someone she would cast into hell at first sin or wrong doing.

I remember well what it was like to live in terror of a God who claimed to have paid the price through Jesus, but demanded perfection. And particularly perfection in presentation. That god scared the life right out of me, and pushed me deeper into sin.

But the day I met Jesus, and He knelt down to write in the sand, everything changed. (John 8:1-12) That day He, being God, placed Himself in a position of servant-hood  a position lower than me, in all my sin, and He looked up at me, and saw only my need, not my sin. He looked on me with love and compassion, not condemnation.

That day I met God–the gentle, trustworthy Redeemer, who paid the price for my sin, and is quick to forgive. And that day I lost my desire for sin. When He spoke those words, “Neither do I condemn you….” I never wanted to fail Him again, or wound His heart, even before He added the command, “go… and don’t continue in your sin.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been mad at Him. I’ve had my moments of feeling lost and abandoned. Moments of struggle. Moments of throwing tantrums that would be the spiritual equivalent to the terrible two’s. And moments of falling into sin, but I never desired a life of sin again.

When I hear Abigail, and others like her, struggling with the iron-fisted God, my heart breaks. Fighting a battle like hers is hard enough knowing He is on our side, but to fight, fearing He is against us, is utterly hopeless.

Abigail shared more of her struggle, and told me there are more things that she had not yet shared. Maybe if I knew about those I, too, would be overwhelmed. Maybe I would say, like her therapists and psychologists, that I couldn’t deal with it, or wouldn’t know how.

We agreed to meet for an extra session a few days later, rather than sticking to our weekly schedule….

To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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The Exchange… 2 Blades for A Life: Abigail’s Story (Part 3)

“Tomorrow we need to have some kind of funeral service. Figured I’d text you before I freak out and decide I can’t do it, but those blades have to go…” Abigail’s text said.

“Sounds good to me,” I sent back, “and what shall we replace them with?” When we remove something negative from our lives, it is important to fill that replace with something good, something uplifting.

“I’m not sure,” Abigail replied. “Do you have any ideas?”

“I have some thoughts…” I said.

“Like?” Abigail asked.

“The place that you kept them should have something to remind you who you are, that you are beautiful, and have worth. Where do you keep them?” I asked.

The next day we met, and true to her word, Abigail brought the blades. I told her I had brought her two books, in exchange. The books, I said, while excellent books, held little value compared to the blades.

“Those blades are worth a life to me,” I said, offering her my gift.

There are two books I always keep on hand, besides the Bible. One is Think Differently Live Differently, written by my friend Pastor Bob Hamp, of Gateway Church Texas, is one, an identity book. Bob is a licensed therapist, but more than that he is a man of God, whose passion is freedom for God’s children. He has taught me much about what it means to be free, and the power that lies in simply being who God created me to be, without apology. The other book, Your Secret Name is written by my friend, Pastor Kary Oberbrunner who struggled through hopelessness, depression and used cutting as his outlet, before discovering the freedom that comes from knowing his ‘secret name’–the name given him by God.

With reluctant determination, she traded in her blades. It is not an easy thing to let go of something that has become your security like that, and your outlet. Sacrificing something that reminds you that you are alive, if only because of the pain it helps you feel. Something that has, in a way, become your god, your source of ‘life’, if only to make death more real, reminding you that you are still, at present, a living, breathing entity.

I asked Abigail for permission to find someone who might be able to melt down the blades, and make something out of them for her. A heart, or a cross, maybe. Something to symbolize true hope, life, purpose and value. The thought of burying the blades was okay, but it’s so easy to dig up what is buried. I am far more interested in transformation–in making something completely new out of the painful broken reality of our lives. It is what Jesus does with us. She agreed that would be okay.

I slipped the blades into my Bible for safe keeping for the time being. I would need to find a place to store them until I have connections to transform them into art.

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In my previous visit with Abigail–the one in between the texts about her disappointment in the church ‘system’, and the texts about planning the ‘funeral’ for the blades–we had explored some deep childhood pain and trauma. Abigail cried for the first time in many years that day. I cried too. There is something about going to those places in our young hearts and memories, that is raw and difficult. But it is in finding Jesus there, experiencing the pain and tragedy with us, and carrying it for us, and carrying us, that we find healing. It is in seeing that He never abandoned us, that we make peace with Him, and move on.

Those tears were hard, and painful, but in those moments I saw life in Abigail like I had not seen before. I saw hope. I saw Jesus. And felt Him. I think it was that stirring of life that gave Abigail the courage to get rid of the blades. If Jesus was there, and suffering with her, and if He understands her and cares for her, then the blades are not quite as important. Then maybe, just maybe, He can get her through that trauma without the blades. Maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t need the blades to make her ‘feel’.

It was a powerful moment, when she actually handed me the blades. I saw the fear in her eyes, the ‘angst’ of losing that security, but I knew they had to go, for her to break free. I knew their power would never be broken, as long as she held them close to her heart.

I left that meeting with Abigail feeling more victorious than I have felt in a very long time. It wasn’t about personal achievement–there is nothing I can do to change the heart of a human and bring life to the emptiness–that is the Holy Spirit.  It was a ‘wow’ moment, at the grace and goodness of God.

Sometimes it is just as well that we celebrate the moment, with no inkling of what lies ahead. Only days later that victory crumbled at my feet, and forced me to into hard battle for Abigail’s heart.

In the hardest moments, when we invite God to take over, when we abandon ourselves to His call, He moves… And when He moves, and invites us to join Him in what He is doing, we are moved out of our comfort zone, into unfamiliar territory, unfamiliar battles.

Great wars are won, not with one moment in time, but facing battle, after battle, after battle. That day was one battle.

To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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