As I contemplated what title to give this post a few ideas popped in my head before I settled for this series of questions.It could as appropriately been titled, “Are we asking all the wrong questions?” or “Are We Looking For Solutions Rather Than Pursuing Hearts & Lifting Up Jesus?” or any variety of similar titles. But I opted for question examples instead, to make a point, of some of the bad questions we ask.
And the answer to all three is, You don’t. Neither you nor I have the power to fix or heal anyone instantly. And an attempt at ‘fixing’ isn’t what people in a place of struggle need from us, as though they are some troublesome project and we their saviour. Apart from a miracle of God, these things are often long-term, even life-long, struggles that don’t get ‘fixed’ by humans. And we’d do well not to try.
Recently I’ve thought quite a lot about this: ‘Are we asking the wrong questions?’ And, more specifically, am I asking the wrong questions?
It’s difficult to fully engage in ‘other-wordly’ thinking, in a society so wrapped up in the ‘here and now’. Because the here and now is what we see and experience. It is tangible. The other world is invisible, making this present world a glaring distraction.
I’m asking these questions because I am, by nature, a ‘results oriented’ problem solver, with an opinion on pretty much any topic I know much about. That can be a good thing, but it is also a bit of a curse, at times.
The past few years, in working with people, I’ve had to carefully ‘master’ that instinct and, in fact, in most cases silence it. Many of the struggles and issues people face are not problems to be quickly solved, with a formula where progress is easily measured for a motivating ‘feel good’. (Most are deep heart struggles that are more likely to be intensified by pat-answer solutions, rather than helped. Spiritual healing comes with compassionate listening, and constantly pointing hearts back to Jesus. There are aspects of healing that require care I cannot give. I leave this to medical, mental health, and various other professionals. I refer here only about the spiritual element of finding hope and healing. Inevitably each area of healing impacts the rest, yet each one is unique. )
Human struggles are very complex, and to have real and meaningful impact, we must ask the right questions. Where we have set out to ‘fix’ the homosexual community, we do well to enter into their journey, and hear their deepest heart cry, acknowledge their most intimate struggles, and care first for them as individuals. Regardless of labels, names or titles, we need to see each person as having an identity apart from their sexual orientation ‘label’ and the identity given to them, by that name.
They are not their struggle. They are humans. We all are. I am a woman of God, created in the image and likeness of God. Period. That is who I am. Whether I struggle with same-sex attraction or not, I am female, made in the image and likeness of God. Whether I believe in Jesus, or not, this remains true.
The question, then, is not ‘how do I fix them?’ but ‘how do I love them effectively?’ We forget, sometimes, that we can love without compromising our views, and that it is up to the Holy Spirit to convict mankind of sin. Apart from that conviction, change is meaningless, and serves only to comfort us.
We need to ask ourselves the same question about the individual wounded by abuse, and the one struggling with depression. How do I love them effectively? How do I support them without judgement, and yet invite them to a place of freedom with God? And that place of freedom with God may not, for a long time, be a place that appears ‘healed’ to the onlooker.
The solution is quite simple: Love them broken. Love without agenda. Commit to loving, long-term ‘as they are’. And listen to their heartbeat.
Our deepest need is always relationship with God. And if we can lead people around us to the heart of God, by our example of love, He will tend to the other things. We need to stand firm on the Word, and never apologize for believing every word written, and upholding it. But we don’t need to carry any ‘anti-anything’ flags, whether it be anti-divorce or any other thing. It is the ‘Jesus flag’ carried, often folded and close to the heart rather than waving wildly, that will draw people around us to wholeness.
And that brings me full circle to what it was that made me contemplate asking the wrong questions. It was inspired by a growing awareness, and a painful one, that started to settle over me around New Year, or just before, of my own ministry. The conference aspect of ministry has been, from the beginning, very focused on the healing of victims, as have one-on-one sessions. The question has been, from the beginning, ‘How can we bring hope and healing to lives devastated by abuse, sexual confusion, and ongoing struggle?” We have also asked “How can we help? How can we support? How can we shed light on a very heavy and difficult topic?” None have easy answers.
In the bigger picture, and particularly relating to this blog, the questions have been less defined. In my mind, and my heart desire, I have asked, “How can we shed light on the darkness and bring Jesus to this horrendous crime and cover-up in so many churches?” But the path has not been clear, or easy. And I have not always stayed on track with that question. I set out to write truth, without agenda, and with no desire to bring harm to anyone. While far from being a ‘high traffic’ blog, I never anticipated going from 5000 hits in two years time, to nearly 160,000 more in the next two years, as I wrote more faithfully. I had no such aspirations when I set out. But I also didn’t anticipate what I’ve seen an heard, that, rather than opening the door to help children and bring change on any large scale, some would use this blog (as well as Facebook friendship) and the broken stories shared, as a source to fuel gossip, and eventually let me know it. These was a devastating blow for me, several months ago.
For this reason I took several months disconnected from familiar relationships on Facebook, wrote less, and spent time regrouping with God. I’ve asked some very hard questions of my own heart. What is my mission? What is my motive? What do I want to represent and focus on? How can I share truth, influence change, and give broken hearts a safe place, while keeping my own focus pure before God?
As a result, I have started to design a new blog, focusing less on sexual abuse, and more on faith and ‘worship’ writing. The weight of intense ministry needs the balance of more time with God, reflecting more on the relationship I was first created for. This new blog will not go live immediately, as I am still working on it, but when it does, it will be the url formerly used here: http://www.trudymetzger.com.
This current blog, you will notice, has a new url of http://www.splash4ripples.com and will stay live. (Note: trudymetzger.com will lead you here until the other blog goes live.) I will continue to post stories of overcoming abuse, depression, and other testimonies and writings here related to overcoming sexual abuse and violence.
I also welcome story and testimony submissions from my readers. If you would like to share your story or your testimony on this blog, write it out and submit via the ‘Contact Trudy’ page, with a subject line of ‘My Testimony’. It does not need to be related to overcoming sexual abuse or violence, though these stories are welcomed, from all backgrounds. (Pseudonyms are acceptable, as is disguising the story to protect your identity. The only thing I ask is, if you disclose your religious background, that it be accurate. If you are/were Baptist, please don’t change to United, Mennonite, or some other religious identity. If you are not comfortable disclosing this detail, simply omit it.)
Beyond this my criteria is quite simple. Writing must be transparent and God must be represented with truth and honour. You need not be overly ‘spiritual’ in the sense of ‘having it together as the perfect example’, however, ungodly lifestyles and practices cannot be represented as acceptable. My highest goal is to honour God, and lift up Jesus Christ in everything that is posted here, and respect the Word of God. If you are an atheist, agnostic, or non-believer, stories are welcome as long as they respect what I stand for in my faith.
Cultural differences and interpretations are also welcome in submissions. For example, if you wear a veiling and this is your understanding of the Word, and fits into the testimony/story you wish to share, include it. (I met a woman last week who, after many years away from her Mennonite roots, felt God ask her to wear a veiling for the purpose of ministry, and she surrendered to this call. This is a beautiful testimony of commitment, faith and obedience to what she sensed God saying.) However, presenting these beliefs as judgement of anyone who understands differently, or in a way to lift up self or culture, will be edited out and sent back for approval.
As I learn how to ask God the right questions, and ask myself the right questions, I look forward to growing in Him, in faith, and in purpose, and sharing my testimony of this journey. I invite you to join me. Share your testimonies, whether here and publicly, or with your lonely neighbour.
Revelation 12:11 tells us that we overcome the enemy through the blood of Jesus, and through our testimony. I am an overcomer, and am committed to fighting well. Let’s fight together, for the deeper issues, and the hearts of mankind.
© Trudy Metzger
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