Importance of Taking Time Away From the Heavy Things

  
It is a crisp and beautiful day here in Pennsylvania.  I’ve enjoyed the past few days, away from work and ministry commitments, to connect with friends. I’ve relaxed and chatted, enjoyed a somewhat restricted amount of coffee (because too much raises the blood pressure), and had many good conversations. 

I even spent one afternoon baking and cooking meals for my friends’ freezer, because she is recovering from surgery, and there are things he would rather do than cook. And I quite enjoyed it too. 

Yesterday I even took a break from blogging, mostly because it was my birthday, and the day was too full to fit it in. So work and ministry were especially far from my mind.  I’ve thought of my clients, of course, but mostly that ‘world’ is 645 miles away. 

Taking a rest or a break, they say, is as good as a change. And I certainly believe that to be true. But even when I am at home and in the thick of it, I set aside times that I am available for clients, and times that are reserved for family and other commitments. This is to avoid burnout, and then end up being unavailable for months, or maybe even years, or the rest of my life. I do it for my family, and for my clients, and most certainly for my own well-being.

It is no different for victims of sexual abuse; sometimes you need a break. The heaviness of dealing with what once was is very draining, and sometimes it can feel like there’s just too much. When I work with clients whose circumstances and stories are exceptionally extreme and require extended support, there comes a time when I recommend a break. 

Victims  reading this are probably asking, how in the world does an abuse victim take a break? The reality is we cannot get away from our story; it is what it is, it is a past event that cannot be changed. 

When I encourage clients to take a break, I outline a few  suggestions to help clear the mind of abuse-related information, at least for a short time. Many victims want to understand what was done to them, and the psychological consequences. The pursuit of knowledge related to sexual abuse and its outcome is not uncommon.  Reading blog, after blog, after blog… or researching books, and papers, or more blogs about how abuse might have impacted their world, even scientifically… Trying to understand anxiety, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress syndrome and various other outcomes including sexual dysfunction. The desire to know these things is not bad, nor is it difficult for me to understand why victims want to know; we often don’t understand ourselves and the symptoms we carry. But obsessively and constantly reading material related to sexual abuse, while we are in the throes of trying to work through it, keeps our minds constantly in that space and has potential to do more harm than good. 

Sometimes I will suggest taking a break from reading anything related to sexual abuse for a month, and rather filling the mind with other things. Even social media, in general, offers post after post after post about sexual abuse, and violence. And the truth is, speaking out is long overdue! But the other truth is that when we as victims spend obsessive amounts of time reading about it, while working through our own pain, our minds simply do not get the break they need from the trauma. During this ‘break’ we continue to meet, in most cases – – unless the client wants a complete break – – and simply focus on affirming truth, so the power of the lies is broken.

My encouragement is to focus on the healing process during that time, rather than trying to understand all of the outcomes, consequences, and psychological conditions we acquired through trauma. Healing seldom comes through that knowledge, especially in extreme cases, and with the risk of exacerbating the problem, it’s just not worth it. 

There comes a time and a place, after we are healed, when that information no longer has the same negative impact. And at that time, our minds are much stronger, and the information can actually be helpful, not only for ourselves, but in helping others as well.

Stories of overcoming can be very encouraging when read at the right time, but in our week times they can add trauma. And unfortunately often news reports, and even some blog posts, are  current events for which there is no imminent solution or good outcome. Therefore the offer no positive input into a traumatized mind and are best avoided for a time. 

If you are an abuse victim, and find yourself constantly absorbing information that keeps your mind focusing on your pain and story in a negative and hopeless way, I would recommend  considering a break. Read other encouraging things, and continue to meet with your counselor, mentor, or other support person and fill your mind with uplifting things.

While I don’t have a long list of stories as proof that it works, I do have several, and feel quite confident in encouraging such a thing. 

God bless you all today, and my prayer is for ongoing healing for every victim and for this tragic crime to stop. My prayer is also that the church would rise up, and offer the healing touch of Jesus, rather then the condemning curse of silence and denial. There is a healthy way…

Love,

~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger

come unto me, ALL who are weary…

Tonight was worship night at our church, Wilmot Centre Missionary Church. It was called ‘Restoration’. I went, tired. Not only physically. But that deep fatigue that comes with the ‘stuff of life’, so I wasn’t feeling particularly ‘bouncy’ and chipper. And I didn’t feel obligated to wear a perma-grin to prove my Christianity.

I was at peace, but  needed a time of refreshing, to refuel. I love music and I love people. So to be in an audience and worship through music was just what I needed.

Our worship nights are pretty informal. We stand. We sit. We raise our hands. Or don’t. We move around. (A few of us are bouncy… and dance a little… but not quite like King David. We’re not that undignified…. yet.) But those things aren’t important.

What matters is the presence of God. Just to be in His presence with fellow believers and feel Him. Hear Him. Know Him. It is a wonderful thing.

As I sat there, just soaking up the sweetness of the Spirit of God, the words of Jesus went through my mind, “Come unto me ALL you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Such sweet words from a kind man, who suffered so much for me, for my freedom. I indulged in the thought. Jesus wants to bring hope, refreshing, and rest into my life. But the more I thought on it, the more the word ‘all’ stood out. I thought of how tired I was. And then I thought of how tired others must be.

I thought of other victims and the battles they fight. They’re tired. And I wish them rest from the burden of pain, trauma and horrific memories. I could hear Jesus, with open arms giving that gentle invitation to them, “Come unto me… Come… I will give you rest.”

I thought of the men and women who, like my dad, are trapped in the dreadful cycle of violence, abuse, molestation and various addictions. And I heard Jesus speak to my heart. “I love them too. They are weary. They carry a heavy burden. And I will carry their burden too. I died for that burden, for their addiction.”

I recall my father’s grief, several years before he passed away, when he asked me to forgive him for the pain, the trauma and the destruction he brought into my life. I knew that day that I would rather be the victimized one than the perpetrator. The weight of having molested a child is a burden I never want to carry. Never will. The burden of wrong childhood choices was hard enough.

As I thought of them, all those countless souls who carry that horrific burden of having sexually abused an innocent child, my heart felt compassion. And out of that compassion I wished them repentance, forgiveness and rest. For Jesus to take their burden and set them free. And I could hear Him say, “Come unto me… I will give you rest.”

I thought of the preachers who have turned a blind eye. They know. Many of them. Still, for so many reasons, none of which are justifiable, they turn away. Something in my heart screams. I picture that little girl, as the light in her eye fades into sexual confusion. I see the little boy crying, or numb, as the life slowly drains from his soul. I see them, and my heart breaks in a thousand pieces. And I see that preacher, turning the other way…. or worse, committing the act…. and I can hardly contain that thing that rises up in me. I want to run to the children, protect them, save them. And I really want to shake up those leaders. I want to plead with them through shameless tears… begging like a mad woman for them to see what happens to the children…

And I hear Jesus whisper, “I died for them too. I love them, just the way I love you. Yes, children have a special place in my heart. Every time they turn a blind eye, my heart is pierced, and I feel that nail go through my hands, and the blood… oh how it sprays… it spills on them… And my heart still cries out ‘Abba Father… Forgive them, for they know not what they do’. But I never stop loving them.”

And I see Jesus, holding out His arms in invitation to the preachers. He invites them, “Come…. come unto me. You are weary. I will give you rest.”

The more I thought about this, the more I felt the heartbeat of God, pulsing through me. His desire to heal the wounded victims. His desire to set the pedaphile free from addictions, so the children will no longer suffer at their hands. His passion for preachers and leaders to get a revelation of His heart for children, His desire for them to protect, the way true men of God protect.

Maybe you are the child who was wounded through incest, molestation or other abuse. Maybe you grew up and became the offender, for whatever reason. Maybe you are the preacher. And maybe, just maybe, you are all three–the child who was hurt, and grew up to be a preacher who molested children.

Whoever you are, whatever you have done, whoever you have become, Jesus invites you to ‘Come’. He offers to release you from the burdens you carry.

As a victim this can be a difficult message to speak, or receive. Having suffered so much abuse and violence in childhood, I have fought battles until my soul was bloody and gasping for air. I have hated. I have wanted revenge. But I have learned to forgive. Over, and over, and over again. And with that forgiveness I saw my father become a free man again, before God.

Because of the grace I witnessed in my father, I developed compassion for perpetrators, and wish for them to find freedom. And it is that same compassion that makes me cry out to God on behalf of leaders who turn a blind eye, that they will get a revelation of God’s heart for children. That they would become men of honour, and fill their God-given call to protect the innocent.

Regardless your story, your need, hear the words of Jesus:

“Come unto me, ALL you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… Come.. ”  ~ JESUS ~

© Trudy Metzger

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Taking a few Deep Breaths

In the next few weeks–especially this week and the third week in November–I will not be writing consistent daily posts, as I have over recent months. This is because conferences require a lot of emotional, physical and spiritual energy, leaving little for writing. So I am taking a few deep breaths, and doing what I have to, to make these weeks manageable.

As I am able, even during these busy stretches, I will write, but to keep a daily commitment is too much, especially in the next seven days. When I return, I plan to continue, on a more personal level, with sharing the impact my childhood had on our marriage, the battles we have fought and continue to, from time to time, when ‘the hell of it all’ strikes.

Because of the intensity of that part of my story, it is more than I am able to think on and write about when preparing for a conference. I have not even scraped the tip of that iceberg. It is quite possibly the most difficult thing I’ve tried to put into words so far. Anyone who has been through that battle in marriage, will understand this struggle.

During this time I will read all emails, and respond as I am able, though it may take longer than usual.

Thank you to each of you, for support and encouragement. To know that hundreds of people take time daily to read what my heart spills onto the screen, is touching and humbling. I pray always that God will make my words beautiful and bring hope to my readers. You certainly bless me!

Being Thanksgiving Day in Canada, I am thankful for God’s kindness to me. I thank Him for walking through the pain with me, so that I would be able to see how He was there all along. My prayer is that you too will know Him in your pain, your story and on your journey to freedom.

Happy  Thanksgiving!

© Trudy Metzger

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