Apology to Steve Stutzman

In my previous blog I posted a statement by Generations Unleashed, in which we responded as an organization to information brought to me regarding a break and enter. My first knowledge of this incident was May 27, 2018, when an ASAA member told me the story at Panera Bread. I told my husband about it later, and soon forgot about it.

Having received a phone call August 28 with information matching what I was told, which allegedly came from Steve Stutzman, I was completely shocked and felt deeply betrayed that the ASAA member did not share this information with me (if the information was, indeed, correct). I had no knowledge of who besides this member was involved. Regrettably, with the history of betrayed trust between Steve and myself, I did not trust asking his word, and with communication cut between us and ASAA, went with what seemed ‘best judgement’. Sadly, ‘best judgement’, and speaking out on information just because the details lined up, was not good judgement enough.

In relation to Steve Stutzman’s involvement, it has become a ‘they say he said’ situation, which we deeply regret. I went in with full confidence that it was accurate, and that Steve would own up to it. In fact, as much as there has been conflict, I wrote just that to the person who informed me and when an officer called me about it, I told him that I think these men will be honourable enough to acknowledge their role. (I also expected there to be an explanation for having done the break and enter to justify it, but that’s another story.) However, Steve maintains having zero involvement in the incident and says he had no knowledge of it. For this reason, I appealed to  Generations Unleashed last night, asking for an apology to be issued to Steve Stutzman. As of this morning, Generations Unleashed has publicly withdrawn all allegations of his involvement in the break and enter, and has released an apology to Steve Stutzman for publicly naming him.

***

I have apologized to Steve Stutzman privately, via text, but owe it to him publicly as well, and I owe it to the public:

Steve, I acknowledge my error in judgement, and my failure to find some way of hearing both your and the ASAA member’s side of the story regarding your alleged involvement in the break and enter. Some way, even with broken trust and cut communication…some way I should have done this… I didn’t. I am deeply sorry for this. I love truth. I despise lies. I love justice. I hate false accusation. I love mercy… mingled with love. While I thought I was dealing with truth, in this case I had no evidence and nothing to substantiate it other than the stories lining up with the story I knew. It was wrong of me to name you. I am sorry for this, and I am sorry for any hurt this caused you, or harm it brought on you. There is an injustice in this, and I’m sorry for that injustice.

***

The individual who spoke to me did indeed get accurate information regarding the break and enter from someone, and because of how it was presented, I do not and did not believe it to be ill-intended but rather a commitment to what he believes is accurate about Steve’s involvement. I believe it was said in good faith that the information is truth. (This became evident again in conversations since last night.) I further do not believe it was an intentional deception to set me up – as some have asked – but a matter of imperfect human memory. (This is a reminder that I *must* stick with my ‘do you have a paper trail, screenshots or other hard evidence‘ way of approaching allegations if I do not have first-hand testimony, as I do with the original story. Anyone who knows me at all, knows I am anal about this evidence, but unfortunately I let down my guard.)

My heart was and is to stand against the evils of abuse, coverups and victim-blaming and shaming. My heart was and is for truth. It was and is for exposing only that which is wrong. And I maintain that many things are and were wrong these past 8 to 12 months. And in the handling of the information that was brought to me, I definitely was wrong. Ignoring it would not have been right either, but this was wrong. What I should have done, and would do next time, is quietly hand it over to law enforcement to investigate and if there was/is a crime, let them deal with it.

What these past few months have accomplished is a crash course on many things. One of those things is the resurfacing of old triggers and traumas. And that simply means I have more healing to do. As mentioned in my previous blog, I plan to start seeing a counsellor in September to work through this, and whatever all it has dredged up. I will heal at a whole new level.

Sitting in the office of one of my doctors today, I shared reactions I’m having to the current heart meds. She shook her head and said those symptoms are not side effects. It’s stress, she told me. Fortunately the nurses had booked an extra long appointment to go over all things heart-related, and all things related to ‘growing up’ (aka transitioning to old girl issues) and such, so she had time. She asked a few questions, and as I shared she got a twinkle in her eye. Before she could say it, I said it for her, “This is what is making my heart ‘rush’ and why I wake up at night having stopped breathing.” She smiled and nodded. I told her I’m glad to go back to school, to focus on research and remove myself from advocating. It’s hard. It’s really hard. And I really am not made for advocating like this. It’s not my gift and it stresses the life out of me. I love public speaking. I love training. But advocating is a trigger for me. A brutal trigger. I’ve never done it so intently before, and I’ve never gone public with a situation before. And now I know how hard it is… and how much it is not for me, but how much I admire those who are able to do so.

In fact, I feel like it has set me back a thousand miles on every front. Like I’ve lost my way among ‘faith people’, and really don’t fit into the church/religion scene. (Even less than before, when I didn’t realize I had anything to lose.) Sure, there’s God. He loves me. He is good. He is kind. He is gracious and patient and tender. Always. But it feels at times like He has gone on an extended vacation and forgot to put His auto-responder on. I know that isn’t a fact, but in the worst of life, when nothing makes sense, it feels that way.

But that’s not all bad. As I tell clients when they share this struggle, one of the best things in the world is knowing that God is present, He is steady, He remains a constant Love in our life, even when things are crazy. He is a straight line that never moves, in the ups and downs of our experience. Knowing that truth is so much more important than feeling it. So much more important.

Another cost has been trust. I’ve been told in the past that I trust too blindly, naively and too easily. Well… no one will need to accuse me of that for a while. So, while it feels like my healing has been harshly disrupted, and my trust in people left dangling on a fraying thread, I will rebuild… or more accurately, I will be rebuilt. (Jeremiah 31). I refuse to surrender to defeat. I will rise again.

If there is one thing I want those who are victimized to know, it is this: You can fall, you can fail, you can crumble, and you can shatter. But you can and will rise again. Always. If you are willing….

Life can knock the wind out of you…

But God…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

UNSPOKEN HOPE

Hope rises.
Silence falls.
Hope shatters.
Her tongue cut out.
Pieces on the floor.
Pieces of her, of him… of me, of them
Strewn here and there

Walking here and there,
People stepping on
Pieces on the floor.
Tall people. strong people. Powerful.
Crushing flesh pieces on the floor.
Flesh, dragging here and there.
Red.
Dry blood on black shoes.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Songs.
Prayers.
Tears
Helpless children.
Raped.
Used.
Cast away.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Children weep.
Wail.
Hell licks their feet.

People walking.
Away.
Where has Jesus gone?
Why do angels weep dry tears?

Trust withers.
Silence falls.
Hope…

Dead.

Religion.

Hell wins.

;

Truth rises,
Tongue cut out
Oh hell be warned!
Death gives birth to unmatched power!
Wordless.
Silent.
Thunder shakes the strongest tower.

No more politics.
No flow’ry speech.
Truth will stand in ruthless silence,
Shouting without sound
Crying from the highest mountain
And all will hear
As, Truth, forced to silent grave,
Rises from the ground.

No white flags.

No powerless surrender.

Silence moves
Stealthy
Wise
Calculated.

Invisible hands,
Wrapped about my throat.
I cannot speak.

But I have my sword.

Truth.

;

Jesus walks into the room.

What will you say now?

Did silence pave His way?

Or was it the voice of those who cried against the norms:

Make a path in the place of death… the wilderness… where nothing of life has ever grown.
Where children’s souls are laid bare by reckless men!
Make way!
Behold! He comes! The Son of God! Make way
!”

He enters.
Holding no regard for rules.
Honouring no politics.
Crying louder for the lost
the wounded
the weak.
Standing silent only to accusation.
Crying out against their sin,
He eats of the forbidden grain.

I eat. 
With no regard for silence.
Breaking all the rules
of polite society.
Hearts are not healed
by
U
N
S
P
O
K
E
N
HOPE.

*************************************************************************************

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

write your name in red, be true to your heart & dare to stand alone

Growing up, there was a lot of pressure to be accepted, to be in the in group, and to perform well. From peer pressure at school, to family life at home, to church rules and expectations, everything taught us to please people, to fit in and not be the one to break rank and stand out like a sore thumb. To do so meant to be excluded, isolated and looked down on, or be marked in some way.
It took many years to unlearn this, and find the courage to stand alone, hold tight to my values – and do so with grace for others – and risk the inevitable rejection. That learning process was painful, and at times I reacted out of my fear of rejection and let it all get inside my spirit, when the resistance came. But, having learned it (and continuing to learn it) I thank God for the freedom it brings.
I had been fairly warned, before doing my Masters, that secular education would possibly, even likely, leave me bankrupt of my values. On my first day in one of my courses in the program, we were asked to write our names on the board. Two dry erase markers lay on the ledge in front of the board, one green and one blue. At an awkward distance away was a red marker, and to use that one meant asking the prof for it. When it came to my turn, I chose that one, and added my name to the collection. The class continued with blue and green, and when it was over, my name stood out like a sore thumb.
names_Stand out
I chose the red that day to remind me never to lose myself in a crowd, to always be true to my heart before God, true to myself, and never prioritize blending into accepted norms. It probably felt more awkward to me than to everyone else, though I recall the professor looking surprised, and felt the class staring…. though it was likely more a ‘feeling’ than a reality. They didn’t understand why I chose red. Nor did it matter. In that moment I wanted to accomplish one thing, and take that one thing with me through my education, through my day to day interactions with people in my personal life, and ultimately through life.
To my intrigue, throughout the program we were encouraged to express ourselves and be critical thinkers, but also to honour others with whom we differ. There were some interesting and intense conversations, but there was respect. Contrary to what I might have anticipated, given the concerns shared, I came through the program more confident in my spiritual journey, not less. I embrace my faith more firmly than before. But I also developed skills in really hearing the other person, and honouring and caring for them without feeling like I need to endorse their beliefs.
I think back often when I ‘swim against the tide’, whether in religious communities, in university, or in my own mind and thought processes. And I choose again to pick up the red marker. Getting lost in a sea of other people’s expectations is a curse. Whether those expectations are secular society or religious performance, they steal something from us. Standing true to one’s heart (before God for the Christian), and to personal values and beliefs, while difficult, builds confidence, as long as it is done without attacking or belittling the other.
When I live life with that authenticity and grace, I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am trustworthy.  This is my goal in life, to live in such a way that people experience compassion, love and grace in my presence, even when we are worlds apart on an issue or in beliefs, and even when we openly disagree.
I encourage you, don’t be afraid to write your name in red… to stand out in the crowd… to be different, and swim upstream. Let your name stand boldly for what your heart holds dear, and for the truth your spirit embraces. But, in that, let love for all be your mantra as you view them through the eyes of God’s grace, as worthy, beloved, and deserving of respect even in those difference.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Parenting: What we should have known…

“...it feels like the heart gets ripped out in little pieces, and somehow is supposed to keep on beating… and it hurts to breathe. And I think these honest conversations are generations overdue.
        Those were my words to a parent earlier today; a parent I have idolized from afar and wished I could measure up to. A parent who is hurting, grieving mistakes, longing for the best for their children. If you are a dad… If you are a mom… Most likely you understand this. We fail, and there are consequences. We misunderstand our children, and they misunderstand us. We don’t do conflict because it’s not polite to fight, and Christians just forgive quickly and silence the chaos and messy of conflict. So we ‘forgive’ and expect to be so easily forgiven, but scars remain on our hearts and one day those scars rip wide open and bleed years of pain, or they thicken the walls of our hearts so we cannot feel. The former is harder, the latter kills.
        I, for one, fear pain. I am terrified of relational pain. That’s just the truth. But I am learning, slowly, deliberately, to let the scars rip open. It is the only way to heal and stay tender… or become tender. And I’m sharing this because I have heard story, after story after story of parental grief in recent weeks, from professionals, from church leaders, from friends. Some just sharing a story, not knowing if I will get it. Some seeking advice… at which point I simply confess, “I get it. I blew it so often and am living in the aftermath of that” and the advice I have for them? Face it and hurt like hell, so you can heal; don’t run and die. Because you will die – something in your spirit will die – if you run. I came pretty close… and it’s a hard recovery.
        Why share this? Because it should have been openly discussed many generations ago. I never knew, and because I didn’t know, I was completely blindsided and lost more than I could afford to lose when I turned to survival. And I don’t want that to happen to you. So know this. I made early vows, and I mostly kept them. They were many vows. Vows of all the things I would not do, all the things that were not ideal in my story. I would not let a child molester near them if I could help it. I would not call them degrading names, or say they are useless and never amount to anything. I would never take their money; if they worked, they would save up for school and their future. There were many things I vowed I would not do. But there were many things I should have done; things that I missed. And I expect, if you are a parent, you understand some of this.
        Parenting is the most beautiful, the most painful, the most rewarding, the most devastating and the most wonderful thing you will ever do. You will fail your children terribly. And they will fail you. And if you don’t talk and face the conflict, a day will come when it will cave in on you and you will have to stay and dig yourself out of the rubble, or you will outrun the debris, and lose everything worth fighting for.
        So start young. Start now. Face the hurts, the betrayals, the misunderstandings (on both sides… it’s not just them and it’s not just you) and fight for your family like you’ve never fought before. Fight *for*, not *with*. Maybe you think they hate you, maybe they think you hate them. Fight with truth, and fight with love. Fight against the hate and the darkness that steals relationship and joy. Fight resentment, and fight for honest conversation, and deep listening. Dare to go to hard places; don’t retreat in passivity and comfort yourself with being a peacemaker.
        That is’t peace. I thought it was. I hate conflict. I hated it when I saw my parents fight. I hated it when dad threatened to kill us, or mom threatened to beat us. I hated it when a parent and one of my siblings threatened one another, or when a sibling threatened me. I became the master of forgiving and letting go, of avoiding the conflict, and expected the world around me to be as ‘gracious’ and ‘forgive’ as easily; but it was neither grace nor forgiveness. It was a blend of fear and apathy. For me, more the former than the latter.. It isn’t worth it. It communicates dreadful things to our children. To my children.
        In the past year I have studied Conflict Resolution, Conflict Analysis, Restorative Justice, Negotiations (a lot of mediation focus), and have learned good ‘fighting’ (aka conflict management) skills. And I am convinced we Christians need to unlearn a lot of the passivity we have adopted and learn a new way of facing conflict, especially as I face the consequences of years of avoiding conflict. Avoidance – even with ‘cheap forgiveness’, as I call it, that doesn’t resolve the deeper story – kills meaningful relationship. Conflict, well managed, is a good and beneficial thing.
        So fight for your family relationships. Get a mediator or support person involved to prevent escalation if that’s something you can’t manage. Do it for them – especially for them, do it for you, and do it for the next generation. A cycle will continue; you choose which one it will be.
family conflict
        I promise you, avoiding the conflict isn’t worth it. Choose your pain; the pain of working through conflict, or the pain of feeling your heart torn as you decide whether you will run as far and as fast as you can, or stay and let your heart bleed back to life, as you face what you ran from in the past.

© Trudy Metzger 2017

Is There Life After #Denial About #Sexual Abuse?

canstockphoto14749489 (1)

Denial. That ability to survive in a state of extreme trauma, by living as though that reality does not exist. It is a gift in childhood, when our young minds have no understanding of that trauma, and cannot formulate words to express it. A natural response, it sustains life for a time.

But there comes a time, as we grow older, when living out of a place that is not reality robs us of experiencing life to the fullest. The energy we invest in survival, and keeping the truth of trauma buried, leaves us with little to offer in the way of life and hope to others. Spouses live with walls in between, children with a disconnected parent.

And if that denial is the offender’s manipulation–his or her way of avoiding responsibility–it pierces the heart of the victim. Twice victimized, is how it feels when offenders play that game.

Denial forces victims to retreat in lifeless existence, dieing in the shadows of buried trauma and painful memories. But truth is life and freedom. Truth breathes life into the soul. Because all truth is God’s truth, and all truth makes people free. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

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And when Truth breathes, it coaxes life from death itself, offering hope in the shadows of nothingness that are left in the wake of molestation and abuse. And all that denial and lies tried to suffocate, breathes with new purpose. And in a sudden and ironic twist, life suffocates death, as the thing designed to bring death is redeemed and brings life to others trapped in denial.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Duggar Sisters (Part 3): Comparing Lena Dunham’s(Childhood) Sexscapades & Josh Duggar & The Hunger Games

A Few Thoughts on Brainwashing :
Finally, in regards to brainwashing and indoctrination, and what the Duggar children have been taught, or how the teachings (Gothard or other) influenced them… I have seen some of the Gothard material, and rumours boldly declare it was used on the girls. I have nothing to substantiate that, so I will simply say some of what he offers is deadly stuff! And if you want healthy adult Christians, stay away from it. But, with no proof Duggars used it, I will assume it was not used until proven otherwise, and will merely comment on the  ‘brainwashing’ and ‘indoctrination’ accusations, in a general way….  Because I think we have some warped ideas of what brainwashing is, though I do think some of the material in Gothard’s teaching is the kind that would require it.

If brainwashing is the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’, then we are all brainwashed. The whole lot of us, to one extent or another. Listen to the news, and they will try to brainwash  you. Start expressing thoughts that collide with socially accepted views and someone will try to brainwash you. (Or accuse you of trying to brainwash them.) If you disagree with homosexuality and express it, you will be told you are guilty of hate, bigoted thinking, intolerance and any number of labels simply for being honest about what you think. The whole Western world didn’t arrive at this kind of ‘general’ thinking without brainwashing. Watch World Vision or Compassion Canada for a show or two, and you will be ‘brainwashed’ or at least the attempt will be made. Go to church or school, and it will happen. Again, presuming that brainwashing is  the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’. And, if that is what defines it, then all brainwashing is not bad. We take young people whose minds are dark and hopeless, and repeatedly speak positive truth over them, building them up, and see them come to life and hope. That is, potentially, brainwashing, if that is how we define it.

But if we take brainwashing to the ‘being coerced through mind control to believe certain things, with no room for questioning’, then some of the things I listed are not brainwashing. Others are. If the criteria for it not fitting that category of brainwashing is that there is room for believing differently, then World Vision, Compassion and some churches get taken off that list, but it still doesn’t tell us if the Duggar children were brainwashed. For argument’s sake, let’s assume they are. That in mind, what is the right response from us?

If we assume they are brainwashed, then we must also assume that they really believe what they live by and stand for, regardless of how they arrived at it. Take the example of popping out babies. If they are ‘making, baking and delivering’ offspring as naturally as they happen, with no effort to take a break or stop conception, more power to them. That’s their prerogative. Yes, if it’s a ‘this is what you should do as a Christian’ mentality, then there’s probably some brainwashing involved. But many of us have also been brainwashed into believing that two is the perfect number and four is a big family. That is ‘cultural brainwashing’ and isn’t any better, it’s just different.  We had five because Tim wanted four, I wanted six, and I was sure I didn’t want an odd number so four it was going to be… except that I discovered I was pregnant right about the time I was going to get my tubes tied. So that’s how we did it. And had a party about it too. No regrets.

These are the ‘little things’–no pun intended–not the big things, like how we respond to molestation, and whose fault we believe it might be, and that kind of thing.  If they are brainwashed in those areas, writing them off or not taking them seriously because of it isn’t the answer. I was brainwashed once too, and probably still am in some areas. Come to think of it, I reckon you are too; we all are. For me, getting away from warped belief systems was a very personal journey of asking deep questions, exploring life, getting to know God personally and struggling with Him, as well as the input of loving friends who dared to ask hard questions… These all worked together to transform my beliefs and learning to think for myself. We all live in the beliefs we have in a given moment, based on information someone presented to us, and hopefully are wise enough to make adjustments when we discover our beliefs are faulty. The Duggar children deserve the same space and grace without slapping ‘indoctrination’ and ‘brainwashed’ on their every statement.

The Comparison Between Lena Dunham and Josh Duggar:
In another interview, with Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News Media Buzz
 they address the ‘ideological battle’ and the political battle this has become. In it, one of the issues brought up is the way the right-wing reacted to Lena Dunham telling of her dreadful sexual behaviours toward her then 1-year-old sister, with no sign of remorse, while not questioning more the issue with the Duggars ‘potentially’ covering up. (Their words, not mine.)

dunham and duggar 2

To be completely frank, this thing has bothered me too. We did react to Lena’s casual tossing around of inappropriate acts against her baby sister. We were horrified!  And that horror was born out of her apparent (shall we say obvious?) lack of remorse. But then we were also horrified when the left-wing freaked out on Josh Duggar, while having turned a blind eye to the whole Lena Dunham fiasco. Rightfully so. But the imbalance goes both ways….

We immediately compared the left-wing response to Josh Duggar with their response to Lena Dunham, and concluded they are persecuting the Duggars. Having addressed the matter of persecution several posts ago, I’m not going to revisit it. But I will say that we have also been inconsistent in our responses with being so quick to ‘forgive’ Josh and ‘move on’, when demanding accountability from Lena Dunham. Lena was 7 years old when she messed with her baby sister. Tragic? Absolutely! It was not funny in the slightest.  However, the reality is she was 7…. Josh was 14. That is twice the age of Lena–who was only 3 years past the preschool years. I presume the greater offence was Lena’s handling of it, but the fact that Josh apologized does not negate the fact that he committed a crime at 14. A juvenile offence, granted, but still a crime. We must concede that the two cases are not comparable, and it was a mistake for us to go there, and that we could have expected a louder ‘outcry’ against a 14-yr-old than a 7-yr-old. (To get a bit of a visual on that gap, put a picture of a 7 year old next to a 14 year old and ask if that is really a fair comparison. And, hopefully having concluded it’s not, let’s be wise as believers, going forward. Because this was not wise.)

However, while not appropriately comparable, the two cases do expose the gap between right-wing and left-wing thinking, on the matters of sexuality, and the individuals in these cases have become pawns in the game. It is not fair to either one of them, or their families. Yes, I wish we could all be confident that the Duggar parents have been completely authentic and forthcoming without a PR team, because the perceived or apparent lack of authenticity has done no favours in establishing trust. The alternative, however, could well be a noose… and maybe that noose would be better in the long run. Who really knows?  I cannot help but wonder what we would hear, if they were not told what to say….

Old News, Roman Colluseums & The Hunger Games:
BTW, in older news…. whatever happened to the Bill Cosby scandal? Observation would indicate he has disappeared behind the next and more exciting scandal… Go figure! Maybe the real problem is that we have created our own virtual Roman Colluseum, where we sit by to watch the next entertainer fight the lions, or two draw swords and see who will be the first one down. Maybe our cheering from the sidelines feeds some perverse desire for the emotional slaughter and bloodshed to continue. I’m all for accountability and authenticity, but maybe it’s not about that anymore. Maybe this is our Colluseum, or maybe it’s more like ‘The Hunger Games’ playing out, as one soul after another is hunted and killed as we cheer….

Yet, in the middle of that cheering, the answer is not always to stand silently by. The key (for me) is to acknowledging when ‘our side’ has it wrong, while continuing to stand for the things that really matter. Love, forgiveness, hope, truth, and redemption… Jesus.

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
full brochureLancaster County 2015_C


© Trudy Metzger

Fig Leaf Malfunctions & Overcoming Shame

Shame, I’ve concluded, is largely a choice… though most of us don’t know that in times when that knowledge is most critical. This is true in the ‘big and tragic‘ things of life, and in the ‘Oops! My button just popped open in the most inconvenient place, with my hands full things. But it took the latter to convince me–the oops moments–to convince me of the former.

I have a history of inopportune ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ to draw from, with the most recent being today…

fig leaves and apple

It’s that moment when you look down, and see that, not one, but two, buttons have popped open in most inconvenient places… moments after having cheerfully greeted a Mennonite couple, who look vaguely familiar… (And, no, the shirt is not tight! the buttons have issues!)… and you are surrounded by people, with your hands full… you turn to hide, only to find that a gentleman stands directly in front of you, looking at you with a warped blend of amusement and compassionate… he holds it together for a moment, eyes twinkling, but ends up breaking into a huge grin, and then a little chuckle, as I scramble–awkwardly holding my purchases–to redeem whatever dignity I think I just lost… I determine, immediately, that I will not be ashamed of that which I cannot control and did not choose, and grin right along with him, lift my head up confidently and carry on… And in that moment I’m relieved it wasn’t Anderson Cooper standing before me, as he would undoubtedly break out into uncontrolled and never-ending girlish giggles… (And, yes, I did think of him after the moment passed)

There are a few things I know, and these are the things I hold onto in a moment such as this, or the more serious ones, so that they don’t define me, or bring shame on me. Whether a clothing dilemma, or an attack from some hurting soul, or the anger of someone who feels exposed by my ministry, the same holds true in every part of my life; I lean on what I know to be truth. There is power in what you know to be true, and if you ‘know‘ who you are, as a child of God, and if you ‘know‘ that your heart intent is to heal and give ‘life’ to those around you, and if you remember that you are human, then shame has little access to your heart and mind.

Jesus said, “the truth will make you free”, and I believe this to be a fact in every part of life. We think of this in terms of being ‘set free’, because His words are often misquoted this way, but the truth is He makes us free. His freedom doesn’t require an adjustment in circumstance; it requires an adjustment of thoughts and belief systems, so that we are free in any circumstance. (This doesn’t mean we should never change or leave particular circumstance; it means we are free in spite of them, and that may be the very thing that sets change in motion.)

Not that many years ago, had my shirt popped open, exposing cleavage even the boldest of women might cringe at, I would have fled the store (possibly in tears, but certainly flushed and flustered) and it would have toyed in my head for days. The thoughts would have tormented me and made me anxious, but today, while I would have not chosen it and preferred to keep my clothes in tact (and thereby my dignity), it had no power over me.

More importantly, the past with all its shame has no power. Coincidentally, about fifteen minutes earlier I had dropped a book off for a woman in town, who wanted a second copy for her daughter. A woman nearing seventy, she didn’t hide her shock and horror at what my life had been, focusing on my teen years of rebellion and sin. “You were a bad girl!” she said, “But praise God, not any more!”

Yes, praise God, not anymore! I agreed with her, and laughed at the wonder of grace and freedom.

It is not my identity–these ‘holes’ I once had torn in the fabric of my spirit, by the choices I made. And though they were there, and I know it well and have chosen to tell them publicly, I am so thankful that the past isn’t my identity. Jesus’ righteousness has covered that nakedness, like a blanket of love, covering my shame.

If you walk in shame, I encourage you to find a new identity. Release the things that once held you bound, and walk in the confidence of who you are in Christ, who you are to God. And laugh, now and then, at your humanity, and the things you cannot control or change. It takes the power out of them.

Now… having said all that, I still really hope my buttons were closed when I did my banking at MSCU here in Elmira… ever so confidently… I can only hope…

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

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