Recently I happened upon an article written by Trudy Harder Metzger, of Ontario, Canada. Trudy is undoubtedly a gifted investigative, advocacy journalist. Trudy’s got a message and communicates it unreservedly with passion and conviction and a very certain “fearlessness” that resonates with many of the people that read her posts.
She’s an advocate and a voice for victims of physical, verbal, religious, and sexual abuse who often find themselves vulnerable to, and powerless against, sinister forces arrayed against them.
Since I first started reading the daily content she publishes, I became very intrigued by the messenger herself. Questions surfaced:
Who is Trudy Harder Metzger and where did the boldness, courage, and passion, so evident in her life, come from?
What happened in her life that prepared her for “such a time as this?”
Can such a spirit of fearlessness and conviction be contagious and transmitted to others?
It wasn’t long until insight into these questions would be forthcoming. I purchased her book.
Between 2 Gods – A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community, by Trudy Harder Metzger, an auto-biography of her childhood, adolescence, and early young adulthood, is the story of a remarkable chain of events that conspired to destroy a life and render it forever broken, forsaken, and wrecked by fierce evil. As she would tell you, were it not for the boundless love and grace of The Heavenly Father, such would have been her outcome.
I suppose everyone has “defining moments” in their lives. As soon as I read a particular instance in Trudy’s story, a very tense confrontation between her and her abusive father, I surmised this was a pivotal moment in her life, one that could rightly be called, “IN FEAR AND TREMBLING, AN ADVOCATE IS BORN.”
FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM TRUDY’S BOOK:
“Between 2 Gods – A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community”
Every time things were going good (at home), and they started functioning in a healthier way, it seemed some hell would break loose and disrupt life. This made it impossible to truly love even in the good moments. And sometimes the smallest things did it. In hindsight, having had some life experience to fall back on, I see that my father was a fearful and insecure man, and that insecurity triggered his responses. But as a child there was no way to understand or process that. Nor should a child need to.
And some outbursts were caused by innocent misunderstandings. One evening, for example, dad told a funny story and in the story a dog walked around the corner of a house. But, in telling the story, dad jumbled his words and said, “the corner of the house walked around the dog.”
Abe, who was seven, and quite a little mischief – not to mention the baby of the family and accustomed to attention – interrupted dad to repeat the mistake, followed by an outburst of laughter.
You could see the adrenaline surge as veins and eyes bulged and dad’s face turned red with rage. “Did you just make fun of me?” dad asked. And before Abe could respond or defend himself, he added, “Go get the strap. This you will only do once. You will learn not to mock your father.”
The colour drained simultaneously from every face at the table, especially Abe’s. And almost in sync, each one pushed their chair back and left the room. Dinner was over. No need to stick around and watch the beating. Even mom disappeared.
I found myself standing there alone, at age thirteen, wanting to pick a fight with dad, just to distract him. I never fought with dad, at least not willingly. This was different. It was my baby brother who had meant no harm. I would take a stand against dad’s violence.
I began clearing the table – not a task I typically help with. My chores were in the barn, working with animals and all the fun stuff that goes with that. It was one of my favourite places in the world. When it came time for dishes, I scattered and preferred not to return until it was all done. The house, and keeping it, was my least favourite thing in the world. Cleaning stalls in the barn, and shoveling manure, was far more fun. But not that night. That night the kitchen was my priority.
I made a silent vow that if dad beat Abe, I would pick up the phone and report him, or take matters in my own hands. I had held his rifles when he wasn’t around, just to see if I had it in me, should the need arise. One way or another, it would be his last act of violence in our home, if I could help it.
I stopped clearing the table long enough to look him in the eye. The warning look that says, “If you do, there will be a price”. It’s a look most parents use – especially mom’s – though without the threat, when a child is crossing a line. A look I should not have had to use on my dad.
He looked at me. “Well, what are you staring at?” he asked.
He had taken the bait. Fear surged through my body, deeper and harder than I anticipated. I pushed it down and said nothing. Picked up a few more plates. Stopped, now and then, and looked at him. But I never spoke a word to him in confrontation.
Abe returned with the strap, fear in his eyes. I recognized it – that terrible feeling I had experienced a few times with whippings. I had seen it in siblings, what seemed like a thousand times or more. It probably was.
Dad looked at Abe. He looked at me. He took the strap from Abe and held it. He never raised his hand to strike. He simply talked to Abe sternly for a moment about respecting his elders and not making fun of his father.
Abe promised never to do it again, asked for forgiveness, and was released to go.
I continued clearing the table. Dad rose from his chair and went out into the machine shop to work on some project he had on the go. We never spoke a word about our interaction. It was a silent exchange that made me realize he had a weak spot. He was not as strong as he appeared, and only if we dared to stand against the evil, we could make a difference. It empowered me in a strange way, but immediately after our silent confrontation, I had a lot of fear and trauma to deal with.
The moment dad was out the door, my body began to tremble and that inner anxiety rose to the surface. I had to find a way to get it out of my system, and talking was my outlet. I chattered incessantly, to any unsuspecting audience who might listen, adding an occasional nervous laugh, as I de-stressed. Eventually my body stopped trembling, and my mind stopped racing.
The truth settled deep: I had stopped dad, and spared my brother a beating.
– – – – – END OF EXCERPT – – – – –
This incident is hard for me to fathom. Trudy; abused, insecure, and frightened was only a thirteen-year-old girl when this incident occurred. She was not defending herself, but “stood in the gap” for Abe, her innocent seven-year-old brother. This was the day when she looked evil in the eye and with fear and trembling, declared: “TODAY, YOU WILL NOT!”
And in that moment, an advocate was born. That day, a fearful young lady drove onto the on-ramp of a new highway. A highway where courage, passion, and love for the afflicted would grow, flourish and abound. A road that would be traveled to advocate for the powerless who are easy prey for human wolves, not unlike animal predators on the African Savannah who stalk the young and the weak, planning their deadly attack.
Little did this young girl realize all the places this highway would lead to. She could not possibly have known. But, there was One who knew. One who said, “I hear the agonizing cries of the wounded and broken. I am preparing an advocate.”
” If God is calling you to do something you are afraid to do, then you’ll just have to do it, afraid.