Natasha Metzler

where the brokenness of life meets the glory of redemption

Hey, Lord, it feels like all I get is the hard stuffThe day was hot, sticky. Like a film was in the air that rested on everything.

It was the first time I had seen her in almost a year. She called me over, right outside the grocery store, and told me all about the past months. About the new baby that filled her life and her arms, about the way her relationships were growing better, the way God was working in her life.

And I’ll be super honest with you all: I felt a bit perturbed.

See, I was the one who gave up time for her and cared for her son when she could not. I was the one who sacrificed and said the hard things and stared her right in the face and told her that God had a plan for her that didn’t involve getting beat up by a drunk boyfriend.

Then one day she disappeared from my life. I didn’t know what happened or where she was.

And for a year, my story didn’t intersect with hers.

When it did, on that humid summer day, I wanted to roll my eyes at God. “Why,” I wanted to say, “did I have to wade through the rough stuff without getting a chance to be part of the turn-around? Why did I get the crap and other friends get the joy?”

I gave her a hug goodbye and then climbed into the car, with the questions swirling through my head. It was there, with sweat dripping down my back, that I felt the answer. The truth I needed to face.

John the Baptist faced it centuries ago. His disciples came to him and said, “Hey, John, remember that guy, Jesus, whom you testified about? Well, He’s baptizing people over on the other side of the Jordan, and all your followers are going to Him.” (my paraphrase)

And John looked at them and said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

All the people that I minister to and encourage and disciple? The hope is that they will walk away from me and go find Jesus. He must increase and I must decrease.

Because I can’t save anyone. I couldn’t save her. Only Jesus can.

It doesn’t matter how much of the picture I get to show up in. It doesn’t matter if I ever see the good stuff. All that matters is that I remain faithful to speak His name and prepare the way for His truth to enter hearts.

Sometimes that means all I get is the dirty part. All I see are the filthy feet that need washing. Jesus says, “If you follow me, you will do as I do.” I’ll bend low and wash the feet of those around me. And in doing so, glory will rest on Him. Not me.

And that’s okay, because it’s not about me.

It felt as if God’s grace poured over me that afternoon as I drove home. His gentle, loving presence. And I knew the whole truth: as He becomes greater, I am blessed more than I could ever be otherwise. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And with His presence comes all that is good.

We need to learn to let go. Be willing to do the dirty work and never be named as the one-who-cleaned-up. To wash the dishes and care for the children and do the hard stuff, and then be ignored. Because the whole point of all of it, is not to bring glory to ourselves, but to show the world who Jesus is. We need to take John the Baptist’s words and make them our own.

“Jesus must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

 

Let'd Do It God's Way

 

It was an early night. You know the kind I mean, when the day has worn down every bit of reserve you have and there’s nothing left. I sent the girly to bed at 8. I sat on the couch and drank deep of quiet and stillness.

A few minutes later my husband called. “Let’s go to the fireworks in town,” he said. The ones that start after 10pm. I almost said no. Almost. A war raged in my mind. Finally I lifted my hands in surrender. I pulled myself up and climbed the stairs. She was snuggled into bed, glasses off, flowered nightgown standing out bright against the dark sheets. “Come on,” I whispered, pushing the headache away, “get up and get dressed.”

Her eyes widened. Her mouth opened and closed.

“Hurry,” I told her, “Daddy will be here in a few minutes to get us and take us to the fair for the fireworks.”

“But,” she stuttered, “but I was really naughty today. And disrespectful. And I didn’t listen. And you said I lost the privilege of going to the fair.” Continue Reading

A lifetime of reading books (a type of memoir)

**this post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

 

One of my earliest memories takes place in Jasper, NY at a little log cabin, built by my father. My family is sitting around the living room and Mama is reading. I don’t know the book, just the sound of her voice and the way it rises and falls. She’s falling asleep and her words are drawing out further and further. I’m pressed up close beside her, running my fingers up and down her arm. I stop and tap her. “Mama,” I say, “Mama!” She blinks her eyes at me and one of the boys states, “You were sleeping, Mama.” The book lifts again and she begins reading but we all know it will only last a few minutes.

Some mamas read their babies to sleep, but our demand for books and stories was never sated and it was always Mama who slept first.

Continue Reading

Remember This: An Epiphany About Lists

It stormed the other night. Waves of rain that fell in sheets and lightening flashing from cloud to cloud. The world is still thick and heavy with moisture, the air filled with fog and damp humidity.

It’s spring rushing into summer.

And sometimes I feel like it’s spinning out of my control.

I stood in the bathroom the other morning, my hair still dripping, and saw the cobwebs in the corners. Standing on my tiptoes, I swiped a washcloth along the walls, scrubbing away the evidence of my neglect.

I should be more organized. More scheduled. Have a calendar somewhere that I can write, “clean bathroom” and actually remember to look at it and accomplish it that day. 

Instead of finding a calendar, I just rolled the washcloth into the pile of dirty laundry and lugged it to the bedroom where the over/under machine sits in the corner. At least the laundry is caught up, I think– until I open the lid and realize I started a load yesterday and forgot about it.

Sometimes I just run out of time and memory space. Continue Reading

when you just want to know why you have to face this storm

So many times I wondered, “Why, Lord?” Why the storm of infertility, why the pain of loss, why the trial of physical issues?

In the midst of it all, I truly felt as though God was sleeping while a furious storm (of hurricane proportions) swept through my life. What did I have to do to wake Him up?

I knew the God who commands the wind and waves was more than capable of calming the seas in my life. He could heal up my pain, ease my trials, touch my broken body. But He seemed to sleep on.

Did I need to pray more? Believe more? Why was God allowing this when I had surrendered all to follow Him? What more did He want?

I was reading through the Bible, searching desperately for an answer, and I read the story of the storm in Matthew 8. The disciples, fearing for their lives, woke up Jesus. “Oh, you of little faith,” He said to them, “why are you afraid?” That’s me, Lord, that’s me. I’m terrified. Won’t you wake up and calm this storm? Continue Reading

When your father fails you @natashametzler

It’s easy to talk about Father’s Day when you were born into a family with a gentle spiritual leader, brave protector, and wise man of God at the head. But this weekend I couldn’t help but think about all those who have grown up in homes very different from mine.

From birth fathers who never show up, to present fathers whose hearts and minds are far removed, to abusive fathers who use words, sarcasm, physical or spiritual manipulation to control their families– the list feels endless and heart-wrenching.

Wounds left by fathers will follow their children far into adulthood. In fact, sometimes it is not until adulthood that the full weight of a father’s failure will press into a person. When you have the ability to look around and realize the dysfunction that covered your childhood, the previously-unrecognized wounds will tear wide open. And oh, the agony that old, newly recognized wounds can cause! 

This past Father’s Day we worked to create beautiful memories. We made fun creative gifts, sang together, and danced with daddy around the kitchen. But someday my daughter will be forced to face the heart-breaking realization that she had a birth father who failed her.

And no matter how much we love her, no matter how much we pour into her– it will be impossible to stop the pain. She will have to face it, to stare it down, to fight the lies that will come with it. Our love will surround her and comfort her, but it cannot go back into the past and prevent the wounds from happening.

But there is one thing I will tell her when she is forced to face the primal wounds caused by some people she will never remember and others who she will never fully forget, and right now I want to say it to you too– to all of you who hurt. Continue Reading

Sometimes fears quiet me still. They race through my mind quicker than I can breathe and it’s all I have to keep myself hushed.

When I get agitated, I clean. Dishes cleared from the table and dumped into water. Soap and bubbles and scalding warmth as I scrub and fume. The floors get swept. The cupboards washed. My hands move so my mind can think, can fathom what is going on and why.

Sometimes my husband asks me to hold still, to stop and speak. Even then my feet bounce, my hands wring. My words usually stumble because they are racing through my mind faster than I can form them from my lips.

And always, always it is fear that is the root. Continue Reading

It was a few weeks ago when I went searching for my Bible. I couldn’t imagine where I had put it. I checked all the regular places– by the computer, on the corner cupboard, in the bathroom, by my bed, inside my purse. It was M.I.A.

Finally, finally, we located it… in the car, where it had been since the last Sunday.

Ouch.

With all the changes going on in our lives I’ve found that my Bible time has swiftly slipped through the cracks. And with the realization that an entire week had passed since I’d opened it, and the fact that I just shared in a podcast how reading the Bible changed my life, came a burning desire to get myself back on track. Quick. Before summer caught me up in its current.

I’ve been making some changes, putting some things back into place and introducing new life-with-children versions of my old practices. Here are the five main things I’m doing to get more of God’s Word into my daily life: Continue Reading

finding your own fairy tale

It was a Sunday morning. A beautiful morning with sunlight glinting through the windows. A morning that started with a lie and tears and parenting at its grittiest.

It was a brutal reminder that while our story was incredible– we had jumped right smack-dab into the middle of child-rearing. 

I thought about just going back to bed.

But instead we kept going, right through the “you don’t really love me” and the begging and manipulation and tears. Right through the questions in our own minds of what and how and “do we have any idea what we’re doing?” Right on through all of it. Continue Reading

redemption

The hallway of the maternity ward was empty. My shoes were squeaking against the waxed tile. My sister-in-law was in one of the first rooms. Her belly was round and she was calmly sitting, watching the monitor as a heartbeat jumped across it. A few minutes later another monitor located the second heartbeat. The twins were happily content to sit quiet in their mama’s belly.

It was evening, over forty weeks into the pregnancy, and we were all more than ready for the baby girls to arrive. Little did we know that it would be just two short hours before they appeared.  Continue Reading

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