-Rev Melissa Fain-
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
There are moments where I will be doing something, and someone brings up how I'm not doing that thing "normally." Last Tuesday multiple people noticed my writing style. No, not my grammar, although that's a mess too. No, my physical writing.
I don't follow the rules of how to write out letters. I start my "s" and "f" from the bottom of the page. I often cross from right to left. While I never notice anyone else writing any differently, people immediately see when I'm writing on a board. It's not that the outcome produces anything different, it's just the process shocks people.
I'm not normal.
Sometimes I wonder why I have to express that in words. Anyone who has known me for longer than a few hours knows I'm a little bizarre. If you're wondering why I'm okay with that, its all in the delivery. Those who love me know it's good. We can joke around about it. Often times, those people will include themselves. "We both know, we're not normal!"
Of course I'm not okay with those who say it like I'm a sideshow freak, or the butt of a joke. It used to get to me, but now I just quietly remove myself from their presence.
In my younger years, when I was far more broken than mended, these abnormalities were problematic. As I've said before, I was socially feral. I've had to learn American social cues like one learns a language. I couldn't understanding why someone would be offended by my honest questions. I didn't realize, especially in the South, honesty is blunt and we ignore blunt truths when they rub us the wrong way.
I saw what happened when adults would uncomfortably stare at my young self. That discomfort was them knowing I needed help, but them also knowing they believed they had no way to give it. I've seen far more danger in whispers about someone than the loud cog everyone just wants to shut up. We can address the cog. The whispers infect.
Still, I know what I was, and what I was was the reason I didn't think God was calling me to be a minister.
I struggled in school. Never to the point of failure, but enough. My backwards 'S's are a sign that I had to figure out what I was doing on my own because no one was going to help me with me homework. The damage had been done by the time I was in a stable environment, I was behind on language arts, and math.
I embrace that past, not because it is a trophy to hold up. It is not something to celebrate. I was strange because I didn't fit my broken self back together in a "normal" way. I have realized this helps me in two ways:
First, people see I've been there too. There are others who are broken, and I get broken. I also get how difficult the path is to restoration. It's not a one day experience, but a lifelong journey. It's this knowledge that laying ones brokenness out in the open will lead to jeers,. This could be from some who are primal in their reactions. A broken person couldn't survive the metaphorical hunt. Many hide there brokenness for that reason. This could also be from people who mistake broken for weird or an oddity. It's difficult to heal when people are laughing at you for not being "normal." Knowing I can walk beside those people, and not just clinically help, is part of the reason God called me. Took years to realize this.
Second, it's my fly trap. When people are ready to laugh off my broken past as abnormal or when I'm put in the sideshow freak column; I typically take note and file it away in my mind. Especially when those people are fellow ministers. They are dangerous. Some of them are better people now. Some have context they sorely missed in their younger days. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the ones who still don't get it, but call themselves a Shepherd to God's people. I dare those who want to hold my elementary school self, or middle school self against a 38 year old woman. I wait like a venus fly trap for them to openly mock that person. Those people would not be attacking me. I'm a 38 year old who spent decades processing and healing. Attacking my younger self would be attacking those who are still healing.
No one has flown into that trap as of yet, but those on the other side know something else. There's an anxiety when those triggers appear. All previously broken people have traps ready to snap. Often times they bite down on themselves. There will always be something that will remind me of the trauma. Knowing this, I have redirected the trap into something helpful.
In the end, I embrace who I am because God called me in brokenness to find wholeness, and in turn, help others find that wholeness too. Wholeness to holiness. It's the beauty of a sprout in the trunk of a dying log. It's the joy of new life when everything looked dead. That's why.