-Rev Melissa Fain-
Six years ago I was driving home. I noticed there were people parked in front of the church where I was the senior minister. I knew nothing about a meeting, but I didn't need to know. They were meeting because of me.
I was almost to term. A baby Caitlin almost ready to be born. They were putting their ducks in a row. As I passed the cars, I remembered that two of the elders had personally met with me.
Instead of coming to me with ways to help or truly discuss problems, they were meeting with me to check it off their to-do list. Then they could go to the regional minister with clean hands. "We told her there were problems. We met with her." I was broken (Literally, my ankle broke not long after taking the job, and I needed someone to help me make home visits) I was pregnant, and it was a rough one. I spent a night in the hospital during the General Assembly.)
Only there was more to that two elder meeting. There always was. I countered with the truth. "If someone has a problem with me, you have to tell them to come to me. Only bad things happen when we create triangle relationships." (Triangle relationships are when a third person is brought into a two person relationship, just to relay information between the two parties.)
Flash forward to one week after Caitlin was born. The same elders came to me, "Do you feel you are ready to come back?" I thought the question was their fear of giving me too much time off. "Yeah! I prepared for this." (I had. Using my day off for three months to write two months of sermons. ) "Well, we want to meet with you."
It didn't matter. Of course it didn't. They had played the same song and dance with almost every minister since the early 80's. It was my turn. A week after giving birth, they were going to ask for my resignation. Brokenness breaks. Woundedness wounds. Always.
"Are you okay?" my husband asks.
That's when it hit me. It's that time of year again. Yeah, it was hitting a little earlier because of some other things going on in my life, but it's happening. It was also hitting harder than it ever had. I feel the anxiety filling me up. The triggers were hairline thin. I didn't answer his question with words, I began to cry. Big, wet, ugly tears began to fall down my face.
This is not the story I wanted to tell. I had this naive hope after everything fell apart. God would step in, and make everything better. Good would triumph bad. Let's not call it evil. They are humans hurting other humans. Light would shine in the darkness, and the right choice would be chosen.
Only 6 years taught me a very hard truth. It's the truth that causes this year's anxiety to hit harder than it has ever hit:
People will work harder to hide fault than to fix brokenness.
It's in our nature to spend more time justifying our actions, pushing away common sense, and hiding from conflict. Dictators still kill thousands of their people. We know who does it, and still we do nothing. This world is a fallen mess. We don't face the light, we scatter from it like roaches after a side board is pulled up, revealing their nest..
I know that's dark. It's unlike how I've spoken for, well, ever. I've been praying to God for a re-energized purpose. Why are we in a wilderness, kicking up stones metaphorically and literally?
I realized we are all guilty. I most certainly am. The reason we scatter from the light, is because we know what our peers would do to us if we choose to stand in it. In their own guilt, they would destroy the person who dares to step within it's blinding brilliance and stay still. Sure, we willingly shine the light on something else, anything else. Shine the light on the evangelical church. That's the easiest target. Just avoid that light shining on ourselves.
I say that with more than a hint of sarcasm. God promises the light will not destroy us, but the darkness within us. God made no promises about the people around that light. But, someone needs to be the example. For the next few weeks I'll step into the light. There is a problem, and I'm going to use myself as an example. I grew up in the church, and I'm guilty of pain. I might invite others to share too.
It is my hope, that this will help people stop scattering, and start gathering. The truth is a mighty powerful disinfectant. There is a problem, and together, we can fix it.