-Pastor Melissa Fain-
I feel like there are times a piece of me shines. That piece, by itself, looks like something. It's easy to take the piece out of context, because no one realizes the whole. Also, no one realizes the tools I've collected to bring me to this point in our shared history.
What happens when all those pieces come together? Well, let me lay them out for you:
1. I healed from being a child of brokenness.
I don't talk about my past as much as I want to or used to. I've remained guarded for multiple reasons. Some of those will come out in due time. One of those are important now.
I've learned, we are not defined by our brokenness, but what we do once we've been broken. Most of our villains were created from their brokenness. Instead of seeking restoration and stopping the cycle of abuse, they pushed into their brokenness turning them into abusers. Many of these abusers define themselves by their brokenness, unable to see how their brokenness has begun to break others.
Seeing this encouraged me to find healing to end the cycle of abuse. It helped me see self-care as a way to care for others. My personal healing took away the need for others to potentially go through the same process in their own lives. Self-care is a cycle breaker. In this way, caring for one's self is caring for others.
Brokenness broke me, but it ultimately didn't define me. My path to healing defined me, and it gives me a compassionate view of the world and those around me.
2. I was witness to church brokenness.
I truly feel I was called to be witness to brokenness in the church and the aftermath of its destruction. From 1999 to 2012, it felt like these churches were handpicked for their personal moments of brokenness. (All except Brookhaven, where I still feel it was a bad fit, and I was always called to First Atlanta, but somehow God's plan was subverted until a few years later.) I realize now I was never called to fix anything in these years, but to simply take note.
I now personally know and been witness to:
Ministers breaking a church.
Congregants breaking a minister.
Ministers breaking ministers.
Congregants breaking congregants.
I know the problem is prolific. There are systems that have been built to hide or protect abuse and neglect. There are statements that exist to deny accountability. "Not at my church," being one of them. The Body of Christ is ultimately one church, so if it's happening anywhere, it's happening in your Church.
Because I've witnessed and ultimately felt the brutal sting of Church brokenness, I have eyes trained to see the problem. My compassionate view will not let me take just any church job to fix the problem.
3. Paulding County is my home.
I'm about to blow some teacher's minds here.
I do not like substituting. I'm going on my 5th year in the schools, but I know I'm much more relatable to the students in a youth group setting than I am in a substitute setting.
That being said, I know the implicit power I wield being both a parent, and an employee. I've seen substitutes throw this power around in defense of their specific child. It's a power greater than a certified teacher who is also a parent.
I'm also the spouse of an educator within the county. I've been the champion for the front line, aka the teachers, for years now. If you are not taking care of the teachers, than you are not taking care of my kids, and then I get loud.
I don't like subbing, but I love the people in the system. They know me, and I know them. I've used my power carefully, speaking up for subs in an open letter written in 2018. When I talked with someone from the AP about schools reopening, it was to be the teacher's champion. I only spoke as a parent sending her children back to school, but my view as a parent has a very supportive view of our educators. Most parents are having trouble seeing the humanity in their child's educator. I'm a minister. I see the human first.
Without realizing it, I had placed myself on the front lines of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than that,it was a place I'd already been, for years.
4. Creativity is One of my Talents.
My brain is a hot mess! Seriously.
There are days when I know the information, understand it, but can't say it. I know it's there. I know the definition, but not the word attached to it.
Then there are other days where I can make the connections others are not. (Very helpful when it comes to Biblical interpretation btw.) Most see this in my crafts. I make polymer clay earrings by looking at a picture and recreating it. I make Halloween costumes the same way. My son wanted to be Finn from Adventure Time? Done!
People see a project I do and they don't understand it's a skill set I've picked up from having little to nothing to work with. Stuck in a room with a piece of cardboard, scissors and string? Fine! Turn the cardboard into a loom, and weave. Need a perfect circle for a class but you don't have a protractor? Tie a piece of twine loosely on a one pencil while you tie it tightly on another. Automatic circle maker! Don't have glue? Go to the kitchen and start mixing ingredients until you have something that sticks. (In my case water and flour.)
My brain allows me to put the pieces together in ways many don't consider. My brain allows me to pick up skills as needed. I learned middle school math two years ago. Actually sat down and learned it. Why? Because it was needed. I picked up Adobe Photoshop and Premier on my own and just started using it. Why? Because a photo lab was hiring a Photo Restorationist, and I needed a job.
My brain is both my super power and my kryptonite. I know there are those who see my struggles and write me off. It's because I've had to rewire my thought process, that I can see connections others overlook. Creativity is a gift we undernourish in others. It has made me an endangered species.
I know when someone wants you out, you can't win.
There is something crucial about complete and total failure. Almost all of us have no idea what rock bottom feels like. (In many ways I still don't.) If you haven't felt rock bottom, that is amazing. It's not a fun place to be. You've got nothing, no one, and no where.
I lived it in ministry. I've felt complete and total crushing defeat.
It gave me context.
Now I know there are situations where you are destined to fail. In moments like that, one is defined by what they do leading up to that failure. It is always better to do the right thing, because even in personal destruction, the seed of justice can be planted for the future to reap their rewards.
I also learned when others are out to destroy you there are aspects of your life they have no power over. You sell your integrity. You forfeit your freewill. These are things that can only be handed over if you choose to hand them over. Yes, there will always be consequences for not giving in, but giving into those consequences will always be far more destructive in the long run if you submit.
The biggest gift of rock bottom is I know it. I've felt it. I'm not as scared of it as I was before I felt it's pain. In the biggest picture there is, that's what truly makes me the most dangerous.
All the pieces together means I've been put in the right place at the right time.
I'm an online minister. I have been for 8 years now. That really came in handy 5 months ago when all ministers had to be online.
I live in Paulding County, Georgia (Yes, that Paulding County) and I have for, once again, eight years now. Part of that eight years was used to research the county to prepare for a church plant. I understand this county better than many of her residents. There are two counties living here. Old blood. Cobb flight. Two very different groups of people, who act rather oblivious of one another. I feel it in my gut. There's a reason I'm here.
I know how to build, self-motivate, create and explore.
If the right side gets a hold of me.
We could change the world.