-Pastor Melissa Fain-
When I was in kindergarten the only thing I remember about my teacher was how angry she was, and specifically at me. I couldn’t tie my shoes, and I couldn’t say my A-B-Cs without singing them. She threatened to hold me back if I didn’t “get it.” I almost didn’t. Still, my first education was that I wasn’t good enough.
When I was in third grade, I drew my “s” with the pointy top. It was my first exploration into creativity. Others began to do the same, as we played with typography in our writing. A third grade teacher was openly hostile to this, and retaught writing to the entire third grade class, actually mentioning my “s” as one of the reasons she was doing it. My first exploration in creativity was soundly introduced as superfluous.
When I was in eighth grade my math teacher thought I couldn’t take on Algebra 1 in high school. I was failing, and it was an act of love to suggest I retake pre-algebra. By this point, I knew what teachers knew about me. I was out of line, and unable to learn. I begged her to move me forward. I promised I would do better. She said she would think about it. I worked by butt off for the remainder of the school year, only to discover I was in Pre-Algebra the first semester of high school. I begged the teacher to put me in Algebra. He gave me a shot, and I passed all my math classes from then on out. That was my first realization that I didn’t have to listen to adults.
That didn’t mean those events were in some echo chamber, not affecting other events. I got it into my head that I wasn’t good enough. I completely believed I lacked the ability to think creatively and wouldn’t be able to do anything beyond maybe a bachelor’s degree. When a minister first suggested that I too could take on the Master’s level work, and be ordained myself, I didn’t believe her. Not because I didn’t feel called, which I did. It was because I didn’t feel capable. I just knew what I couldn’t do, and everyone else knew it too.
That is the power of hope and the power when that hope is never given. These teachers were the crafters of my hope. If any of the three actually could see where I could go, the perception of myself might have been a bit different by the time I was told I was called. Instead, this nagging false-reality of my ability and power tags with me everywhere I go. It’s enough that when people think I should go for something or do something, it leaves me slightly off balance, because I’ve already written myself off.
Here’s what I know based this little dive into my past:
The first step is to find leaders with a clear understanding of where they are going. Those leaders are not stuck in the sinking swamps of now, or attempting to resurrect the past with only zombie type achievement.
The second step is to make sure the destination is worth the trip. Is it an empty promise with no real strides to meet the goal? Do the steps being taken in the meantime, match the announced hope? The announcement of a true hope always leads to a journey.
So, while it might look like I’ve been in a waiting period as of late, because I am. I’m also spending my time planting hope in others. Sometimes it’s something tiny. “Wow, you really nailed that!” Sometimes it’s much bigger. “Where are we in 10 years? What will that look like?” That’s an exciting place to be where something healthy and good could flower from it. Way better than what was given to me.