-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Before I really get into it today, I wish others have the same urgency I have. I also wish there were more people with the creative energy to join up with what I want to do. Every passing day feels like I'm failing, because what needs to happen isn't happening. More are hurt the longer this takes. I'm not sure you could understand the kind of sadness I feel at making something good. It's sadness in knowing I can do something, but also knowing no one wants it. There are few things as heartbreaking as knowing ones value, and knowing that value is not being used to it's full potential. My husband sees it. While I am sad, he is frustrated. That frustration doesn't help me, other than knowing my value could be cut down and replaced with something else. Then, once again, I'm sad.
Where my prayer has been.
Something very strange happened last Sunday. I was thinking about a project I've been working on for years now. And, by years, I mean years. It has been growing in my brain and evolving since I was a young child.
I've recently reached a point, where I've considered just giving it up, and by giving it up, I mean giving it all up. Like I said before, I feel rather defeated as of late. I don't feel bad telling you that, because feeling defeated is a human feeling. I'm not a god, and I don't play one on TV. I'm mortal, and as such, I'm allowed to feel mortal feelings. Being honest with my emotions is part of what it means to be a Pastor.
My most recent prayer has been two words and mirrors Psalm 13. "How long?"
Those two words are filled with meaning though.
How long does your children need to suffer the abuse of their own Christian family, without action?
Our theologies are weaponized from all sides, and they are striking out. Meanwhile, more people are leaving faith all together over our ambivalence towards the pain our faith tradition doles out. It feels like Christians are either the ones hurting, or the ones ignoring that hurt. How we have failed as faith.
How long are we going to pretend we are seeking solutions when we're not?
We haven't had our woman theological darling since Rachael Held Evans. She passed away in 2019, leaving this hole, that has slowly been filled and dismissed. Meanwhile, we are ignoring the new alter that has been erected: Online ministry. We are all drooling at the potential, and wanting to take the pulpit, no one is seeking what that actually looks like. All I can do is sit back and watch the Fundie-Progressive fight, knowing neither side has really done anything.
How long am I to keep going on this path?
This might shock you, but part of praying "how long," is also praying, "if it's not going to do what I believe you want it to do, destroy it."
I know, personally, as long as there is a need, I will keep going until it breaks or I do. If God destroyed Fig Tree, that would not be a curse, but a blessing. Not because I want it destroyed. No. I want what I'm doing to have value and meaning. It would be a blessing because it would be God telling me my job has finished. I weary. I could do this for 30 more years, if I had more than the meager supplies that I have. If I wasn't buried under the student loan debt of a minister who will never work in an institutional church again. Yet, it continues, and the same weight, that was easy to carry a decade ago, now feels overbearing, because I've mostly been carrying it alone.
Do you see?
God talks in many ways.
Getting back to last Sunday, I once again prayed, "How long?" I was talking about a plethora of things. All the ones listed above, but also that project I've been attached to since I was a kid.
It was while talking about Tolkien and his writings that my husband said something:
"Anything of value takes an incredible amount of work and time."
It just felt like it was more than my husband talking.
It was like the answer to my prayer was, "It will amount to something, so don't give up."
And before you rally around this answer, realize Tolkien was paid full time wages for his work his entire life. He had the ability to focus on his passion projects while also being comfortable in life.
And really, that's the problem with most ministers today as well. They are not living in it. There is something very sanitized about their messages, that lack the reality of life.
I actually had a dream many years ago (a literal dream) where I met God. She was steering a wagon, and invited me to sit next to her. As we were talking, people came up to her with prayers. I watched as she answered prayer after prayer. People would ask for things, and she would grant their requests. So I asked for everything I needed to make Fig Tree a reality. She told me no. I was shocked! I pointed to all the people she said yes to, and asked why was she telling me no. Her answer, "It doesn't mean anything if you don't earn it yourself."
I must admit, I was a bit salty waking up from that dream. Now I wonder, "How long?" At what point does my work has enough value?