Lessons from my par­ents

Pas­tor speaks frankly of her child­hood

Jamaica Gleaner - - FEATURE - Shanna-kaye Mon­teith/Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

DE­SCRIB­ING HER grow­ing-up years as a “chaotic ad­ven­ture”, Ja­maican-born and raised Pas­tor Sara Con­ner, a cer­ti­fied Chris­tian coun­sel­lor with the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Faith-based Coun­selling in Texas, re­called her life as a child who was raised in the mu­sic in­dus­try with a Rasta­far­ian fo­cus, hav­ing toured the coun­try, and whose mother was a drug ad­dict.

“Noth­ing im­pacted me more than re­al­is­ing my mother had got ad­dicted to drugs. For years, I couldn’t un­der­stand the highs and lows of her emo­tions or why we were liv­ing in Cherr y Gar­dens one minute and then stay­ing in Trench Town the next. As a child, I just be­lieved the lie that she didn’t love us be­cause she was ab­sent, and when present, she was ab­sent-minded, happy, pas­sion­ate, puni­tive, invit­ing and dis­en­gag­ing all in the course of hours.

“I couldn’t read her, and I am most like her, so in a way, it frus­trated me be­cause then, I couldn’t un­der­stand my­self. With one par­ent work­ing months at a time and an­other miss­ing months at a time, I just did what I wanted to do,” she said, adding that she would take a bus from New Kingston to Stella Maris Prepara­tory School, walk to Hil­lel Academy and back again at eight and nine years old.

Con­ner said at such an age, she had learnt to live with the sit­u­a­tion; it was one she couldn’t es­cape from and one she had to deal with.

“Drug ad­dic­tion robbed me in ways I can hardly de­scribe, cou­pled with ab­sen­teeism from the na­ture of my fa­ther’s work. I had to grow up too soon, fig­ure out things on my own, care for sib­lings, ex­pe­ri­ence times of un­nec­es­sary strug­gle, and [be ex­posed] to abuses I be­lieve could have been avoided. It was what it was,”she said.

FAC­ING INSECURITIES

Pas­tor Con­ner told Fam­ily & Re­li­gion that she only re­alised later t he i mpact of t hese ex­pe­ri­ences in her ear­lier years.

The woman of God spoke of the insecurities that she had to en­dure – those of not feel­ing safe, the f ear of di­vorce, and a warped un­der­stand­ing of fam­ily norms. But, ac­cord­ing to her, she is grate­ful.

Reaf­firm­ing her hate for drugs and re­veal­ing that the il­le­gal sub­stance played a big role in the mur­der of her mother in 1992, Pas­tor Con­ner noted that she (her mother) had given her life to Christ and had dis­con­tin­ued her use of the sub­stance two years be­fore the tragic in­ci­dent.

Still with Con­ner to­day, though, are the val­ues that she taught her.

“Both my fa­ther and mother love peo­ple un­con­di­tion­ally, and are gen­er­ous, strong, able to with­stand and over­come any ob­sta­cle. They didn’t have to be present to teach us through their lives how to treat peo­ple, never speak ill of them, be kind to those less for­tu­nate, and work hard. My mom de­fied the odds by de­feat­ing crack and left the great­est gift to me by show­ing me, I too can defy any odds stacked against me,” she shared.

To­day, Sara is the as­sis­tant pas­tor of Word of Truth Fam­ily Church, along­side her hus­band, Eben. They have been mar­ried for 23 years and have two chil­dren, Heaven and Lon­don.

With her past as her tes­ti­mony, she has ded­i­cated her life to help­ing oth­ers dis­cover the strength, faith and hope that come through obey­ing the word of God.

Next week, Pas­tor Con­ner will share how she came into min­istry and how she uses ad­ver­sity as a cat­a­pult to greatness.

Ja­maica-born and raised Pas­tor Sara Con­ner, a cer­ti­fied Chris­tian coun­sel­lor with the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Faith-based Coun­selling in Texas.

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