Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers
When did you start attending Left Hand?
I’ve been attending Left Hand since the very beginning – the very first community dinner!
Tell us your story. What do you want the rest of Left Hand to know about you?
I grew up in Oklahoma in a family that did not attend church ever. I had friends in school that invited me to church occasionally and when I got into middle and high school, I started going to church camp because there were cute boys there…and slides and games and a swimming pool, oh, and cute boys. So much fun!
My parents divorced when I was 11 and my mom quickly married a man with two boys who were a lot older than me, and my sister was older than me. They were all doing heavy drugs and pressured me to do them so that I wouldn’t nark on them. My mom was never around anymore and my dad was a raging alcoholic who would pass out on the front lawn and, at age 11, I had to carry him into the house. I was essentially unsupervised and “on my own” from the age of 11, so my life fell into a bit of a tailspin. From the ages of 11 through 16, I was pretty out-of-control and headed down a really nasty path that was not going to end well for me.
I still attended a Nazarene church and church camp occasionally but I just never understood the whole God/Jesus thing. I really do feel, though, that God was trying to reach me in all of the things that I was doing because I had a lot of guilt about my actions. I always wondered why my friends could party and be crazy and not feel guilty like I did. I later came to feel that it was God working through my conscience to try to turn this ship around. I don’t really think, now, that God works through guilt but I think that somehow I WAS getting the message of Jesus’ love and I knew that what I was doing was not what He wanted for me.
Then I met Olan. I was 16. Olan did not drink or cuss or smoke (except maybe an occasional Swisher Sweet Cigar) and he had the cutest mullet in my whole school (there were lots). He attended church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening and every Wednesday evening. He was a good guy! And even with my reputation (and everyone around him telling him to run far far away from me), he gave me a chance. We started dating and I fell so hard for him that I immediately stopped doing everything that I was doing so that I wouldn’t ruin this good thing that we had. I think I was really wanting to stop anyway but had no positive influence in my life giving me the motivation.
Fast forward 7 years, we got married and moved to Boulder so he could pursue his career of racing bicycles. We started attending church regularly and I started to feel like my relationship with Jesus was my own and not something I was trying to make happen. I made lots of friends there and they all showed me what it meant to live life in a community of believers and what true friends that actually cared about you looked like.
As a closing note, I do still have a relationship with both of my parents and I love them very much. With no prodding from me, my mom realized just last year the extent to which she abandoned me and I appreciate that acknowledgement very much. My dad was sober for several years but has relapsed these last few years. I no longer blame them for anything I experienced. They did the best they could with what they knew at the time. I have found great joy in my life and I am thankful for all experiences that shaped me into who I am today.
What does Left Hand mean to you?
Left Hand Church feels so much like family to me. The friends that we made at our previous church all started having kids and we all got too busy to nurture the relationships anymore. So for the last several years, I have really missed having a group of close friends and I have felt very alone. Coming to Left Hand fills that void and I look forward to seeing everyone each week. I feel invested in the church and its success and I think we have a message of love and acceptance that needs to reach more people. I enjoy laughing with all of you and am really excited to develop these friendships even more. I have never been hugged so much in my life but these hugs feel so life-giving and I am starting to need them and I treasure them.
What special skills, talents or expertise are you willing to share with our community?
I work in bookkeeping and accounting so I am pretty adept at Quickbooks.
I have an endless supply of bad dad jokes so hit me up if you ever need one.
I love animals of all kinds so if you have a farm, invite me for any reason or no reason.
Olan and I had to do major fertility procedures to get pregnant so I understand the emotional toll that takes on people that are going through the same thing.
I grew up with an alcoholic father so I can relate to anyone that is still dealing with the repercussions of that.
Melissa’s profile is part of a new, on-going blog series aimed to help Left Hand members get to know each other better, as well as share our stories and gifts. If you are interested in nominating someone to be profiled, please send their name and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to Nicole Vickey for organizing this series!