Lessons from my parents - Pastor speaks frankly of her childhood
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 gotten addicted to drugs. For years I couldn't understand the highs and lows of her emotions, or why we were living in Cherry 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, walk to Hillel and back again at eight and nine years old.
Conner said at such an age, she had learnt to live with the situation, one she couldn't escape from, 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 exposure to abuses I believe could have been avoided. It was what it was," she said.
Pastor Sara told Family & Religion that she only realised later the impact of her earlier years.
The woman of God spoke of the insecurities which she had to endure - those of not feeling safe, the fear of divorce and a warped understanding of family norms but, according to her, she is grateful.
Reaffirming her hate for drugs and revealed that the illegal substance played a big role in the murder of her mother in 1992, Pastor Sara 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 her today though, are the values that she taught her.
"Both my father and mother love people unconditionally, 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.
And with her past as her testimony, she has dedicated her life to helping others discover the strength, faith and hope that comes through obeying the Word of God.
Next week Pastor Sara will share how she came into ministry and how she uses adversity as a catapult to greatness.