Today we hear a Selah’s back story from our leading lady, Melanie Forsythe. We’re sharing one of her recent blog posts (melanieforsythe.com) talking about how the conference was developed. Her dreams didn’t always look the way they do now. There were seasons on discouragement, but God redeemed it all in an even bigger way, read how!
How much do you think that you are worth as a person? Depending on how we view ourselves, the answer would vary. I was raised in a loving home by parents that encouraged me and told me that I had something beautiful to give to the world so that combined with my Christian faith gave me a good sense of my worth. Sure I struggled with low self esteem, I really didn’t like the way that I looked and I knew that I wasn’t in the league of the girls that could make a boy turn into a blubbering mess. I came to thrive inside of my own self despite those normal adolescent struggles partly because I knew my value in a church setting. I loved church. I loved leading worship, I loved praying for people and teaching from the Bible. If there was anywhere I felt fully valued it was in the church.
That confidence was rocked however one night four years ago when I sat in a living room with a group of women, debriefing a night that we had put on for the ladies of our church. We had brought in a photo booth, great food was prepared, worship was beautiful and I had preached. The night was lovely but we noticed that attendance was low and I asked the group why some women weren’t coming. I was not prepared for the answer. One of the ladies said ‘It’s you Mel. Women aren’t prepared to pay $7 to hear you speak when they can hear you speak for free. I sat there waiting for the others to leap to my defense but the majority were silent and that was deafening.
I remember struggling to keep my composure so that I could continue to lead the night. I swallowed quickly, my palms got sweaty and I tried to make a joke about bringing other ladies in to speak, trying to move on. The rest of the night was a blur, the knot in my stomach grew larger and I managed to keep it together until I got into the car. Once the tears started they just didn’t stop. I sobbed all the way home and I cried on the couch all night. Simon kept telling me to disregard the words but I couldn’t. It was as if the one place that I felt valued in had been taken from me. I kept thinking ‘I’m not as valuable as a coffee and pastry – I’m not as valuable as a Mcdonald’s meal’. And I shut down.
For the next year and a half I didn’t speak at any of the women’s events that I hosted. Other great women shared but I remained silent and it got to the point that I didn’t even want to do women’s ministry anymore. An event was happening while I was away at a conference and I had decided it would be the last. But God had other plans. That weekend he used a dear friend, Sonya Staines, to speak life into my de-valued heart again. As she prayed for me, knowing nothing of my inner struggle, her words came straight from heaven. God spoke to me that night and clearly told me to begin again, to reclaim my worth and put aside the words that had come to define me.
That night, my value returned, shaky at first like a new born foal on it’s spindly legs but things were different. Two and a half years later I found myself sitting on a beach in Florida, guarding the equipment of my friends as they spent six hours in the water, taking pictures for our upcoming Selah Conference. These women volunteer their time every week, carrying the vision of Sisterhood in their hearts and they all paid their way to give of themselves to a God dream and I remembered that painful night and I cried happy tears.
Yesterday I held the prototype of the brochure in my hands and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the gifts God has given me. The gift of women leaders that care enough to pay far more than $7 to see something bigger than ourselves be established in Columbus and yes, I am speaking and I’m not intimidated, ashamed or afraid anymore. I am living proof that ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those that love it will eat it’s fruits’ (proverbs 18:21).
Where is your value today my friends? Let me encourage you, your value is far above rubies and there is a world around you that needs the value that you can bring to it. Shine on.