Loving Louder A Homily by Kari Gottfried


Welcome to this space. You deserve to be here. Take a breath. Be present. You are exactly where you’re meant to be. You are exactly who you’re meant to be.

You are here because there is something about this community that called you. There is something about Unitarian Universalism that speaks to your soul. Maybe it’s our firm belief that every person is worthy of respect. Perhaps it’s the way we hold space for believers and nonbelievers of many things. It might even just be the way your heart feels when we gather together and sing. Whatever brought you here today brings you hope when hope is hard to find.

And hope is hard to find. In a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and wondering if we are enough, it’s easy to feel hopeless. You might wonder: Am I loved? Am I enough? Do I deserve to be here today? Am I doing the right thing? Do I deserve to be happy? The answer is yes!

But sometimes, that’s not enough. This world is cruel, and my “yes” can easily get drowned out in the sea of “no’s” swirling around your mind. I feel hopeless too. As a queer liberal woman of color, in a world where my very existence is an act of resistance, sometimes I wonder if there’s a place for me. There are times, many times, when I doubt myself. But I take comfort in knowing that this self doubt, this hopelessness, is not unique. I am not, and you are not, the only people who feel hopeless. We all deal with the same fears of inadequacy. We all wonder if we don’t deserve all that we have, if we aren’t enough, if nobody loves us.

A few weeks ago, as I was chaplaining a friend, they told me that they were frightened and hopeless. They felt the same things we all feel, but the love they were getting wasn’t enough to counteract the negative voices in their mind. No matter how much love we think we are giving, it doesn’t matter if they can’t hear it.

I sat with my friend, and said, again and again, “You deserve to be here. Take a breath. Be present. You are exactly where you’re meant to be. You are exactly who you’re meant to be.” A few days later, I got a note from them: “Thank you for loving me louder when I needed it.”

We all give and receive love, but what happens when the person on the receiving end of that love just can’t hear you? Well, you have to be a little louder.

As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that courageous love can transform the world.

Courageous love means loving people loudly. Tell people you love them, and make sure they can hear you. Because the thing about courageous love is that it starts to cycle around, until you can hear it too.