By the time I was in my late twenties, I was convinced that I would never find love. I had had a few boyfriends, but over and over again, I was exiled to the dreaded Friend Zone. I always suspected that it was because I was “too much”: too smart, too feminist, too radical, too fat, too independent, too big of a personality. After a while, I reached the conclusion that I would just have to get used to the idea of being “too much” all by myself.
But then I met Karen: nearly six feet tall, older, black, brilliant, stylishly butch, fiercely outspoken and opinionated, and funny as hell. (And, it turns out, also a UU minister.) We became quick friends, and the “too-much-ness” in each of us somehow wasn’t threatening or diminishing to either of us but instead created something vibrant and life-giving.
Karen was the one who pursued me (much to my surprise). Although I had only dated cisgender men before, it wasn’t Karen’s sex that gave me pause—I had been raised in a UU family and congregation that had taught me that love is love, whatever body or gender it comes in. It was our other differences: the fact that she had a daughter, that she was already deep in the thick of ministry and I was just getting started, that she was older than the partner I had imagined for myself, that interracial relationships are always complex. Could I say yes to this, knowing that if one of my friends had come to me for advice about a similar situation, I might have told them to run screaming in the other direction?
But my gut and my heart told me that there was something important and real and beautiful between us. I realized that to say yes to this relationship wouldn’t be an act of reason but an act of faith—and that my faith, rooted deep in our UU tradition, was telling me to not let convention prevent me from connection, to take risks that nurture relationship over isolation, to remember that we are all worthy of love, and that it is ours to claim if we are but brave enough to answer its call.
Five years later, that faith-full choice is one of the best I have ever made. I never expected, at this point in my life (thirty-two years old now), to be the parent of a fabulous teenager, the partner of a middle-aged goofball, or a member of this chaotic, rowdy, tightly knit, compassionate network of chosen and original family that, somehow, affirms and celebrates that very “too much-ness” that I thought might leave me forever alone. Our relationship is rooted in deep values of trust, respect, mutuality, celebration, challenge, and joy, and it is life-giving. I am profoundly grateful for the faith that formed me, bringing that “yes” to my lips in spite of all that would have discouraged that choice.
At the end of my life, as one of my favorite hymns says, “If they ask what I did best, tell them I said ‘yes’ to love.”