Where God Is
The first time my heart felt broken, I went to church. When my mom died, I went to church. When I failed a class, I went to church. When I failed a friend, I went to church. When I felt like I’d failed at life, I went to church.
I didn’t go asking for forgiveness. I didn’t go asking for salvation.
I went to church—a Unitarian Universalist church—to be reminded, through hugs from friends, awkward interactions with strangers, and inspired messages from leaders, that no matter how down I feel, I still matter. I still have worth.
My God says, “Whoever you are, you are enough. Whomever you love, you are enough. Whatever your race or ethnicity, you are enough. Whatever your abilities, you are enough. Whatever your economic class, you are enough. Whatever your gender identity, you are enough. Whatever you do for a living, you are enough. If you don’t have a job right now, you are enough. You are a human being, and so you are enough!”
My God says this when we come together, worship together, listen deeply to one another, and love one another. This, I believe, is the God of our faith.
My minister in college started the prayer with the same words every Sunday. I don’t remember most of it; I do recall that he used the phrase alone together. We experience life through our own lenses, yet we don’t have to go it alone.
I know too well that grieving the loss of a parent is a long, exhausting road. I also know that walking alongside a mourning friend can feel, somehow, even more taxing. Being there for others is plain hard. It can be tough to work up the courage to talk with a newcomer. Yet I believe that it is in those public spaces that God or the Spirit of Life truly resides.
It may go against prevailing American individualism to say that we need other people. We like to believe that we can do everything on our own. I believe that the human spirit truly comes alive when we are challenged, prodded, and uplifted in community.
In the days after my mom’s death, I felt like hiding. Doing so would have been perfectly okay. I decided, though, to go to church. My friends went with me, and the community held me up, as well as my family. Being in community was harder than being alone—yet it was what I needed. I needed to sit in that sanctuary with my UU friends. I needed to sing those hymns and hear the voices of others.
We don’t have to go to service every Sunday—yet I do think that we need to show up somewhere, to some community. I believe that living out our faith requires interaction beyond our own selves. I believe it calls for community. I believe that’s where God is. Through covenant with others, we reach God, we know we are enough, and we are made better. We strengthen our souls and increase our capacity for love and understanding.