When I was a child I believed without question that there was a God who made me and the entire world. I attended Catholic mass and although I often skipped out of catechism class, I did not question what I was taught. That all changed after I was sexually assaulted and was rejected by family and classmates. Alone, abused and in pain I asked, if there was a God, why hadn’t he rescued me from my perpetrators? Why didn’t he make my parents love me? The final blow came when I was 16 years old. My father had a heart attack and my hope for a college education was threatened. It felt as though God had abandoned me so I rejected Him. I stopped attending mass and wavered between agnosticism and atheism for the next thirty years.
I became a Unitarian Universalist when my children were small and had them attend UU religious education. While a UU I passionately embraced UU’s pluralistic approach to religion because I believed that would lead to greater justice for all of us. Only it didn’t. By declaring man innately good, UU’s deny the existence of sin and fail to acknowledge their own capacity for evil. In the late 1990’s I was cast out for not being 100% in lockstep with them in all things, especially homosexuality. My book, Not of My Making, recounts that experience and the intense, personal distress it caused me.
As I put back the pieces of my shattered life back together I heard my grandmother’s voice over and over in my mind’s ear, Margaret, don’t lose your faith. After reading the writing and biographies of great men like Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Schweitzer and Gandhi, I realized they all believed in God. What did they see that I didn’t?
I gazed up at the stars at night and knew a force greater than human beings created the universe. No person or even group of persons possesses the power or imagination to conceive and create such magnificence and beauty. I remembered when I stood on a mountain top in the Rockies awed by an eagle soaring over the canyon below. Men didn’t create that either. So maybe, just maybe, there was a force and a power that my puny, little mind could not fathom.
As my anger over a lifetime of abuse and neglect subsided, I sought God and He answered. He had been there all the time. It was I who abandoned Him and not He who abandoned me. Seeking shelter in the shadows of God’s wings, I was healed and found joy.