I am a “portion of God made manifest.”
This snippet of a quotation by Unity writer H. Emilie Cady has given me joy and strength for many years now. The idea that I was any part of anything divine was foreign to me for much of my life.
Growing up gay in the Deep South and coming of age in the ’70s, I was immersed in the theology of sin-fall-redemption of traditional Christianity.
My first time in seminary was a gut-wrenching exercise in self-loathing, shame, and guilt.
My inevitable crisis of faith was like a tsunami of anger and darkness. If God could not love me as I was created, then for me there was no God. I was closeted until my 20s, and I came out with abandon, dismissing religion from my life and rarely looking back. My career and clubs (dancing, drinking, and drugs) took center stage in my life. I found all of my self-worth in a job well done and quickly self-medicated anything approaching a painful feeling. This roller coaster seemed to work well for two decades, only occasionally jumping the tracks.
In 1999 the bottom of the barrel found me homeless in New York City, strung out and lost, at the end of my long ride.
Early one morning, sitting on a park bench, the thought, There must be more than this, entered my mind.
I knew I had to get a grip and make some changes if I wanted to live. I moved to Florida, staying with my little brother and his family. The next two years were a lonely struggle … getting work after years of self-destructive behavior, drying myself out, beginning to put myself back together.
It was 2001 when I first visited a Unity church, Unity of Panama City, Florida.
I was stunned and overwhelmed by the love, acceptance, and joy I found there. It was palpable ... in the energy, in the people, in the minister’s message. God is Good. Your essence is of God, therefore you are inherently Good. You're not fallen, sinful, broken, but spiraling upward ... an expression of God made manifest. I began to study Unity and New Thought teachings and theology. I joyfully joined the choir, became a chaplain, and soon was on the board of this spiritual community.
Now ... years later, I am an ordained Unity minister and serve as director of outreach and events at Unity Village. I share, as widely as possible, the same message that I heard my first Sunday in Unity. One Presence, One Power, God the Good ... and you are a portion of God made manifest. It is a message that many in our world desperately long (and need) to hear. And it is a message that I continue to study and try to embody ... I am a portion of God made manifest.
My “why” is actually pretty simple.
Unity gave me the tools and teachings to lift myself from a long cycle of addiction and self-loathing.
Through meditation, affirmations, and denials, and the power of affirmative prayer, I was empowered to do my own inner work.
My Unity church offered me a vibrant environment of love, inclusion, and possibility in which to do that work. I want to be a part of doing just that—for anyone who needs and desires that same love, that same message. My work at Unity is not just a job. It is my vocation, a call to “come up higher” in service to our world. That’s my "why" …