2013 was a year of great loss for me. Not only did I lose my father, but I also lost both grandmothers (within 24 hours of each other), a client, and a beloved pet. Yet the hardest hit by far was losing my connection to God.

I maintained all the same beliefs, but I could no longer feel those beliefs. My practice had become empty. Rituals that had formerly given me comfort and clarity now felt as routine as common house chores. In addition, my life felt like a chore. I was going through the motions, wondering why I felt so lost.

A Revelation

A couple of years later, Unity called to me like a beacon in the night. I was driving around Lee’s Summit, Missouri, one evening—just trying to clear my head—when I saw the Unity Tower lights against the dark sky. I had heard of Unity but didn’t know much about it. I decided to do a little research, and shortly after that I applied for a graphic design position there. When I got the job offer, I accepted.

I soon began to see commonalities between my personal flavor of spirituality and Unity beliefs. I believed God was omnipresent; Unity reminded me that omnipresent meant God was within me too. I believed that I could manifest my intentions by burning special candles; Unity taught that I could manifest by speaking affirmations. But it wasn’t until I watched our media team’s video on Lent that I realized how special Unity is.

In the video, Rev. Jesse Tanner, Ph.D., talked about self-reflection practices and offered the radical idea of giving up God for Lent because “what is more meaningful and more precious than God?” I can’t pinpoint what exactly about this revelation hit me so hard, but it made me feel something.

After I finished watching the video, I went to my supervisor, mentor, and dear friend Rev. Jacquie Fernández and uttered six words I never thought I would say: “I’m thinking about becoming a minister.”

Years went by. I took a handful of prerequisite classes and decided I must have been wrong about ministry but continued to grow at Unity. My career transitioned from graphic designer at Unity Worldwide Ministries to creative manager at Unity World Headquarters. I experienced more loss; my mother-in-law and father-in-law transitioned, and I discovered that I had fertility issues. But I also experienced great blessings. When my amazing spouse Cydney gave birth to our child in 2020, I had the opportunity to become a mother. I slowly began to heal mentally and emotionally. Cydney and I joined a Unity church and asked Jacquie to christen our daughter.

I soon began to see commonalities between my personal flavor of spirituality and Unity beliefs.

Set My Spirit Free

Last June, I attended Liberating Your Divine Identity (a retreat for the LGBTQIA+ community) at Unity Village. In just two days, I felt healed from decades of trauma. During one of the breaks, while talking to Jacquie, the subject of ministry popped up. To be clear, I was the one who had previously decided that ministry was not for me. Divine order had other plans. During the intervening years, I had dodged and ducked every sign and symbol God threw at me trying to tell me otherwise. This conversation with Jacquie was by far the loudest, most deafening call yet, and it was a call I could not say no to. I committed to returning to my prerequisite courses and to then formally applying to the ministerial program in the fall.

At the end of the retreat session following that fateful discussion, we were asked to sing John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” but we altered the line “saved a wretch like me” to “set my spirit free.” Although I’d heard (and sung) this song since childhood, this time it sounded different—and it wasn’t just because we tweaked the lyrics. A flood of different emotions washed over me. For the first time, I truly felt the words that I was singing, and I know within my entire being that I will forever feel them. I once was lost, but now I’m found.

This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.

About the Author

Laura Carl is a creative manager at Unity World Headquarters. Her design work for Unity Magazine has won two Folio: Ozzie Awards, while her digital art has appeared in the gift shop of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the 2018 “F the Art World” exhibition in New York City.


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