I decided to believe in God, as I decided most things, looking logically at the question from the two sides I was familiar with. My mother had told me that, as a Unitarian Universalist, it was entirely my choice. She said it as though it was some special treat. But I can tell you that at the age of four or five I was unimpressed. I would have preferred to be told what the rest of my family believed and just trusted that they knew best. As it was I couldn’t help thinking this was one more puzzle that I was likely to be made fun of for getting wrong.
Many days later, sitting on my tricycle, watching tree leaves dance in the wind as the sunlight changed them from light to dark, I remembered the question. Did I want to believe in God? First I considered the educated people I’d seen on television asking “If God exists, why is there so much misery in the world. How could God let so much evil happen?” I thought this would be the more defensible position and less likely to bring me ridicule.
But as I considered my life as a non-believer, only putting trust in facts and figures and that which can be solidly proven, I felt a coldness sweep over me. All the terrible things that happened in the world suddenly seemed more terrible because they happened without reason. Looking around at the world the colors seemed faded and all was grainy and grim. I wondered why was I alive at all, knowing there could be no answer. Without faith in something more, something greater, a great emptiness threatened to overwhelm me.
Soberly I returned to remembering the people on television who said they believed in God. “God works in mysterious ways,” they said. “Everything happens for a reason,” they insisted. I had thought they sounded weak and scared, but I wanted to be fair. I took a moment to imagine what if I believed there were reasons for everything bad that happened. I looked at my own life. I struggled with speaking, talking was painful to me. What if someday I could use my knowledge of that pain to help some one else?
That was when it happened, a moment I will never forget. I had a waking vision of a little girl who desperately needed to speak but couldn’t. The adult me appeared beside her, helped her and heard her.
As I inadvertently made my covenant, a warmth spread through my heart. The colors of the world returned more brilliant, as all my senses were heightened. I knew then that I could say I believed simply because it felt right.
That was the moment I promised God that I would believe and in return I asked God to give me the opportunity to help others who, like me, struggled to find the words and the courage to speak. I had no idea at the time even what a covenant was nor the immensity of the one I had made. From babies and autistics, animals and the dead, I’ve come to realize there are many more beings who need help to be heard than I had any idea existed. I was just a little girl who wanted to save the world.