By Rev. Anna Blaedel
In Making a Way Out of No Way, Monica Coleman describes functional theology as theology that works for us at our most crucial moments, the kind of rock-bottom faith we can cling to at two o’clock in the morning when we can’t sleep. What beliefs nourish you, when you need it most? What truths do you know down deep in your bones? There are five truths that ground me in crucial moments, that help me find my way when I need to find my way.
You are loved. You are loved, just as you are. You are lovable, just as you are. You are worthy of love, just as you are. You are loved, you are enough, you are beautiful. You are beautiful in body, and in spirit. You are beautiful to God. You are beloved by God. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are not worth your time. Your belovedness reaches to your core, it is written into your DNA. Nothing you do or have done to you can take your belovedness away. Share this love. Bask in this love. Rest in it. Show up for love. Self love. Community love. Romantic love. Friendship love. Creaturely love. Justice love. Live out of this belovedness. And, remind others of their belovedness. It can be hard to remember. There are a lot of forces at work trying to convince you otherwise. But. Remember, you are loved.
You can do hard things. To get to this point, you have done hard things. Putting love into action can be hard. Being vulnerable and letting others in can be hard. Sharing your story and living your truth can be hard. Being in community can be hard. Seeking justice can be hard. Calling your representatives can be hard. Getting or staying sober can be hard. Most things that really matter are hard. Remember, you can do hard things. Show up for one another. Persist in what matters. Speak out. Organize. Listen deeply. Reach out. Ask hard questions. Confront hard truths. Push through fear. Remember that the word courage comes from the word coeur, heart. Take heart. If it is heart work, it is hard work. Remember, you can do hard things.
You are not alone. Even at your loneliest, you are not alone. You are held in God’s heart. Take heart, together. Someone cares about you more than you know. Remember the Ubuntu wisdom: “I am because we are.” We are held in a collectivity. We are in this together. Reach out to others when you feel alone. Reach out to others who feel alone. When you feel most alone, someone else is feeling really alone, too. Find them, and connect. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your celebration. You are not alone in your struggle. Remember, you are not alone.
We need each other. We are interconnected. Cellularly, and socially, and systemically. Our lives and our futures and our hopes are bound up in each other. Remember King’s letter, written while he was imprisoned: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Draw connections between different systems of oppression. Pay attention to intersections. White people, fight like hell against white supremacy and systemic racism and racialized violence as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Citizens, fight like hell against deportations and anti-immigrant fear as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Cisgender folk, fight like hell against transphobia as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Straight folk, fight like hell against homophobia and biphobia as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Men, fight like hell against sexism and misogyny as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Christians and atheists, fight like hell against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and religious persecution as though y/our own lives depend upon it. Whatever power and privilege you hold and have inherited, use it. Fight like hell against ableism. Fight like hell against climate change, and ecological devastation. Fight like hell against corporate abuse. Fight like hell against imperialism, colonialism, militarism. Because y’all, our collective life depends upon it. Remember, we need each other.
Follow joy. Wonder. Beauty. Gladness. That which makes you feel most alive. Music. Activism. Community. Gathering together. Growing food. Cooking food. Sharing food. Art. Science. Writing. Dancing. Laughing. Silence. Getting your hands dirty. Whatever it is that makes you feel most alive, make time for it, make sure you do it. Howard Thurman, that great educator, philosopher, theologian, and activist wrote, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” This joyful aliveness sustains us, in and through it all. Remember, to follow joy.