FALMOUTH — A few months ago, a friend and I were robbed at gunpoint in Portland as we walked from a fundraiser at a restaurant to my car parked two blocks away.

We gave the men our bags; they ran off down a side street. There were some small mentions in the news and the police followed up, but the men were never found.

I understand objectively that the men who did this were likely motivated by addiction, or poverty, or other co-occurring conditions. Even months later, however, I am still shaken. I feel anxious walking to my car at night in the city, and I am more strident in gun control conversations. I am still processing what occurred, and likely will be for some time.

But I am OK. I am grateful that we were unharmed and that only stuff was taken. I am here. Here to raise my children, love my husband, do my work, enjoy my friends and live my life.

I am a doer, a fixer, a problem-solver, a planner. Someone might accuse me of being a little Type A, and he or she might be right. But the surprising gift of this sad and scary experience is that it’s OK to let yourself be taken care of. It’s OK to stop and say: “That was frightening, and a first-time experience, and I’m feeling not quite myself.” And my husband and friends and family have supported me and allowed me to do that.

I’ve learned that lesson in our church as well. Our church is a place where you can bring the raw and the painful, the things that scare you, and you can offer them up to God and this community of people, either silently or out loud, and know that your load is a little lighter, or that you have the strength to carry the load.

We do this in our Sunday service every week, when we share our concerns, when we care about the local and the global. I’ve come to this church with my children since they were newborns – in utero, actually – and one of the things I hope they learn from this church is that they are not alone. There’s nothing they can experience where God is not by their side, and they always have a safe place to bring their fears and worries.

Life always has two or more sides to it, and while we all experience pain and fear, we also have joy and love. This church is a place where those are celebrated as well. We share joys, we listen to celebratory music, we affirm good works in our town and around the world. In fact, we do good works in our town and around the world.

I believe that life is about choices. The big choices like who we marry, the work we do, our faith. But it’s also about the small, daily choices – how we live our lives every day, how we treat those we love, how we conduct ourselves in the world. With these choices, are we doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God? These choices knit together to make up the fabric of a life.

I choose to be in this faith community in part because it allows for the dark and the light to be a part of our service every week and a part of our lives. It permits fear and uncertainty. It allows me to have both light and dark in my life, and to be on a journey of faith. Not to have all of the answers at any given time, but to be on a path.

I hope that’s something else that my children take from their time in our church – that a full life and faith is a journey. There’s no set destination or admission price, but finding a community of people who also are seeking can be key.

Thank you for being that for me, and for my family. For allowing us to be here when we’re feeling vulnerable and a bit scared, and when we are strong and have something to give.

And on the flip side, thanks for allowing us to do that for you in return. That seems to me like the best, and most surprising, gift of all.

— Special to the Press Herald