Tuesday, October 22, 2013

“I realized that I found something progressive”

Eighteen-year-old Sasha shares her journey in finding the Bahai Faith, in her own words.
I remember the stubby young girl who’d carry her bible with her everywhere. Even school. That wide-eyed young girl who passionately proclaimed Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Savior. I also remember when that changed. I remember that young teenage girl who read her Quran whereever she could. Even school. This girl had no problem giving praise to her one and only Creator, Allah, ever since the words of her grandfather changed her beliefs forever. “Why would you worship creation instead of the Creator?” He asked her. And then I remember being lost. I remember not being able to believe any religion and having the piercing of hell fire overcome me. The fear that that choosing no religion would damn me. All because of with what I had already encountered, my heart just wouldn't agree.
I grew up being surrounded by 3 major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Catholicism. Ha, you’d figure that I’d resonate with at least one of them, right? That’s what I thought as well. After eventually realizing that Islam nor Christianity was for me,- Catholicism was never really in the running- I remained religionless through most of high school, deciding that I didn’t need one of those 3 religions to keep my faith in God. But that changed drastically during my senior year. Frighteningly, I found that at times my faith would slip between my fingers and I found it hard to keep believing. My tumultuous family background did nothing to help this matter either. I got to the point of breaking down in February of this year. Eating was a difficulty, and schoolwork became a burden. “How can I worry about this paper when I should be worrying about my soul?” Needless to say, death terrified me.
Thankfully, the extremities of these feelings began to subside as the year went on, and I was able to focus again; I simply went back to my normal thinking, believing in God even without a religion. But then, something amazing happened.
I was a Student Teaching Assistant for a 9th grade English class, and one day I lead a group discussion with half of the class. During the discussion, 3 of my more, em, lively, students joking brought up a “super religion” as they called it, catching my ears immediately. I asked them what it was called, and it was none other than the Baha’i Faith. That same day I went to a Starbucks (I suppose I was feeling a latte of some sorts, haha), consulted the ever-reliable Wikipedia, and devoured its article on the Faith. It was almost hard to believe that a religion like this existed, I even wondered “So where’s the catch??”. But I found none. Instead, I found something that made absolute sense.
I realized that I found something progressive in all of its ideas; the complete unity of humanity, equality for all, value of education and inquiry, the validity of previous religions and science, being positive and active members in our communities - there’s so much more. One thing that I found extremely importantly is the idea that God never leaves us. The idea that He will not do the work for us, but will instead give us the guidance to help us help ourselves. The fact that the religion really surrounds us seeking God because we want to. We seek Him not out of fear of hell, but because we desire His love. That is perhaps the most beautiful thing that I have ever encountered, and with that I found home. I eventually made contact with Bahá’ís in my hometown, finding not only a warm and loving environment, but also great great role models. The Baha’is that I met had all been a part of the faith for at least 10 years and eloquently had extended their knowledge to me and answered any question that I had. Unfortunately, I had to leave that wonderful community behind when it was time for me to reach the next destination point, college.
That brings me to now. I’m a current freshman in college . . . and I’m still trying to incorporate the Faith into my everyday life. But I always remain optimistic. If there’s anything that I always have and always will believe is that God makes things happen for reasons, and those reasons will either be revealed to me, or they won’t. Regardless, God has put me through all of those trials and eventually brought me to the faith that I have been looking for. He’s been so amazing to me! And for that, I give my thanks to Him. I choose to follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, and I choose to try my very best. The best part is that I’m completely happy. I’m happy that I’ve found my true path to God. It’s the piece that’s been missing to this puzzle that is my whole.
Sasha is now an enrolled member of the Bahai Faith, and the local community is reaching out to her.

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