By: Carolyn Erazo
I’ll tell you how I started my journey of seeking God’s love. I’ll start by saying that I am the epitome of an all American girl. I was raised within a Christian family and it’s Christianity I was taught. I can clearly remember my years growing up wishing I wasn’t forced to go to church. I would attempt to purposely lose my Sunday shoes just hoping to be able to stay home. Ultimately shoes or not I had to go and I was never happy about it. I think back to my thoughts as I sat in Sunday school, and how I never quite believed what I was being taught.
So many inconsistencies left me with no desire to find out what faith really was. How can you believe the unknown? Did things really happen like that or was the Bible just another book of stories on my bookshelf?
Years later I attended a church retreat and it was there that I initially sought the desire to find that faith. My childhood was tough fitting in and being accepted was a luxury I never had. I wanted what most people take for granted and it was about time I accepted that I wasn’t going to get it.
On the last day of the retreat I walked down a big hill to get to the beach and I sat watching the water. My heart was open I wanted so badly for God to reach down and touch me with his grace and glory. I wanted to fit in and be accepted, and I had come to believe He was the One that could do it.
It was late October and sitting by the water was a little chilly but I continued to sit and in my mind I yelled for God to help me. I remember that’s the very first day I changed. I was no longer looking for faith I knew I wouldn’t find it. God had forgotten about me I clearly wasn’t as important as the others participating in the retreat.
It was then that I noticed the warm tears streaming down my face. I gave up on God. If He forgot about me I was going to forget about Him.
As the years progressed I lived my life in that way having no beliefs and absolutely no faith. I sought answers for the trials and tribulations I was enduring. I found nothing and with each question I became more angry knowing the answers would never come.
Seeking “True” Love
It was late February four years ago that I attended a funeral and it was there that my heart reopened. I watched a mother speak after unexpectedly losing her son.
I sat in the back of the funeral home and I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. Why and how does she love God so much as she speaks of her son with smiles instead of sorrow?
She found joy in the fact that her son was with God and I couldn’t understand it. I looked at her almost envious of her faith and I said to myself I want what she has! That day I couldn’t keep that image from my mind. I knew what I had to do- if I wanted to yet again seek God’s love.
This is what consumed me for weeks until I decided I needed a journey of faith. I couldn’t just seek reasons…I needed to seek God and with that my questions might be answered. Of course I insisted to start my journey in Christianity it’s how I was raised and maybe now as an adult those inconsistencies wouldn’t be noticed.
I sat at church every Sunday for weeks listelovening to every word spoken. Give me something to hold on to I thought. Just a little spark to allow my faith to burn within me. Still nothing and after months I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t call it a journey if I didn’t broaden my search.
Courage to Begin the Journey
It was a Wednesday morning and I woke up very early to find a mosque I had searched for the night before. I began to drive there but couldn’t find it. I was so upset why was it so difficult to find even with an address. My emotions were everywhere. I was angry I hadn’t found it, I was sad because I really wanted to, and I was worried my useless venture was going to make me pointlessly late for work. I just had to give up. Maybe another day I thought.
I began to cry out of frustration and the thought of being late so I called my boss and advised him of my circumstances. His response was actually amazing.
“Don’t worry my friend I’m almost at the office. I know that place well I’ll help you find it.”
And he did just that too. He somehow led me right to it and I couldn’t have been happier.
My first thought was that I already knew I wasn’t Muslim. Those people are crazy was definitely my second. Look what they’ve done. Thousands of people died all because of their crazy beliefs.
I actually didn’t understand my happiness to find the mosque. I guess just a place in my journey I had to investigate. I’d never be able to rule it out until I heard the craziness for myself. Before getting off the phone with my boss I jokingly said, “What if they throw me in the basement and sell me to a third world country?” My boss laughed at my ridiculous thoughts and I laughed with him and said I was kidding. But deep down my fear was sincere.
I approached the door and as I reached to open it, I feared what I would see. I was there and I wasn’t turning back. I had to rule this crazy Islamic religion off my list and figured it would take minutes to do so. A man approached me as I stood in the entrance way asking for the Imam. I was told he wasn’t there but would be and he would have him contact me. I jotted down my number and hurried out of there. I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure I’d get a call but also didn’t know if I wanted one either.
Before leaving, the man I spoke with said, “His name is `Abdul Lateef”. Now all I could think about was him calling. Did I really want to talk to someone so different from me? How would he understand me and how will I understand him?
It was less than two hours later and I couldn’t believe that he called.
Those fears where immediately abolished when the man on the other end of the phone spoke as I had. I instantly knew: who better to explain this disturbing inhumane religion? I expected nothing but to solidify, in his words, that it was exactly what I had always heard it to be. I just wanted to remove it from the list.
He immediately invited me to come and meet with him that night. I expected fifteen minutes and I’d either be running out worried it was a terrorist organization or my initial fear of the being locked in the basement. My thoughts were racing and I didn’t know how to stop them.
I walked in and stood in the entrance way. I immediately reached out my hand to shake his as I introduced myself. He quickly apologized and explained to me the reasons for it. I remember that clearly, I guess it literally was the first thing that impressed me. I got to tell you though. I wanted to kill my boss for not telling me about that.
He invited me to sit and ask him all the questions I had. I started with the fact that I was on a religious journey and that I was seeking enough truth to make me believe. I started to explain my reasoning for failing to see Christianity as truth which led me to explain my examples of the inconsistencies that I couldn’t over look. He didn’t speak much he let the questions just pour from mind to my mouth. With each question he answered quickly and to the point yet as each one was answered I began to notice they just seemed right. My questions were finally being answered.
How can this man know so much and why do I believe him. As weird as it was I couldn’t answer my own question. He gave me in such a short time reason to believe. Almost two hours had past and I was still bombarding him for more answers. I wanted to be sure that I took what I needed from the conversation to be able to cross Islam right off my list. As I got up and headed to the door he said “Thank you sister for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I hope when you leave here you’ll either know why you are or why you aren’t Muslim.”
I thought about those words all night, actually for over a week. Those words were profound and relentlessly consumed my thoughts. I needed to know more. I had more inconsistencies that I sought answers for. Three more days passed and oddly enough he called me. It was like he knew I was seeking more answers and he spent over an hour giving me just that. So now I had some questions. But this time they were to myself. Why did I wait to so long to seek a journey of faith and why didn’t I start here.
To be continued…