- Posted February 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
One who submits to God
Many years later I began searching to fill the emptiness that I felt in my heart. Life just seemed meaningless, mundane and hopeless. All I could see was working until I retired, then trying to fill my days with something to do and then dying. This scenario was just so depressing. I returned to a local church invited by my neighbor but during the course of a church hosted dinner, the pastor inquired as to my marital state and whereupon finding I was divorced, he immediately quit speaking to me. I left the dinner and decided that I could not accept this type of treatment. It seemed that church or religion had turned its back on me. However, I was pretty sure God hadn't turned away and I would soon find that to be true.
When I met my husband, I was at first skeptical about meeting him as he was Muslim and I was Christian but I wanted a relationship where both people believed there was a God. I absolutely did not want to defend my beliefs again to my spouse. So thinking that any religion where you believe in God was a step above no religion, I seemed to be heading in the right direction and we met for lunch. We hit it off and he had all kinds of questions about Christianity. I was surprised at his curiosity and knowledge of Christianity and became even more surprised when I could not answer them. I really did not know my own religion. I realized also that I could not even relate Jesus' message to Safwan as I really did not understand it. Despite years of going to church and all of the other activities, I could not completely answer any of his questions. When my family became angry about my dating a Muslim, I found myself in a position defending Islam to them but I had no idea what the Quran even said. Suddenly I found myself in the unenviable position of trying to explain one religion and defend another and I had no good grasp about either one. I asked my then boyfriend to get me an English copy of the Quran and I read the entire thing. What I did not expect to happen was that I found so much in the Quran that I knew from the Bible. I was literally speechless. I then went and reread the Old and New Testaments, consulting numerous versions. The richness and complexity of the Bible also left me speechless. There was so much in my religion that I never knew and I suspect after talking to others and reading numerous websites about all religions, this may be true across the entire spectrum of religion. I do not think you get a total grasp and understanding of God and his message without some serious study. I reread the Quran and I was hooked. For me at that point, my religion was perfected but not yet practiced and fulfilled. My religious moment, which unknowingly started the day I met Safwan, was on its way.
I and my husband Safwan would spend many hours discussing, reading, and studying the Bible and the Quran. We spent hours talking to people, watching documentaries and researching other Biblical literature. It was a spiritually rewarding adventure. Safwan underwent a difficult heart surgery and this is when I began to see the religious moment occur. My Christian family forgot their opposition to my Muslim husband. They rallied around to support me however they could. My father, who had at one time told me that the next time he would see me would be when we both stood in front of God, listened as I told him about Safwan’s prognosis as he provided comfort for me. The hard, hurtful words they had uttered to me about my choice in a partner were buried, forgotten and forgiven. Family relationships had begun to heal. Three weeks, after his surgery, I was reunited with high school classmates with whom I had not heard from in 30 years.
I saw, on that warm June evening of my high school reunion, a fulfillment in my life of what the Quran and Jesus spoke about. God is not found in so called religion. Religion is just how one worships God. God is found in our relationships, of all types. Jesus makes that quite clear. He tells us that we are to love God with all that we have but the next two commandments he tells us concern our relationships with others. Love our neighbors, including our enemies and treat others as we wish to be treated. Very powerful and very difficult but extremely rewarding. When I came home from my reunion, I told my husband that I saw God in action that night as I reconnected with old friends and witnessed old wounds beginning to heal. I knew then that one online dating profile had been left up for a reason and it was to find Safwan. That one seemingly "accidental" act on my part had wonderful consequences. Without finding him, none of this would have occurred. If he had not questioned me about Christianity and exposed my lack of true belief, if my family had not given me such a difficult time over my choices, if I had not read the Quran and Bible studying both at once, I would not now have a complete heart and life and a secure, deep faith.
When was my defining religious moment? In hindsight, it was New Year's Eve 2010 when I decided I needed to go to sleep and would leave up that one online dating profile. Do I believe that God is real? Yes. Have I seen Him work? Yes, in more than one instance. Do I submit myself to God? Yes, by choice and that fact alone makes me muslim, one who submits to God.