I am new to the forum and this is my very first post. Rather than introducing myself in a short but sweet thread, I’d rather tell you why I am here. I am a recently confirmed Catholic (just confirmed last Easter…YAY!). BUT…I’ve had a very interesting life. And I’m only in my mid twenties I will try to keep this as short as possible, but there is a lot I’ve been holding in and I need to share it with someone.
I was raised by liberal, hardworking parents. My mom was raised in a devout Catholic household and my dad was raised Russian Orthodox. I was free to explore other religions and cultures, and I did just that.
When I was 12 I was baptized in a non-denominational Christian church. After being baptized, I was soon traumatized by some horrible things at sleep away Christian camp that summer. We were told that Muslims were stupid and going to hell. One of the bible study leaders who I really liked threw the Book of Mormon on the floor and said it was a book of lies. The entire chapel applauded. I felt so confused - how could God allow entire countries who had never even heard of Jesus to go to hell? And how could there be so many different versions of the Bible? I thought my head would explode.
I swore off religion. When I was 15, I stumbled across the Baha’i Faith. I thought I had found what I had been looking for my whole life! It made so much sense that all religions were created equal, all religions preached the same values, that Baha’u’llah was a manifestation of God, that he was the return of Jesus. It all made sense to me. I made new friends, I “declared” my faith and enjoyed discussion groups I attended.
As soon as I became an adult, I felt pressure from Baha’i communities. I also felt a level of judgment. Ironically, I attended a Catholic university, and there were no Baha’is at my college. I was alone and isolated at school, and I sort of felt like an outsider with the Baha’is. I never “measured up.” I felt pressured to teach children’s classes at a cluster meeting, a commitment I was not ready to make. I also felt much pressure to pioneer, because everyone else who had come from a Baha’i family was doing it. Though the religion spoke highly of racial unity, I felt because I wasn’t Persian and wasn’t raised Baha’i that I was on the outside looking in.
One thing I really did not ever want to participate in was door-to-door teaching. Coming from a Christian background, I had no desire to walk up to people and just start telling them about my religion. I did not like it when Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my doorstep to give me a copy of The Watchtower. I felt like the teaching projects the local Baha’i communities were promoting were doing the exact same thing. I did not want to go to a strange community in the ghetto and start teaching their children virtues classes every week. I did not feel like it was my place.
I also had Baha’i friend who rubbed me the wrong way when I met her, but I gave her a chance anyway. I should have listened to my intuition. She judged others harshly based on how they lived their lives, and I always felt like I was judged by her because of how my life was going at the time. This friend connected me with another Baha’i who was looking for a roommate. I moved in with this other Baha’i, and it ended up being a nightmare! The person was the most condescending and mean-spirited person I had ever met. Luckily, the person moved out a few months later. I had no desire to make small talk with the community about what was going on in my life. I grew inactive because of the watchful eyes of the community.
Fast forward a few years…I had a nasty breakup. I was so utterly heartbroken, and I was literally out of ideas. My mother half-joked that perhaps I should go to church, and I shrugged off the suggestion. I hadn’t been to church since I was 13. There was nothing church could do for me now! But I was out of ideas on how to heal…Okay, God. I said. I get it. NOW I will go to church.
I dressed up and went to this new, modern day church that rented out a space at a school. It was very cool: lights, a band, microphones, projectors, and a welcome video at the beginning of the sermons. They gave away mugs to first time visitors.
Long story shot, I cried in the darkness of the church. I heard the music. I prayed. I sang along a little. I felt the sadness in my heart from what I was going through, and I asked God if he could hear me now. I asked if God could please heal my broken heart. What I learned was that I desperately needed an outlet; a place to almost be anonymous. A place to sit and to cry and pray. I needed to privately request prayers. Because Baha’i communities are so small, everyone knows each other. Most meetings are at each other’s homes or small Baha’i centers. My healing would not have taken place in that environment, with their eyes on me. I could not have listened to the bountiful music in prayerful gratitude the way I did in church.
I continued to go to this church for a little while. Despite the modern approach to religion, I strayed away. In my heart, I knew I would not become a member of that church. This is mainly because I left my nondenominational church so many years before as a youngster. It’s totally okay to have a hip, colorful church with loud music, I knew that on a spiritual level I was looking for something different. I wanted the consistency. I much preferred the peacefulness of the Catholic church mass. Since it was deeply rooted in my family history, I wanted to continue along that path. When I attend mass, I have a deep feeling of completion. When I experience Eucharist, I feel genuine happiness. I wanted to get confirmed (finally) because I want to get married in the Catholic church eventually. It would mean a lot to my family, and to myself.