By Tonje Hagen
(You can find Part I of this article here.)
A Muslim Friend
In November of 2011 I had a “moment of frustration”. It was the last year of high school. My best friend in class, a wonderful Albanian Muslim, was very happy and certain about her own religion and wanted to know where I was regarding mine. I didn’t really like discussing religion, but alhamdulillah my lack of interest didn’t make her give up on me.
An Honest But Uncertain Answer
Some of her questions were: Do you believe in the Trinity? How does it work? What does the Bible say about it? Of course I believed in the Trinity— but I had no idea what the Bible said! So I started reading the Bible. Eventually I also started going to church on Sundays. Ironically, my Muslim friend was making me a better Christian.
The question that stirred me the most was: Do you think you’ll be a Christian for the rest of your life? Before answering I realized that the “right” answer for me, as a Christian, would be, yes, of course!
But at that moment I chose to be honest with myself, and with my friend; I said, “Yes, I think so.” The uncertainty of my answer was probably much clearer to me than to her. When I said “think,” I was open to the possibility that change of religion could happen if I learned of something that made more sense and that gave me peace of heart.
What I was really saying was: I don’t know. And my little “moment of frustration” had a lot to do with this. I didn’t really know what was right or who God was and I was feeling very bad no matter what I thought— because I knew I was surely wronging the true God.
Sincere Prayer to the One
Then December came with its waiting period, joy, gifts, food and Christmas celebration. I enjoyed parts of it, but mostly it was a month of confusion and frustration. And my confusion and desire to understand reached its peak on a snowy day between Christmas Day and New Years Eve. In the evening I went out by myself. And I talked – to the One who could hear me. I was pouring out my heart, telling about everything that was troubling me, all my worries, my confusion. Finally I said the most sincere and honest words I’ve had ever uttered: “Oh God, forgive me. Please, forgive me! Forgive me for not understanding how incredibly great and powerful You are. Please, help me understand!”
Allah (swt) says: I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. [Quran 2:186]
My Turning Point
A few days into the New Year, 11.1.11, I watched a video of two American converts to Islam discussing the topic “Do Muslims Follow Jesus Christ More Than Christians Do?” My Muslim friend suggested it for me. I had no idea what to expect but I decided to watch it with an open mind.
It was one hour and it changed my life completely. I was shocked by all the new information they were serving me, both about Muslims and the Bible, which they explained in a very friendly, careful way. Most importantly they said something like, “Don’t believe us. Islam doesn’t call you to follow anyone blindly. Just read the Quran, look at the evidences and choose for yourself.”
Up until that day I’d imagined that to know and understand God I had to read the Bible. But after this very informative and interesting video I set a new goal for myself: to find the Truth— if there was any— and to follow it.
Walking Through the Storms of Confusion
In the next few days I felt like my world had been turned completely upside-down. I’d never felt more lost and confused before! Everything I’d believed up until that moment was shattered into pieces.
I had absolutely no idea what this world was or what to believe. It felt like I was walking on shaking ground. There was a storm going on inside me. Nothing was certain anymore.
For this reason, the following verse has always made me emotional and grateful: And He found you lost and guided [you]. [Quran 93:7]
(To be continued . . .)