Hubby and I are both Bahá’í, and we will raise Rowenna in the faith, but the rest of my family is Christian. So, how did I become Bahá’í?
I was raised Catholic, in an extended family of people who practice other forms of Christianity. I had excellent faith models growing up, people at various stages of their faith journeys, at various levels of devotion.
But it never sat well with me. I could see the peace it brought to my family and the light in their hearts. I just never felt that way, never felt at home in Christianity. After going through almost the entire Confirmation process I decided not to go through with the final step and actually become confirmed in the Catholic church. My parents asked me to write a letter to the archbishop explaining why, so I did. Never heard back from him (didn’t really expect a reply) and so I moved on, moved to college. My parents didn’t talk about it much, but I always felt like I let them down. They truly live their faith and I know it was hard to see their daughter reject it.
In college, I met a student who just radiated peace. I had had an incredibly tumultuous adolescence, and at the tail end of all that crazy, I was craving a little calm in my life. He and I got to talking and he told me about the Bahá’í faith. I dove into fact-finding mode, as I often do when presented with something brand new, and the more I learned, the more I realized the faith spoke to what was already in my heart.
But I didn’t do anything with it. I was afraid to make that kind of change. I was terrified it would irreparably change my relationship with my family. So I spent the next few years not doing much of anything on the religion front but the light of the Bahá’í faith flickered in the back of my mind.
My senior year I met another student who reminded me so much of that first student I asked him right away if he was Bahá’í. Turned out he was, and we got to talking. My last semester of college I attended a weekly study group and a weekly dinner comprised of Bahá’í students and seekers. (Seekers are people who are aware of their spiritual nature and journey, and usually looking at the Bahá’í faith as a vehicle for progressing on that journey.) These fellow students absolutely radiated light; they were patient and kind and full of love. They answered my questions and lent me books to read. They became friends for life. I could feel that light flickering in the back of my mind building and building, a glow growing into a beautiful light that flooded my heart whenever I opened a book of writings or prayed or spoke with my new friends about the faith.
After graduation, I continued to read and pray. I went on to a semester of student teaching. During that time I learned that the teacher next door was Bahá’í, and one day after school, the day I after I had had the most incredibly vivid dream about becoming Bahá’í, I went into her classroom and burst into tears. I wanted to be Bahá’í so badly, I knew it was time. My heart was full, bursting to be part of this faith, counted among the believers.
So she took me home with her that night to meet her husband, also Bahá’í. We spoke for a long time about what it meant to live this life, the things that would change, the challenges ahead. We spoke about my fears and how worried I was that I would lose my family. In the end, I knew this was simply the right thing for me, regardless of the fall-out. So I signed my declaration card, cried a lot of happy tears, and went out to dinner with my new Bahá’í family.
I consider declaring (what we call it when someone formally becomes Bahá’í) the first adult decision I ever made, and one of the best.
I didn’t lose my family, though I do feel there is a tiny wedge there, especially on the Christian holidays we still celebrate together. I’m not sure they fully understand my choice and I’m not sure they ever will. I do know that they see that I am safe, happy, and fulfilled in my faith, and while I know we will never share a feast or a fast, I take great peace in knowing they know I am ok.
I am so very glad I found this faith.