In the beginning of the last 100 days, all I’d done was search via pinterest a couple of Bible verses. It started off with just once a week or so, but I found myself daily searching and saving pictures. Most of the time I’d save them so that I’d have some with me while I run out of phone data… from pinteresting too much.
One incident that happened was when I was in school and came across a guy who had shared his common cultured way/view on talking with the opposite gender. So being my usual prideful self, I got angry and began yelling at him so that I would “get even.” Oddly the more I got angry and raised my voice, the more I felt like I was being stepped on, humiliated, pitied, or even disregarded by him. I felt like I couldn’t get even in anyway. I viewed him as a guy who is full of himself, and took advantage of whoever could benefit him. So I sought to finally get the best of him. Although whenever I would try, I felt deeply burdened or weak to try and yell back; somehow I felt like I wasn’t strong or brave enough too.
Throughout the last few years, I’d always feel the urge to be viewed better or higher than everyone else, mainly because I felt like I was the most ignored. My greatest problem was that I saw myself as too weak to yell or insult, though everything within me wanted to go and physically get what justice I thought I deserved.
My usual reaction to any issues I came across was to go to the bathroom, calm down or even cry if I feel too defeated. And on top of that I’d spray some self-pity on myself to make the situation much worse.
Five minutes in after soaking in self-pity, anger and helplessness, I thought to check my phone. Probably whoever had been in the bathroom at that time with me thought I was simply crazy because in that moment, I had a fully angered conversation with my phone and in my head whenever I heard someone.
When going through my saved pictures, I saw verses that I never really paid attention too before. For example: Proverbs 29:11 “A fool vents all her feelings. A wise woman holds them back.” But what about getting even? I’m humiliating myself if I don’t talk back to him or prove myself through being enraged. So I disregarded the verse and went to the picture after it: Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” At this point I became frustrated, and angered at my phone rather than the situation. To think of it now, it may have been the common goal, to reevaluate my problems than to be quick to respond.
One of the verses I later found out about was Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It seemed to me that this was exactly what I’d felt while reading those verses. I tried to fight with an inner voice telling me to listen to what’s written but like it said, the fool within me wanted to eat its pray alive. I tried to ignore the words that flooded my mind, and tried to contain my anger, by going to the picture after it. Frankly, I was sure my phone was out to get me because “…Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19.
Somehow I came to a conclusion that getting even wasn’t going to help anyone. I felt defeated, but my heart kept saying it’ll pass, just forgive. At this point it wasn’t a coincidence because the picture after it said to forgive in order to be forgiven.
Having forgot why I began to scan through my phone for, I was busy focusing on what was being implied by the words and my anger slowly began being erased realizing whom it was being demolished by.
Although I’d began with a mini-tantrum, I decided to comply with what my screen kept yelling at me to do. So having put away my phone, I returned to class. I knew he was gloating about whatever it was on his mind at that time, but I felt quite defeated to acknowledge him at this point, thus I didn’t.
I recall that that seemingly small situation wasn’t much to overreact in, though I had a tendency to be angered by the slightest. Habits are hard to break, after having been adapted to them for years. It wasn’t a surprise that rage was easy for me to harness, yet it was the first to be exterminated in the upcoming days.
Later that week, I felt drawn to read more of what these verses had to offer me, but pinterest didn’t satisfy the hunger. Without the context, and the stories that the scripture is based upon, it only was seen as inspirational quotes, with no substance to grasp unto.
I decided to download the bible app and again beginning from Genesis. Still I didn’t feel drawn yet to continue because of the genealogies that bombarded me, but since a few years had passed, I felt like I understood more of what’s being said. Plus I found out that there were clearer translations that don’t include “Thus, shalt, doeth, thou, and so on…”
There was still this lingering thought in my mind that demotivated me to continue reading from genesis; however I was scrolling through videos on YouTube that animated some of the bible chapters.
I felt like I was binge watching a new Netflix series, but biblical. So I would download episodes so that I don’t waste my internet outside, and then go back home and continue watching. Till I reached the New Testament and Jesus’s ministry began. I wasn’t exactly sure who Jesus was aside from seeing little pictures with my Christian friends. But when I watched, I had this sense that I’ve always knew him somehow. My main thought was of how a pity it was to not have known about him much earlier.
As I watched the amount of rejection and the treatment that Jesus came across, I felt like all my issues weren’t to be compared. To point out, I wasn’t sure of the concept of the trinity yet, so I didn’t know how Jesus’ role played in the scripture, but I felt like he related to me on a personal level that grieved me.
I saw that how in midst of great mistreatment, he preached things that I’d never heard before. Verses like Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Why have people been hiding these words from me for my entire life? I couldn’t imagine how many situations could have been completely changed by one simple action that I didn’t understand: Love. I used to hear small sayings quoted from Islam, but none with substance or emotion to draw from them. (I was always told about this story of how a Jewish woman, who had hated Muhammad, had always left trash on his doorstep. Then a day came when she was sick, and he didn’t see any trash, so he visited her. After that act, she’d converted to Islam. Though the funny part of that story is that it’s not even true, not one reference to it in any of the Islamic sources. Usually Islamic preachers use it commonly to entice people, probably a way of Taqya. However, how was I to know the difference, I wasn’t able to read anything so I always relied on what people told me.)
It wasn’t that teaching of loving my enemies that had yet sparked a light within me, later on Jesus continued to preach saying in Matthew 5:39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
First thought I had, was how was I supposed to do that? I couldn’t acknowledge the amount of will power he had to resist almost everyone he’d come across and to simply love them. If only I could go back in time and fix the habits or hatred and anger I’ve engraved relentlessly in myself. Hearing these verses for the first time, I was struck by the fact of how he simply chose to love everyone—instead of bringing upon them justice for their mistreatment.
Continuing to watch the series came the time of the crucifixion. I had no idea what was endured beforehand, because I’d never read the new testament, but having had a visual representation as my first impression—wasn’t that of a great idea.
The things preceding the crucifixion were far too brutal to imagine. Never have I been so deeply sorrowful. So having heard for the first time that Jesus was scourged, not to mention the series went as far as describing how scourging looked then. He endured 39 hits of leather chords, with bone pieces and metal balls attached to the end, assuring that the maximum hits would induce a state of pre shock, blood loss, and rippling of the skin that went so far as to reveal back bone (Including the friction of his back later on in contact with the wooden cross). The following mockery engaged me. With roman soldiers covering Jesus in a purple robe, and a crown of thorns as a form of ridicule for the title of “King of Jews”, the title referring to Jews didn’t matter, because the persistence he had to love fallen creation—led me to claiming him as my king.
1 Peter 2:22–24 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.t Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
When the time came for Jesus to be hung on the cross, along with 2 criminals on each side of his, I’d already felt more ashamed of claiming to have self-pity upon myself.
I was watching the last moments on the cross, while in a free lesson. Out of ignorance and worldly view the two thieves questioned God. Though, the more they began realizing their situation, and evaluating their very last moments, the realization pierced their hearts. They, were getting what they deserved, and were ready to embrace all the wrongs they’d done. Having not known love for their entire lives, and seeing it for the first time, they doubted its existence. However, what other option did they have? Time was short and death was near. I sensed that one of the thieves, out of shame and embarrassment—even at his worst hour of no hope— he hesitated and asked Jesus in Luke 23:42 “Then he said, “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
I was used to hearing about only going to heaven if I just pray this many times, visit some building at least once in my life, fast yearly in this time, and some extra fasting and praying here and there with memorized chapters—though there was a supplication, but to whom? I felt no connection, just deadness in my prayers. I was bowing to a wall, asking it to reply back to me, but if I had just hit it hard enough, I’d realize it brought nothing but everything to damaged ruins. Plus the only assurance I had was no assurance “Only Allah knows.” I would hear stories of people saying that when their relatives had died, they smelt so bad, or looked a certain way just because they hadn’t done all these prayers. My uncle would still claim how Islam was one of the easiest religions that could ever exist, try convincing my heart of that, because the commands of it were burdensome. They were burdensome because in Islam, love didn’t exist. I sought love where it wasn’t to be found; this made me understand the thieves’ realization.
Because right after he’d asked the only question he had left, knowing what future is before, The Lord replied in Luke 23:24 “And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
At first, I couldn’t grasp the quickness of forgiveness he had. There must have been some sort of camera crew behind the scenes that would suddenly come out of hiding and say that I’ve been pranked. Is it really that easy? What about all these rituals, sayings, prayers that don’t add any well being to my life but hypocritically I have to say them out of fear? This was later answered to me again in Matthew; I just had to ask, like the thief had asked in the very last minute of his life, and he received. I was shocked that there was no catch, manipulation as said in the Qur’an of Allah being the best of deceivers (just few examples in Qur’an are 3:54, 7:99, 27:50.) The more I read about sinners being attracted to his presence, and the works Jesus had done, the more my question was answered. My mind still was processing, but my heart yearned to grab his words out of the very page. That moment, I had to run out of the class, having been unable to contain the tears of love that I couldn’t contain. Plus I looked crazy in my class, crying out of nowhere.
“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
To be continued….