From the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean
When I moved to the UK in 2001, I joined a CofE church based in London and was baptised a year later.
For the first eight years, I lived in utter ignorance of the true teaching of Jesus Christ. I hardly read the Bible and my English was not good enough to fully understand the sermons I was hearing. The only two basics I knew well were that God loved me and exactly understood how I felt, and that I needed to shed my old skin but couldn’t.
Even though the battle was full-on, I was still oblivious of the spiritual warfare that was taking place in me. Back then, I wasn’t living exactly the way God intended for me to live but I didn’t think it mattered to Him.
God wanted me to rely on him alone and do away with the idols in my life, but my fear was greater than my faith. I wasn’t aware that God required complete obedience to his Word. I thought because He’s gracious and knew our weaknesses, that He’d accept us as we are as long as we are believing in him and loving him. My false perception of who God is and what is the true meaning of grace has served, unconsciously of course, as an excuse to remain a slave to fear and to the search for comfort. Therefore, my poor choices and my lack of understanding left a huge door for the enemy to barge in.
My lack of biblical wisdom also caused me spiritual blindness and I was unable to see the evil forces that were trying to wreck my life and tear my young family apart. So, I never prayed over the situation the way a warrior should be praying during a battle. I never even involved other people to pray for me.
In a nutshell, I didn’t have, back then, enough mental, psychological or intellectual tools to understand anything outside the senses. Every day, I was becoming more confused and angry with God who, I thought, was not helping me to change things for the better. I wanted to choose my own itinerary planned by my own mind, yet I was expecting God to bless my life and rid me of all my enemies. In fact, in order to understand the whole picture, I needed an internal mental revolution, not just a few facts here and there. Knowing a few Christian concepts might have helped to solve some issues – but would not have been enough to help me shed my old skin, so to speak.
It was regrettable that the 2008 Tsunami along with unanswered prayers blew the little bit of faith I had away. God has finally allowed me to backslide because He saw that I didn’t or couldn’t grow in the faith.
I continued my journey as an agnostic atheist taking life one day at a time and believing religiously in the concept of physical reality.
The first thing that happened to me afterwards was my work redundancy. I tried to find another job within the organisation I was working for but for a very strange reason, I was doing so badly at interviews that I waisted all the job opportunities available.
I was also coming to realise I was not good at multi-tasking. Being very busy with my previous job took its toll on my family and affected my capacity to help my children with their education.
And so, in the whole, I sensed there was something within me that was leading me to give up my professional life altogether and take care of my family (and although I didn’t know it at the time, take care of my spiritual life too), and so it was!
Most things had improved in time except the numb feeling in the inside which I became aware of after I lost my faith. God’s love seemed to be irreplaceable and my hunger for him gave way to a feeling of emotional drought and of death. All my efforts to fill this hunger with worldly things failed pathetically.
For example, my efforts to create a great self-image, eat out frequently in lovely places and go on wonderful holidays weren’t able to provide me with the reward that I was expecting. This had put even more pressure on my marital relationship and made it seem desperately deficient.
A Sweet Defeat
However, in the midst of my agnosticism and my messy life, God was leading me all the way, though I never noticed until, one day, He spoke to me again.
One early afternoon, I was walking in the busy town centre, thinking about trivia. Realising that I was passing by my favourite chemist, I remembered I needed to weigh myself. As I was about to cross the road to get to the store, I heard the voice that once spoke to me when I was only 15 years old!!! He came once more to shake my current atheist views of God and to set me a challenge. He, the all-knower, was about to inform me about something that was going to happen; something unpredictable, and beyond common sense.
He said if then I found the information He’s given me was true, I should admit that the metaphysical realm exists indeed!
Then He told me something strange; that it was pointless going inside the store because I was not going to weigh myself for a reason He chose not to reveal.
As it happened 15 years ago, I was given a short moment to think about this revelation and make a decision on whether I would take what He said to me at face value or not. This would’ve meant demonstrating my trust by refraining from the action I was about to take which was weighing myself.
Although this time I was careful not to reject the information too strongly, I made my way towards the high street chemist, anyway.
As soon as I stepped inside, I realised a huge change. The business was still functioning as a chemist, but apparently, it was taken over by another company and major transformations were made to it. My mind went: could this be the reason?
However I looked to where the scale used to be kept and it was there, in the same place. I walked to it and checked if it was functioning, and indeed it was.
I fumbled in my purse for a 50p coin but didn’t find. This didn’t seem to bother me much as, unlike other chemists, this particular store used to provide customers with change for the scale.
Without losing my cautiousness though, I looked around at the staff members, and they were indeed all new to me. I thought, does the chemist still have the same rules regarding the provision of change? I walked slowly and carefully to the cashier and asked politely if it was ok to change my pound coin in order to use the scale, and with a cheerful smile, she assured me that I could. I noted from hearing her voice that she was East European. All the staff members were very courteous. So, I thought this was promising. In spite of the voice, I was going to weigh myself that day!
I, then, went to join the queue triumphantly. My heart began racing and I was getting excited. The race was drawing to a close and I was finally going to prove to myself that the voice was just a silly trick played by my subconscious mind. At last, I was going to prove to myself that life was so simple, logical and predictable. I was already congratulating myself for testing the voice rather than trusting it blindly. Then finally here came my turn.
I handed over the pound coin to the cashier who gladly took it from me with a large smile and opened the same till she was using the whole time I was there. Then her smile suddenly faded and her eyes popped wide open. She mumbled a few words which I couldn’t understand then she called for her supervisor. Internally, I recognised that this was the moment that may stop me from weighing my self. I just didn’t know how could that be possible. While we were waiting for the other staff member to arrive, I took the opportunity to ask the cashier what was happening. I said: “did you run out of change?” She said: “No, it’s not that.” I, patiently, waited for her to explain further, but she didn’t. She seemed so stressed that I refrained from asking her any more questions. When the supervisor came, they both tried to do or retrieve something from the already opened till. I wasn’t sure what because I wasn’t able to look inside the draw of course. They both seemed really annoyed. After a few minutes of trying, the supervisor finally spoke to her staff member in their language and left. Then, the cashier told me in plain English that I wasn’t going to weigh myself that day!!! She used the very sentence the voice used, and so I felt annoyed a little. I left the store disappointed, knowing that I will never find out what really happened inside the cash drawer!
All my excitement and triumph disappeared. They were gradually replaced by a feeling of embarrassment, apology, and a forced recognition that maybe there was something out there after all. I felt defeated, but at the same time, in the very deep core of my inner being, I felt an incredible love soaring from this recognition of being defeated. It was a sweet defeat that suddenly made me feel protected and safe.