I grew up in a multi-cultural, Catholic home my father American and my mother Puerto Rican. My parents werent very religious, but we attended Sunday Mass weekly and my brothers and I attended Catholic Schools. I have always found comfort in the thought of a higher power. From a young age, I tried my best to understand whatever it is that moves the world.
As a teenager I became very interested in Christian theology. I spent a lot of time online, so I found every single viewpoint, every single minute theological difference laid out before me. The Catholic Church, Methodists, Messianic Jews, Quakers they all offered exegesis, inspiring anecdotes, and brilliant orators to support their interpretations of God. My denominational identity changed with my mood until I finally settled on Christian Universalist. Such a gorgeous title.
Questions of faith didnt plague me as much during my college years. I had work, I had class, partying as well. Questions of faith, however, would come up with coworkers and friends. Nights drowned in alcohol and idle philosophy. Long night shifts as well with my lone coworker all demanded further examination of my faith and its motives.
This friend and coworker of mine accompanied me on many of these journeys an amazing man, a delightful conversationalist, flamboyant, sometimes solemn, always atheist. We comfortably agreed that it wasnt unreasonable to believe or disbelieve in a high power. Through many nights on the college shuttle where we worked, however, he helped me come to a realization my Christian identity was a choice. I didnt know it was the truth. To look at it from an objective perspective, Christianity offered as much evidence to its own correctness as any other faith tradition. Jesus inspired me, Gods infinite mercy comforted me. I was raised that way.
This realization led me to Islam. I majored in Politics but I minored in religion. I spent a great deal of time reading about Islam and its adherents. I took up a Muslim professor as my mentor, and while I did not accept the faith until 3 years later, I found infinite beauty in the Islamic world: a rich tapestry of wildly diverse cultures, poetry, music, and art all pointing to something greater than ourselves. The five daily prayers, meditative remembrance rituals, and dietary regulations have helped me to add more structure to my life. It is a struggle at times and I have trouble reconciling some aspects of widely accepted Islamic theology that I find regressive. This faith, however, has moderated my more self-destructive behaviors and clarified the journey I must take to be the person I want to be.
I believe in God, but I dont know what God is. I have felt the presence of God, but this feeling could have been all the atoms of the universe coming together in a peculiar way. Whether life comes from an all-powerful deity or the random interactions of atoms and molecules over billions of years, its beautiful and Im grateful to partake. I choose Islam to express my gratitude.