In her book, Faith Shift, Kathy Escobar said that every believer goes through a stage where they "fuse" with their faith (regardless of the religion). And in this stage of fusing there are three steps, and the first step is "Believing", the point where we come to faith.
I became a Christian by accident.
I was 18, and I was facing the Biggest Exam of my Life (SPM for you Malaysians old enough to remember it), one that would determine the direction of my entire life. Yet, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. There seemed to be so many barriers to my dreams, and I had already quietly shelved my ambition of becoming a scientist and a doctor because my family couldn't afford it. I adored writing, but making it a career didn't seem practical (or so my elders insisted), so I didn't even consider it.
The future looked uncertain and I did not receive the certainty I craved from my family, who seemed to be struggling financially to raise three kids. Kids are expensive. Especially in Malaysia where there's no social welfare to speak of and access to public education is restricted for certain races, so you're toast if you hit a financial pothole. So my parents worked hard to avoid said potholes. An education in astronomy or medicine was a six-figure pothole my family couldn't afford. But if I couldn't be a scientist or doctor, what could I be?
A god that bothered
So, I found myself, a confused Buddhist, in a gathering of Christian people in a small house in Petaling Jaya. The speaker of the group spoke passionately about the Christian god. I was only half-listening until he said these words: "And God came down to Earth and became a man. Would you like to know this God?"
My ears pricked up. Well, nobody told me that the Christian god did that! Would I want to know a god that bothered to come down to our messy plane and be one of us? Why not? So, I lifted my hand and said yes.
The man led me to say a bunch of words that didn't quite mean anything to me. (I'm a sinner? What's that?) I just wanted to know this god, and I thought it was strange that I had to say these words to find out who He is, but I said it anyway.
The next day, in school, I was informed by a few Christian friends that I was now one of them because I said those words. I remember thinking to myself: Shouldn't I go through some kind of complicated ritual involving candles and much chanting?
I suppose, on that hot and humid day, I could've shrugged and said, "Well, this is ridiculous. Let's forget about this." After all, nobody knew my dirty little secret except a few friends and those at the gathering.
But for some reason, something within me had changed after saying those words. A strange sense of excitement - that I was onto something really big and significant. I couldn't shake the huge relief and happiness I felt inside.
For some reason, although I grew up in a land where there were many gods, I "knew" that there was only one true God. Which, I suppose, is rather surprising for a child of a Buddhist family who never attended Sunday School to conclude. Call it an instinct. Could this god be the God I was searching for?
So I decided to press on. This God. I'm going to know Him somehow.
Next in the My Shifting Faith series: Learning: The war on culture, family and tradition (Jan 26). Bookmark the blog series post schedule or you can subscribe to the blog to have the posts delivered to your inbox. (You will also receive my posts outside the blog series.)