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For many years my act of faith meant praying that God would get me through—and feeling grateful when He did. Somehow, though, our relationship didn’t work.

With each rescue a part of me felt acknowledged as worthy, but another felt confused that He waited until the last minute and often times delivered less than I needed. I knew He was All-Powerful and the Creator of the universe, but I couldn’t reconcile my pain, world hunger, slavery, war, brutality, violence and serial killers with the concept of an all-knowing God.

I understood a higher wisdom was involved, but when I wasn’t in a good place spiritually, a tug of war to remember God’s love ensued. I struggled with trust on many levels; in myself, in others and in the divine process, too. This conflict grew into multiple barriers of fear and mistrust that prevented me from having a real relationship with God.

At best, I felt faith-ish.

After some self-examination, I realized I didn’t know how to trust God or have faith. I believed in God—but didn’t understand my role in trusting His process where it intersected with my actual life. Should I sit and wait for a miracle, or jump into action three steps in the wrong direction and hope He catches me? Where could I find the balance between trust, action and faith?  

So I began looking for a magic wand, one that would allow me to trust a Creator I couldn’t see, feel, hear or touch. Wanting to know how to love something I didn’t really understand often made me feel let down and afraid. How could I combat the urge to stop hoping in my attempts to avoid heartbreak and disappointment? I needed the answers to the FAQs for creating a relationship with God—but as far as I could tell, no one had them.

While posing this question during meditation one day, I heard these words: “You must release fear in order to feel God. When you feel this presence, you will be able to love and trust Him. Fear and love cannot dwell in the same heart.”

I knew that message! It originally came from the Baha’i teachings:

O My Friend in Word! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 31.

I felt a shock wave run through my body as tears welled up in my eyes. I had known this concept before, but until now had only understood it as powerful words. Once I allowed my soul to influence my mind, the answer appeared in a feeling, followed by immediate guidance and the support tools I needed to reshape my fragmented thinking:

Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the Mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of heedlessness. Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and the evidences of an everlasting Manifestation. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 196.

I wanted everything I read in this passage, and for the first time I felt ready to enter that valley of search. I wanted to move past pain into a quest for joy—not contingent on things, but on connection. I was soon guided to a Baha’i quote which gave me the power of the Holy Spirit to start releasing my fear:

The human spirit possesseth wondrous powers, but it should be reinforced by the Holy Spirit. What thou hearest other than this is pure imagination. If, however, it be assisted by the bounty of the Holy Spirit, then will its strength be a thing to marvel at. Then will that human spirit uncover realities, and unravel mysteries. Turn thy heart fully to the Holy Spirit, and invite others to do the same; then shall ye witness wonderful results. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 160.

When I asked to experience the love of God and invited the Holy Spirit into my prayers, my physical and spiritual body began speaking to each other. My intuition intensified and simple things took on deeper meanings. My inner world began informing my outer world. Things looked more beautiful, my challenges felt more manageable, my inner critic quieted down, and I didn’t feel as alone. This divine feeling started to teach me how to connect to something outside of myself, and the constant flow of divine energy increased my ability to see and feel my guidance.  

This new experience of God cultivated an environment where I could see, hear, sense and feel my Divine support system.

One night during this phase, while sobbing on the couch over my financial situation, a movie came on called “Apple Mortgage Cake”—a story about a single mother losing her home because she can’t afford the mortgage, and who bakes apple cakes in attempts to raise money. But in the final hour, she realizes she doesn’t have enough. This triggered me and I let out a shriek as I viscerally felt her heartbreak, letdown and conflict about trusting in God.  

In the next scene, she said six words that changed everything. As she surrendered to God, she made one final plea with prayerful hands and said “God, take me all the way! I can’t do this alone. Take me all the way”.  Every emotion in my body released in uncontrollable sobs, I knew God sent this to me. These were the words I had been searching for. The movie concluded with her accepting her fate and going to sleep, later being awakened by her kids forwarding a phone call from someone who tasted her cakes and wanted to franchise them. God had come through on the breath of surrender.

That night, I surrendered and asked God to “take me all the way.” No more just getting through. I prayed for everything holding me back to be made clear, for the courage to face my fears and heal them, to feel His love and to remove blocks holding back the life He wanted for me. God, take me all the way to trusting Your wisdom against my own ignorance and destructive habits:

My army is My reliance on God; My people, the force of My confidence in Him. My love is My standard, and My companion the remembrance of God, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Unconditioned. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 38.

My answers were coming, and in them I found tools that helped me strip away years of pain. I released things from places I didn’t know were holding pain. The more fear I released, the more profound my connection became. The obscuring veils preventing me from seeing my own nobility and power were melting into connection. Little, by little, day by day I was emerging as a better version of myself:

O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 9.

Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision. Then will your eyes be filled with illumination, face to face you will behold the reality of God and your heart become completely purified from the dross of ignorance, reflecting the glories and bounties of the Kingdom. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293.

During the next few months, I devoted time daily to my inner healing. This investment of a daily spiritual practice became my new life habit—and the catalyst to loving myself completely with all of my flaws, to finding my profession and calling, to financial stability, gratitude and deep levels of connection and trust in God.

5 Comments

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  • Susan
    May 31, 2019
    Thank you for sharing these very frank and sincere reflections about the spiritual journey. I also reflect about this very important condition of faith and how to grow it. Dear Adib Taherzadeh gave some great talks about this subject that you can find online from the Baha’i resource library. Also Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, wrote an amazing book about her relationship with God called Faith and Will. I found it very helpful.
    • Ginger Grant
      Jun 01, 2019
      Thank you, Susan. These are wonderful resources, however for me, reading about how to "have" faith would only make me feel inspired for a short while, and shortly after the effects would fade. Not until I began to heal my inner wounds around worthiness, did the conditions on which to build "sustainable" faith emerge.
  • Steve Eaton
    May 31, 2019
    I agree with Dennis. I really need to work much more on these things.
  • Dennis Pettyjohn
    May 31, 2019
    Thank you Ginger! That is without doubt one of the most honest, heartfelt, soul-searching articles I believe I have ever had the joy of sharing. I, and I'm sure many others, have asked the same questions and struggled with the same concerns in our path. Your honesty and progress is refreshing and encouraging! Many many thanks.
    • Ginger Grant
      May 31, 2019
      Thank you, Dennis. I am always touched when sharing my story helps others. Thinking I was supposed to know how to figure all this out by myself kept me hiding for many years. The freedom, to tell the truth, has been the gift of surrender and some new forms of wisdom.