It’s done. Irreversibly done. Yesterday my husband and I released a video on our YouTube channel announcing that I’m Muslim. Ever since we had said that I was Christian back when I actually was, people have thought that that remains true. But of course since last year it is no longer true. For a long time when people asked my religion we curtly told them that we didn’t talk about religion. Many friends of my husband didn’t know about my conversion. So, a lot of people in our lives are kind of reeling from shock right now.
The backlash was a bit worse than I expected. We lost many subscribers, received an incredible number of dislikes, and were flooded with negative, condescending, and rude comments. This is for a couple of reasons. For one, Brazil is a very Christian country. Evangelicals there are even more socially and politically powerful there than they are here. For another, people came to our channel excited to see a Christian couple in the US. They felt that they had something in common with us. We were one of their own, not “other” or different. Now, that’s been turned on its head. While Daniel is still one of them, I’m not. I’m different and other. I’m foreign.
I’ve lived my whole life used to being different and not one of the crowd. Through this channel I finally felt like one of the gang. Converting to Islam has put me on the fringes of society once again, and now the last place where I felt normal has been taken away. I’m not one of the gang. It’s tiring, always being “other”. So, so tiring.
One of the things I’ve heard the most is that if I left Christianity, it must mean I was never truly Christian at heart. That’s not true. I was a devout, heartfelt, faithful Christian. I loved Jesus as God’s son. I believed in his death, burial, and resurrection. I read the Bible cover to cover many times and studied it in depth in countless churches, Bible study groups, and on my own. But, I stopped believing. I began to question, and it soon became clear that Christianity wasn’t the right path for me. People change, that much is for sure. And change I did.
I’ve also been told that I’m too young and inexperienced to know what I believe. The funny thing is, when I was the religion that everyone wanted me to be (i.e., Christian), no one said that. They praised my dedication and knowledge at my young age. But suddenly when I’m actually a bit older and am taking an unpopular path, I’m too young to know my own mind? I’m not buying it. The people who say this are speaking without knowing my story. I’ve been through hell in my short life. Hell. I’ve seen and lived and done things some sixty year olds can’t imagine. That’s not to say I’ve got it all figured out. I don’t. I have a lot of growing and living to do. And you know what? Now is the time for just that process to begin. It’s time for me to let myself grow. And you need to respect my growing process. You say I’m inexperienced? Well, I’m gaining experience right now. So let me.
I was once put down for being different by a mental health professional. His intention was to change me, but what he did was galvanize my determination to not live to please people. You do you, I’ll do me. I’m going to be true to my heart no matter what. The times I haven’t done so, I’ve been miserable. It’s not worth it. So I’m going to be loudly, proudly, unashamedly Muslim. This is who I am. In the coming years I have no doubt that I’ll change even more, inshallah. Hopefully it will be for the best. And guess what? I’m not afraid of change anymore. I welcome it. The changes that God has orchestrated in my short life have been wonderful, albeit painful, alhamdulillah. If more change is written in God’s plan for me, I’m open to that. I’m finally at peace with change. Alhamdulillah for everything.