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Melissa: Became a seeker at age 15

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Madison, Wisconsin
Baha’i since June 2007

By the age of 8, Melissa concluded there was a God. Her parents were from a Christian background, but were noncommittal about religion and didn’t rear their children in a faith. The most religion she received was from going to church once a month with her grandmother.

If there was a God, she should pray to Him, Melissa reasoned. So that’s what she did as a child before going to sleep.

“I was careful not to pray for toys and other such things,” says Melissa, 23, who lives in Madison, Wis., where she works full-time and is finishing up a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin.

“I tried to focus instead on praising God,” she says, “and praying for the well being of friends and family.”

Believing that spirituality is an essential part of life, Melissa continued to puzzle out the nature of religion, how she and others fit into the scheme of things and what direction her spirituality could or should take.

“When I turned 15 and could think more abstractly, I went to the library and checked out books on religion,” Melissa says. “The religion section was small, but I found Baha’u'llah and the New Era. I felt a strong pull immediately, but I also thought the names were funny and the ideas strange. I didn’t know how to deal with that.”

Then she explored the Unitarian Church, which kept her interest for about two and a half years. But she didn’t feel comfortable with all its teachings, she says, so once again she became a seeker.

“I looked at a variety of religions and went back to studying the Baha’i Faith,” Melissa says. “This time I was ready for it. I had done what the Baha’i Faith encourages: independent investigation of truth.”

Melissa says she started going to activities sponsored by the Baha’i Club on campus and, because they were short of help, helped coordinate the club’s prayer programs, study circles and home visits.

And this was before she officially became a Baha’i. That didn’t happen until the summer of 2007, after she spent the summer between her junior and senior year in Uganda, where she visited the House of Worship, located just outside Kampala.

“I’m halfway across the world and enjoying the cultural differences,” Melissa remembers, “but I’m also seeing that the Baha’i Faith is the same wherever you go. After about three weeks, I decided I couldn’t stand not being a Baha’i, so I decided to formally join the Faith.

“Being a Baha’i has improved my life in so many ways,” Melissa says. “I’ve become so much better at dealing with arguments and conflicts — not getting angry and frustrated, or emotionally attached to things that don’t matter. I can now take a step back.”

Melissa says she keeps Baha’u'llah’s guidance on detachment in mind when she gets into a sticky situation:

“…must, before all else, cleanse his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge…that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth.”

As she contemplates her career after graduation, Melissa knows it will involve the betterment of society, in alignment with the Baha’i Faith’s belief that a profession carried out in a spirit of service to humanity is considered the highest form of worship.

18 Responses

  1. John Morgan

    I live in Onalaska, next to La Crosse. I moved here in 2002 with my family. I am the only Baha-i’ so I live on an island here. You are welcome anytime you want to visit the “west coast” of Wisconsin.

  2. barmak kusha

    I went to UW Madison between 1986 and 1996, and my story is very much like yours, especially in terms of being active in the Campus Baha’i Association before I became a member of the community. I investigated and declared my belief in Baha’u'llah in Madison at the Jacobis’ home! And my work almost took me to Uganda around the time you were there! What a small world…. What a great journey you’ve joined! Teach it up!!

  3. Chloe Frost

    VOGUE ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ramesh Belbase

    u r lucky that u found that book

  5. Mariah Perkins

    I am touched by your story, dear Melissa! Baha’u'llah’s blessings on you and yours!
    A grandma in Rochester, NY

  6. Victor Campbell

    God works in strange and mysterious ways but always for our betterment. It sounds like the Holy Spirit guided you to this path and will continue to help you, along with all humanity, to discover ever greater truths about the Beauty of God.

    I often think that love is the foundation of ever perceptive soul, and yet love makes no distinction. I hope your journey with this mighty star will be resplendent and nourish your soul in season and out of season.

    Certainly, the enlightened conscience will recognize this “touch of God”. And the beautiful thing is that that love is expansive and covers the whole universe.

    I hope everyone’s journey will be filled with marvels and joys such as yours in this discovery of the dynamic wish of God, in this, his new attire. I pray For Peace to your journey and all the world.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of discovery, of the breath of God, blowing in this fragrant revelation. I hope all who visit your page witll pause to experience this garden,

  7. “Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. but if you are so angry,so depressed and so sore that your spirit can notfind deliveranceand peace even in prayer,then quickely go and give some pleasure to some one lowely or sorrowful,or to agulity or innocentsuffere! sacrifice yourself,your talent,your time ,your rest to another ,to one who has to bear a heavier load than you and your unhappy mood will dissolve in to a blessed contend submission to God”
    Abdul Baha

  8. i love that Melisa

  9. cyiza elongo jalal

    wow! i love this story

  10. cyiza elongo jalal

    i like your story!

  11. Pramod Shah

    I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I am also serving as a youth activist.You are right. Initially I was also felt like that. After stuy of the Bahai books and writings.I understood and got clear. Thank you very much for your nice sharing the beautiful information. All the best!

  12. It is so hard to find what is best in life, you makes cry Melisa many of ours didnt understand about persian names even now

  13. I am Khotso in Lesotho MKG, it tooks me 3 months to understand what Bahai Faith realy is. Then i realise dt it is hard to believe in smthing, sorry gal u a true Bahai

  14. Patty Schrader

    Thank you for a simple & most beautiful story. You are so blessed to have been called to seek & find Bahullah so young.

  15. hmmmmm nice i love it..

  16. wow it really nice..

  17. Caitlyn

    I feel you and I are of a similar kind. It took me much longer to discover this faith and I have only known of it for a few days. I feel that my journey is very similar to yours and may perhaps have the same ending. Blessings to you and yours.

  18. Tee

    I’m in the same exact position. I’m 15 and doing a lot of research on different religions. All the teachings of the Baha’i Faith just makes sense to me but I’m not yet comfortable to fully commit myself to this religion. I hope one day in the near future I’ll be able to fully commit myself!