I was born in a city called Lahore in Pakistan and grew up Muslim. My mom prayed five times a day and had my siblings and I practice as well. My dad was never around; he was in the US working, providing for us. I would see him three months to four months out of the year. My mom took care of all four of us until we came here. My siblings and I traveled with my mom everywhere.
When I was between 5 and 7 years old, someone knocked on the door. Even though my mom told me not to open the door when somebody knocked, I opened it anyhow. I saw this man standing, dressed all in white with a white beard and white long hair. He asked for a drink of water so I ran to get my mom and brought him the water. When he finished drinking the water, he handed the glass back to my mom and told her to take care of this little boy since he’s very precious. All of a sudden he just disappeared. Our house was sitting on the corner so there were three different directions of the streets. We looked all three different ways and he was nowhere to be found. Throughout the years my mom reminded me of that story over and over and over.
Between 8 and 10, when I went to a private school, my dad finally decided he was going to bring his family over to the US. The process took a year or two. I was either 11 or 12; I can’t remember exactly. Before I came here, there were things that were happening that I had no understanding about. I was only 9 or 10 and something really bad happened. I didn’t realize what was going on until I was like 16 or 17 what had happened. I’ll come back to that later.
So we came here to the US and moved to Brooklyn. That’s when life got really hard for me. I joined a gang and started getting into trouble. I drank, smoked weed, stole anything that came along, and joined in with what comes along with being in a gang. Then something happened. We broke this kid’s legs with a baseball bat and my father found out about it. He decided to move us to upstate New York, thinking that it would help me better my life by getting away from the crowd. But, my life only took a turn for the worse. I started drinking more, smoking a lot more weed, and I got a girl pregnant. I was 15 years old when my parents found out kicked me out of the house. The partying only got worse. Not only was I getting into trouble for stealing, selling drugs, and drinking, now I no longer had a roof over my head. It was all a joke to me. A girl was pregnant and it was about me. If something wasn’t good for me then I didn’t care. It continued until Aliya was born.
I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I was holding my daughter in my arms and I choose that day to do things right for once. I dropped out of school, got a full time job, and started taking care of Aliya. She helped me to be responsible. She helped me to think about another human being and not just me. As she turned one, I knew things weren’t right so I started fighting for custody. In the meantime I was struggling because I wanted to do what was right for my daughter I wanted to give her the best life and just take care of her.
As I mentioned earlier I grew up in a Muslim home, but throughout the years I never really practiced Islam. I knew there was something more. After I was kicked out of the house, I lay down every night prayed. I knew there was God, but that’s as far as it went. It was almost a year after that when I ran into Dana. She is the one who introduced me to God, the one true God, the God I believe in today, the one who created everything in this world.
When I turned 18, I got Aliya’s custody. Right before I turned 19, I got married to Dana. Right after I turned 19, I had Kylynne. In the meantime I started getting into the Word more and more. Right before I got married to Dana I definitely had my life straightened out according to God. I did the things that I needed to do to take care of my family. I wasn’t the best husband but I tried my best. Between counseling with Mary Ann and Vince they helped me to figure out things after my divorce. It was hard. I was getting abandoned over and over: first my blood family and now Dana.
As the time went on I learned about free will. This was one of the hardest things that I had to get a grip: that God can’t make you do things. You have to go to him and ask for his help. My divorce made me very angry. I let go of the wheel for a year because it didn’t make sense. It took me almost two years to forgive her. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because if God can forgive us why can’t we forgive other people. It only drains the joy of life out of you. It also destroys relationships with people.
From that point on, I got back into the Word. But in the meantime I still had a hard time relating to people or even keeping up with friendships. Trusting people was really hard for me. Something inside me wasn’t right. I pulled away from people when they hurt me. I would just cut them off without even explaining myself or giving them a reason why I did what I did.
Towards the end of 2013, I let go of the wheel again. Life was just too tough. I was dealing with family court and it was just too much to handle so I walked away from the Word again. In that year I drank a lot. Towards the end of 2014, I got sick. I was sick for almost two months and I was invited to Revive (a young adult retreat). That was the first weekend of the New Year. That is when I decided that enough is enough. The whole into the Word strong and then drifting away time after time had to stop. Each time I would come back to the Word, it was even stronger and more powerful. It felt like I could move mountains.
2015 was the year I made amends with pretty much all of my past. I came to the understanding that my behavior and all the pain that I have caused people started back when I was 10 or 11. The root to the problem was that I was molested countless times. On top of that, my parents kicking me out of the house made me feel totally abandoned. Everything just came right to the surface why I had such a hard time with people. So I started by writing my parents a letter and explaining everything to them. I asked for their forgiveness, because, throughout the years, I behaved poorly, bursting out into anger all the time and fighting with my parents. But, deep down I knew I still had to explain to them my behavior and why everything happened the way it did. When I wrote that letter, I prayed to God and I asked him that this is where I draw my line. They will not come in and out of my life anymore. From this point on there will be no more contact with my family. When they received the letter, they basically said to me that they did not care about my feelings or what had happened in the past. They told me to keep it to myself and just leave them alone. This was back in 2015 when I had my last conversation with them.
I was upset, but at the same time I prayed about it and gave it to God, trusting that he would take care of it so that when the time is right maybe I will see them again. But there has been no contact since then. I made amends; I forgave the person who hurt me when I was 10. It felt a relief not to hold on to something like since for 16 years it had destroyed a lot of friendships and relationships. I made amends with people I have been in contact with in the past two years or so—at least whoever I could reach out to—I said my piece and asked for their forgiveness.
It’s been hard; it’s been one of the toughest years, but at the end of the day I did make amends with pretty much everybody. The only way that was possible was with God’s help. Even though it was rough, I was comforted by God and it felt so good to let everything go. 2015 is also the year I got my GED. I had dropped out at 15 to take care of Aliya and it felt so good to accomplish that. I had put it off for 10 years. Going back into it took a lot of hard work. There were times I wanted to give up, but there were people who were there to support me and encourage me. It took me three shots, but I did it. I can look back when I was first introduced to the Word by Dana. I was 17 and today I’m 27. I can look back and tell you countless times that I should have been dead or put away in prison for the rest of my life. I am here alive and it is because of God and Jesus who died on the cross for me and you so we can be clean from our sins.
This is my testimony I encourage you to let go of anything that is holding you back from growing into your faith and getting closer to God. Let go of the things that are making you angry or making you doubt God is real. He is my Father; he is the one who has been there for me though my darkest nights. Because of him, I am thankful for the wonderful family I am a part of today. God bless you.
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