Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

An Internet Baha'i - Mary Hanson

Location

Northbrook, IL

Fifteen years ago, I was in a difficult time in my life both personally and professionally. I realized I needed spiritual help, so I went back to the Methodist Church of my childhood. After 6 months of crying at every service, I realized that approach to God was not working for me, despite loving church members.

I wanted to be a part of of a church making a difference in this struggling world. I wanted to know how a loving Creator could not have equally loved the people born before Jesus. I looked at other religions that I had heard of and Buddhism seemed to be a religion of peace. However, it was so inward looking for a person who was somewhat depressed, that it did not build the pathway to God that I needed.  After a couple of years of study, I moved on.  I considered the Unitarian and the Society of Friends churches.  My expectations of what I wanted from a religion grew to include one that recognized my ability to think, and not expect me to believe that the world was made only 6,000 years ago.  I also needed a place where men and women were treated as equals. These faiths did not fit my criteria.

I had been the the Baha'i Temple as a child and typed "Bahai" into a search engine, although I barely knew how to spell it. I found a lot of information about the Baha'i faith, both positive and negative.  I read for 3 months, including what other faiths said about how the Baha'is were wrong and why. I got confused by someone calling themselves Orthodox Baha'is, but decided they did not seem very peaceful.  I stumbled upon the official US Baha'i website and found the words of Baha'u'llah.  They filled my soul and I started reading them an hour or two per night.

I visited the Temple and found out more about the Faith by attending a 3 session overview class on Sunday mornings that was given then and grew to love the teachings even more.  I bought a Greatest Name pendant and vowed that when I was ready to become  Baha'i, I would wear it to remind me of how I would be acting differently in my life. 

One evening before Thanksgiving, I prayed to Jesus for a sign to show me that this was the right path. The next day, three songs kept running through my thoughts: "This is Your Wake Up Call"; "I Don't Know How to Love Him"; 'Loving You's the Right Thing to Do".  By the afternoon, I had figured out that these were the sign and the Baha'i path was the right one for me.

I called up a contact name given to me by House of Worship staff and asked to come to feast.  I was told only Baha'is go to feast. I said I was a Baha'i and had a signed declaration card to prove it.  I was given the address of where the feast was to be and went that next night.  The house was dark.  I waited 45 minutes and no one came. The community had changed the place of feast and forgot to let me know.  They were embarassed when they realized what they had done and made a big dinner feast of welcome as a time to get to know each other.  I have never regretted becoming a Baha'i.