“Who is here?” my mother questioned as I was closing the door after me. “It’s me, mom,” I answered. “Marina! Why did you come so early? Are you ok? Did something happen?” she questioned with concern. “Yes, I quit my job,” I calmly responded. Silence prevailed for a couple of seconds. Then my mother resumed; “it’s ok. Don’t worry about it. God will provide. Go change and come join your dad and I for lunch, I am about to serve food,” my mother’s reaction was surprising to me as well as my father’s. I thought that both of them would rebuke me for my decision and lecture me as usual. However, they were both very loving, supportive, and understanding. Their positive attitude confirmed to me that quitting my job was a word-taken from God.
A couple of weeks after this incident went by just fine. I was relaxing, enjoying my unalarmed mornings and spending quality time with my parents. The excitement didn’t last too long though. After a short while, I started to get bored and irritated by my tight financial situation. I decided to look for jobs and apply everywhere. Despite the significant number of sent resumes and filled applications, no single phone call was returned nor any interview was offered. I started to get really depressed. Not only that but also due to the lack of finances, I had to stay home most of the time. Refusing to hang out with friends by making up excuses because of my finances, made them gradually forgot about me. They stopped inviting me to their hangouts and my so called “friendships”, at the time, started to drop out one after another, except for a couple of close friends who stuck with me until today. My devastation reached its peak when I totaled my car on my way back from New Jersey, in a bad accident. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I ended up with no car, no money, no job, no friends, nothing. I felt handicapped and helpless.
I had no choice but to turn to God, not to ask for help but rather to wrestle with Him. “You are the one who allowed my foot to be broken in the first place. You are the one who gave me the green light to quit my job, I trusted You! You are the one who allowed the car accident to take place, though You know I can’t afford a new one due to being unemployed. You took my friends away from me. Look at me; I am broke, jobless, depressed, and weary,” I kept on going nonstop. My tears literally wet my bed. If God was a human, I would have sued Him for all the pain and brokenness He caused me. I recalled what the pastor said the other night about being broken. However, I saw no healing coming out of this, but rather destruction. I was not only physically broken at this point but also psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
Despite all of the above, there was this tiny light at the end of the tunnel. There was this slight taste of sweetness in a world filled with bitterness. After coming back from the retreat, Mark & I started to chat online. He realized that checking up on my foot was a valid excuse to keep in touch. We kept on chatting every other day. Slowly, we were getting glimpses of each other. He seemed to be decent, respectful, well-educated, and godly. His faith-based advice and comforting talks helped me a lot during tough times. Both of us started to develop interest in one another without noticing. Even though we had not gone on a single date nor had he asked me out yet, I was able to see him at church where we got to talk in person for a few times.
As my interest in Mark started to grow, I chose to put all these feelings and thoughts into prayers. I asked God to show me if Mark was a gift from His own hands. Being a FOB (fresh off the boat) who just moved from Egypt two years ago, un-purposed chatting and flirting were not an option. We were taught, as teenage girls back home, that the ultimate goal of any relationship between a man and a woman is marriage. If any male and female are talking, dating or courting, they should be pursuing marriage and nothing but marriage.
As I poured my heart out before the Lord to know His will, I received a phone call from someone who attended the retreat with us. The person asked if we could meet and talk. Since I was jobless and had all the time in the world, I agreed to meet the following day. At first, the person seemed nice and thoughtful. “How did you like the retreat, Marina?” I was asked. “It was very nice, I really loved it. I also loved the group and the fellowship,” I responded genuinely. “I am sure the group loved you too.” The sneaky response made me uncomfortable. However, it didn’t stop here, it resumed; “Listen, Marina. You seem to be a nice girl. And because I care about you, you need to be careful with Mark.” I stopped drinking my milk-shake and turned around to give the person my full attention. “Could you please elaborate? What’s wrong with Mark?” I questioned with worry. “I saw how he was looking at you in the retreat. If I were you, I would be so careful. He is such a player and does not take relationships seriously.” While the valuable advice was being delivered, I felt the coldness of an ice bucket being poured on my head.
What happened to the light at the end of the tunnel?
Someone just turned it off!
To be continued……