2
Aug
2013
0

Alone but not Lonely: My Ramadan experience

Funny thing- I tried to find the perfect picture for this blog post by doing a google image search for “alone” but all the pictures that came up were of sadness and despair. Not quite the type of pictures I was looking for. Being alone has a negative stereotype of being a time of sorrowful involuntary exclusion from those around you or society in general. However, when you are happy with who you are in Christ then being by yourself won’t bother you because you know you are never alone when He lives within you.

I have learned this lesson during this current time period of Ramadan in Morocco. Ramadan is a time period of fasting for Muslims and because Morocco is a majority Muslim country, most of the people in the country are now fasting together. To Moroccans, the occasion of Ramadan is treated somewhat like an annual celebration. During the first few days, people passed me saying, “Mabruk Ramadan/Happy Ramadan” in a celebratory voice. Everyday, families eagerly gather together during evening time to break their fasts with meals larger than normal and loved ones they may have not seen for awhile. For me, however, it’s felt like a party that everyone else is having fun in except for myself, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Although I respect the Islam religion, I disagree with many of it’s principles and, as a follower of Christ, have chosen to not participate in the festivities of Ramadan. This makes my volunteer experience quite different from other volunteers who have used Ramadan as an opportunity to integrate with the members of their communities. I disagree with this because I don’t believe that religious fasting should be used as a means to grow closer to humanity nor should it be treated as an activity. Fasting, if done properly, is a time to feel the creator of the Universe in a way normally not felt by others on this Earth. It is a time of peace where you have the opportunity to feel the love of God in solitude like no other. The joy and strength that comes from this is somewhat indescribable. It’s a practice that should not be taken lightly. I want the people in Morocco to get to know me for who I truly am. If I were in America, I would not be fasting for Ramadan, so why should I do it now just because I am in Morocco? When you fast, it should be done for God not for other people.

The choice I have made to not participate has left me in a state of solitude. I am alone a lot lately. Yet, for the first time in my life, I am learning what it truly means to be alone but not feel lonely. Before Christ, I can recall the need to always find someone to hang out with on Friday nights and the thought of going to the movies by myself was so far removed from my mind. Since I wasn’t content with myself deep down, I preferred the company of others over my own. The downside to doing this is that it caused me to lower my standards in friendships and waste valuable time in life that I could have spent either growing strength in myself through Christ or nurturing the relationships in my life that truly did matter. The people that I hung out with didn’t care for me as much as I did for them and when trouble hits the fan, it’s easy to find out who is really there for you in life. Nevertheless, this is no longer the case for me because I have found love and true friendship in Christ who lives within me. This saves so much more time and energy than my old way of entertaining relationships that I knew weren’t best for me in the long run.

 Looking back on it, I think I was also unhappy being alone because I defined happiness according to the world’s standards and was living my life in adherence to those guidelines. Additionally, there were people I hadn’t forgiven and because of that I had trouble forgiving myself for the wrongs in my own life. This made being alone hard because I had to face reality with no distractions. At the time, I was naive to my unhappiness and if you were to ask me: “how do you feel about your life right now?” I probably would have responded stating how content I was. However, truth is, I wasn’t. Although money, successful careers, and an endless education may provide you with temporary happiness these things will never truly fulfill you. Why do you think millionaires and celebrities commit suicide and end up in rehab? Because the things that the world teaches you are important, in reality, really aren’t. At some point in time, even millionaires and celebrities must deal with being alone and all that is present is the thoughts and worries of life that fame and fortune can’t cover up. If you haven’t truly dealt with these worries, they can attack you at your worst. I know because I have been there. They are the kind of worries that keep us planning busy schedules so we don’t have to face how we really feel about life. They are also the kind of worries that cause us to feel “lonely” when we really aren’t alone because we have Christ right there with us but are just too blind to see it.

Overall, I am thankful for this time to be without others during Ramadan. I know I will come out of it stronger and more faithful. After the people in my community finish their time period of fasting, I am sure I will integrate with those that God intends for me to meet. In the meantime, I will just enjoy this time of solitude.

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4 Responses

  1. Sara

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog because I am thinking about applying for PC…but this post was unsettling. As a Muslim, I found a lot of what you said to be offensive and misinformed. Muslims do not fast to get closer to other people nor is it a “party” in the recreational sense you wrote of. Fasting is strenuous and is meant as a means to come closer to God and to humble ourselves. Though difficult, it is a joyous time because the month is not solely for fasting, but also for refraining from other temptations and strengthening our faith. So if you say you respect the Muslim faith, I was puzzled to read the next sentence that states “fasting, if done properly..”- how can you deem what is proper or improper fasting? If we claim to respect the beliefs of others, we can’t in the same breath claim that their religious practice is improper. I’m not trying to attack you or your post, just wanted to highlight that maybe you should research more before exclaiming how someone’s practices are improper or try to explain the basis of these practices. In this case, your analysis was incorrect & the resulting feeling it gave me as a Muslim woman is what sparked my response. All the best.

    1. Hi there,

      Sorry that you were offended by the comments I made. Please take a closer look at my writing. The blog is about how I felt out of place during Ramadan because in the majority Muslim country where I live, I am not participating in Ramadan. Therefore, the reference to me saying that it felt like a “party that everyone else was enjoying except for myself” was to draw emphasis on the fact that Ramadan is a time where I have felt out of place, not to say that Muslims treat it as a “party” or something to have fun in. Also, I never said that Muslims fast to get closer to other people. Again, please read the blog more carefully. I said that other volunteers use Ramadan as a means to get closer to other people by using it as an opportunity to draw closer to the members in their communities. Also, when I said “fasting, if done properly…,” I was also still referencing the fact that I did not want to fast for purposes of integration as other volunteers have done, I was not demeaning or belittling the way that Muslims choose to fast. Again, the focus of this blog was to highlight how my Ramadan experience is different from other volunteers in that it has been a time of extreme solitude for me not to put down the Islam faith or beliefs. As I mentioned in the blog, I don’t agree with many beliefs in Islam but I do respect people who choose that religion and I stand by that statement. Nothing in this blog claims that anything about the Islam faith is improper or that any of their practices are incorrect, please re-read it more carefully and I think that you will see that.

  2. You can see you’re coming up on my newsfeed today! I think it is fine that you chose not to fast, but your stated reason doesn’t sit well with me. “I have chosen not to because I am a Christian.” Don’t Christians fast?

    Also, are coming closer to people and coming closer to God mutually exclusive?

    1. Hey Julie 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Yes, you are right, Christians do fast. However, there is a specific way that the Bible instructs followers of Christ to fast. In Matthew 6:18, Jesus instructs us that others are not to know about our fasting when he says, “That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” In other words, fasting should be a moment of submissive bonding between you and the Lord. Yes, other people can help bring you closer to God or vice versa but the actual act of fasting should not be done for the sake of other people, it should be done solely for God. Other people shouldn’t even know that you are doing it except in certain circumstances. For example, if someone were to fast but their married spouse isn’t fasting, I would think that it would be okay to let their spouse know that they are fasting. This is because God instructs us not to deny our spouses sexually. So, (if I were married) and fasting and my spouse asked me to have sex, it would be appropriate for me to let him know that I am fasting so I can’t have sex with him. This is an instance in which it would be okay to let someone know you are fasting. The idea of fasting for Ramadan just because I am in Morocco would be an example of fasting for purposes of integration. If I am doing it for integration purposes, then my sole purpose in my act of fasting is not to get closer to God and therefore a contradiction to His word; because as 1 Corinthians 10:31 says about fasting, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” These are not my words these are His-God should and will always be my main goal if I intend to fast for Him. Since I am typing and you can’t hear my voice, I want you to know I am not at all debating you nor do I intend to come off as rude. I just wanted to politely respond to your post. Just had to say that because sometimes things can come off the wrong way when they are read as opposed to spoken out loud. God bless you 🙂

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