Zahra grew up in a loveless Iranian home, with a domineering father. No matter what she did, her father was never satisfied. She assumed God felt the same way about her.
“Whenever I was doing my religious duties, I felt in my heart that I couldn’t make God satisfied,” Zahra said. “In Islam, I was looking for forgiveness, I was looking for love. I was looking for salvation. I wanted to be free from my chains, from my fear and my pain, but I didn’t find those things.
Zahra did all she could to mature in her Muslim faith: fasting for Ramadan every year, praying five times a day, constantly reciting the names of God while fingering prayer beads, and going to the mosque on Fridays. Yet even as she matured in her Muslim faith, she felt hopeless. Deep in her soul, she knew that despite her prayers, fasting, and religious duties, she would never be able to make amends for her actions. True forgiveness seemed unattainable.
“And so I always had this fear of standing before God: how would I answer for my actions?” Zahra said.
Without hope of any future redemption, Zahra sunk into depression. It reminded her all too much of her childhood and her father whom she could never please. When she got married, she hoped to find answers to her seeking in love. But her husband was much like her father, and she entered a loveless and unforgiving relationship. He struggled with addiction and often verbally abused Zahra with violent swearing. She had no say; his word was law in their home. She lived in constant fear of triggering his anger. Then something changed.