I laughed and said, “What? I didn’t even know you were pregnant! I’m so glad to hear the baby is doing okay after that. I will continue to pray for you and your baby. I’ve really enjoyed your class, Professor Mohammad. I’m learning so much!”
Looking at me a bit surprised, she said, “Really? You think I’m a good teacher? But you’re auditing!”
I smiled and said, “Just because I’m auditing doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn. I have learned so much under you.”
I think that since I wasn’t taking the class for a grade, she believed me; I wasn’t kissing up to her.
Pensive for a moment, she looked at me and said, “I’ve lost two other babies. I was afraid I was going to lose this one too.”
I realized she was sharing something extremely personal with me as she embraced me in a firm hug and said, “Thank you for asking.”
All I had done was go up to her after class to ask how she was doing. I shared that I had prayed for her and expressed that I enjoyed her class. Those small steps seemed to open her up to me in ways I hadn’t anticipated or even looked for.
That night, like every other night, I was graciously awakened at 3:30 in the morning by the loud call to prayer blaring outside of my bedroom window. Usually, I’d just wake up briefly and then the chanting would lull me back to sleep. This night was different.
I felt impressed in my spirit to pray for my professor, her unborn child and her daughter, whom she had taken to the airport to fly to see her father. As I was praying, the Holy Spirit nudged me to write her a letter.
My first thought was, Is it safe to write her a letter with spiritual undertones? Would she wonder what our group was doing here? Would it blow our cover?
Whether it was safe or not, I knew I was being asked to write it, so I did.
Dear Dr. Mohammad,
Talking to you after class on Monday was very significant to me. One of my highest values is vulnerable communication, and for whatever reason, you chose to be vulnerable with me. It was my most precious, sacred moment so far in this country. Connecting with a person at a heart level about real life, feelings, trials, challenges, fears and failures means the world to me.
I am so glad you shared with me that you are pregnant and that your baby is fine after the accident. I saw you holding your stomach during class and I wondered if you weren’t feeling well. I am sure the car accident was scary, especially in light of your previous miscarriages. Though I am not a mother and have not experienced the physical and emotional pain of losing a child, my heart broke for you and the challenges you have had to face.
You are a very successful woman. You have accomplished already so much in your lifetime. I feel privileged to be taking your class at such a significant time in this country’s history. You have taught me so much already. However, I also know that you are not just a professor. You are a woman with a life journey, a life story, filled with joys and pain.
I learned after class that you just sent your daughter to America to visit her father there. That must be so hard and heartbreaking. I am sure there will be a great void in your heart while she is gone.
Last night, the call to prayer graciously woke me up at 3:30 am. Unlike previous nights, where the call to prayer wakes me up only to sing me back to sleep again, I felt drawn to pray for you. I know very little about you, and I have no clue as to what your religious beliefs or practices are. But I felt impressed upon my heart to pray for you, your baby and your daughter heading to America. As I prayed for peace, comfort and safety, a poem came to my mind that is one I treasure. The prophet David wrote it, and it is found in Psalm 139 in the holy Bible.
My theory, as I’ve traveled around the world, is that we humans have two great desires: to be fully known (all of our good and all of our bad) and still be fully loved. I guess I’ve become skeptical that this could be found on this side of heaven. I truly believe, though, where man may fail us, God won’t. That is why I often cling to this psalm when I wonder, “Why was I born? Does God see me? Know me? Does He care? Does He have a plan for my life?” I have come to believe that He does.