Featured Image: Behroz Redhead with her son, Nalen, and husband, Randy. Photo by Anjholena Blumer
Experience

Never Retreating a Single Step

by Behroz Redhead
Wimauma, Fla.

When we vigorously chant [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo], the sun rises brightly in our hearts. Energy surges, compassion wells forth, joy radiates and wisdom shines. All the Buddhas and heavenly deities—the positive forces of the universe— spring into action. Life becomes enjoyable. Nothing is more powerful than [chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]. (Ikeda Sensei, May 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 35)

No matter how desperate a situation we find ourselves in, Ikeda Sensei encourages us that we can always break through, as long as we have courageous faith and never retreat a single step. This couldn’t have been truer for me and my family when we faced the unimaginable in fall 2018.

Around that time, my husband, Randy, our 1-year-old son, Nalen, and I fell sick. It became progressively worse in 2019, forcing me to take medical leave from work. Doctors told me that my immune system had collapsed, something they would see in terminal patients, but they couldn’t pinpoint the root cause.

With the innate wisdom that came from both of us chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, my husband and I suspected mold. An inspection revealed that there were over 30 types, including toxic black mold that can be deadly, growing in our AC system. Our landlord denied the issue and refused to help.

Our lives now depended on us moving. Most rentals of comparable size were beyond our budget, so we prayed for a solution. Many nights Randy would chant until 4 a.m. We started looking at buying a house because mortgage payments would be less than rent.

We were referred to an amazing realtor who helped us find our dream house, which we had a chance of purchasing with a loan from a government agency that didn’t require a down payment. However, we were no longer preapproved because of new restrictions on people with student loans, which my husband was still paying off.

We met with many lenders and government representatives and were told no about 30 times. Some of the them even laughed at us and said we were crazy for trying. Determined, Randy and I drove over two hours to Gainesville, Florida, to try to meet with a senior state official and request an exception regarding their new guideline. Without an appointment, we somehow managed to sit down with him face to face. After engaging in dialogue, he agreed to do it! He said it usually takes up to 45 days for government loans to process, but he would try to get it done in one day.

Before securing our new home, however, we were forced to leave our rental. Fortunately, we had close friends we were able to stay with. We are eternally grateful to them.

Our lender was working hard on our behalf, but they submitted files with many errors. As a result, the government agency suddenly denied our application. With tears rolling down our faces, my husband and I chanted to the Gohonzon and vowed to get a new home that we could make into a kosen-rufu embassy.

At this time, in July 2019, we fully engaged in the youth discussion meeting campaign. Many times, right before a home visit while fighting as a chapter young women’s leader and region future division leader, I would get more difficult news, which felt like I was being punched in the gut. But I would still walk in ready to encourage the youth in front of me. Our chapter surpassed our attendance goal and had a vibrant meeting with several guests, including three of Randy’s co-workers.

The next month, I spoke on the phone with government representatives, including a senior official, but they said no waiver had ever been done in the country.

That night, I told a senior in faith how I had wished that my husband’s student loans didn’t exist. After realizing that I wasn’t taking full responsibility for what was our shared karmic struggle, I went to the Gohonzon and prayed deeply to not have the slightest resentment toward these loans and determined to take them on as my own. Randy and I vowed to transform this debt and show actual proof to others who struggle with this.

The next morning, our lender called and said that our loan was suddenly approved by the government! We later learned that our lender had lowered our interest rate, not once but twice! We defied all odds and closed on our kosen-rufu home that week on Aug. 19, 2019! Our agent’s business partner was so encouraged that she started chanting with me in our new home.

Our family is grateful for the obstacles we fought through because they pushed us to accomplish our dream. But more than anything, our conviction in our prayer is stronger than ever, and we have developed unbreakable unity as a family, or as Randy says, “We’re unstoppable.”

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