God always has a plan; and He always works what man means for evil, into good for His kingdom.
I have to get this off my chest, as it's been weighing on me for awhile. So here's a journal entry and a little more raw glimpse into my feelings.
About 3 years ago, God provided me with one of the biggest blessings of my life so far. I met my future husband. The small portion of the journey we have covered so far has included some of the biggest joys and biggest heartbreaks of my life. God has challenged my faith, and strengthened it beyond what I ever dreamed!
Neel has given me a picture of true love. I remember the first time he saw me sad. He noticed right away and cared about what was causing it. No one had ever noticed if I was sad before. No family member, friend or coworker - I thought I was excellent at hiding it. But he noticed. And not only noticed, but cared. The first time he saw me cry, he also got tears in his eyes. I don't remember anyone crying with me before. If I'm having a rough day, he's always soft. If someone hurt me, he can get tough :) He thanks me for pointing out things he can improve on and helps me cook dinner even after a long day working. His entire perspective is so much different than anything I grew up with and it never ceases to amaze me. I have also loved the "masala" (Hindi word for spice) that Indian culture adds to our lives. We get to celebrate twice the amount of holidays, and cook twice the variety of foods, and speak twice the amount of languages compared to families with the same culture.
Of course, we've had our adjustments as a married couple, but truly, I feel that God has revealed so much of His love to me through Neel. One of the most poignant pictures of God's love has been adjusting to sleeping beside someone else... I am not a touchy person - I didn't grow up giving or receiving hugs or any type of physical touch. However, Neel's favorite way to sleep is with his arm around me - all night long. lol. I thought that was romantic for about the first 5 minutes. And then I couldn't get to sleep and he was sound asleep 😂 The first few nights, I would try to sneakily roll over to the edge of the bed once I thought he was asleep, but he would always adjust so that his arm was still around me. I did eventually learn to sleep like that and it makes me feel so safe and protected. The other day I was thinking of how much that is like God's love. We may try to rebel or run away, but He's always there to gently protect us. Even if we get annoyed at God or try to sneak away, He's always there for us. And His plan will always bring the best for us.
Despite all the joy of the last couple years, there have been some trials. It was very hard for my family to accept someone from another country. There are so many stereotypes and I have heard them all. I was completely shocked to find out exactly how racist my family was. It took my immediate family over a year to accept the fact that I was dating Neel and even up until the day of my wedding, I was receiving pressure to leave him. I grew up in a very conservative cult. I say cult although I never thought of it as a cult until this past year. Even after I left to find a more Biblical church, I didn't see it. (A cult is by definition: a small, isolated religious group with extreme beliefs)
Within this small, isolated group, I grew up very close to a large extended family - literally hundreds of cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. I attended all of their weddings - I helped serve, stood up with them, cleaned up, or helped however they asked. When it came time for my wedding, not a single one attended. Not a single cousin showed up. No aunts or uncles. Not even my own brother. The only family that attended my wedding were my parents (after much protest), my sister, and my grandma. The only one that never questioned coming to my wedding was my grandma. Even my parents and sister took a long time to agree to attend. Each of them had their own "reasons" which basically boiled down to a common thread that my marriage, to my loving, kind husband - went against their "beliefs." My love and my commitment - somehow affected their beliefs. Instead of a day to celebrate love and support me, they somehow twisted it into a day focused on themselves.
I felt utterly and completely abandoned. My entire extended family shunned me, after I grew up being told that "shunning is a sin and we do not do it." I struggled for months feeling that I was an unworthy bride, that somehow I wasn't good enough for others to love me. I wasn't loveable. I spent so many nights crying. Instead of trusting me (who they have known all their life), they hated someone that they had never even met so much that they chose to not be there on the most important day of my life. Instead of loving and supporting me, they chose to turn their back on me when I needed them. I went through every stage of grief and bitterness. I had never experienced such deep hurt in all my life. In fact, I was so naive that I didn't even know this kind of pain existed. Or that others could be so cruel and cold. Never before had I struggled with forgiveness, but this time I was. I would read my Bible every night and then cry to God to please help me forgive them, when all I wanted to do was hate. I wanted them to feel my pain. But God slowly began to show me that even if they never realize what they did to me, it's okay. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sins of people who will never realize what they did wrong. But still - He loved them.
And slowly, a new, deeper faith grew in my life. Today, I finally have peace when I think about it. I still feel hurt, and I still cry. But I no longer feel bitter or angry. I no longer feel hate. And although I doubt I will ever be able to have a true relationship with the people that I grew up with, I don't have ill feelings for them, or wish them any pain.
My wedding day was truly beautiful. I don't think it could have turned out more beautiful, even if there had been 20x the amount of people. I was so happy, and felt so loved by the friends that showed up for me. And looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. God has a way of purifying and removing the dross in your life. And sometimes, it's going to be a painful process. But the end result is so worth it. 💗