Twice this month I started writing articles on a subject I had something to say about, and for which I had done some research. Both times I found that that particular subject had been just covered by another author on this blog. Each writer, I felt, had taken the words right out of my heart -- and penned it more beautifully and coherently than I ever could have. So instead, I thought I would write about my time in Dallas when my husband went to school at Dallas Theological Seminary. About the people I met, about the God I worshipped, and about the man (my husband -- let's be clear on that) I fell in love with all over again.
For most people who've been there, DTS brings back fond memories -- the beautiful campus, friendly students, helpful staff, amazing faculty, the chapel, Luke's Closet, Swiss Tower, the quadrangle, Cafe Koine . . . the list goes on. For me, it brings back both pleasant memories and nightmarish ones -- of us rushing to the Baylor ER. Of men and women in scrubs, of needles and scalpels, stretchers and wheelchairs, bile bags and catheters.
Out of the four years that my husband studied there, I was in and out of the hospital for at least three. We were newly married at the time, and had just had our first baby. I was in constant pain and had no energy to care for the needs of my family, or myself. When they rushed me to the ER, they found that I had a golf ball-sized stone in my liver. Although they removed it surgically the first time, it was a recurring problem.
So yes, you get the picture of why this time is important in my life. During my time there I learned some important life lessons concerning my faith, family, friends and food. I'd like to share a few of those lessons as a testimony to what GOD has done for me . . .
I learnt that God is sovereign and in control all the time. I learnt that He is a loving Father. When He does allow suffering in my life, He carries me through that time and nurtures me as a mother carries her newborn and cares for it. Of course, while I was going through pain and suffering I did not feel that way. I wondered what sort of God would allow something like this to happen to His children who had come all the way from India to learn about Him? But in retrospect, I see the fingerprints of God throughout that entire ordeal. I see Him orchestrating every moment of our life there. I learned that only He can be my Saviour (not my friends, not my husband, not the doctors). I learnt that He brings healing in His way, and in His time.
Moving from a conservative culture like ours to the US had me a little nervous. I had never been out of the country before. And so when I walked into that first SWIM (Student Wives in Ministry) bible study meeting, I wondered how in the world I would fit into that sophisticated group. The women had beautiful apartments and well mannered children and ate dainty little snacks. But all that changed the next year when our bible study facilitator changed. She was American (cookie baking, bacon-loving American) but she was more Indian at heart than most of the Indians I had met. She opened her heart and her home to me. I could walk into her apartment unannounced and sob unashamedly on her shoulder about the baby I had miscarried or the test results that showed there were more stones.
The women in that bible study group and another bible study group that I was also a part of became more than friends to me. They not only took me in as their own but walked into my life and my apartment to cook clean and take care of my baby while I was in the hospital recovering. Although I was from a different country and different culture, they spoke the language of love that I understood. I learned that when a person is in need we don't have to say much. When we show love in action it speaks volumes.
I come from a large extended family, with many cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and in-laws. My family loved me when I was most unlovable. They showed me what it is to have Christ-like, sacrificial love. My extended family in the US reached out to me as soon as they saw my need. I saw my parents pray by my bedside and stay up with me when I decided to quit prescription pain medication. They loved me through the twitching and the jerking and the nausea. I saw them travel thousands of miles across the ocean every time I needed them. I saw my sister-in-law change bile bags without flinching in disgust. I saw her sacrifice time with her family to come care for mine.
I saw my INTJ-husband procrastinate his assignments and trade his As to care for my health. He calmed my fears while I was hallucinating under medication. He cleaned my filthy blister wounds with the utmost care. He rose above and beyond our circumstances to provide for our family, and still cried with me when I couldn't take it anymore. When I wasn't at my best, when I had nothing to offer, my husband loved me unconditionally and sacrificially just the way Christ loved the church.
With respect to food I learned many things during my stay there. I had no clue about the things processed foods could do to a person's health and body until I experienced it myself. As much as I had to pay attention to doctors prescriptions and advice, I realised that I had to learn to listen to my own body also. There were many recipes that I learnt there (Indian and Western), but that is a separate blog article for another time.
If you have been following the articles on the blog this month you will realise a thread connecting most of it. Most people have written about relationships, with their spouse, children, God and friends. When I look at my testimony, these are the key relationships that seem to stand out for me during that period of time.
In closing, let me share the words of a song by the group Avalon that has really ministered to me:
For as long as I shall live,
I will testify to love.
I'll be a witness in the silences
When words are not enough.
With every breath I take,
I will give thanks to God above.
For as long as I shall live,
I will testify to love.
Photo Credit : Flickr