I call myself a Christian. So what? Behind that label, lies a story, one of brokenness, one of hurt, one of pain, one that is often forgotten. I come from a traditional Hindu family. My culture had taught me that it was only through hard work that I could hope to obtain salvation. I was to make myself worthy by upholding my religion; yet, I could not grasp how I could do such good on the outside, while falling apart on the inside. I felt as though I constantly had to change who I was to uphold a façade of perfection. I was willing to lose myself in order to please others because I had been taught to do so. I reached a point where I just wanted to be loved for who I was. I knew, however, that if I left the Hindu religion, I would be immediately disowned by my extended family. I would be abandoning a religion that defined my position and function in society. I would be giving up the life I knew. I thought I would be betraying the blood that ran through my veins and was torn between holding onto my culture and losing myself. I just wanted to be loved—after all, isn’t that what everyone wants?
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
How often do we find ourselves digging for love? I was looking for love in all the wrong places; digging my own cisterns. We dig our cisterns; we turn to friends, to lovers, to alcohol, to drugs, to sex – just because we want to be loved. But they are all broken; they cannot hold water; they never were able to hold water from the time they were constructed; there is no love in them. And one thing I have learned about digging is that, when we don’t find the water that we are looking for, we keep digging deeper and deeper, in the process losing the essence of who we are. I learned the hard way that the people I had surrounded myself did not love me; as soon as they could not control me anymore, they didn’t need me. There is only one spring of living water- only one who is true love.
My decision was a risk; it cost me the relationship I shared with my extended family, and it was social suicide in the Indian community. My dad, at the time, was also not a Christian, and I remember the daily pain we went through. It was only through losing the life I had known that I could find the love that fuels me today. I look back and realize that the largest blessing lies in the eye of the storm. It was when I lost all that I had, it was when my friends and extended family abandoned me, and it was when my entire world crashed around me, that I found myself; or rather, God found me. It was through the storm that I found the strength that allows me to maintain who I am today even when the world pressures me to change. I did not accept Jesus to abandon my culture, but rather to receive His love. I am no longer bound to a doctrine of good works because His love overlooks my wretchedness and accepts me just as I am. His love is powerful enough to wipe clean my past, and because of this, I give my future to Him. There is no love like God’s love: pure, perfect, unconditional, forgiving, eternal love. His love defines who I am. I am a Christian. Behind that label lies a story, one of forgiveness, one of reconciliation, one of love, one that should not be forgotten. I found love—after all, isn’t that what everyone wants?