Should I have married that journalist from The Chicago Tribune when I was 23? Should I have taken that banking job when I was 26? Should I have stayed in my full-time job in Pune in 2008?
Everything in my life seemed like a missed opportunity in the months of June and July 2020. While the world battled with COVID-19, some of my friends found their soul mates and some got pregnant or bought fancy cars, I wondered what I was doing with my life.
Every crucial decision that I had taken over a period of a decade and a half, flashed before my eyes. All of my heartaches and rejections tumbled down one after another as regrets – deep regrets. My professional decisions looked like a joke, the freedom I was given to choose what I wanted to do with my life, now felt like folly.
My social media acquaintances who see my stories and posts almost every day probably think my life couldn’t be more perfect. Afterall, I show only the good things: blessings, accomplishments, pursuits, travels. Never my struggles or heartaches or failures. Who does that anyway? And so a major chunk of friends and my extended family had no clue that the ground beneath my feet was shaking.
Why exactly did I feel that way? A series of bizaare events – technically unconnected with each other. It indeed was the proverbial existential crisis – a term I despised half my life only to discover that I may have to face it when half my life was indeed over!
While my immediate family struggled to keep me sane in nights and days (sobbing, absent-mindedness and all), some well-wishers made my life worse. The last nail on the coffin turned out to be this family from up North. They were proposing their son for marriage. When the mother called, she sounded a mature woman with a strong faith. But eventually, both the mother and the son made it clear to me that since I was neither a nurse nor a teacher, they were doing a favour for even ‘considering me’.
I also noticed that they never asked me even for once why I chose writing. I asked the sister (of the boy) when her brother had accepted Christ – she had no idea (the boy wasn’t allowed to talk to me, by the way). Neither did they ask me anything about what was God’s purpose for my life or what I planned to do as a wife or with my life in general.
I wasn’t the suitable girl to marry because I was neither a nurse or a teacher. Which century is this? I also couldn’t help dwelling on a few facts: except for that Chicago Tribune journalist I mentioned earlier, most boys from India looking for a life partner (in me) had a clear criteria in mind: doctor, nurse, engineer, teacher. Nothing else mattered to them.
I recalled the boys I had got my hopes high for in the past: they all eventually married an engineer, a doctor, a nurse or a teacher.
I recalled how numerous times my parents were faced with questions such as: why didn’t you send your children for engineering or medical or banking? When they tried to explain that we weren’t interested in those streams, they were ridiculed.
These thoughts somehow dwelt on my mind during the months of June and July. I had been heart-broken and disappointed several times before. But this time and for the first time in my life – I was conflicted about everything: – my career choices, being a Christian believer, my choice about asking God for His purpose, my choice about serving God through my talents, my choice about waiting upon God for a husband. Should I have made the first move in the case of that Christian boy I had liked?
I got a minor anxiety attack a few days later, my family was scared and worried for me. How is this happening to me? Why did God seem so distant?
I turned to the counsel of some of my close friends.
These amazing women (one of them being a single girl herself, serving and has served overseas for many years) helped me recall the following things:
I must embrace the uniqueness God gave me
I am God’s daughter, my talents are not mine – they are God’s. I am a medium, a career of some talents. When I undermine my talents or my calling, or when I question the life and purpose I am sure God gave me, I undermine God’s gifts and His purpose for my life. These talents are meant to serve my creator. I was created for a purpose. And this ‘I’ includes the talents God gave me.
God uses the broken hearts
I was reminded of Psalm 51:17 that says – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Jesus healed people with deformities: mental, emotional, spiritual or physical. His famous eight beatitudes [Matthew 5: 2-12] were meant to be for the naive, the sorrowful, the meek, the broken-hearted, the mourning. In the words of Joni Eareckson Tada, “Suffering is the rule, happiness is the exception.” That doesn’t mean that God enjoys breaking me, but that He knows how to use my brokenness.
If you feel broken and useless, I encourage you to embrace Jesus. Kneel down and ask Jesus to come into your life. He is only a prayer away.
Every heartache must lead to self-evaluation
It does not matter if I am wounded due to my own mistakes or someone else’s, it’s always good to stop from time to time and evaluate myself. This realization made me read my old journals again where I read about my past mistakes and sorrows and how God had led me through those rough stretches of life. I wrote down things I didn’t particularly like in my own self and I put those things on to God’s feet: help me overcome these God! Wow! This was a good exercise. Who doesn’t want to grow afterall?
My immediate family and friends value me
How can I ever repay this specific blessing? Since my parents were starkly aware of my plight and my confusion, they made sure they reminded me how special I was to them. I remember Dad praying in one of those occasions: We stand with our daughter, Lord! We love the way you have shaped her and we are so proud of her!
I cried the night he prayed this prayer. But this time in happiness. I realized that I was truly surrounded by some self-less and loving people who didn’t judge me based on my talents or gifts or profession, they loved me just as how I was.
Meanwhile, a few mildly dramatic events made me stop in my tracks.
Event # 1: Out of the blue, I received the following comment by a retired army officer from Mexico.
This gentleman later told me about his brother’s life and how some of my blogs brought respite and hope to him.
Event # 2: I went to the usual women’s Bible study (that consisted of three women) one fine Thursday. That specific day, the new believer woman brought three more girls to the Bible study. I got a chance to share God’s promises from the Bible with these young girls. I was especially encouraged by Deepika who had accepted Christ only a year ago. She shared zealously about how Jesus had taught her during the difficult days of the lockdown.
Event 3: My dear friend Shanee introduced me to Bridgette who runs a newsletter for encouraging women around the globe. She connected me with two other writer women: Darlene – a mother of two living in Turkey and Christianna – a 23-year-old student who teaches violin and writes poetry. Since the three of us were contributing in her October newsletter, Bridgette did a video call with all of us where we shared about our vision, about our talents and just acknowledged how God uses our weaknesses as well as our talents for His glory.
Writing wasn’t an accidental event in my life. It was a talent God put in me when I was little so I chose it as my way of expressing things as I grew older. It was no accident that I said an honest ‘NO’ to a marriage prospect from Chicago when I was 23. I wasn’t ready for marriage then and I wanted to be honest with this man. It was no accident that this specific family from North didn’t ‘quite get’ my life because they weren’t meant to be my family.
In the months that followed, I was constantly reminded by God, people, my family and a string of events how my writing and my burden to teach from the Bible were influencing the world around me. And that was enough.
If you are in an unconventional circumstance, profession or living a life that’s far from being normal, I want to encourage you to press on. If you are confused, doubtful or broken, I urge you to hang in there. Confusion is part of life and an integral part of being human. You were chosen carefully for your calling, don’t ever let the society or conventional norms discourage you. Don’t let the current suffering or long-term pain lead you to doubt your existence.
I also realized that I never resented my friends who were professionals in STEM streams. I have friends who are nurses, teachers, engineers, accontants, bankers. I have nothing but immense respect for them. Why? It’s because I know them above and beyond just their professional identities. And I love them just as they are.
And here’s the best part
Many of my emotions and thoughts turned into an outburst of poetry. In August 2020, I decided to participate in Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Select programme. I actually ended up publishing my first book – Poems In A Chai Cup. Oh and don’t think for a second THAT was a smooth journey either. In fact, I got cold feet the night before I was to upload my book on Amazon. And yet my book made it to Amazon’s bestseller list in three categories.
All this and more in my next blog, watch this space!
Oh and you can buy my first book Poems in a Chai Cup here-
FREE RESOURCES TO ENCOURAGE YOU
I have been greatly benefitted by some podcasts lately. Some of these will benefit you too.
Are you doubting your calling?
– Listen to musician and author of bestselling series The Wingfeather Saga, Andrew Peterson talk about artistic dillemmas in this podcast: The Journeywomen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
– Listen to pilot Tammie Jo Shults who saved an ill-fated plane land safely back in 2018 in Fearless by Cissie Graham Lynch on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Do you think you have missed opportunities?
Read this influencer David Bruelmann’s blog – How to get rid of the fear of missing out?