Have you ever experienced a total God-moment out of nowhere that you absolutely never expected? I certainly have. Just yesterday, God showed me a few incredible things about His character. I’m still asking God why He did this yesterday and not before or even not at all, so we shall see what He reveals as time progresses.
Let me give you some context. Three years ago, around this time, I was preparing to head to India for the summer. It was my first time overseas. It was my first time flying alone. It was a time of so many firsts! Anyone who knows me in my daily life knows that I’m enamored with Indian culture. I know a lot about Indian culture and I’m proud of that fact. I’m typically more adept at discussing the differences that various Indian cultures have (yes, there’s more than one), than I am discussing Puerto Rican culture. To be quite honest, not many things interest me about Puerto Rican culture. Perhaps it’s because I was raised with it, or maybe it’s because I’m half Puerto Rican, or it might be because of my lack of Spanish fluency. Regardless, it doesn’t excite me as much as Indian culture. So, I typically show my love for India through my daily actions, never intending to “show off” my culture knowledge, but simply to partake in the things that bring me joy and the things I identify with. I don’t see myself bound to Puerto Rican or German culture. I see myself as a cultural chameleon. I find myself much more in Indian culture than any other culture and that’s absolutely okay. I think it’s given from Providence.
Some of these cultural practices I do include watching Indian movies, eating Indian food (with my hands), visiting Indian grocery stores, listening to Indian music, and trying to learn bits of Hindi, Bangla, and Malayalam (my favorite Indian languages). Well, I also like Tamil but I don’t know anyone who speaks it and I definitely can’t teach myself that language. Super complex and linguistically challenging. I line my eyes with Indian kajal. I enjoy adorning myself with Indian jewelry that I purchased while in India, or have been given as a gift from Indian friends. I let my love for the culture be known.
Right about the time before I left for India in 2015, I received an onslaught of discouragement and attack from people around me. Some friends subtly discouraged me by saying “It’s really dirty there.” or “The water is so bad. You’re going to get sick.” This came from someone who had only visited India for two weeks and had used toilet paper the whole time. Sorry, but I can’t trust your cultural competency when you choose to use toilet paper in a country where that’s not the standard. You really have to go out of your way to avoid that cultural practice.
Some attacks were much more direct. My brother screamed at me and told me I was going to a “disgusting country” with “disgusting people” and I was “going to get raped.” He also said that my “trip will not do anything” and that I was “just wasting my time.” Immediately I knew that was a Satanic attack and that the enemy was using my brother to discourage me. Those of us who know Scripture know that John 8:44 tells us that Satan is a liar and is the father of all lies/liars. Subsequently anything that a demon says is also a lie. I recognized this attack as a demonic attack and knew it wasn’t true. Yet, my heart broke for my brother. To be used by Satan to attempt to discourage me about India was a terrible experience for him. He couldn’t remember what he had said ten minutes after the attack ceased. This attack only strengthened my resolve: I was going to India and God was going to work miracles in and through me.
Now, one attack in particular was especially confusing to me because it came from someone I didn’t call friend. As a professing Christian, she and I became acquainted through my university’s ministry group, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We knew of each other and had a couple of conversations but nothing too deep. We had no real intimacy as friends. One day, shortly before leaving for India for the first time, I received a slew of Facebook messages from this woman, attacking my love for Indian culture. She essentially said that I’m weird for loving Indian culture and I should love my own culture. She went on to say that I potentially have a mental illness because I love Indian culture. What?! How does that make any sense? I was so perplexed and told one of my best friends about it. She encouraged me and said, “Gabby, this is just another Satanic attack on your life and Satan wants to deter you from going to India. Don’t take it to heart. It’s clear that God wants you to go to India, which is why Satan is attacking you this hard.”
This was three years ago and my trip to India did indeed completely change me and inspire me to pursue God’s call for my life in cross-cultural ministry. Although I never forgot this woman’s words, I had forgiven her a long time ago. Yesterday, I received an Instagram message request from this woman and clicked on it. She went on to give me a lengthy apology for what she had said three years prior. She told me that she was praying and God led her to apologize to me.
This led me to stay awake for several hours that night and ask God “Why did You want her to apologize now? What does this mean for my future? Talk to me, Jesus!”
I still haven’t gotten that answer yet, but I know God will show it to me in time.
Readers, never give up on people. I’ve had about two experiences like this where people apologize for prior misdeeds much later. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I receive those apologies. But, friends, don’t wait for an apology because it may not come. Just give it to God and let it go. I know it hurts, but don’t choose to keep that pain in your heart. Forgive them even before they apologize. That’s grace.