jueves, 25 de diciembre de 2014

Christmas: यीशु Yīśu عیسی Eesa இயேசு Iyēcu

I used to have a friend who hated Facebook. Maybe not Facebook. It was more like she hated all the people on Facebook who pretended to have perfect little lives. As she read their statuses, she could not believe they were so freaking happy. Smiling here at restaurants. CLICK. Posting photos of your yummy food every single meal. CLICK. Showing off things they had just bought, and quoting "Feeling blessed"

WHAT THE HELL is wrong with people?, she would ask me. Then again, you also had the ones who complain about every single thing that happened in their lives. And we would talk about all this as we spent time together trying to make sense of our own lives. Humanly speaking it made her feel crappy about her life to see other people being that happy. I knew it wasn't right, of course, but knowing people's sufferings sometimes made me feel better about my own life, too.

The truth is that nobody is perfect. Nobody can be Facebook happy ALL the time. 

Putting up Christmas tree

So I was just wondering on our way back from the hospital if I have made people feel miserable about their lives when I talk about how freaking happy I might be, or if I have actually made them feel better when they look at my struggles. Not that it is under my control. I cannot make them happy or unhappy. It's their choice, but you get the idea.

Then I realized that my struggles might be silly-non sense to people with different perspectives. But even my father-in-law told Emerson the other day that something was going on with me. He was constantly asking Emerson if I was doing okay. He noticed that every time I wrote a post on the blog there was something I was not saying.

My father-in-law! Of all people! And I mean that as a compliment, because he is, well... a man. I didn't think he could read under the lines. If you stick with me and read this, I assure you, there is a point to be made. If not, then just look at my perfect little life through the photos. It is THE LONGEST post I have ever written. So take breaks or do what you need to do.

Here it is, people. Prepare to be entertained with my deal of struggles, because the blog is about to get real. I cannot take it anymore. 

Learning about lights


I’m having such a difficult time adapting to this culture in so many ways, and in so many levels... I am trying to understand why it is that they do the things they do. I think I had already mentioned it before, but there is an abysm between our understanding. It is a cultural thing. I know it. Not with everybody, I guess. But mostly, yes, with the majority.

What it is common sense to me, it is unknown here or unheard of. For example, a friend of mine (who is very familiar with the Indian culture) very graciously explained to me that the words please and thank you do not exist in Tamil. People kind of expect things from you. So that translates in a lot of frustration for me, but also for Libby and Enzo. Libby is struggling with these things at school. She wants people to treat her as I am teaching her to treat them, but life is not fair. So at the playground, I am the one teaching her to give turns to other children, but she still feels it is unfair. And it is.

Almost ready

I don't think this is even an India-issue, you know. Courtesy -for me- should be universal. This may happen everywhere in the world. But boys push Libby at the playground without care, and when I asked them gently to be gentlemen, that word does not even ring a bell. Maybe it is just me. I am still giving everybody the benefit of the doubt.

A lady -a grandma- took Libby off the swing without asking Libby or me. I was right across. The grandchild was standing next to the grandma, and she pointed to the swing. I didn’t make anything of it. Next thing I see, the lady stops the swing, puts Libby down, and puts her grandchild on. I looked at the grandma, and said nothing. Nothing came out of my mouth. Nothing. I am really slow to speak in these situations. I don’t think I think fast enough to know what to say. I honestly believe it is a blessing because whatever words would come out wouldn’t be pretty. 

Children from other families yell at me, expecting me to push them on the swing. I asked a boy to politely say please to me, but he refused. He literally ordered me to push him. I am sorry, but I just couldn't push him. I just could not. Other mom (not his mom), giving me the look, came and pushed him.  

Nativity Scene

Anyway, when my children disobey, or go against the rules we have set for them, I think some moms make fun of me at school. When I make my children apologize or say please, or thank you, or just the general way I deal with them, I just can tell I am being made fun of. Some moms always talk in Tamil about me. I know it for a fact because they even mention my name. Tamilians can roll their tongues so beautifully that the R in Karla sounds Mexican. Like FERROCARRIL kind of R. And the faces, and the giggles, and the whispers... it's not playful, harmless talk. I think they judge me. 

I am a woman. I have done it. I just know. 

Everything takes five times the time it is supposed to take. Processes are inefficient. I had to meet with seven people to be able to get a vaccine. Seven different people! Dragging a process over a month to get a vaccine. Then Libby gets a fever in the middle of the night, stomach pain, vomit. Rush her to the hospital. ER doctor prescribes medicine for the pain, and then tells me the pharmacy is short on that one right now. Oh, great...

My computer broke, and so my children -poor them- were only able to use the tablet and my cellphone. Internet connection sucks... So here I am whining about how I should handle myself and my children at the playground, and my first world problems...



Children died two days ago over a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan. Islam calls itself the true religion, but then you see these things happening. I would never become a Muslim based on this. 

Then you see Christians in India telling other people they are going to hell if they don't follow Jesus, and calling people demons. Missionaries offering people money if they convert to Christianity. Christians telling other people they can do whatever the hell they want because Jesus saves them. I cannot blame people for not wanting to be Christian. I wouldn't want to be one. 

Hinduism has its share of things, also. Once you are not disturbed in mind when there is happiness, and you have no attachments, and are free from anger and fear, then you are free (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2 Verse 56). You know, free to go to Krishna. No more reincarnations. I wouldn't want to follow Hinduism as a way of living based on this, either. Could you imagine? I cannot even get this life straight... the cycle of death and rebirth can just go on and on and on forever. You might never achieve perfection. I know I wouldn't. No matter how hard I try, my karma from past lives will always be hunting me. 

Already having fun

Get this, tough. I am not going to defend Christianity AT ALL. Maybe you are even gonna love this post. Who knows? Whoever reads it... Specially my children when they grow up. I am writing with them in mind. 

Right now I am mad at every single thing a fellow Christian can tell me. I am mad at the world, at myself, the system, this place - you name it. I am hating going to church, which is why we haven't gone. And I blame Emerson (most of the time) because he has gone thru this longer than I have. But deep inside, I feel the same way. I do not want to go to church. And if I hear one more person say "Praise the Lord for this awesome weather", I am going to punch them in the face! 

This is very recent in my book. All these mixed feelings about Jesus, Krishna, and Muhammad are very, very recent for me. It's kinda weird because exactly one year ago I was talking about the same things on Christmas 2013. Read the bold letters addressed to my children. Same struggles, different perspective. All this used to be non-sense for me, you know. I was isolated in my own safe Christian bubble. Everywhere I looked, I had always been surrounded by wonderful Christian people. People who were hardcore followers of Christ. But here, in Chennai, I don't see many. 

Everybody's night nights

I am not saying there are not many. All I am saying is that in the little Christian bubble I've found here, I have been given a funny look when I tell them about my struggles, my questions, and my personal fights. Mainly, they gave me a "Tsk, tsk" attitude when I pondered the fact that I am hanging out with two friends that I hold dearly in my heart. Their faiths are different than mine. It was not about the friends, obviously. Anybody can have friends. The look came when  I told them that for the first time in seven years, I could no longer answer to the following question: Is Jesus really the Only Son of the One and Only True God? 

My fellow Christians looked at me like I had told them I just killed a man. 

Making Halal Gum Drops

Libby and Enzo,

A year ago you didn't have much to choose from. Libby, you don't like idlis. You want oatmeal with honey every morning. Every morning. 

Libby, we are struggling with you so much... You yell, you scream. You have so much anger and frustration inside you. I don't know what the hell we are doing wrong. Your teacher says you are a perfect little girl, tough. Sathya ma'am cannot believe you throw yourself to the floor every single time you are not getting your way lately. She refuses to believe that sweet Karla throws temper tantrums on the floor at Nilgris on a regular basis. You are so sweet, kind, and respectful at school. You are actually a role model for everybody at your class. They ask the other children to be more like you, saying please, and thank you. Always. 


The only thing you have to work on is interacting with people. You are not comfortable in big groups, and you refused to cooperate in the Diwali festivities. You did not want your photo taken for the big cameras. Good job for standing up for yourself and saying NO when you don't feel comfortable! I won't ask you to change. You have your dad's personality. That's you. And I love you. Yes, you have to hang out with people, but I won't change you. You will learn to interact. Your dad is still alive. You will survive :)

You are rocking at school, tough. I know you would. Your academics will always be the least of my concerns, believe me. There is more to life than getting a freaking A+ all the time.

Making ginger cookies

Your dad and I are talking and talking all the time lately about your behavior. Are we being too strict with you? Are we exasperating you? Are we asking for perfection? Are we to give in with your requests? It's not like you don't have a point... But your blood boils inside you. You scream to the top of your lungs, you hit me sometimes, and you just get yourself so worked up that you throw up. All over you not getting your way. And we are the parents. We make the rules. If we say no, it means no. 

We question whether or not we are doing this parenting thing the way God wants us to do it. You are so sweet... You are. And you can be mean, and rude, too. You called me fat the other day, and you really hurt my feelings. It's not like you called me fat, and giggled. No. You looked at my face, and like a mean girl in your expression, you said, "Mommy, you are fat! You are so fat!" 


You also told your Daddy you didn't like spending time with him. You have told me you don't like it when we give you timeouts. We don't like it, either. Just so you know. You know when you do right and when you do wrong. You know the difference now. And it breaks my heart to see you choosing wrong over and over lately. And you even enjoy it...

But we love you. As your parents, we refuse to let this get in between us. As you were exhausted from all the crying, and almost falling asleep, I told you that this is where faith becomes practical. That all the things I've said about Jesus and God are personal. That no matter what you do, and no matter what you say, and no matter how you behave, we will always be here for you. Because we love you the way we do because that is how God loves us. That's how He loves you. 

Akschu and Ramajee Amma

Enzo, my boy, you still hit Sissy sometimes when you are upset, and your bottom keeps on paying the consequences of your choices. A man of God should never hit a woman. You also struggle with temper tantrums and your crying is so high pitched, I don't even bother anymore. For all I know, neighbors might think I abuse you, because you cry for almost every single thing. Specially taking a shower. And you scream when you get upset. And you tell me NO for almost everything I request from you. 

But you are such a sweet boy also. You are not interested at all in shapes, or letters or reading. Somehow your Sissy is managing to teach you. I don't try anymore because you always say no. You love watching videos about cars, and planes and trains going super fast. You watch the video of the train falling down on Back to the Future. And you like cheese. And you want idlis every morning, and chocolate milk. You are a gentleman. You are polite, so polite for a two year old. You care for Sissy when she is upset. You come into our bedroom in the middle of the night on a regular basis, and we love having you with us.

Enzo and Nikil

You love your Daddy because he is so silly. You like coloring with crayons, and using the paints, and you always get so dirty. 
We love you, Enzo, and we are so proud of the boy you are becoming. God is working in your life in ways you cannot even imagine.

Guys, last year I told you you didn't have to follow Jesus just because I do. You really don't. That's not even real, you know. You are not a Christian because you were born in a Christian family. Following Jesus is a choice. And I myself got pretty confused in this journey just recently. 

Know that Mommy has gone through it, and I will explain what happened here. I hope it will help you to deal with these issues in your lives if you ever find yourselves in the midst of something like this. If you never question what you believe, then you are blindly following. I don't want that for you. 

Opening gifts!!

Last year I told you I wanted to be loved, to be cherished, to be forgiven for the things I know I do wrong. I still don't feel like reincarnating. But Auntie Sugirda believes in that. She has organized her life based on what she believes to be the truth. And she has her struggles. Struggles that she has shared with me. And I love my friend, you, guys. 

Last year, Hinduism was just one more non-sense religion: Just be, be free. Many gods, but all submitting to Krishna. There are so many things in their Holy Book that still just don't make sense to me. 

But this year, Hinduism has a face. Many faces, actually. Sugirda's face. And Niko's, Akshu's, Kannadasan's, and Meena's to name a few. 

And that's a game changer, you, guys.

Sugirda, Niko and Akshu

Last year, Islam was another religion that I didn't buy into. Not with all the violence, and the verses in Quran about Jews being apes, and the Christians pretty much being misled. I just cannot understand how Allah would let His Word being corrupted. Either Allah is not that powerful to protect His Word, or Quran has an error, or Jesus was telling the truth. But there is no argument to be made there since the Bible has been corrupted according to Islam. 

Then again, I close my eyes and see Faiza's face. And Irfan's, Daanu's, Qareena's and Ayerah's. And I cannot begin to tell you how funny they are, and how down to earth they seem to be. And how kind Irfan is with you, Enzo. And how many times Faiza tells me to stop giving you oatmeal every single day or else... These people are not perfect, I bet. But they are not terrorists. 


All I have always wanted to be offered is hope with my struggles. And following Jesus for seven years has given me that hope. Not the people, not the pastor. God has given me hope through Jesus. 

But as I get to know these sweet people, I began to wonder, What the heck do they even believe? How do I relate to them? What do I talk to them about? Do we have something in common at least? Or we don't have anything at all?  What if what I believe is not true? Is Jesus who He said He is? 

Making apple muffins for breakfast

These books on Hinduism that I began reading addressed Jesus as a guru, but they said He never claimed to be God. But He did. I know He did, because I have read it in the Bible. So then, what the heck? For them it doesn't even matter because they will get to god at some point or another. Then I read about Islam. They believe in Jesus as a messenger from Allah. They acknowledge Him as a true prophet of God along with Moses. But the Bible states Jesus regarded himself grater than Moses, and that Jesus even claimed to exist before Moses, and even Abraham... So then, what the heck, again?  No matter what the Bible says, I'm still screwed, because according to them, the Bible has been corrupted. 

I  have a lot going on in my plate beginning with taking care of you, you know... But then I also started having questions about what I believed. I had doubts. But I still wanted hope. And I still want love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. To be loved. For real.

Daanu and Libby

Then, get this, you, guys. The people who are supposed to side with me on this, on my struggles, on my questions, on my failures, on my shortcomings... The people who share my faith, and my beliefs... they look at me funny. They look at me like I have no idea what I am talking about. They cannot relate. They cannot relate maybe because they have never questioned Jesus' divinity, or maybe because they have always been Christians. Their parents are Christians, and their grandparents, and their great-grandparents. 

My friends, I felt like saying, I am a first generation follower of Jesus. My husband, too. So excuse our stupidity. So what? God has no grandchildren. It doesn't matter if your mom or dad follow Jesus, Jesus wants you to make the decision for yourself. 

Libby's gift :)

Still, I tell them about my struggles, and how I am dealing with them, and you know what they did? They gave me answers by The Book. 

Do you think I came to India wishing for this? Do you think I don't beat myself over and over every freaking day about the fact that I am doubting the very roots of my faith? That I am not trying hard to make sense of this all? And even if I make sense of it, it doesn't even make sense at all? I don't want answers... I want you to listen. I want you to tell me that somehow, God would meet my needs if He is who He says He is... But no. You cannot tell me that. You gave me a perfect Bible verse. You have theology, and you gave me the perfect talk on how to listen to God, and how to listen for His will in my life. Don't you think I know that? I mean, for the past seven years I've been reading the same book you are reading... Can't you relate to me? Can't you understand what I am going through? Can't you show me how imperfect you are, just like I am showing you how imperfect I am? Because there is no freaking way that you are Facebook perfect! 

Man, no wonder why people don't like them - us. Seriously, it's a no brainer. 

Good lollipop!!

And you know what, guys? I have done the same things to other people before. I am as guilty as them. I haven't loved people like Jesus said I should love them. Mommy has hurt people's feelings, too. Mommy has hurt you deeply, I am sure. I try to be my best, Nani, Papu... But I'm imperfect.

So as much as it hurt, my boy and my girl, I literally thought, "[F***] this. I'm flying solo." 

So one day, I pray... and this is in the middle of the day with you fighting almost all the time. I asked God to show me whatever it was I had to see. I told Him I did believe there was only One True God. I asked Him to guide me, to make my faith strong again. What is it that I needed to do, or believe, or accomplish? I believed that if He was that powerful, then He would come to my rescue. He would meet my needs, whatever they were, because to be honest, I didn't even know what the struggle was. 


I knew about God. I knew about Jesus. But was Jesus my Savior? I doubted His deity. I did. And I felt awful. I cried nonstop for like, three days. Libby, you even asked what was wrong with me. And all I could say was that I was very sad. You obviously asked why. And I said I was sad because of Jesus. What else could I have told you? It's not like I was gonna explain to you all these things in 2 minutes. You smiled. And you hugged me so hard, that I knew this was gonna take a while to figure out. But I never felt afraid. Whatever it was that I was after, God would be there. 

So literally, I dived into these two books. The Quran, and the Gita. There were so many contrasting things between each other and also with the Bible. I didn't even want to read the Bible. I just thought I had read enough of it. I was not going to be biased. I was still sad for my own struggles and my own questions, but somehow I ended up putting those aside, and was able to see things differently. Somehow in the middle of all this non-sense, I remember I heard once and church that faith is like a muscle. Trials and situations like the ones I was facing are the things God sometimes uses to stretch our faith muscle, and make it grow. 

Pondicherry, 2014

Yeah... Why now? Why like this? I don't know... But faith has to be tested. Everybody will believe in something if you give them total assurance. But God is not pleased if you don't trust Him completely. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Plus, practically speaking, He can do whatever the heck He wants, right? He is God. 

I won't write about all I found in Quran, Gita and the Bible. This struggle of mine was way beyond religion. Yes, I had to answer the original question "Was Jesus my Savior? "

But through it all, there was something else in my mind and in my heart that I  just couldn't put together. Then I heard Andy Stanley...

I will, to the best of my ability, try to shorten his teachings so that you can see what was my aha-moment through all this Krishna, Jesus, Allah non-sense. 

Selfie on Christmas Eve, 2014

"There are two categories of people who’ve influenced your life profoundly. Two categories of people who have made you the father you are today or the wife that you are today. Two categories of people who have set you up for success or failure in your personal relationships. 

And what's interesting about these two categories of people is they did not influence you because of what they believed. They might have not even being Christian, or even religious at all. The two categories of people that have to do more with who you are, are those who have hurt you, and those who have loved you. Those who have hurt you deeply, and those who have loved you profoundly.



This is what it is so important that we who say are followers of Jesus get this right. Because if we would just simply did what Jesus did, instead of arguing about what He said, the world would be a better place".

I think this changed completely the focus of my entire struggle, you, guys. Because Jesus never said, "Believe correctly. By this, people will know that you are my followers, if you believe correctly".

Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you. By this, everybody will know that you are my followers. If you love one another".

Giving gifts to Ramia and Pachamma

"And here’s the problem with loving the way that Jesus loved… When you open the Bible and you see at the way Jesus loved,  it is like, this call to follow him is a little bit terrifying.

When you look at the way Jesus loved, there is a tension there. And it’s a tension that to some extent all of us want to resolve… But when you open the New Testament, you see that the way Jesus loved was inconsistent. At times you had to say, ‘Okay, that’s just unfair’.  At times Jesus seems to be forgiving, and at times He seems to hold everybody accountable. At times He is harsh, and at times he is kind. At times He points out sin, and at times it’s like he completely ignores it. 

Getting pumped for Christmas photo

Best of the best, worst of the worst can be in Paradise. That tension, you try to resolve it… you lose something. Jesus makes everybody uncomfortable. He looks at a woman caught in adultery, and does not condemn her. He tells her, ‘I don’t condemn you. Just go, and leave your life of sin’  

— EVERYBODY: Jesus, Which one is it? I don’t condemn you or you are a sinner? 
— JESUS: Yes. I don’t condemn you. Now go, and leave your life of sin. 

Did Jesus have to bring the sin part? Yes. Then how can Jesus tell her she is not condemned? Because that’s how Jesus loved… Jesus was the embodiment of Grace and Truth. 

If you want to know what Jesus meant by what Jesus said, you watch what Jesus did. 



You know how He loved me, you, guys? How He loved you? 
How He loved everybody in this world?

Jesus called sin sin, and then He paid for it. And having paid for it, He declared, ‘I don’t condemn you.’ And then He says to all of us, ‘Now that I have paid for it, leave your life of sin. And if you don’t leave it, I LOVE YOU. And if you can’t, I LOVE YOU. And if the woundedness of your own sin has left you to the place that you are not even sure you will ever be able to walk away from the complexity of your sin, I LOVE YOU. And if someone has sinned against you, and has sent you into a spiral of self-destructive behavior, that you are not even sure you’ll ever recover from it, I LOVE YOU. And the truth is you are a sinner, but the grace is I don’t condemn you. And no one will ever love you more. And I could not love you anymore myself.’

 Neelankarai's Sasquatch

I want this love. I want this Savior. And I consider it it pure joy, guys, that I am able to love others with the same love that was given to me for FREE. 

Merry Christmas :)

The Journey so far :)

Christmas 2014, Tryst Café

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