By Sheetal Agrawal
I grew up in Houston in a loving, spiritual, Hindu home. Hinduism is a religion that believes that god can be manifested in many forms. It also believes in karma and the amount of good and bad karma you accumulate determines what your next life (reincarnation) might look like.
Growing up, I watched my parents model honest lives, always looking to help others in any way they knew how. Despite their generosity, our family always seemed to be going through some form of hardship and pain. The pain I saw my family go through all my life only strengthened my faith in god because as far as I knew, he would fix it. I didn't know who god was but I tried as hard as I could to be good so I could know him.
Done With God
One day, after I moved to Austin for school, my older sister called me crying with a broken heart. Hearing her talk about how hurt she was broke my heart, and I decided I was done with god. I thought he forgot my family and I gave up on him. I didn't think he could be good because he had ignored my prayers for comfort and reassurance all my life and now someone I loved was in despair, again.
As I walked to class after that conversation, I was overwhelmed and the pain I was feeling for my family practically immobilized me. I went inside the nearest building to compose myself. As I looked around, I realized it was a church, saw the cross and desperately prayed, asking Christ if He was real, to heal my family's hurt and to take my life if that meant bringing them happiness. In that moment, after 10 years of pleading with God to comfort me, I felt comfort and peace like I never had in my life. I went forward through college the next four years but never forgot that day.
Talking to Me
I graduated in 2009 and moved to Dallas for a job. A few months after moving, my trust in a guy was betrayed and all the pain in that moment and from the years past that I still carried crashed down on me.
I remembered the peace I had four years ago when I prayed to Christ, so I asked the Lord to heal and comfort me again, and as always, He showed up. I’d heard about The Porch from a friend a few months earlier so I decided to go that week. When I heard the speaker explain that God can use suffering to draw us closer to Him, I knew God was talking to me.
A volunteer at the Porch, Lauren Murray, befriended me and met with me every Saturday for months to explain why she loved this God so much. Lauren encouraged me to get into community and I begrudgingly heeded, but I spent the next year searching for answers other than Jesus. I focused on my success so I missed community group to work late, thinking the next promotion and job title would satisfy me. I looked for “the one” to marry and put my worth in what guys thought of me. I spent my weekends on McKinney Avenue “living the dream” and waking up to fuzzy memories of the night before.
Tired of the Double Life
Finally, the morning of Easter weekend, I woke up and was tired of the way I was living. I was tired of thinking my worth came from whether or not a guy wanted to marry me. I was tired of working for the next promotion. I was tired of thinking I was strong when I was weak. I asked God to help me, to forgive me, to make my ways His ways.
I confessed my double life to my community group and those girls came around me and loved me, prayed for me, and reminded me that there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1), that Christ took all that with Him on the cross. After living a life of trying to be good and work my way to try to know God, God came to me in the midst of my brokenness when I had nothing to offer Him.
God’s love and the love of His people attracted me to Christ. The more I learned about who Christ is and the love He displayed on the cross by dying for me, the more beautiful He became. God’s unconditional love has changed every aspect of my life, not by trying harder to change, but by surrendering to the One who never changes.