Through Her Eyes
My name is Lakshmi, and I am a beloved child of God. I know this now, but it wasn’t always this way. I used to believe that I was untouchable, unloved, and unworthy.
My birth happened in a hut in a neglected village in India. My parents were in the untouchable caste, and so I too was considered untouchable. I was lucky to even leave the hut. Many girls are suffocated at birth. We’re too expensive for our families to raise.
Growing up, I never went to school. Instead, I helped my mother around our home while my brothers went to school. I collected water from a stream across the forest and boiled this water to make our rice. The food always went to my brothers first. If there was any left, I got a couple bites.
What my parents didn’t know is I would gather some fruits or leaves in the forest to eat. So I made due. I was still a lucky one though. A man came to my village a few months earlier and many of my friends were sold to the rock quarry. Their families needed the money more than mine I suppose.
As soon as I had my first menstrual cycle, I was married off. My family promised three buffalo in exchange for me. The ceremony was arranged, my husband came to my village, and we were married. After three nights in my family’s home, we left for his village. But after a couple months in my husband’s village, he brought me to his village chief and disowned me. My family hadn’t yet sent the three buffalo. They couldn’t afford it. So I was beaten and sent back home.
Luckily, an older widower settled for a lower price so I was married again. In my new husband’s village, I made friends with the other wives. We traveled into the forest (it was safer to stay together) to collect water for our growing families. Sometimes we found food or collected firewood to sell in the nearby city. One day, one of my friends didn’t join us for our daily walk to collect water. We found her body at the bottom of a ravine on our way to the forest. I didn’t know her husband was beating her at night because she hadn’t yet given him a son. I was still one of the lucky ones. My husband was fair, and we had six beautiful boys.
On my way back for gathering water one day, I heard talk of a man who came to our village named Praveen. He spoke of this god called Jesus and said he was here to give us clean water. I thought he was a crazy man. He must be drunk. Or worse, he’s here to buy my children from me and use them as his slaves. But sure enough, two weeks later a drill crew arrived and clean water poured from our new village well. Praveen even said this water was free as it was a gift from God. Free? A gift? Can this God also give us food I wondered?
Praveen smiled at my puzzlement and gently shared the story of Jesus. He told me how God formed me and created me in my mother’s womb. Praveen told me stories of Jesus’ miracles. He told me that God loves me so much, Jesus died for my sins so I could be made whole again. Praveen told me that I am not untouchable. I am a child of God. I had a hard time believing this could be true. Everything I knew before was so different. But Praveen had also followed through on his promise to help us. He brought the well to our village. My life was certainly made better with this gift. Maybe this Jesus was real too.
Growing in Faith
A church was started in my village where we could learn more about Jesus. My friends and I started going since we no longer needed to spend most of our time collecting water. The more I heard, the more I believed it to be true. God did love me. God sent Praveen to help me with clean water. I didn’t need to prove my worth anymore or try to earn a better place in the next life. Jesus did all that for me. He was enough. It was then I knew. I wasn’t simply lucky because I survived childhood. I wasn’t only lucky because I was never sold into slavery. And I wasn’t just lucky that I married a fair man and was able to give him children. I was a beloved child of God. I am deeply loved. And that is enough for me.