My parents didn’t have the privilege of pursuing their dreams.
My dad moved to the United States in 1986. He went to technical school and became an aviation mechanic. He has worked at an airline for 27 years. My mother has her master’s from an Indian university. She moved to the US, went to an American university, graduated top of her class – with an undergraduate degree in medical technology – all while taking care of her first child. She, too, has been working in the same hospital laboratory for most of her adult life.
My parents met and were married in the course of a week. My mom liked my dad’s hands and my dad didn’t respond when my mom’s uncle asked him if he liked her. They have been married for over 25 years. My parents are best friends. They are the only two people in the world who will put up with each other. My mom is headstrong, a loud and loving woman who is afraid of everything. She cries all the time, which as an adult, reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am to have a mom who deeply, deeply cares about everything I do.
My dad, on the other hand, is your typical patriarch. His actions always speak louder than his words. He’s the reason I don’t trust men who don’t put their money where their mouth is. He is the wisest man I have ever met and the most generous person I know. My mom, Ruthie, and I are his most precious gifts and I have never doubted that for a second in my life.
I have never known love like this in the world. Two people sacrificed and gave everything to ensure that their children had the best. My parents were my only daily reminders of what God’s love could look like on earth. I didn’t even realize my parents were human and capable of making mistakes until I was in college. But when I became an adult, I realized that my parents were just trying to make sense of their identity as much as I was. They were bridging two cultures, a faith that changed their life, and trying to maintain a little piece of their home in a completely new country that they had settled in, all so their children could have more than they did.
For my parents, immigrating to the US meant putting all their eggs in one basket – their children. And if their children knew any better, they wouldn’t disrespect their parents’ intentions. I sure as hell knew that growing up – and there ain’t nothing but a smack down for someone who disrespected their parents’ intention.
So honestly? How do you do better? How do you honor that sacrifice? How do you make their sacrifice count?
I don’t know.
My intersections often leave me completely overwhelmed. Pursuing an alternative, unconventional route puts me in direct opposition to my parents’ sacrifice. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel very good most of the time.
This feeling lives within their original plan. It just lives outside of the constructs of the plan that originally came to mind. Our immigrant parents have always just wanted us to have a better life – and I am starting to learn that you get to decide what “better” means to you. For my parents, a better life means a life without financial and emotional struggle, which to be honest, lives within the ebbs and flows of life. One thing I have learned about growing up, from walking away from the life I used to live, is that dreams – finding, chasing, and accomplishing them, have so much more to do with the journey than the actual dream itself. The exploration, the chasing, are the steps that honor the sacrifice. The person you morph into informs your gratitude towards their sacrifice.
To my parents, who I deeply, deeply love, honor, and obey in every season in my life. You are, for better or worse, the voices in my head, the most important people I factor into everything I do. However, I have come to realize that I will never be the one who distances us, I will never be the one who will put a wedge in our relationship.
That being said, I write because I know God has empowered me to do so. He has called me to not be afraid of what other people say about or against me because anything that they could say does not hold a candle to the worth I have first as a daughter of the living God, but also as your daughter. Nothing has happened to me. Nothing about me has changed. I just have learned that those two identities allows me to live with my head held high, with no fear of the future, with no fear of who will or will not participate in my life. It means that no matter what I do, no matter where I go – I have security to know that the God who created me and the parents who raised me are my best gifts.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
And I hope that you two realize that those two identities are what give me the courage to truly live into my life. And I believe, that being this bold and brave will help women who do not have that same type of empowerment to find truth, security, and ability to walk the same way I do – without fear. I also know that it allows me to attract the type of people who believe this big too. I know you are afraid. I know you are worried that you will be defenseless against anyone’s attacks of me. But know that no attack, no word that anyone can say, will stand to how much I know I am loved by God, and by you.
And that, well, that makes all the difference.