Nasrin’s heas was covered with her white scarf. The beautiful smile that normally welcomed each morning volunteer had been replaced by a blank stare towards the ground. I bent my knees to look her in the eyes as she sat in her wheelchair. Before going to the volunteer room to put away my bag, instead of chatting with the ladies while doing laundry, I took the brake off of the large right wheel and took Nasrin to a quieter area to the side.
To begin, she wasn’t talking and her eyes looked glazed over. She had heard that I had gone to the hospital for my ankle Monday and was worried about my health. I showed her the “suction cup” sock thing and said how grateful for no broken bones in the X-ray.
Conversations this week have been interesting and challenging- the type that make your blood hot and make you question the world. Nasrin and I are a lot more alike than you would think which creates long conversations about deep issues. Maybe Nasrin thought my health would keep me away, that she would lose her best friend, that another person she loved would be gone. Maybe the Easter visit from a male Indian friend brought up thoughts about what her life would be like now that she was a resident at Prem Dan rather than a teacher of reading and writing to little children a year ago. Current situations and people we come across bring up the best and the worse of the past and make us rethink our future.
Life is never the same when you or a loved one get’s sick. Nasrin has written her family a letter, but it doesn’t seem like they will have much contact with her now that she lives outside the home. Her father had a stroke a few years back and her mother takes care of him. With the paralization taking over her hips and legs within the last year, I’m guessing it was too much forher mother to handle. Nasrin doesn’t talk about them much and tries to change the subject when people ask about her parents. It seems with their lack of contact or any expression of love towards her, she has decided to forget them because of the seperation.
Nasrin also wants to forget someone else. A year ago, her boyfriend went into her room while she was sleeping and took advantage of the situation. She told him to leave physically, but she was so emotionally attached to him that he hasn’t left her thoughts.
Her mind has been filled with thoughts of despair, of being useless and needy, and a lack of any value. “I have to ask someone to get me water or food, to lift me onto my bed, to help me go to the bathroom. I can’t do anything for myself. I pray that God will take me away. I don’t like my life; all I want is death. Pray that I will die”
My heart sunk so low as I asked her to repeat what she had said thinking maybe I had heard her wrong. I tightened my grip on her hands as I listened another 20 minutes as her soul poured out from her lips. Before me sat this brilliant young woman who had this way with making volunteers happy and welcomed. Oh, but how easy it is for our emotions to get the best of us in our time of weakness.
If you are a woman, it doesn’t matter where you live, a relationship with a man is something desired. The thought of never getting married or having children, which she dearly loves kids, was depressing for Nasrin. Therefore, she couldn’t get the boyfriend out of her thoughts even though it had ended badly. Sometimes we look over the terribly wrong and grasp in thin air for false hope. With the combination of facing her fears and how gloomy the future looks in the moment, Nasrin felt darkness taking over and a hopeless tomorrow.
We have talked about God before and she was erading her Bible when I arived. Although I’m not one for cheesy talks about God, I knew my hurting friend needed to hear truth. I’ve seen too many people get depressed and shut themselves off from the world. Maybe God had me come in today to revive what she was losing. I wish I could remember what all was shared, but I can’t.
In those times where darkness surrounds us, those very vulnerable times, we are being attacked mentally and emotionally. It may be easier to deal if it is a temporary physical attack such as an ankle injury, but that’s because we can see the damage with our own eyes and prove to others by showing them by showing the swelling. An attack to our mind and soul makes us feel crazy and alone. We must remember that there is this whole spiritual realm we cannot see (yet is easy to forget and then makes it feel like people are attacking us for no good reason). We are emotional beings and of course Satan would purposefully bring about people who say and treat us in hurtful ways along our path. They are the boyfriends that take advantage of a situation, the family that doesn’t come around leaving us with feelings of abandonment, the person we hold in high esteem yet for some reason or another tears us apart. I’ve had people say awful things to me that to some extent hurt dearly. I must refuse to accept it as a personal attack and remember that there is the spiritual battle going on. Satan knows our emotions play such a large role and he’ll do whatever he can to surround us with darkness that makes us doubt God.
Oh, how I felt the darkness these last couple of weeks. Nasrin thought she was alone on this one, but I related all too well. After two months, I am questioning all the more. After conversations with the director of an NGO here and our Servant Team Leader, I am all the more confused. More questions build as I pray and over analyze every little thing. Questions of what am I doing, what is my role, how do I adapt to a situation which I had been under the impression of different circumstances, why doesn’t God answer prayers when I am giving him my total faith and trust, how much more training do I need to not be looked at as a naive 12 year old, how do I make the best of the situation at hand, what is God trying to teach me, where is my place in the scheme of things, I want to learn and be challenged yet don’t feel as though I am, how do you deal with feeling useless and pushed aside in a culture not your own… What do you do when you don’t like your life and all you want is for it to end? I did read that one of the side effects of my malaria pills is severe depression and suicide. I’m not suicidal or anything but the questions keep coming.
I think we get attacked even more when we are questioning ourselves. It’s hard to see the hope and the love of God when we are doubting our purpose in life. I had to remind Nasrin about the light within her and how even in the darkness, she is a light to others. She is inviting to others and people are drawn to her. Although she may not be able to have a full time job, there is a school on the property and maybe she could teach the children there to read and write. Yes, her life isn’t turning out the way she had expected and a lot of her dreams won’t happen which sucks majorly and is tough to deal with, but there is hope in the God that loves us and gave us abilities that we don’t even know about.
Of course this isn’t coming out as elequently as it could have had I written it down right afterwards, but it was a beautiful and passionate talk. We laughed at the end and I decided to pray that God will bring her joy and hope… and she decided she would pray that I would get a boyfriend. She grimaced and smiled as she described him as “smart, tall, and mind blowing (who says that!). Crazy, crazy for Sandi…” and it was so real and humorous. If I could, I would take her back to the states and eventually “Sandi’s kids will call me auntie and I will love them very much!”
I pray that she will find joy and purpose as she lives in Prem Dan. Nasrin is scared that once I leave that I will forget her, but that will not be the case for she has a deep place in my heart and has brought tears to my eyes multiple tiems. When our heads are down and we stare down blankly into the darkness, God brings a little glimmer of light by gently fanning some fresh air our way.