Moment of Transformation
It was 1969, the middle of sunny May to be precise, a momentous time for me, the year I discovered Christianity! My wife had gone back to India to deliver our first baby, as we had no family or close friends in the USA who could help us out with the new arrival. In India, she would receive complete support and care from both our families. From the very beginning of my arranged marriage, things had gone terribly wrong and at this time, I had come to the conclusion to end it, rather than keep stretching out the misery for both of us. However, since I did not want to cause her unnecessary emotional trauma while she was pregnant, I had kept my growing misery and resignation locked up within myself.
Finally, a little over a year into the marriage, when my son was barely a month old, I wrote a long letter to her in India, informing her that I wanted the marriage to end. It was the most difficult letter I have ever written in my life. There were conflicting emotions of concern for my newborn baby boy, guilt over delivering the news to my wife at this stage, and yet a great yearning to be free of the misery that can exist between two people who were never destined to be together. I was willing to compensate her monetarily with whatever she thought she deserved for the year old marriage and the displacement in her life. Just as I thought there was no way out, God intervened in his merciful way and showed me a better way.
In India, especially in those times, divorce was unthinkable. She wrote back desperately wanting to give it one more try. My dilemma was mounting as my desire for emotional peace, and my conscience battled a mighty battle. It was at this time that God entered my life, presenting a solution out of the dilemma and a magnificent revelation within my being with Scriptural principles guiding me!
At this time, I had recently accepted a job offer as a Senior Development Engineer at Philco Ford’s Microelectronics Division, in Spring City PA. One of the Executive Secretaries at Philco Ford had a vibrant personality that sucked one right in. From the very first time I met her during my interview, she was extremely welcoming. Her elegant dressing and a genuine smile emphasized her natural attractiveness. It must be obvious that she made a deep impression on me. But, even I could not guess the role she was to play in turning my world around.
Being an Executive Secretary, it was her job to bring the paycheck every week. Gradually, in her discreet and soft manner, she would use these opportunities to introduce me to the world of the Bible. What was amazing for me was that she was the antithesis of the image I had of pious women as being solemn and wrapped in dull colors. It was fascinating to me that she could drive a fancy convertible, look so attractive, and yet be so involved with God!
One day, she mentioned that she was giving some lessons on the Bible to blue-collar worker. Once again, in India, where I came from, professional people generally do not associate much with blue-collared people. After observing the zeal she had for these activities, I finally asked her if she was paid for it. She smiled and replied that it was simply a passion for her to spread the word of God, giving people an undying source of spiritual sustenance in their time of need. The part of the Scriptures that stated, “You receive free, you give free” was her guiding principle.
She, along with her mother, who worked in the cafeteria of the same company, did this work out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. It was so wonderful for me to see that these two women, besides juggling between their home and office, actually carved out time for God and religion. The more I was exposed to their cheery spirit, the more fascinated I became. I became convinced that the key was in the spiritual work they were doing.
However, I still deliberated, because my brushes with organized religion in the past had not been good. Therefore, when this scripturally minded woman would speak about the Bible to me, about which I knew very little at the time, I would eagerly pelt her with questions. One day while giving me a ride to the car repair shop nearby, she handed me what looked like a diary. When I went home, I soon realized that it was a booklet based on the Bible, with the title, “Truth That Leads to Eternal Life”. I went to the index and then to the chapter, “How to make your family life happy?” If there was one defining belief I have cultivated since adolescence, it was that a harmonious and fulfilling family life is integral to and essential for one’s happiness.
My life and mindset was focused around family and relations. Yet, at this time, this very family life was in a very fragile state. I was about to end my unhappy marriage when I came across this book. The marriage that had begun badly and had continued worsening over the year we had been together, the situation seemed to be hopeless. Nevertheless, I was looking for a reason to hold on because I am not a quitter at heart. The Bible gave me that reason. It was as if a light had been switched on in my brain, nay, my heart!
Wisdom From the Bible
Reading the chapter on family life, I felt that living life according to the principles laid out by the Scriptures could be the way out of the blind alleys that our relationship kept crashing into. It appealed to my logic and my emotions. I decided to give my wife and myself another chance. I have always believed that family is the most fundamental unit of human organization. Thus, it must have certain rules of conduct like any other organized institution. Moreover, here was the Bible clearly explaining in detail the role of each person, husband and wife, even the children.
While the Bible instructs one to respect the wife and treat her with dignity, it also states that the ultimate decision rests with the husband.
This is not in any manner derogatory to women. Husband is supposed to consider the wife an integral part of his very being. Thus, any decision he finally takes would be in keeping with the best interests of his wife, who is inseparable from his being. This may sound inflammatory to the modern concept of a marriage that is fifty-fifty in all respects. However, life and marriage can never be reduced to a mere mathematical equation. As the Scriptures emphasize, a wife complements the husband, and does not compete with him. It is equally the responsibility of the husband to consider his wife’s innermost thoughts before committing to anything, be it a mere subscription to a magazine, or the decision to have a child, or their choice of a home.
The scriptures command the husband to nurture a deep love for his wife, and the woman to harbor respect for her husband. This is not necessarily the provocative comment that it sounds like. It is simply a matter of assigning separate roles to avoid discordance and confusion of roles. To put it in perspective, the CEO and the president are both equally relevant to the organization. Both must respect and complement each other’s function for the organization to profit. However chauvinistic this may seem at first, I have seen the success of this principle in many marriages over the decades. This allows for a healthy and peaceful co-existence between a man and a woman, who are undeniably, made differently.
The woman has always been a better nurturer, while the man instinctively rises in providing for the family and protecting it. This is true not just of humans, but even among many of the animals too, where the male is more aggressive and the female gentler, due to their roles. Thus, discovering this concept of a leader and a manager within the confines of a marriage was a turning point in my life. I have always instinctively believed in the same, call me a chauvinist or a man centered on his family. Now I could recommend the concept to my wife because the Creator himself has decreed it so in the Bible. I hoped that maybe now my wife and I could live in harmony, working together at each other’s side.
A few days later, hearing me gushing about the book, my new work colleague asked me if I wanted to join a Bible study. I volunteered enthusiastically, cautioning her that I knew nothing about it and someone would have to take me through it very slowly. Thus, a lovely young couple began our initiation into a completely new world of unimagined rewards. My wife, though she joined me in the classes, was initially reluctant to convert to Christianity. I understood her frame of mind completely, coming as she did from years of conditioning in her conservative environment.
The Blessings From Living God’s Way
In the end, because of God showing up in my life, my struggling marriage lasted over 30 years until all the children were married and well settled. The greatest blessings in my life are my three wonderful children and six grandchildren which I adore. After years of studying the Bible, I was baptized and began preaching to others about the Bible’s message. Additionally, I had the privileged to serve as an elder for many years, In fact my ballroom dance teacher of 15 years once said, Paul God is in your blood, and you cannot stop talking about Him, even if you wish not to.
One of the things I have learned over years in studying the Bible is that words don’t bring any transformational change unless you understand the principles behind these saying and their implication for not following them. Here is just one example: In 2014, a woman contacted me from one of my websites, asked me how to achieve this, “Honeymoon like relationship” within the marriage. I explained the fundamental principle is to have the kind of relationship as stated in the Bible; Many Christians in fact use one of the key principles as stated in the scriptures during their wedding wows.
In that, God commanded the husband, “You must have deep love for your wife. On the other hand, God commanded the wife, “You must have deep respect for your husband.” Very few people pay attention to this, much less understands the implication of these different commands. When I explained this to this woman, That God commanded differently because a woman’s need is different from a man’s need, in that she needs to feel deeply loved, for her to flourish. Yet, for a man to be happy in marriage, he must feel deeply respected. She finally asked, how come I have been hearing this for decades and nobody ever explained the way you just did. Soon she began to share that with her other women friends in the congregation. One day she called me and said, “My friends are asking what is Doctor Paul’s advice is for today”. When I asked if she was joking, she replied, “no seriously, they are very impressed with your explanation and it is working for them in their marriage.” Therefore, I hope that shows you the power of words when principles behind them or laws are fully understood. The understanding can move us to live a Godly life.