The first time I met Bernd was on 13th October 1989. No it was not love-at-first-sight, but one of the first things that struck me about him was his captivating smile and the sparkle in his eyes. Little did I know then that I would marry him four years later and still be with him thirty years later 🙂
As I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts, our journey together has not been an easy one at all. The years together have been those of tremendous growth and change – for both of us. It has taken a lot of hard work, courage, faith and humility for Bernd to walk this road.
Which makes it all the more hurtful to experience how he is attacked by those who would never walk even part of the road he has walked; by those who do not bother to get to know the man he is today; by those who want to bind him with chains of the past and stop him from being the man God wants him to be.
Coming from different worlds, I have watched in amazement how Bernd has gone out of his way to adjust to the culture, customs and even living conditions whenever we were visiting India. He adjusted so well that practically everyone I know there took it for granted and reacted negatively when he finally started putting up boundaries. As an example, I have watched him suffer in silence over insensitive remarks- be it comments like “when will you finally learn Marathi” (on a side note- even I don’t speak the language!!!); when people simply assumed that he didn’t speak English without giving him a chance to reply to their barrage of questions; or when extended family insinuated that there was “something wrong” with him because we didn’t have children. Normally Bernd would have told them that it was none of their business but he kept silent or ignored it because they were “family friends” or even extended family.
Thank you Bernd for not only tolerating such things and more for so many years but also for not getting into pointless discussions when you finally started setting up boundaries and people then insulted you and said you came from a “culture that doesn’t know how to show respect to elders”. Thank you for loving me so much, for caring for my family that you put up with this for so many years and I am sorry that no one thanked you for it.
While Bernd put up with a lot for me and my family, he also took a very clear stand when I was not accepted by his family and when there was a lot of gossip and negative talk about me there. As if that was not bad enough, he has also been accused of cutting off relations with family by those who believe that one needs to honour one’s parents even if they are gossiping about one’s spouse; who believe that it’s morally and culturally right to put one’s parents before one’s spouse.
Thank you Bernd for choosing me over a family who made it clear that there was no place for you in that family if you stayed with me. And thank you that you don’t retaliate when you are accused of not “respecting and honouring” your parents because you chose me over them.
Bernd has done and given so much of his time, energy, patience, love and even money to those I have loved or cared deeply for -be it from things like teaching some to use the computer for the first time; taking a stand for some when they were hurt or abused; calling government clerks to get paperwork approved for some so that tight deadlines
could be met…the list is endless. I have watched many of these people tell him that he was closer to them than a brother. And I have watched these very same people call him an “outsider”and not belonging to the “family”, or other hurtful names because he was not useful to them anymore or when he put up boundaries and addressed behaviour that was hurtful.
Thank you Bernd for your generosity, love, patience and care for these very people.
Like every other human being, Bernd is not perfect but there is so much he has learnt, behaviour patterns that he has broken or changed on the difficult road he has walked. I value and admire his ability to apologise when he has hurt someone without justifying his behaviour or words. He is someone who doesn’t look away when he sees injustice; he stands up for those who don’t have a voice, are too hurt and not able to defend themselves. He is generous to a fault sometimes but he also defends his boundaries. He can remain calm, not retaliate and leave it to God to justify him when people attack him personally because he has called out their hurtful and harmful behaviour.
He is someone who also brings a lot of laughter and joy in people’s lives; believes in having deep and meaningful relationships with people; encourages me to listen to God’s voice in my life even it it means accompanying me to Australia for ten days! And he makes a pretty great canine dad to our little Jaden!
Today I am especially thankful for all that we have been able to experience together in the past years – the places that we have been to, the wonderful experiences that we have had; the heartbreak and pain that we have gone through; the love, hospitality and generosity we have received. Above all I am especially thankful for the wonderful circle of friends that we have – friends who accept both of us for who we are today and who cherish both of us equally.
Thank you again Bernd for walking that difficult and long road back to me; thank you that we could renew our vows in July this year in the presence of some of our dear friends.
A long time ago a preacher who didn’t know us, had a prophetic word for Bernd. It was from Psalm 118:22 – “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief
cornerstone”. I am thankful that even though so many people reject the person you are today, God has chosen you to be the cornerstone of something new and wonderful.
My prayer is that God continues to lead and guide you on the wonderful and unique path that He has for you; that He protects you from all that seeks to destroy and harm you; that His light shines through you and not only brings to light that which is hidden but also brings joy, warmth and love to many. May He heal all that is still hurting and broken. May He continue the wonderful work He has done in you life. And may He give you back thousandfold what you have given to others.
Happy birthday Bernd – I am so glad that I can celebrate this day with you!