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From Ashes to Beauty
by Audrey Nair
Thank you for the opportunity to share about how God turned my life right side up. It feels so right to be giving glory to God for doing something that He alone could – transforming a life from ashes to a thing of beauty.
I was born in 1960 into a staunch, traditional Roman Catholic family. To say that my life has been sheltered by the Most High, would be an understatement. Let me explain.
Between the ages of 3 months and 11 years I had to undergo three critical abdominal surgeries. Since my parents worked at full-time jobs, I spent the better part of my childhood at the home of my paternal grandmother. My sweetest childhood memories were of a hard-working and prayerful grandma, doting uncles, a loving aunt and fun-filled days with my cousins.
Certain unpleasant incidents marred this carefree time, however. Incidents, that I lacked the courage to talk about, to anyone. Incidents, that insidiously impacted and shaped my personality.
My parents took me home to live with them when I was about 10. No more was I a “weekend child” – I could live with dad and mum, just like my brother.
Teen years were quiet and uneventful. I lacked confidence, saw myself as ugly and considered sex to be a sin. My friends? A good book, the poems I wrote and all girls.
Unable to see a task through to its completion, I dropped out of college to take up a course in secretarial practice, started working at age 17 and couldn’t hold a steady job until my late 20s. I longed to have a boyfriend like other young women my age but wasn’t able to sustain any relationship due to low self-esteem and high expectations of people.
By 26, a neighbour approached me with a marriage proposal on behalf of her brother who worked in the UAE. We met briefly and agreed to marry. But this was not to be, as the man decided not to go through with it at the eleventh hour. Shattered, I needed a place to hide and nurse my wounds in private; a luxury I couldn’t afford.
A year later, I accepted a job offer in the UAE. I had one motive. Revenge. The blinding drive to hurt the man who had dumped me almost at the altar, was the only ambition I knew.
The new job was exacting and consumed my time and energies, providing no scope for my dark agenda. Six months later, I had a letter from the man himself; seeking forgiveness! Of course, I didn’t forgive him. The drive for revenge had passed; wasn’t that good enough? That forgiveness, a heart attitude, blesses the forgiver more than the forgiven, hadn’t yet dawned. Jesus was still this text book hero with whom I had a need-based acquaintance.
The new job also introduced me to the man who persistently wooed and eventually married me a year later. Hailing from a Hindu background, our relationship met with stiff opposition from his parents who agreed to accept me were I to convert to Hinduism. I preferred to call off the marriage rather than forsake Catholicism. And told them so, in no uncertain terms.
We were married in December, 1988 mutually agreeing never to attempt to convert each other. As for children, we agreed it would be their prerogative to choose which faith to practise. Of course, all this was before Jesus came into my life.
Being of different faiths and therefore, poles apart in our thinking and lifestyles, the very differences that had initially attracted us to each other, became contentious issues in due course.
In the meanwhile, I was offered a much sought-after position at a newly-joined job. The fact that I had neither the qualifications nor training for the role speaks volumes about God’s sovereignty and perfect planning. For the first time ever, here was an opportunity to stretch myself and excel. I accepted the challenge. And believe that it was He that equipped and brought me favour.
Work was stressful, to say the least. Mounting pressures on the work front and disharmony in my marriage began to affect my health. A man of wisdom, our family doctor, had figured the need of the hour was more than just a medical prescription. And so, one glorious morning, on the 14th of June, 1994, he led me to meet with the Great Physician. On my knees in the office of our family physician, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour!
As if on cue, our department secretary resigned and was replaced by a Christian woman who invited me to worship and fellowship with the Church she attended. I accompanied her one weekend and haven’t looked back ever since. She left the job six months later.
Enthralled with my Saviour, I prematurely attempted to get my husband to “see” what he lacked. It backfired, big time. Firstly, he felt cheated that I had reneged on my word to his parents by changing my religion. Secondly, it was clear that I loved someone other than him. From then on, our marriage went downhill.
My husband’s reaction was to disconnect from me and our two children. Although we lived under the same roof, he lived a separate life. A life taken over by addictions that destroyed dignity, faithfulness, love, family ...
I held on, believing that love and submission would one day become the bridge leading him to Jesus. The abuse got worse and threats to divorce more frequent, until one day I found the courage to do what I believed was right. After 19 years of marriage, I left my husband and our home in Dubai. The children came with me.
It wasn’t easy on any of us. Sustenance and comfort came from the knowledge that God was with us all through the move to Bangalore (India), providing a suitable school for the children, a home for us and eventually a wonderful church family that lovingly embraced us.
Determined to start afresh, I immersed myself in setting up home and making life as meaningful and comfortable for the children. With the children at school, I’d spend hours seeking God and His answers to my life. Just to be able to unrestrainedly weep was release in itself. God spoke with me! The more He spoke the more I wanted to hear from Him. My eyes were opened to see that He had been replaced by the idols I had made of my husband and our marriage. Totally broken and empty-handed I found myself in the best place ever – facedown at the feet of Jesus. I could only love this God for His mercy and patience towards me.
My deteriorating health was a good indicator of how desperately I needed God’s healing and restoration. If my life were to be represented on a graph; every line would be seen nose-diving in one direction – south. My marriage was a disaster. My health was on a downward spiral. My morale – at its lowest ebb. All, manifestations of the heavy baggage my spirit was weighed down with.
Some of those dead weights dated back to birth: my dad’s rejection of me (he had hoped for a son). Sexual abuse, lack of parental cover and the resultant shame, were childhood burdens I couldn’t shake off even into adulthood.
In Bangalore, medical tests were unable to diagnose the root cause of my food intolerance and rapid weight loss. Consequently, an effective treatment could not be prescribed. I was desperate.
BUT GOD!!! And I love to say this .... BUT GOD had a perfect plan. Perfectly timed, perfectly orchestrated – the people I met, the words they spoke that would stir my spirit, my readiness to respond in obedience ... Even today, I stand amazed at the wonder of it all.
It started with the obedience of a woman from Shillong, also named Audrey. She had plans to holiday someplace, but came to Bangalore instead. Sensing that God wanted her to do so, yet having no clue as to why she was there, she attended our Bible Study, when I finally let down my guard, broke down and asked for prayer. She stretched out her hand towards my stomach and told me that Jesus wants to heal me. That’s when it all began.
Soon after, I attended a Healing and Wholeness Retreat at our church, Adonai Church. I was more than ready for what the Pastor’s wife called my appointment with God. That weekend the Saviour gloriously and wonderfully set me free. Years of baggage fell off and I began to live again.
How was I freed from the fetters that bound me? Starving for God’s love, I hungrily fed on the teachings that powerfully underlined the Word. During personal ministry, I was able to release to the Lord every traumatic incident that had scarred me. The ministry team then led me to forgive those responsible for the past, explaining that I could receive healing in forgiving my offenders. Forgiving myself was next. And finally, I sought and received God’s forgiveness. I was free!
This is the RHEMA word (from Isaiah 46: 3,4) I received at the Healing Retreat : ...”you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Precious, precious words of promise! And this was just the beginning of my journey towards restoration. Physical healing was only the tip of the iceberg. I began to experience God in various areas of my life. His Word came alive with meaning and revelation. Within less than a year of our move to Bangalore (in April 2009), God restored my marriage. He began and continues to work in our relationships - as a couple, as parents and as a family.
Being a part of the Adonai family was another of the many blessings I hugely enjoyed. It is in this church that my eyes were opened to the enemy’s lies that I had gullibly believed. For the first time I was learning core truths about God, myself, others. And the enemy.
The God who called Himself I AM to Moses revealed Himself as the Saviour who set me free from a life of sinful bondage, as the Redeemer who restored my life to its original worth, as Rabboni – Teacher, the Healer of my “dis-ease”, the Lifter of my head when I was oppressed, My Husband, the Father of my children. Unquestionably, He is Jehovah Jireh, the God, who meets every need.
Out of this revelation, I was able to see and acknowledge my own identity in Christ ... a child of God, salt and light, a partner in His kingdom work.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good”, became my daily bread. After the Healing Retreat, I began to take baby steps of faith with food. Appetite returning, I began to enjoy food again. Even the simplest meal was a feast as I savoured the flavour and texture of each morsel, gustily giving thanks for the blessing on my plate. Faith grew as the appetite to know the Word and stand on it, increased. Inspired by the woman at the well (John 5:28) I discarded my medications. I had received Living Water!
I gained weight. Physically and spiritually. It had to be. My Father had begun His work of transformation in my life which had become a testimony to His wonderful love and power. Sharing this testimony has always been pure joy. It feels like sharing Living Water.
Having received in such abundance, I could no longer contain myself or sit on the sidelines, watching others in need. I found myself drawn to comforting others with the comfort I have been receiving. Adonai Ministries (the church I attended in Bangalore) is committed to the ministry of Healing and Restoration. By their reaching out to people, within the country and internationally, through programmes and seminars all year long, countless lives (mine included) have been set free and transformed. I became a part of their ministry team.
Our family has re-located to Dubai, UAE. As I ask myself, “what next?”, another RHEMA word I received in Bangalore comes to mind and I’m once more struck by God’s great timing... “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Is. 43 : 18-19)
I realise that this has been one long read for you – thank you for spending the time! I’d like to close with what I wrote to my dear friend and mentor, Sue.
“Gradually my eyes were opened to the precious gifts He has placed in me. Each time I stood before people to share a testimony, I came alive. I glow like a Christmas tree, all lit up from the inside whenever I share a written piece for His glory. Words cannot express the joy I have to pray with someone, to comfort them with the comfort I’ve received from Him. Sue, I believe God has put this in my DNA. And, I’m beginning to see that a life is complete only in heeding His call. “
Would you like to know God the way Audrey does? You can! It all starts with knowing Jesus and letting him transform you from the inside out. His love is amazing. You can start by praying this prayer:
If you prayed this prayer, we would love to hear from you. If you want to learn more about the Christian life, we can connect you with a mentor (by email) and send you some helpful reading materials.