John was exiled to Patmus because of his love of Christ, the Israelites wandered in the desert due to their disobedience to God, and the Bible mentions many others who were exiled for various reasons both known and unknown. I can’t say whether my being exiled was the consequence of an ungodly decision or the result of trying to do what was right. I am certainly not as noble as John and hopefully not as disobedient as the Israelites. In the end I’m not sure the reason is as important as how I handle it. I know that I am where God wants me to be and that He has prepared me for everything I have already experienced and for those things that are yet to come. He is molding me little by little as I find myself in that desperate place of exile.
Four years ago I married an amazing Mexican man who happened to have entered the U.S. without a visa. Unfortunately visas seem to be reserved for the rich and his family didn’t fit into that category. He viewed a move to the U.S. as his only hope of ever finding a job that would allow him to provide his future children with their basic necessities. His journey to the States quickly proved to be a positive experience as he rose to success almost immediately upon his arrival. His charisma and work ethic were undeniable and he rapidly gained many admirers among the American community; I of course being the main one.
Never had I met someone so enchanting. My heart skipped to a new rhythm the first time I saw him and continues to do so 6 years after having met him. We dated for 9 months before getting engaged and married two years after we first met. I didn’t care about how he looked on paper to others, nor about his immigration situation. I knew he was the one for me and nothing would change that. I did however, want to correct his status and move forward with our life together.
Before getting married we consulted with an immigration lawyer about what we should do to change his status to that of a legal U.S. resident. The lawyer told us we’d be required to prove our relationship was real and that while it may be a lengthy process we would not have to leave the country. She felt my college education, bilingual abilities and our good jobs would be seen as merits and lead to a successful outcome.
Soon after we got married in June of 2006 I filled out the proper paperwork and started the process to legalize my husband. One and a half years later when we received a letter in the mail requiring us to return to his native country to continue the immigration process we realized we had been misinformed. We packed our bags on short notice and moved to Mexico uncertain of when we would return. For 2 years we went through the difficult process of applying for a pardon. I lived in Mexico for four months until my husband urged me to move back to my country where it was safer. We lived in 2 different countries for one and a half years as we waited for our verdict. Finally in October of 2009 we received the heart breaking news that due to lack of evidence of “severe hardships” our case was denied. Fabian would be banned from the U.S. for a total of 10 years before we could return legally.
On receipt of the news some around me questioned whether I would leave my husband or leave my country. There was no question in my mind as to what I would do. If my husband was banished from the U.S., I too considered myself exiled. I left my country, family, dreams, and my job as a medical interpreter and moved to Guadalajara, Mexico to begin our new life together.
I’ve come to realize that while being exiled could seem like a disaster, it’s very much a divine one. Though God has always been important in my life, I have at times allowed other things to take priority over him. I truly believe that it is through God’s grace that He has allowed us to be stripped of all our dreams and returned to the naked state we were born in so He can re-mold us into new beings. He grabbed us and helped us escape ourselves before it was too late much like the angels did to Lot when he hesitated to leave Sodom (Genesis 19:16). When I sang “I surrender all” God knew it was impossible for me to really surrender all without His assistance, so He removed some road blocks. I now live in a greater revelation of His love and am certain that no matter the reason we were exiled, whether due to righteous or unrighteous decisions, He can and will use us to His glory for we have been exiled by the grace of God!