Ashanti sadly gazed at her reflection in the mirror. She looked beautiful in her wedding garment, but inwardly she felt miserable. Her mother came up behind her and said, “Oh, you look so pretty. You have made your father and me so proud.”
Ashanti forced a smile. She loved her parents more than anything in the world. She knew she had to go along with this wedding, even though it was breaking her heart.
“When you left India and went to America last year, you father was worried that you would not come home and honor our arrangement with Napaul and his family. I'm glad you came home."
Ashanti thought back over the past year. She had gone to New York to study and found a completely different world. She met a wonderful man, John, who introduced her to God. Eventually, they fell in love, but Ashanti was already betrothed to Napaul. Their parents had arranged the marriage 13 years ago, when she and Napaul were just 7.
Ashanti knew that God loved her and wanted her to be happy, but she also knew that He commanded her to obey her parents. In the Indian culture, it would bring shame on her whole family if she tried to get out of the marriage. She could never hurt her loved ones like that. She wrestled with these facts for many months, and although it was the hardest decision of her life, she finally chose her parents over her heart. John, being an American, didn’t understand her choice, but he loved her enough to let her go.
Tears welled up in her eyes as she touched her new wedding outfit, and pictured wearing it to marry John instead of Napaul. “You know,” her mother said, breaking the silence, “I too had an arranged marriage. I was so scared that your father and I would not get along, but as I saw him for the first time on our wedding day, it was love at first sight.” She paused a moment, then continued. “I’m sure it will all work out.”
Ashanti couldn’t see how things could work out. She would never love anyone as she loved John, and just imagining a life with someone else cut her deeply. How do you go from loving someone so much to living the rest of your life trapped in a loveless marriage?
As she walked into the house, her father called to her from the front room. “Ashanti, please come here. I need to talk to you.” She took a deep breath, walked into the room, and stopped dead in her tracks.
Time seemed to freeze as she looked into the eyes of her true love. “John? What are you doing here?” she asked when she finally recovered her voice.
John smiled lovingly at her. “I know you already made your decision, but I just couldn’t live without you. I came to ask your father for your hand in marriage.”
She looked at her father as he said, “Even though it goes against everything we believe, I have agreed. You are our only child, and all I want for you is happiness. I was lucky enough to have the love of my life,” he said bringing his wife closer to him, “but I know not everyone is that blessed. I have seen how broken hearted you have been since coming home, and I can’t imagine you having to live the rest of your life in such sadness. The shame of asking you to live like that is far worse than the shame of not honoring a proposal. So, if you want to marry this man,” he said pointing to John, “you have our approval.”
Ashanti ran into John’s awaiting arms. “Yes, I choose this man; my eternal love.”
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