We won!!! Thank you all SOOO much for voting for our love story! Winner gets a free photo shoot with Chelsea Hudson Photography — so we are ecstatic that we’ll be getting an awesome newborn shoot of the twins once they arrive! Chelsea is such a wonderful photographer — and she’s Maryland-based for any locals who are interested in a family, children, or engagement shoot.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, I submitted our love story for a contest on Chelsea’s blog. There were a total of 4 stories in the running, and our story ended up winning thanks to everyone’s votes via Facebook — we won with 88 votes! So thanks again for all your votes!!! Here’s our story if you didn’t get the chance to read it…
“A New Thing”
(based off of Isaiah 43:18-19)
“But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
As a first generation American born Indian, I never dreamed of marrying a non-Indian. It’s not a common thing. No one in my family has ever done it. But with respect to me, the good Lord would have it differently. It’s so hard to keep this story short and succinct, because I could literally write a book detailing the wonderful miracle of joining Susan Kurikeshu to one Gregory Smith.
Greg and I met in a college ministry group at the University of Maryland in the spring of 2003. It was the first kick-off meeting of the semester, and I had been invited to attend. (I was born and raised in a Christian home, but it never occurred to me to join a Christian group on campus until my third year of college!). After the meeting that evening, Greg, a student leader in the group, walked up to me and we hit it off instantaneously — him being the gregarious person he is, was able to navigate around my timidity and got me talking like we had been friends for years. And it truly felt like we were longtime friends. During that conversation we learned that we lived a mile from each other for 10 years of our lives, went to brother/sister Catholic high schools, and went to the same Baltimore campus for our first semester of college before transferring to the same school which we were currently in.
He walked away from our meeting that night thinking, “Wow, I could marry that girl.” I walked away from our meeting that night thinking, “Wow, he’s like the boy-next-door-friend I never had.” You see, it never occurred to me to consider a non-Indian guy –- it wasn’t part of my upbringing or culture, so being “just friends” was as far as my mind would go. Plus, I had always wanted a “boy-next-door-friend.”
Over the next 6 months, our friendship blossomed into something really special -– it’s so hard to explain, but the words that come to mind are: pure, childlike, adventurous, and FUN! We were like kids who loved exploring together. Our friends thought it pretty amusing. The whole time we kept our liking for each other a secret. Although it wasn’t much of a secret to our friends because our faces always lit up whenever we saw each other on group outings, or bumped into each other on campus, or had an occasional lunch together at the campus co-op — we just loved being in each other’s company. But we never talked about our feelings for one another -– I for one would never have said anything due to my family background, and for some reason I was doubtful that he would say anything either. I guess I thought it would just be a fun season in college to have such a dear friend.
It was that summer that I received an email from Greg telling me that he had feelings for me, and that he couldn’t go on hiding it from me if we were to be friends. I was shocked that the truth had finally come out, but realized that it probably had to come out eventually. The first person I told was my sister -– she started crying and asked, “Why are you doing this to us???” She knew how hard it would be on my parents if they found out.
And hard it was.
The next 4 years would be a journey that my family, myself, and Greg never thought we’d be on. My parents — immigrants from India — never imagined that their daughter would be interested in an American boy. It was out of the question! They were already looking for good Indian boys to marry their eldest daughter. When they found out about Greg they didn’t even want to discuss the idea. In all their passion, they just said, “NO!”
I never gave up. Because Greg and I were part of the same ministry and part of the same group of friends, it was hard not to see each other even if my parents didn’t want us to. Trying to explain to Greg about my family background was also hard because entering into a relationship seemed so simple to him, but it wasn’t. For me, culture and family play a heavy hand in who I am.
My parents — God fearing folk – had some time to think about the “predicament” their daughter was in. While their minds wanted to say “NO!”, they knew they couldn’t unless God said “no.” So they ended up saying they would pray about the situation. They never gave me the “yes” I wanted so badly to hear, but they never again gave me the emphatic “NO!”
It was a journey of truly dying to what I wanted most — to be married to my best friend. While the world was doing just that –- people marrying their best friends — I didn’t and couldn’t go against my parents’ wishes. In the end, I determined there was no blessing in something my parents didn’t bless. I needed their blessing with whomever I ended up marrying. Even Greg eventually realized the importance of honoring my parents in this decision.
After graduation, Greg left for a yearlong campus ministry internship in Illinois. During that year my parents asked that we take a fast from each other and pray for the Lord’s will. Greg and I may have spoken 2-3 times over the course of that year he was away. It was so hard to not talk to the one I had grown so close to. During that time my parents encouraged me to be open to what the Lord may bring -– they were implying another person.
The summer Greg returned, my parents asked that I take a trip to India to meet a “proposal” of sorts. For those of you who don’t know, a “proposal” is someone to consider for marriage. My parents had basically found someone of good family background, education, God-fearing, etc. that could possibly be a good fit for my family and I. So as confused as I was at the time, I went to India thinking, “Well maybe God does have someone different for me.” The person I met in India was a great guy – modern, an awesome Christian, and someone who would get along with my family wonderfully. It was also in India that I received a word from God from Isaiah 43:18-19, “But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
I came back home from India knowing God would do something, but I wasn’t sure what and with whom. When Greg heard about the purpose for my trip to India he was heartbroken. He did not want me to just get married to any guy for the sake of my family, but there was nothing he could do but pray. I also prayed for God’s will concerning the guy in India, but the peace never came. I told my parents that I could not move forward with the proposal. Thoughts of Greg always came back to me — the way we looked at each other, the way we spoke to one another, the way we were like kids when we were together — it was this I wanted in a marriage –- a simple LOVE that makes your heart ache when you aren’t with that person.
To make a long story short, I told Greg that I couldn’t move forward with the Indian guy — that I just didn’t have peace. And as the next summer rolled around (Year 3) my parents realized that Susan was not interested in other “proposals.” They came to realize that they either had to get to know this Greg Smith, or they had to answer questions regarding their unmarried daughter. So they came forward and told me they wanted to get to know Greg. They liked him, but as hard as they tried, it was still so difficult to come to terms with their daughter marrying a non-Indian. They just couldn’t come to grips with it, even if they wanted to.
So during the summer of 2006, Greg and I met at an Irish pub in downtown Baltimore to end a sweet friendship that had begun 3 years prior. It was a bittersweet day for us because it was the first time we actually went out to a restaurant alone together –- like a date — but we knew it would be our last time. As hard as it was, we both came to the conclusion that no matter how hard we pushed, prayed, and wanted — God was closing all doors for us to move forward in our relationship. I left the restaurant that day not sure if I’d ever see him again. I wept all the way home thinking that the last 3 years had been a waste. Once I reached home, I ran straight to my bed and opened my bible. God gave me Psalms 18 (so powerful!). After reading it, I knew God was going to do a beautiful work in my life. I wasn’t sure how or when or with who, but I knew He would.
Three days later, without me knowing, my parents asked an uncle (specifically a spiritual leader) of mine to meet with Greg to get to know him better. They met, and my uncle came back and reported to my parents that they would not find another boy as great as Greg for their daughter. And for some unknown reason other than GOD, they instantly felt the peace they needed to move forward with this American boy! Don’t ask me why, when, or how, but God truly brought a peace that passeth all understanding to their hearts. No longer did they care about what family or friends thought — they knew that God was at work. (And folks, this is THREE days after Greg and I called it quits! Three days after we died to our desires! Three days after we completely let go and let God. Talk about resurrection!).
On the flip side, Greg was ready to move on. Don’t get me wrong, he stayed the past 3 years because he believed in it, but after three years of being tugged here and there with no real answer, he was ready to move on. He compared the feeling to an engine that ran out of oil. So while my parents were ready to move forward with a no-turning-back “YES!”, Greg was ready to tell us all he couldn’t do it.
So a few days later, Greg was ready to stop by my work to give me the unfavorable news, when all FIVE of his spiritual leaders gave him a call at different times during the day without him contacting them –- (to this day, Greg says something like that never happens!) They all felt that he shouldn’t give up on the dream, and that it wasn’t God’s will for him to give up on the dream. So instead of stopping at my work that day, he drove right by, and said to God, “Lord, I’m ready to do this again if You are in it.”
And God surely was in it, because the following year was all about Greg and I becoming best friends again –- and with my parents’ blessing! Greg proposed in the spring of 2007 after a quaint picnic and prayer walk around campus he got on one knee in front of the campus chapel. We got married in a beautiful wedding surrounded by family and friends who fully supported us in the fall of that year. And we can truly, wonderfully say we know for a fact that it was all God. I see my family and extended family and how they love Greg, and it just makes my heart so full to know that waiting patiently upon the Lord only leads to an abundant life.
When trials and things come our way, we can put our full assurance in Christ knowing that He is the one who let an imaginative American born Indian girl walk into a college ministry that one fateful night, so that she could meet an amazing man of God who waits on the Lord, and who won her over with his childlike faith. Nine years later, (5 years being friends + 4 years married), with one darling little girl and twin boys on the way, we look back and can’t believe the journey that God took us on, and that we get to be married to one another. It’s a gift. It really was “a new thing,” as God promised! It all feels like a dream now. But we know it will only get better!