Welcome to my story. I’m so glad you’re here! There are 13 posts in this series, and I will update the links as I post them:
- Memories of Divine Light
- Remembering: El Shaddai
- Descent into Darkness
- Brush with Death
- Visions of Glory and Bliss
- Miraculous Healings
- Chasing Supernatural Experiences
- When my World Caved In
- Understanding: It’s All About Love
- Rebirth Into Divine Love
- You Are Eternally Loved
I invite you to come along with me as I share my memories of brilliant light and unbelievable love, my descent into darkness and depression, and my reconnection and rebirth into Glorious Love. Mine is a story of supernatural experience intermingled with beautiful and broken humanity, the story of a spiritual awakening, of finding and reconnecting with a love I forgot existed, the story of an explosive, incomprehensible light that fills, awakens, heals, connects, animates, empowers, and spills out of every crevice of your being. This is part 8 of my story.
It was February 13th, 2008 and I was 21 years old. In those days Myspace was all the rage. I sat down at the family desktop in the living room to check my messages and saw that I had received a random message from a strange guy. His name was Ryan. He was new to the area, looking to meet people, and wanted to know if I attended the Young Adults’ group at Resurrection Life Church.
This was not unusual; I received messages from strange guys all the time. Most girls my age did. What was unusual was how reckless I felt when I got his message. I wrote back immediately and agreed to meet him in person the very next night. “What more do I have to lose?” I asked myself.
You see, over the past year, I had experienced a season of loss. I had lost several very close friendships, which had left me feeling lonely and broken. I had developed a severe injury to my feet which had put me on bedrest for several months prior. I had been forced to resign from my job and drop out of nursing school, with just over a year left to complete my degree. I had developed pain in my abdomen which would soon be diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. (Unbeknownst to me, I would later be miraculously healed from both of these ailments, but this is a story for another series.)
Due to my miraculous healing from depression two years before, I was truly happy. However, I still wrestled with self-hatred, shame, anxiety, and negative thought patterns. My inner life was not deeply rooted in the love of God I claimed to believe in; just the opposite – my emotions and thought life were unpredictable and dark. Because of my dysfunction, I blamed myself for everything, particularly the loss of friendships.
And I asked myself when I read Ryan’s Myspace message, “Why not? What else could I possibly lose?”
Ryan and I clicked, like we had known each other before, or were made for each other, or something crazy like that. Ryan pursued me and fought for me. His love was deeply healing for me, so when he and his family moved to Montana, I decided to risk everything. Ten short months after I received that first Myspace message, I followed him across country.
And when I did, I left everything and everyone I had ever known and loved behind me. I moved out of my parents’ house for the first time – not to an apartment nearby or to a home within driving distance – but thousands of miles and a few mountain ranges away. I left my siblings who were my closest friends. I left my church – my center – and all my transcendent experiences of God behind me. I completely started over.
I didn’t regret it for an instant – I was happy with Ryan and I loved Big Sky Country, the rugged landscape and the fresh mountain air. However, I adjusted in a very unhealthy way. Still numb from the previous loss of my health, future, and friendships, I refused to allow myself to feel the loss of my family and church. With no money to even plan for a visit back home for several years, I built up walls around my heart a mile high.
Ryan’s family reached out to me constantly. They accepted me as part of the family, even before Ryan and I were engaged. I was welcome in their home any time, and I knew it, but I shut them out, completely oblivious to how I might be frustrating or hurting them. I was distant and inverted, impossible to get to know. My (now) sister Stephanie would come over and knock on my door unannounced (bless her heart) to try to get my attention, because I would never answer my phone. I thank God for that now – for people who loved me enough to be pushy even when I wanted to be left alone.
Ryan and I married, and we both drifted from God. In shutting myself down emotionally I had also shut down spiritually. I was fully aware of this, and I was OK with it. I was weary of the emotional rollercoaster of pursuing and being dependent on supernatural experiences – experiences that I could never hold onto after they had ended. I stopped hearing the voice of God. I stopped dreaming dreams of light. I shut out all my memories and experiences of glory. I’m ashamed to say that I stopped “seeking God” for the first time. And away from the spiritual protection of living in my father’s house, away from the influence of Res Life, I was not strong enough to stand on my own.
My entire life had been spent chasing the memory of something that I could never quite grasp in this physical world. I had lived the past several years, going from one spiritual high to the next, desperate for yet another touch from God. I had grown disillusioned. I had come to believe that maybe I was wrong. Maybe God didn’t exist as he did in my memories. Maybe all my experiences had been some kind of empty emotional reaction. Maybe God didn’t work in miraculous ways anymore. I succumbed to an empty belief in the distant God I had been raised with.
I became a very selfish person. I grew impatient and developed anger issues. I became nervous, high-strung, and empty. I still loved God and found a new church to attend on Sundays. I still considered myself a Christian, and I still “believed in Jesus,” but my passion was gone.
Ryan and I were very happy together. But like most people, we both brought to our marraige baggage that was easy to overlook as long as life was smooth. And life was smooth for about a year. However, shortly after I became pregnant with our first child, Ryan lost his job and our life began to unravel. [Side note: Ryan does not mind me sharing any of this as it is part of our testimony.]
Behind on all our bills, we came close to having our lights shut off twice. Our car was repossessed. Eventually, we faced the reality that we were going to lose our apartment and prepared to move in with our [Ryan’s] family. I fought this move as hard as I could. I was empty, selfish, and broken. Ryan and I had begun struggling in our marriage and I just wanted to be left alone so we could figure things out.
Thank God, I did not get what I wanted. We moved in with family, where we would live for the next two-and-a-half years. And there, surrounded by people – perfectly flawed and beautiful people made in the image of God and fashioned out of his love – I could not hide. There, something finally woke me up.