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 12 of my story.
I was sitting in a brightly lit room, surrounded by tables full of women. I don’t remember who was at my table or what the group discussions were about. I do remember that I had not wanted to be at Bible study that night.
It was raining, I was without a car, and I didn’t feel well. I was depressed, at the age of 29. My husband had lost his job and we were struggling. I was lonely and wrestling again with my inner demons of shame, self-hatred, condemnation, and negativity. I had distanced myself from family and friends, afraid that my deeply-rooted issues would destroy my relationships like they had when I was younger.
Some days I couldn’t control my emotions. I cried all day long, sometimes for no apparent reason. Other days I felt a deep dark nothingness inside. This nothingness scared me, but it also numbed the pain of my dysfunction. I convinced myself that the world would be better off without me. I spiraled into suicidal thoughts for the second time in my life, and because I had three children, I knew that something had to change.
An hour before Bible study was supposed to start, I got myself up off the couch and rushed to get the kids and myself ready. I threw them in the stroller and walked nine blocks to church in the rain. That night a guest speaker was teaching on intercessory prayer. She announced that at the end of class she would have us sit quietly for 10 minutes to listen for the voice of God. But God, forever breaking through boundaries and barriers to reach his lost children, did not wait until the end of class. No sooner had the speaker finished her sentence than God showed me a vision in my mind’s eye. He directed me to look at my emotional life.
At the time, my emotional life was a roller coaster. When something happened to me that made me feel fulfilled, I would be happy for a very short time, and then the feelings would fade and I would be empty and dissatisfied again. God directed me to think about that feeling of fulfillment. And then he told me that I needed to let his love make me feel that way all the time. I needed to allow his love to be a well of love inside me, a fountain of living water that never ran dry. He painted a picture in my mind of the kind of person I could be – at peace, secure, confident in the fact that I was fully loved, and overflowing with the light of God onto everyone around me.
This picture God showed me seemed too good to be true. I had acquired the belief that life was hard, that depression, fears, and insecurities were just things you struggled through. How could I “let God make me feel fulfilled” all the time? Was that even realistic?
As a Man Thinks, So Is He
A few weeks later I had an epiphany, and I got it. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
It occurred to me that if what you think about is what you become, then who I was must be a result of my thought patterns.
I had been healed miraculously of depression once before, and that healing had held for ten years, despite my overwhelmingly negative thought patterns. Now, my negativity had finally caught up with me.
My thoughts were, and had been for my entire life, thoughts of fear, shame, worry, condemnation, self-hatred, stress, anxiety, insecurity, and dread. I thought I “believed in Jesus,” that I “had faith.” Mentally, I knew that God loved me. But inside, there were spiritual darknesses of every kind. These things ruled my thought patterns and emotions.
My entire life I had been focused on my faults and flaws, trying to “fix” myself, and hating myself for my imperfections. I had been so focused on all the rejection and loneliness I had felt, living in constant fear of it happening again. I had been so focused on my failures, convinced I would keep repeating them. I realized in that moment that my focus on those things was what was bringing them into being – I was literally creating myself, my relationships, and my entire experience of life with my thoughts and feelings.
I realized I needed to stop focusing on, thinking about, and choosing to feel all of the negativity. God had told me to “let him make me feel fulfilled all the time,” so I had to start thinking thoughts of God’s love on a regular basis. I had to think it, and let myself feel it, until it I believed it, or until it became my reality.
At that point in my life I was so broken and so ready for a change. I was willing to do whatever it took, even something drastic, to be better for my family. So I resolved that I would never think another negative thought about myself, other people, or any situation that would arise in my life. I resolved that I would always find a way to reframe the negative into the positive. I was done with the negativity, the anxiety, and the fears. I was done with the shame, the short temper, and the depression. I was done being needy and easily offended. I was going to become happy, confident, loved, at peace, and full of life.
I sat down and I typed out a list of “affirmations” that I would say out loud to myself every morning. The first three affirmations on my list were, “I am loved and accepted. I am at peace. I am full of joy…” Those are the first three fruits of the Spirit, which are evidence of the life of God in you, so I figured that was a good place to start.
I took charge of my inner life. Aside from reading my list of affirmations once or twice daily, I repeated them to myself any time I faced a challenging situation. Any time a negative thought or feeling crossed my mind and I found myself on the brink of old patterns, I cut off my negative thoughts and chose positive and uplifting thoughts instead.
I immersed myself in thoughts of love, joy, and peace about God, myself, my relationships, and my life. In every situation, no matter what, I thought loving thoughts and allowed these thoughts to fill me with with loving feelings and intentions.
What happened next knocked me off my feet.
It took four days. It took four days for a full-blown spiritual awakening, “born-again salvation” experience to hit me square in the chest, the like of which I had never experienced in the past 29 years of following God.
Before I knew what had happened to me I was swimming in the ocean of love from my memories, and this time, I didn’t have to chase it down or seek it out. It was in my heart; it was who I was. I had become one with it. All of a sudden, I had infinite love inside me.
I felt like I had a fountain of love bursting out of my heart, completely eradicating, for the first time, the pain of the past 29 years. Springs of living water bubbled up from within me and began to flow out. I literally felt as if I had turned into a spring of love myself, of uncontainable love which just poured out of me to those around me. The joy quickly followed the love, and the peace a few months after. Yet a few months down the road, patience sprung forth out of the ocean of love and my short fuse disappeared. This happened naturally, without all the striving and failure, as I simply lived out of the infinite ocean of love in my heart and chose to bring that love into every challenging moment.
I became confident in who I was for the first time in my entire life. All my relationships transformed overnight, although the people closest to me felt the fullest effects. I was no longer ruled by fear of rejection, since I was filled with the love of God in my heart. I no longer felt separate from others, since I could feel the love of God connecting us all. I no longer felt dependent on others to meet my needs, as the well of love in my heart was sufficient. I could give to those around me for the pure joy of watching my relationships bloom, without dependence on what I would receive back. I was eager to repay kindness to those who wronged me, because I had so much love to give. I had all I needed, in fact way more than I needed springing up in my heart. Fears that had crippled me my entire life floated away, far beyond the horizon because “Perfect love casts out fear.”
Two years have passed since this experience, and I can testify to the fact that absolutely nothing about it has dimmed or faded with time. In fact, every aspect has intensified almost unbelievably.
As I have continued to work on bringing my thought life, emotions, beliefs, and intentions in line with the Love of God in every situation, I experience unbelievable love, ridiculous amounts of joy, and otherworldly peace.
My life is not perfect, of course. That goes without saying. I have my ups and downs like anyone. Sometimes I slip into old thought patterns, but with practice, my recovery time becomes faster and faster. Now, I can honestly say that most of my old triggers – the ones that made me feel insecure, ashamed, afraid, depressed, or offended – have little to no effect on me anymore. And as I have overcome each of those triggers, new challenges, sometimes stronger and scarier, rise up and I have to overcome those as well. Every time I face a challenge and keep my inner life in tune with God, my level of freedom and happiness grows to the point where it seems unreal sometimes.
My circumstances have not changed. My husband and I live in the same house, have the same schedule, know the same people, make the same amount of money. Before, life was a battle, a struggle. Now, most of the time I truly feel like I am living in Heaven on Earth. The change has happened inside of me.
The Kingdom of Heaven is Here
So what exactly caused such a dramatic change? Was it the “affirmations” or “positive thinking?” Not necessarily. Those are tools that may or may not be effective based on a person’s individual situation. In my case, because of my radical decision to heal from depression no matter what, combined with the specific thoughts I was thinking – thoughts of the love of God – these tools were invaluable. They helped me to “renew my mind” and bring my inner being into alignment with what the Bible calls “faith.” For the first time in my life, I experienced oneness with the love of God. For the first time in my life I experienced what Jesus talks about when he says to “abide in him.” For the first time, I experienced genuine salvation.
When the Bible talks about having “faith” to receive Jesus, it is not describing a mental belief about a transaction that happens between us and God, guaranteeing access to Heaven some day. That teaching is helpful in some situations, but as a general rule I think it is misleading!
When the Bible talks about having “faith” to receive Jesus, it is talking about the state of the mind and heart as a whole.
Jesus died on the cross to reconcile creation back to God. This includes forgiveness of sin, healing from ailments of all kinds, and complete, radical, renewal as we become one with the Spirit of God in our hearts.
It’s not enough to just hold a mental belief about these things. I held just such a mental belief for 29 years and I was a mess inside. The point is to experience it! The mental belief has to permeate you – your thought life – your emotional life – your intentions – who you are on the inside! It’s what you think, feel, and intend on a regular basis. Faith is inner transformation.
Jesus said over and over that the Kingdom of Heaven is here! Now! He ushered it in with his work on the cross, which reconciled us to God here and now. And that reconciliation to God – that “abiding” or “oneness” or “rebirth” – that, my friends, is eternal life! That is Heaven!
And the way to access the Kingdom of Heaven is to receive eternal life here and now! It is a rebirth into divine love. It is a new state of being – a connection to our source (God and his love) rather than emptiness and brokenness. This connection to our source purifies and heals us naturally as we come more and more in tune with it.
I fully believe that what I experienced was the “born again” experience that Jesus describes in the Gospel of John. He also called this same experience the “bread of life,” and “fountains of living water.” How could I consider myself a Christian for 29 years and not get this? Because mentally understanding something and having an inner transformation are two very different things.
El Shaddai In Me
Oftentimes in the Christian church we don’t focus on the emotional state of the heart. We focus on outward sins, or things that are considered wrong and worthy of judgment. When it comes to the inner darknesses of fear, depression, anxiety, worry, stress, shame, and insecurities, it is almost considered insensitive to say that these things can be overcome. But the first three “fruits of the Spirit are: love, joy, and peace, which is the exact opposite of fear, depression, and anxiety. The heart is most important – everything else flows out of the heart. If we neglect the heart, then we are preaching a gospel of outward conformity and doing a huge disservice to the world.
Not only can the inner life change, it must! It is absolutely possible for anyone and everyone to be free of inner darknesses of every kind. I am living proof. I went from having suicidal thoughts to being more fulfilled than I ever dreamed possible in just four days when I finally got my heart and mind right.
And this was the great transforming experience of my life.
That ocean of love from my memories, the one that nurtured me before I came to this life, the one that held me when I was a baby transitioning to this world, the one that showed up in my bedroom when I was suicidal, the one that spoke to me in my dreams, the one that touched me during worship services, the one I had been chasing my entire life – that ocean of love was right here all along.
It was right here, closer than the air I breathe. I didn’t have to chase it around the world. I didn’t have to dream of it or conjure it up. I simply had to open my heart and surrender to it. It came in and filled me up and took over and now – Now I am satisfied. I have no need of a supernatural experience to temporarily satisfy me now, because I can experience the depths of love and bliss inside my heart any time I choose.
Now I have El Shaddai, “God Who is More Than Enough,” in my heart. I can feel him always. Always.
And I know one day I will return to him, but for now I will let his love flow through me into this world, so that others can experience him too.