My Early Beliefs
I’ve never been an atheist. Evidence for intelligent design is all around. I was, however, sceptical of organized religion. As far as I was concerned, religion was stuffy, controlling and boring. My spiritual seeking was driven by a desire to experience the supernatural and to find undeniable proof that the soul carries on after death. I wanted excitement but also peace of mind. I dabbled with ‘New Age’ and the Law of Attraction’ which added a sense of adventure to my life but not much else.
My knowledge of theology was vanishingly small and therefore I was oblivious of the dangers of attempting to communicate with spirits or tinkering with divination practices. In my naivety, anything and everything “spiritual” was good. I owned a tarot deck that I brought out every time I felt unsettled. By my mid-thirties, that was most of the time.
I’m not sure when my night terrors began but they reached problem levels around the same time. Sleep paralysis, darkness and malevolent spirits plagued my dreams. At the time, I put it down to my avoidance of dealing with difficult emotional issues. My mum’s death for example. Perhaps I needed healing?
I decided to try meditation. It seemed to help to a degree and I often had strange experiences whilst in a deep state. I raved about it but an empty hollow feeling began to grow in me.
In 2012, now age 39, I moved to Edinburgh with my husband (Jim) and our two cats. Neither of us felt settled in Tunbridge Wells but within weeks of our arrival, I was back to combing the internet for properties on the south coast of England. Edinburgh didn’t feel like home but I had no idea where home was. I was lost. Surely the problem would be solved if we moved again? What ensued was a merry-go-round of house hunting in towns, cities and villages the length and breadth of the UK. Everywhere felt wrong. What was wrong with me?
In November 2014 my little brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer with only a matter of weeks left to live. Jim and I took care of him in our home, where he passed away. His last night on Earth was indescribable. Just typing these words is upsetting so I won’t stay on this subject except to say that it left a huge crack right down the centre of my spiritual beliefs. That night revealed to me that this life is no joke and there are serious consequences to our choices. I was no longer content with ‘my truth’ and wanted to know ‘the truth’ even if it was not what I wanted to hear.
Following my brother’s death, my own personal descent sped up. Everything I did seemed meaningless and I had no sense of belonging or purpose. I read my tarot cards every day for the tiniest glimmer of hope but my despair continued to escalate. It was as if I’d taken a wrong turn a long time ago and there was no way back.
The World’s Gone Mad
To compound matters, society appeared to be going mad. Toxic ideologies were being widely accepted as morally good. Political divisions were transforming otherwise nice people into deranged loons. Mainstream broadcasters and politicians had taken to abusing the general public. The rising monster of ‘offence culture’ began crushing freedom of speech. The world was descending into a Marxist nightmare and I was no longer on board but was lost at sea.
Time to Find the Light
I can trace back my turning point to this moment. It began with a simple thought: “This world is darker and more corrupt than I’d ever imagined. What if the opposite is also true? What if there is a light and a love that I’ve never known?”
I decided to seek out that light and the strangest thing is I didn’t have to try hard to find it. The only obstacle, albeit a very large obstacle, was me and my conditioning. Signposts sprang up everywhere and all of them seemed to point towards Jesus Christ.
I’d heard that an old school friend had experienced a spiritual awakening that involved Jesus. I am ashamed to say, I thought “What has Jesus got to do with spiritual awakenings?” Nevertheless, I accompanied a friend and travelled to his church to find out more. As we walked in, a wave of emotion engulfed me. If the room had been empty, I would have fallen to the ground and sobbed. Instead, I held it together, fighting back tears throughout the service. Afterwards, a group of us went to a cafe and heard more of his story. It was an amazing story but I still wasn’t convinced that religion was right for me. Despite this, one night, I lay in bed and prayed a very short prayer. “Okay, Jesus. If you’re the way, can I have a sign?”
The following morning I went out for a run around the park. I flopped down onto a park bench once I’d finished and, as my huffing and puffing eased off, a hand appeared over my shoulder holding a leaflet. I turned to see a Chinese girl smiling back at me. I took the leaflet and thanked her. It read: “Come to our church and dispel the myths around Christianity.”
I never went as it clashed with a planned trip. Curiosity was firmly planted in me but I plunged into procrastination. I knew nothing about churches. Which one should I go to? Still struggling with empty meaninglessness, I stumbled across a psychologist online with a series of lectures on Old Testament stories. I was captivated. Although they only discussed the stories from a psychological perspective, they highlighted a somewhat large problem in my already shaky spiritual views; that I had opinions about the most important book ever written, yet had never read a word of it. And embarrassingly, where did those opinions originate from? Self-proclaimed gurus in the self-help section of Waterstones. My illusions were in their death throes.
I was fairly close to rock-bottom when a new friend invited Jim and I to his church. It was Armistice Day 2018. After the service, we were greeted by a cheerful minister and warmly welcomed. I left the church that day with something that I’d been devoid of for a long time. Hope. It was a tiny glimmer but I clung to it tightly! “Maybe we can just do this for a while and see what happens,” I said to Jim.
I finally picked up a Bible and began reading the New Testament and it didn’t take long for my universe to be rocked beyond all recognition. I’d reached the famous “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 and the oddest thing began to happen. I could feel myself splitting into two people. One half of me resisted and didn’t want to believe what I was reading. After all, if it were true, then I would have to admit to being wrong my whole life. The other half was tired of fighting and ready to give up. I slammed the book shut. “Not sure about this!”
However, I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I found a dramatized audio version on YouTube and sat back and listened. The same thing happened but this time, my inner rebel lost the tug of war match. I accepted that my attempts to navigate this life without God had been an abject failure and at that moment, I surrendered. The door to my heart swung open and the truth of those words marched in like soldiers and I broke all the way to the bottom.
I closed my eyes as a tsunami of sorrow crashed over my head and I wept. My life flashed before me and I could see that the construction of my entire moral code existed only to justify my chosen chaotic lifestyle but when held up to God’s perfect morality, it was basically in the gutter. That was why I was in this mess. Instinctively, I knew exactly what needed to happen next. I got down on my knees, proclaimed that I now believe, confessed all I could remember and asked for forgiveness. It felt weird, to say the least, but things were about to get even weirder.
That night I had dreams I’ll never forget. One of them was of a man with long hair. I couldn’t see his face but I knew who he was. He was wearing a crown of thorns. He held a woman in his arms and she shrunk down into a small baby.
The following evening, I pottered around my flat on my own while Jim was fixing his computer. I felt restless and a little emotional so decided to climb into bed early. The moment I lay down, a stream of warm energy poured into my body. It felt like electricity; powerful but soothing. I’m not sure how long it lasted but I didn’t move a muscle. That light and love I’d been looking for, this was it! “This is God.” I thought. “Finally, I’m home.”
The following morning, my eyes pinged open and I shot out of bed with a sense of urgency. I gathered up my tarot cards and other fortune-telling apparatus, marched outside and chucked them into the dumpster. I rubbed my hands together and walked off never looking back. I would have burned them but I lived in the city centre so it wasn’t feasible and I was in a hurry to remove them from my home. Events subsequent to this proved beyond doubt that I had opened a door to dark spirits because of my irresponsible dabbling with the occult. I have also since learned that the ‘New Age’ and ‘Law of Attraction’ cults have Gnostic Luciferian origins. A rudimentary search online is all that is required to learn the truth about these movements. This is why the Bible warns against all of this and I thank God every day that He freed me from this trap.
On the beautiful sunny morning of January 4th 2019, I rose from my bed and ran to the window. I gazed out wide-eyed. Everything seemed different. The atmosphere around me had lost its bland oppressiveness and colours appeared more vibrant. My spirit felt light and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that everything was going to be alright. Jim and I decided to drive to the beach and whilst in the car, I turned to him and said, “Something has left me today…something huge.”
I had been slowly drowning under the heavy, black weight of my bad choices for years and it had just slipped off. I was seeing the world through the lens of a child again. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks all day.
I am no longer plagued by night terrors and look forward to dreaming. An unexpected gift that has come out of this is freedom from my fear of death. Specifically, death by cancer for obvious reasons. I was a cancer obsessed maniac, frantically researching all causes and alternative cures and was regularly terror-stricken by the discovery of lumps or bumps. All that fear melted away in just one night.
I pray every day and experience beautiful reassuring peace. In a world that is so full of deception and corruption, it’s so easy to become gripped by anguish. If my attention focuses too much on that stuff, I begin to descend but the moment I turn back to Jesus, He picks me back up and all is well again. I’m still not on board with this sinking ship of a world but I am no longer lost at sea. I was rescued and now safely sailing in a lifeboat called Jesus Christ. This lifeboat is big enough for everyone.