How My Most Desperate Prayer Was Answered
When I had finally reached my true rock bottom, I had reached a place of complete and total surrender. At the young age of 29, I just wanted everything to end. I was done with life and the mess I had made of it seemed impossible to redeem.
There, in my most broken moment, God/Spirit/My Higher Power answered my most desperate prayer to “take my life and recycle my soul.”
When my childhood friend Robert called my parents’ house late that night, he had no idea what I was about to do. He had no idea that I had just swallowed a handful of pills and was on my way out the door to die quietly, out of sight. He didn’t know that somehow, miraculously, the God that he had come to have faith in was going to use him to save me that night. But that’s exactly what happened.
Catalina Island + Jesus Freaks
A few days later, instead of being dead, I would be off on a boat to Catalina Island for a camping trip with a group of college-aged men and women who also happened to be a bunch of total Jesus Freaks (I say that in love!), and their leader, my friend Robert. Robert, the squirrelly boy who grew up across the street from me. Robert, who had found a higher calling and become a youth pastor at a local church. Robert, who unknowingly saved my damn life with one phone call.
It wasn’t my first experience with church, or camp, or church-camp. I had attended Sunday School and mid-week Bible studies, retreats, and the like throughout my childhood and high school, so the concept wasn’t new to me. I had already heard all the Bible stories and I had gone forward about a million times during peer-pressure soaked alter calls. Hell, I had even been baptized and “born again” a few times. This time, however, something (everything?) was different.
There wasn’t any kind of emotional formula or scare tactics involved, no pressure to “come forward and accept JESUS” or anything like that. Nobody carrying giant yellow signs telling me that I was going to Hell. Actually, the people I met on that trip were just… nice. And they were so genuine. You know that saying, “Sweating like a whore in church?” These people weren’t about trying to judge me, and they weren’t trying to get in my pants. It was just nice, and normal, and casual, and dare I say- it was fun. It was peaceful. And the most significant difference is that there was just a presence this time that I had never quite understood before, and I began for the first time in my life to experience a sense of deep, deep love in my soul that this presence was somehow tapping into and calling to life.
I know, I know. It sounds crazy-pants.
No, I was not high.
Yes, it kinda freaked me out… but I decided eh, what the hell, I’m just going to go ahead and see what this is all about. And I am so grateful that I did!
It was on that camping trip that I began to discover that what I understood as God- however you may understand this divine presence– is beautifully real, and exists within every living thing. And holy crap, for the first time ever, I could actually feel this divine presence living in me. Me!
Seeking the Divine & Skipping Church
I would spend the next 15+ years seeking after the Divine and going through some intense and powerful emotional healing. I began dealing with the many scars and fears I harbored inside myself, slowly and very deliberately allowing Divine Love to bring all of my funky junk to the surface, without fear or judgment or shame. I learned how to soften, and I learned how to forgive. I learned what it meant to be blessed, and express gratitude. To see beauty all around me. To see goodness in people, and in myself, again. I learned about strength and trust and hope and joy. And although I would still make plenty of mistakes along the way, I didn’t have to run away anymore. I didn’t have to hide anymore. I could just do the work, and find a new purpose for my life.
I don’t “go to church” anymore, and that’s perfectly fine for me. I consider the whole world as a sacred place, and I consider my ministry or my purpose to extend far beyond any man-made walls or theological boundaries. I like to think of those years of healing as my own personal cocoon where I was being infused with Divine Love in every part of my being, and I was slowly transforming into someone completely new, and dramatically different, and impossibly free. Maybe, if this divine presence could exist in someone like me, I could have the chance for a do-over. Maybe I wasn’t beyond repair after all. Maybe, I could begin to pick up the pieces of my broken shit-show life and start to make something useful, something helpful, something beautiful out of it. I’ll take a Maybe any day, because Maybe = Hope, and Hope = Everything.