In this post Charles shares his experience of self transformation and growth in Jesus. I pray that God may touch your heart through his experiences and that one day you might be able to share with us here your own experiences with God.
Earlier this year, I was sent away on a new job. It was away from family, away from friends, away from my home. At first I was excited by this new “freedom”, and I enjoyed myself. I am currently 26 (2011). Let me back up to before that.
I was raised Catholic, but I never really found my faith in God. When I was 15 or 16, I left the church and lived for myself. I still acknowledged God’s presence, but I felt that if I just did enough not to anger Him, I would be fine. Little did I know how wrong I was! I now believe that the Devil or a demon had filled my thoughts in this way, which I will explain more later.
In high school, I had sex with a girl, engaged in at least daily masturbation, and so had a warped sense of right and wrong. There was however, always a tiny voice in the back of my head every time I sinned, saying, “This is wrong. This is not who you are.” But I generally ignored it. Again, I just figured I wasn’t hurting anyone, so I had no reason to worry.
That relationship ended up hurting me very badly, as we broke up in my first year of college. I blamed myself, and I prayed to God for forgiveness. I was wracked with guilt, and I didn’t feel like my prayers were answered. I went through college, had a few dates, but never really had a special connection like I had before. I began to question if there was something wrong with me sexually. Again, I now know the devil was poisoning my mind, filling me with self-loathing and inadequacy. One day when I was exercising, I was overcome by a strange physical sensation. It was like a numbness under my chin. I tried not to think of it and it went away after a few days. This was the beginning of the symptoms of my anxiety.
Steadily over the next couple years, these sensations became more pronounced and occurred at very inopportune times, particularly when I was in any social situation or around a girl I found attractive. I began to think I was going crazy. The symptoms became worse and worse, beginning to include heart arrhythmia and shortness of breath, increased headaches and general lethargy.
So forward to my current job, which called for me to go out of town. I did fine in the workplace, but in the evenings when I was alone, the symptoms of anxiety overwhelmed me. I began to lose interest in my favorite activities, like movies, books, video games, etc. I began to question the purpose of life, and I had suicidal thoughts. Then one night down there on the job, I was hit with insomnia, and my heart and mind were racing. I was even seeing hallucinations of death and homosexual imagery, which was extremely disturbing.
I searched the internet for a solution to my problem. I had a physical and it was found there was nothing wrong with me physically. The symptoms were all caused myself, in my own mind. I ended up trying the Linden Method, which taught me it is important to keep the mind occupied, which I did. I also improved my diet and began to exercise more. I felt better, and I did not go on any medication. Still there was something missing and the symptoms still appeared from time to time.
One night, I was struck again with insomnia, and I lay there. Whenever I closed my eyes, all I could see were the crazy images. This time from what I remember it was a giant melting butterfly. There were also different voices shouting back and forth, as though my entire room was a crowded debate hall.
It was then, as He always does, God entered into my life. But this time for once I recognized His grace.
Suddenly, with my eyes still shut, my entire vision was filled with two large white figures. I didn’t open my eyes, but I am certain I felt a presence. It was warm, beautiful, pure white light. It rose above me, and then the light streamed in all directions, which purified my vision. The hallucination stopped, the noises stopped. Suddenly, the entire room was empty. It was finally, for the first time in a long time, just myself. By the grace of God I went to sleep.
I decided I needed to act on this grace. It was more than that, I was compelled to do so. I returned to Church every Sunday, went to confession, and I began to pray to God for healing. I would and still do just sit in his presence and talk to him, every day. I began to feel so much better. I also purchased a Bible and found a plan online to read the Bible in one year, for about 30 minutes a day. That is something I NEVER imagined I would do. God truly began to heal me.
My interest in life grew back exponentially. I began to see He has a plan for me. And I realized the purpose of life is to live for the Lord, following Jesus’ teachings, the Commandments, and love each other and enjoy the boundless mysteries of Creation that He has set forth. I began to treat other people with more respect and kindness. I began to enjoy my activities again. One day I was exercising and I was so touched by one of my favorite songs, I fell down and cried to the Lord, thanking him that I was no longer anxious, and could simply enjoy beautiful music again. I had not cried in literally 10 years. My interest in friends and family has returned, and I wait patiently in life for whatever God has planned for me.
I realized that the devil had a hold on me for all those years of anxiety, and he filled me with a painful existence and tried to hurt me even more when I turned to the Lord, to trick me into going back to my old ways. He was holding me back from enjoying my true self, which through God’s healing grace, I soon surprisingly discovered I was exponentially happier following God’s teachings and living for others than I had EVER been living for myself.
Currently I am an engineer, but I feel that perhaps God is calling me to go back to school and get a teaching credential, as I find myself most happy when I am teaching or learning new things. Whatever God has set for my future, I realize how precious life is, and I am excited about it. God loves the world, and he gives us the opportunity to be saved, if we will just take it. Following the Lord allows us to be saved when we pass from this life, and it also allows us to enjoy this life much more, as I can testify he will grant peace of mind to all those who follow Him. And peace of mind is a priceless thing. God has granted me to be born again.