Posted by: Marie | February 11, 2009

(14) My spiritual journey – Part 1 of 9

Post #14
[Therapy homework assignment completed on Tuesday, April 8, 2008]

Both of my parents were raised in very conservative religious traditions.  My grandmothers, and even my parents to some extent, practiced a Quaker-like lifestyle.  For example, other than in gym class and while swimming (one-piece suit, of course), we were required to keep our knees, shoulders, back, belly and the vast majority of our décolleté covered.  We could not pierce our ears (except I did anyway) or wear much make-up (just foundation, a little blush, a little mascara and lip gloss).  We weren’t allowed to play with or own “gambling” cards (not even for non-gambling purposes), to go to movie theaters or to attend dances (I did get to attend my junior prom, though).  Air Supply’s music was too wild.  We didn’t have a television in the house. Of course, no cussing, alcohol, drugs or smoking were allowed.

I was not allowed to date because there was no one my age in our rural area my dad felt was “Christian enough”.  One guy was pretty religious (I met him in church!) but he attended the Pentecostal Church and “spoke in tongues”, so that took him out of the running (my dad had something against Pentecostal people).  I did meet one Christian guy who lived 250 miles (400 km) away – I’m not sure he was “approved”, but he was pretty much out of reach geographically, so it didn’t matter.

We attended church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night and every Wednesday night, almost without fail.  We also attended every evening of the week during revivals.  I was very involved in the church – started singing with my sister for the “special music” when I was two, started playing the piano and organ for secondary services (evenings, Sunday School, children’s programs, etc.) when I was nine, taught Sunday School, children’s programs and youth programs starting when I was about 12, held all kinds of offices/positions, etc.

Starting when I was about 10 years old, several people (maybe 8-10 people, ages 8 to 94) with whom I was close died from cancer, accidents and old age within about a three-year period.  I remember knowing in advance about each death (approximate time, general cause) and watching each scenario play out in front of me like a Broadway play with a script already familiar to me – I couldn’t do anything to affect the outcome or the players, I could only be an observer.

I remember having a sense of peace about all the deaths.  Of course I was sad because I missed the people, but I had an innate understanding that these deaths were all part of a divine plan – that the timing was perfect, even for the “untimely” and “tragic” deaths – those people had finished their work on earth and it was time for them to go home.

I also remember watching the adults around me, and being baffled by their angst and confusion about the timing and circumstances around the deaths.  I couldn’t understand why they didn’t know those deaths were perfectly orchestrated.  I couldn’t understand their wailing “why, God?”

When I spoke to people about my premonitions, I quickly learned two things:  1) Having premonitions was not “normal” (until that time, I thought everyone had them), and 2) most church-going people believed that premonitions were of the devil and were quick to warn me of “playing with fire”.  This confused me because I was quite clear that my information was coming from God.

When I talked to my dad about all of this, he told me that he also had premonitions (in fact, he had a premonition similar to mine concerning one of the people who died) and that I needed to be careful about talking to people about my “gift”.  I knew my dad knew what he was talking about – I had seen evidence of his “gift” before.  In fact, he and I occasionally shared intuitive information between us telepathically.  He also explained that a number of people in my extended family, including his mother, were “gifted”, so apparently it runs in our family.

All of this left me very confused about the relationship between my “gift” and the church.

Both of my parents were/are examples of solid Christians – they really lived what they taught.  We had family prayer time, and my dad usually led the in-home religious discussions.  They showed me how to live moral, upstanding lives.

With all this focus on the church and the Bible, I fully embraced the church’s (and my parents’) teaching without question.  My approach was very evangelical and I was very excited about witnessing to people.  I also felt a strong calling to “serve the world”, so I prepared myself to do that the only way I knew how – through missionary work.

During the Christmas break of 1985 (when I turned 18 years old), I moved to Oklahoma to attend a church college (biology major, missions minor).  In my first semester, I took a bioethics class, taught by a gentle soul named Dr. Joel.  One of my classmates was a Mormon lady (maybe 35 years old?).  All through that class, I watched and listened to her intently – she was, according to how I had been taught, going to hell.  Yet, she was the sweetest, kindest lady – I just could not see how my God could put her in hell – something wasn’t lining up.

Also, during that first semester, I had sex for the first time – unprotected sex (little forethought) – and it dawned on me the morning after that there was a chance I could be pregnant.  I knew enough about the menstrual cycle to know that the timing was such that the chance was small; nevertheless, it was there.

When the topic of abortion came up in our bioethics class shortly thereafter, I had some pretty strong feelings to share with the class.  I had always been pro-choice, but given what I had just experienced outside the class, I was cherishing my right to choose even more so.

During those two years in college, I spent many of my breaks traveling around the country sharing the gospel through musical performances and church planting.  I got to spend time with passionate, big-hearted people who were dedicated to lives of service – a great inspiration for me.

In my own life, I saw examples of the power of God – for example, I had promised a friend that I would buy him a donut after chapel.  When I looked in my billfold, I was 11 cents short of being able to pay for a donut – that was the absolute last of my money until my next paycheck.  I really wanted to keep my promise, so I asked God for help.

When I sat down on the bleachers for chapel that morning, my hand touched something on the edge of the seat – it was a dime.  Then, as I walked out of the gym after chapel, I found a penny lying on the floor – talk about answers to prayer!!  (To this day I pick up money from off the ground and write on it whatever life lesson I was learning that day – I keep them around for a while to remind me of what I have learned.)

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. I can relate to knowing things and others not wanting to know or judging it.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • Yes, Kate — having freedom to know our experiences are valid is so valuable!

      Thanks for you continued reading and commenting!

      – Marie


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