I felt as if I was drowning in my own sea of emptiness. The tidal way of bad choices in my life crushed me in an undertow of complete depression. I wondered if should I even bother fighting it anymore. I was so tired of fighting for a life that I did not enjoy living.
Even though I was not happy with my life, I certainly was not prepared for death either. What if it was me who had that heart attack instead of Craig? Where would my soul be right now? From the way my heart felt, I knew the answers were not good. I looked at the faces of strangers passing me on the street. I wondered which ones had the answers that I was desperately in search of. I wandered back home, not recalling the steps I took to actually end up there.
My home did not feel any better than the cold, dark and lonely night I just escaped from. It seemed colder and darker and lonelier inside. Collapsing onto my living room floor, I could hear my mother’s voice as if she were in the room with me. “If you feel lost, Julia, turn to God. Pray to Him and read His Word. The wisdom from the Bible will show you what you need to do.” She said that so many times throughout the years, it was like white noise to my ears. Taking her advice never occurred to me before; but then, I was never as desperate as I was now…
Ravenous for any comfort, my hands inched toward the Bible on my bookshelf. “God, if you are even here, please speak to me. Tell me something in this book of yours. I know it has been a while since I have talked to you, but please say something to me!” I pleaded sincerely as I opened the box that it came in.
My mother had given me that Bible a decade earlier and from the looks of it, one would never know. The binding was tight and the pages were stuck together from never being opened. I fanned the glossy gold pages, and just let the Bible fall open. I read the first verse that my finger landed on. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43)
My body began to quiver a bit. The incident was too strange for me to fully grasp without freaking out. I took a deep breath and quickly brushed it off as an accident. “God, are you really there? Let me make sure you are talking to me.” The verse was clearly speaking to me about my job, but I told myself that it had to be just a fluke.
I opened the Bible again and let my finger land on another random verse. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt.5: 29) I froze. This was not an accident or a coincidence. I could not deny that God had led me to two almost identical verses! All doubt vanished, as I was sure God heard my cries to Him. He had my full attention now.
Those verses were, without question, referring to my job as a dancer. My choice for work was leading me down a path that I did not want to continue on. My insatiable lust for attention, power and money was taking me down the path to hell. I dropped my defeated body and collapsed to the ground. Tears streamed down my face, seeming to come from the well of my soul. How could God still hear and speak to me after all that I had done to run from Him?
There was a distinct tugging inside my heart, prompting me to call my mother. The clock read two thirty a.m. I tried to reason with myself, “I can’t do that! Mom has to work in the morning.” But the feeling would not go away. Something inside me knew that she would be thrilled to hear I was reading God’s Word, even if I woke her up to tell her.
“Yes?” her voice was groggy. I had indeed awoken her.
“Something strange is happening here. I know it’s late, but I was praying to God. I asked Him to speak to me, so I opened that Bible you gave me. Mom, I think God is speaking to me. I’m scared. Something weird is going on here—”
A sudden rush of anger ripped through my body like a fierce tiger being released from a cage. The sensation of burning heat rose up my chest. “I hate you!” The words were not in my mind, but they came up out of my throat. “Mom, mom, I didn’t mean that! I am so sorry. I don’t know why I said that—GGGRRRRRR!” I could feel my vocal cords strain as the noises that escaped from my lips sounded like the voice of someone else. “Mom, help me. I don’t know what’s going on!”
My body stiffened so tight that my joints locked straight. It was impossible to move my legs or arms. It felt as if I had invisible ropes around my limbs that were attached to the bedposts. My T-shirt was soaked in sweat within minutes, as the temperature in the room rose quickly. The walls of my bedroom felt like they were pressing in on me; they seemed to be pulsating with heat and rage. My body was now plastered to the bed; I could not move an inch. The phone was lying on my pillow. I strained to call out to my mother, afraid that we would loose contact and get disconnected.
“Mom, please don’t hang up! I am so scared. Something is happening to me! I cannot move! GRRRRR! I hate you! Mom, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that. I don’t know what’s going on. Please, mommy, help me! Come get me! Help me!”
Looking back on that night, it amazes me that my mom was so calm despite the circumstance. I believe she instantly recognized what was going on because of what had happened to my brother thirteen years before. She kept me on the phone with other family members as she scrambled to get help from her church. Three hours had passed before she arrived at my condo in the city with the people she had gathered from her parish.
By the time I heard the knock on my door, the powers that were keeping me plastered on the bed had subsided a bit. I could feel myself being loosed from an invisible grasp. I remember being completely drained of all physical energy as I gathered my strength to pull the door open. It took such effort to do such a simple task!
It was shocking that no one from my building had called the police. My voice was practically gone from screaming and growling for three hours. (It did not return to normal until three weeks later.) It was a miracle that no one seemed to hear me.
My mom had three pastors from her church with her. I was completely ashamed for them to see me in the condition I was in, but my terror overtook my embarrassment. I needed help so badly. Maybe they were the answer.
They gazed at me, completely dumbfounded. Their speechless expressions spoke volumes. They did not know what to do either!
I could feel the sensation of “me” coming back stronger into my limp and weak flesh. The demons had gone into hiding. The gnashing, wheezing, and roaring subsided to an occasional growl. The pastors began to fire questions at me like suspicious policemen do. I could see by the look in their eyes, that they thought the best solution was to lock me up in a loony bin.
I looked at my mother. Her eyes were desperately searching their faces for answers, too. I could tell by her face that she had no doubt that what was happening to me was real. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it, her assurance that she believed me.
Why was it so hard to get help? Why did the church not have answers for this spiritual problem? We were lost. We were on our own and I was really starting to loose hope.
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