by Frances Stone – Ms. Recovery Writes
It’s hard to imagine how far off track and lonely ones life can get, when separated from God. I found myself in this place of hopelessness and despair, until I had a spiritual experience in 2005 that forever changed the course and direction of my life, until I learned that maybe it wasn't a spiritual experience at all.
The experience played over and over again in my mind, as though stuck in a loop. I began to read the bible and seek out Priests, Pastors and Christians for answers to my biblical questions and found out my spiritual experience was "biblical, but never said" which of course increased my feelings of fear and grandiosity. At times, I would feel shame, unworthy and a disappointment to God as I wrestled with my ideas of a good Christian woman and time and time again failed to live up to these ideals, while I struggled with my emotional nature which convinced me I wasn't good enough for a spiritual experience, God or a Christian life.
My solution and relief to my emotional nature had always been substances, leading to addiction and dependence, and no one talked about that at church, not openly at least. This separated me from my new church community, as I intuitively sought a place where I could be honest, feel accepted and belong, eventually finding my spiritual home in The Salvation Army and my 12-Step Fellowship, a place where I could be honest about my true self and feel loved and accepted.
Studying to be a counsellor, I read that my spiritual experience was a catharsis, a powerful, transformative, emotional experience, which says to me—it happened. It was a natural, normal, human experience, but it wasn’t God. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals, very carefully tell me that my experience is considered a bipolar psychotic break and while according to scientific evidence, I can agree that this could be true, I struggle with accepting that the experience that changed my heart, thoughts and life, didn't really happen and wasn't really God. I know I'm not the only one that feels this way. (Source)
At church, different degrees of spiritual experiences are normal, everyday events and quite normal and acceptable to talk about openly. In that community, I am regarded as blessed and favoured to have had an opportunity to see "behind the veil" with an emphasis on that it doesn't make me special, it makes God special and how will I use that experience to be of service to God. When I share my story in my 12 Step Fellowship, its met sometimes with curiosity or skepticism, but always with respect of my own experience, what it meant to me and how it was a catalyst for change in my life.
At the risk of sounding cliché, in this experience, I felt all the shame and not good enough that I had carried my whole life washing off me as though into a puddle at my feet. Without having to strive, work or do anything but be alive, I was declared good enough. Not just good enough, but perfect just as I was. It sounds simple and maybe it was, but when I heard the gentle whisper of Gods voice in my mind and heart, it allowed me to understand the power of the God my mother loved with all her heart and life. Every time I think of it, I feel it again; the love that saved my life.
I describe myself as a spiritual person who believes in Jesus. I do not see it as my role to convince or convert anyone, nor to compare my religion or relationship with my Higher Power. I am very curious and respectful of other religions, spirituality and ways of living and being that work for others, but within that curiosity, I know who I am and I know what I believe and it is in Jesus. If anyone wants to know about Jesus, I am more than happy to share my faith in Him, but I hope people will know more about my faith in Jesus by the way I live my life.
I am convicted in my belief because, psychotic break or not, I believe that in my darkest hour, when I felt all alone in the world and was ready to give up, it was my belief that God was real and He loved me that saved me. That love led me to have faith in taking the steps on the path of recovery, leading me to live a life FULL of love, passion and purpose surrounded by people with different beliefs, but very similar values of honesty, integrity and helping others. The pendulum certainly swung wide from one extreme to the other, but eventually I found my rhythm somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, in recovery, as a do-the-right-thing, spiritual type of person ~ who believes she is loved and because of that belief, developed the faith required to live a changed life.
I am forever grateful.
All my Relations - Frances Stone, Ms. Recovery Writes
Frances Stone is the Author of A Reflection of Love ~ A Different Kind of Love Story, a Recovery Counsellor and a Radio Co-Host of Talk Recovery Vancouver, a show about addiction and recovery issues, located in the DTES of Vancouver, BC. In her spare time, she does laundry and mothers three clever, curious and challenging little humans.