During a recent radio interview, an author talked about a spiritual experience he had when he was eleven years old, and the interviewer asked if it wasn’t “unusual” for an eleven-year-old to be thinking about spiritual things.
The interviewer’s question and tone startled me. The word unusual translated to weird or odd for me, and all I heard was judgment. I thought, “Just because it didn’t happen to you does not mean it is unusual!”
In that moment, I remembered the times I have been called some version of unusual because of my spiritual experiences and how my fear of judgment made me resistant to sharing anything about my prayer life or my relationship with God.
The courage of some people to share their spiritual experiences has always amazed me. But I have not been that courageous. When I got the “isn’t it unusual…” response, I shut down.
I always wanted to fit in—not stand out, so I learned to keep my “God things” to myself, pondering them in my heart but telling only a few people.
Now, though, I am ready to own what others might label unusual. I have finally stopped worrying about fitting in—or at least stopped letting my worry silence me—and want to share what God has shown me. I have been so blessed by my relationship with God and my spiritual experiences; perhaps sharing them will bless others.
This week I was in Philadelphia, the city where I spent most of my adult life, and I visited some old friends. I tested the waters of my newfound courage by speaking about some of my prayer experiences with friends who have known me for a long time but with whom I had not shared many of my spiritual experiences.
I told them about a particularly intense time of prayer that I call my garden year. This was after college, a time when I was uncertain about my future and was discerning what to do with my life.
During this year of prayer and discernment, I had several visions, including this one:
I saw myself in an old, stone cathedral, the kind with thick walls and no pews. I was lying prostrate on the floor and could feel the hardness of the floor and the coldness of the stone on my face and arms. Then the floor began to shift, and I was being raised up. The floor became a hand, lifting me and supporting me. “I’ve got you,” God said to me.
Reflecting on this vision, it seemed that God was telling me that no matter what kind of work I chose or where I chose to live, God would always be with me—holding me and protecting me. It was a great comfort to me during that time of uncertainty and anxiety.
In the years since my garden year, I have often recalled this vision and the message of God’s personal care for me. God’s love in that moment still comforts me.
I hope you continue to share these experiences, Madeline. For me, it is validation that God is always there. Nothing about that is ‘unusual’.
Thank you, Jackie, for your support and encouragement.
Yes, please continue to share your spiritual experiences/visions, Madeline. We can all learn from them. You have so much to offer us. Thank you… miss you!