Why God chose me is a
mystery—inexplicable and unimaginable, really—but a truth I have known my whole
life. Visions, dreams, and intense prayer experiences have all revealed God’s
presence in my life and the depth of his love for me.
Living with mystery—accepting it
and embracing it—is the invitation God extends to me every day. And I have
tried to live by accepting the mystery of how God interacts with me and the
ways he intervenes in my life.
Until recently, I have held my “God moments” as private, but now I feel invited to share them. This is a shift in my thinking, and as I reflect on it, I think of Moses in the desert for forty years. I was twenty-one when I started having mystical visions and sixty-one when I started blogging about my spiritual journey.
As a child, I felt a strong
connection to Jesus and a deep desire to grow in my relationship with him. But
at twenty-one, I went through a very dark period in my life and was in deep
emotional pain. Unhealthy relationships and overindulging in alcohol were the
outward signs of my pain, and, at the same time, I started to attend daily Mass
to pray for a conversion.
“I want to be zapped like Saint
Paul,” I told my pastor. He was quite certain that would not happen and
encouraged me to be diligent in daily prayer and to keep turning away from
unhealthy behaviors and relationships.
Then at the end of Ash Wednesday
Mass, the priest said, “Go now, cleansed in mind and body, to love and serve
Cleansed in mind and body
was exactly what I was not.
I began to cry and knelt to pray: “Please, God, cleanse me.” As I prayed, I saw in a vision a large sword cutting me open, and I watched as all kinds of darkness and filth spilled out. It was like a river flowing out of me until I was empty.
I felt gutted, as though there was nothing left to me. The space that had been filled with so much darkness was now ready to receive light.
All of a sudden, I felt free, and I
knew God had zapped me with grace.
“God zapped me,” I shouted to my pastor
as I left church, tears of joy running down my cheeks. He conceded that God did
sometimes “zap” people, but he cautioned that I would still need to be diligent
in prayer and monitor my behavior.
I remember the reactions of people
at work that morning. Apparently being “zapped” by God’s grace was visible
because all day I was asked what had happened to me. “You are glowing,” people
I wish I could say that experience
signaled the end of my dark days, but it took years before I could completely
turn away from destructive behaviors—years of prayer and lots of therapy.
But that Ash Wednesday vision and the experience of knowing God’s love and compassion stayed with me and helped me trust the mystery of God’s love.