I grew up in a good family. My parents were always there for me and they made sure my brother and I never lacked anything. My grandmother, a true Christian from her young years, is a woman I admired all my life for being always cheerful and smiling no matter what. I could never understand how a woman that went through a world war, injustice of Soviet times, hunger, and arranged marriage, raising a family of four kids, could still be full of energy and joy. She would always tell us, “It’s God who provides me with strength.”
This is how I got to know about God. As a child I believed there was the Father of all creation who watched over people and determined the course of human lives. I prayed “Our father in heaven” and trusted I could sometimes ask God to help me with whatever child life difficulties I had. And whenever I received a solution, I would truly believe it was His reply. Yet I never read the Bible, and I had a very scarce idea of whom I was praying to.
The older I grew, the more distant from God I became. As my life was developing, I seemed to have everything a young girl could think of. I received a good education, had a good job and was relatively successful with the opposite gender. But my heart was not in peace. I always felt there was something missing. I changed jobs, engaged myself in different activities and tried extreme sports and travelling. But whatever I did, wherever I went, the feeling of incompleteness followed me everywhere.
At the age of 25, very spontaneously, I moved out from my county to study abroad. I thought it was my chance to this something “extra” I was missing so much. But already in a year and a half I was totally worn out from studies, internships, constant moves and the permanent need to deal with the residency permit matters. Moreover, the feeling of being alone in a foreign country was like a stone on my heart. I felt even more lost than when I left my home country.
After my graduation I made a very outrageous decision, something very untypical for a person as pragmatic and rational as I am. I decided I would go travelling to an absolutely unknown part of the world, with a person I barely knew and without any reassurance on what I would do when I come back. And it is during this voyage that I had my first personal encounter with God, an event that changed my life.
My travel companion and I were seating on a sandy beach, breathing in warm and humid air, enjoying the sunset. I was excited but also a little bit anxious about the trip. Growing up in a country with a very poor travel culture, I could never imagine going to countries so remote. As the sun was already down and the colourful bulbs were lightning the evening, my travel mate told me a story. Once as an assignment for his ethnological study he decided to write about shamanism, a practice that assumes delivering people from their mental problems by reaching out to their sub-consciousness. He was convinced he could not write a good paper without trying the power of shamanism himself. So my travel mate let a shaman “enter” his sub-consciousness and lead him through a long forgotten episode in life, provoking changes which made the memory of the episode and its consequences less painful.
“It felt as if a stone has fallen off my chest,” said my friend as I listened to his story with great enthusiasm. “Shamans act as a bridge between your consciousness and your sub-consciousness,” he added. “But one must believe in their power to deliver, otherwise it would not work.”
A long pause followed the conversation as I was replaying the story in my head. Suddenly I uttered out loud, “I need a deliverance like that, but shamanism will not work with me, because the only power I believe in is the power of God.”
This was the first time in years I proclaimed the name of God. I said it so confidently and with so much reassurance that it was surprising even to myself. What I said felt so right. Even though figuring out my real mental burden and getting rid of its weight is exactly what I wanted more than anything in the world, I was still sure that healers like shamans could only solve some of one’s problems but they could never cure a soul. I wanted to leave this task to God. I wanted Him to be the bridge between my consciousness and sub-consciousness.
Later that night my travel companion and I had a discussion about relationships in our lives. I was already falling asleep when I remembered a person who hurt me emotionally a long time ago and I kept being angry at him for more than ten years. All of a sudden a thought hit me like a lightning bolt! Why should I keep being angry at this person? It is so emotionally exhausting! Why keep the weight of the offence for all these years? Why be angry at anybody at all?
Believe me, being a very easily offended person I had quite a long list of people I was angry at for years! Most of the times the reasons were ridiculous. But in my mind they were enough to make me aggrieved. Somewhere deep inside me there was this conviction that people wanted to offend me on purpose — and it was so strongly engraved in my heart.
I did not have the slightest clue that this had been eating me from inside. And this was exactly what made the bitterness dwell in me for ages. In this one single second I understood it all. It was the resentment and anger that were my mental burdens, the weight I had been carrying within me for so long. It was not the problems I had in my relationships, it was not the yoke of studying, working hard or trying to integrate into a foreign country. None of these, so easily acceptable as conscious-level excuses, were the explanations of my own struggle with myself. It was something hidden so much deeper, something so difficult to reach that one had to dig on a sub-conscious level. People having burdens like these would need numerous hours of discussions with psychologists to get it out and realize what really bothers them. But there I was, lying on a wooden bungalow bed somewhere in the middle of nowhere, suddenly realizing one of the main problem of my life, the reason for the permanent weight making my heart so heavy.
The realization became an enormous enlightenment for me. As I was coming to grips with the fact that I may have just found the bridge between my consciousness and sub-consciousness, I felt a strong wind blowing inside my head. With every millisecond it was getting stronger and stronger turning into a whirlwind — a tornado. And from my head it moved quickly down through my throat to my chest. Сircling around it sucked in the immense weight of offence and anger that was stored there and the next thing I knew it was all out.
The hurricane of emotions overwhelmed me. Tears were running from my eyes. I felt so much lighter. I felt a different person. I knew my life would never be the same again. But what is it that just happened to me? Sub-consciousness, consciousness, the bridge, hidden burdens? Isn’t it what we discussed with my travel mate at the beach? Did not I say that I believe only God could help me out? Did I not proclaim His power, and only His power over all known and unknown methods to reach the inner peace? I did not doubt for a second that the revelation I received was spiritual and that it came from Him. I could not even dream that the response would come so fast. Amazing! Truly, God’s ways are not our ways.
The enlightenment was the beginning of a new stage in my life. I started looking at the world with different eyes. I started enjoying people and the world around me. Moreover, I found a way to get in touch with almost all the people I had bitter feelings for, and we sorted things out. It took some time but it was totally worth it. After a while I noticed something important about myself; I am not getting so easily resentful anymore and it has become much easier for me to forgive.
However, it was just the first step in my spiritual transformation. I still felt confused about many things. The bliss that filled my wailing soul was slowly vanishing and I was lacking a knowledge of how to restore it again. We rarely talked about faith in my family and I knew no one in my close circle with whom I could share my spiritual strain. Without proper guidance my focus was back to the world, of which God was not a part. Following the main streams of modern society soon brought me to disappointments and pain along with the sense of self-destruction and immense lonesomeness. My heart felt heavy again. But unlike years ago when I thought I would find internal peace by moving to a different county or by travelling, this time I knew exactly where to go.
Why did it take me so long to realize how much better God’s world is? Why was the solitude and bitterness so hard to bear, the only reasons for me to go to church? It may sound ironic, but God was allowing negative experiences in my life so that I could find my refuge in His house. The more I attended church, the more I wanted to discover this new spiritual realm.
I finally started reading the Bible. It was something I could not have done for years as the book seemed to be so boring to me. But after I prayed for God to reveal His Word to me, I actually found myself enjoying reading the Bible. So much wisdom has opened up to me through it. But the most important thing I learned was the story of Jesus Christ. God for me was no longer just someone from above there who created humanity and determines the destinies of people’s lives. In addition to being the Father of all creation, he is also the Son, who came to this world as a human and willingly died on the cross so that my sins and the sins of all people on Earth can be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our souls to guide us spiritually.
After acknowledging this I got baptized by immersion in water and became a member of the church. Today, it is my personal relationship with Jesus that has become my focus of life and remedy against the heartache. It is solely by the power of prayer, a desperate call for His help, that I got rescued from the feelings of loneliness which bothered me for those last years. I learned to be able to enjoy time on my own, admiring nature, travelling around, valuing simple things of life or spending time in spiritual meditation. I felt the presence of Jesus wherever I was, either alone or not. And as I was able to comprehend it, the load of solitude was gone for good. Inner peace and balance entered my body and mind.
Shamans and “healers” alike can help “solve” one’s problems but they can never cure a soul. I remain with a strong conviction that only God can do it. He has redeemed me from three major burdens of my life — anger, resentment and solitude -– and filled in the emptiness in my heart. He has opened a new perspective in life for me and showed me its purpose. Since my first encounter with God’s Holy Spirit in that remote county more than five years have passed and I never regretted that moment. Despite challenges and trials which I face on my spiritual development path, I never give up trusting in God’s good plan for my life. And my trust has always been justified. After I had opened my soul to God, enlightenments and divine interventions, one after another, have been happening in my life. I so much wish that you can experience the same or even greater things in your own life. God disregards nobody; everyone is special to Him. One just has to make the decision to start trusting Him by proclaiming His mighty power over anything else in the world. In our post-modernist culture, people tend to over-complicate things when searching for answers to the questions about humanity, the creation of the world, the meaning of life, the destiny of people’s lives and what happens to us after death. It is much simpler than one thinks. All the answers are in the nature of Jesus Christ, who is the way the truth and the life (John 14:16). If you are lost, just ask Him sincerely to show you the way out. And believe me, it will not take long until you hear from Him.