I've Had a Religious ExperienceOK. If you are at all offended by God or spiritual things, you're graciously released from reading further. I hope what I'm about to reveal won't come between us, though, and that you'll still stop by and read this blog from time to time. I promise I'll be "me" and not go all "born-again" on you.
But it's hard not to, after an experience like this.
You're all aware, if you've been reading this blog for awhile, that I've had a tough past couple of years. You know I've been in estate settlement limbo, had family animosity, been unemployed and living off of savings, and trying to find my way. I've been learning the Law of Attraction, shedding my limiting beliefs, and in general, questioning my faith and my purpose in this world.
As televangelists are wont to say, "in the natural", meaning as it looks to us based on what we can perceive with our five senses, there are obvious steps for me to take to change my life for the better. The most common reaction by a person in my position would be to drop everything and focus 24/7 on finding a job. They would not "waste time" with alternate activities, or bother focusing on huge reorganization projects. No, they would be focusing on the primary concern: finding a job.
Let me interject that there was a time in my life when I lived differently than I do now, and by that I mean that I was what one would call impulsive, prone to spontaneous decisions, would go "off on a tangent" or "half-cocked" as Mother would say—but what I was doing wasn't random.
I was following the nudges.
I would be sitting there and all of a sudden, I'd get this overwhelming URGE to do something like sew up an outfit for an event that wasn't even occurring but for which I wanted to be prepared. I'd go to the fabric store, find the perfect fabric, the perfect pattern, go home and obsessively sew it until it was ready.
Then, By God, within a couple weeks or days, suddenly the exact event for which it was needed would appear.
I'm not sure I call it "psychic", as everybody has those nudges, that voice that says "hey, pick up some extra milk while you're here" and if you follow it despite knowing you have plenty of milk in the fridge or could go out later, you find out the reason why later; and if you DON'T, you find out the reason why you should have later.
Those are nudges.
You're mulling over your job prospects. You've just made 20 calls and gotten nowhere. You're done for the day. You need a distraction. It suddenly occurs to you, Hey, I think I'll call X and see how they are—maybe we can grab a beer tonight. The phone call leads to an impromptu conversation where X casually mentions that there's a job opening you wouldn't have heard of any other way except you were bored and happened to think of a friend you hadn't spoken with in months and never would have connected with job opportunities. Except he has a friend of a cousin of a friend who is in your business, but you never knew that.
Connections. From the nudges.
I used to live by the nudges. Somewhere in college, I stopped listening to nudges and started listening to that nasty little thing called "reason". Well, let me tell you about Reason. It's completely unreasonable. Since I stopped following the nudges, my life has slowly fallen apart. Back when I was listening, the most amazing stuff happened to me. Great stuff.
So yesterday, pondering my still-largely-jobless status (yes I'm in a band, and yes I have a line on a freelance gig that should pick up as the brand-new printing company gets the word out to their clients about the move and work starts coming in), and I'm up early and wondering what to do.
Common sense—reason—would dictate, go out and look for a job.
A little voice in my head said, screw that. Clean out the wooden shed instead.
That little voice has been pestering me for weeks to clean out the sheds, the deck room, and FINISH the org project despite my arguing with it saying, "but I need to find a job first".
Well, I broke down and listened this time. I cleaned out the shed. (There are two: one is wooden, one is tin, and the wooden one is nicer for storage.)
It went more quickly than anticipated. Once the keepers were safely put away in an orderly fashion and the sellers were in the deck room, I set about going through the dozen boxes labelled "Old Books and Papers" and "Misc".
In one box, I found some of my trinkets. There was a toy that I didn't even remember getting or why. It was a stuffed strawberry, about 2.5 inches in diameter, maybe it was a lingerie sachet but the scent was long gone. I had no reason to hold onto it and it almost went into the Sell box, but I thought that because it was soft, maybe it would make a nice toy for my cats to bat around.
I stuck it in the pocket of my shorts and forgot about it.
Later that evening, I looked up at the clock and realized it was 11:30 PM. Now, when I'm feeling uncertain, I'll admit, I like to watch certain televangelists like the Oral Roberts Ministry (Richard and Lindsay Roberts) and Joel Osteen. I know the concept of Seed Faith can be off-putting to some because it sounds like begging for money... I've since learned otherwise and it's also a LOA concept, but I get that it bugs people. I'd ignore that and listen to the message.
I'd been looking forward to watching it, but had gotten caught up reading old notebooks. Now the program was half over. I considered ignoring the program, but God said "Go watch it anyway".
I sat down in the TV room with my cats. Now, I'll admit, I was a bit disappointed. I thought, "surely God directed me to watch this because Richard's sermon will have a key point meant just for me"—but for some reason, all he was doing this night was= focusing on seed faiths and prayer requests. Not a sermon in sight.
I have to admit, I wondered why the heck I was watching.
I mean, all he does is read off the name of the giver, the city, the seed amount and need. Then he prays that God answers the persons's need and thanks them for their gift.
The show was almost over and he was in the middle of reading yet another prayer request. He listed the name and city, then interrupted himself to make a comment.
At the exact moment, one of my cats rubbed her head against the pocket of my shorts where the strawberry was.
I remembered the toy.
In a simultaneous moment, I reached in and closed my fingers around it and thought to myself "OH—right—the..."
And Richard said "Oh, that's where all the good..."
And I thought in my head at the EXACT moment he said the word on TV:
Richard had said, "That's where all the good strawberries come from".
The toy in my pocket was a stuffed STRAWBERRY.
I froze. Did I really just hear what I thought I'd heard? And he repeated it.
"I always know where to find the good strawberries".
Goosebumps along my entire body.
It's a Christian ministry program. The chances of the word "strawberry" coming up in a conversation or prayer request or sermon are SLIM. What are the chances that he would speak that very word at the exact moment I put my hand around a stuffed representation of that word? What are the chances I'd have a strawberry in my pocket at that moment?
I'll tell you—unlikely!
The symbolism—that a strawberry looks like a red heart and contains thousands of seeds—is not lost on me, either.
After that moment, all of my doubts are gone. I know absolutely that GOD EXISTS. Like the ORM prayer cloths, that toy has become my Point of Contact with the Lord. Whenever I feel lost or afraid, I squeeze it like a child squeezes the hand of her Father for reassurance, and the fear leaves.
In addition, I'm seeing clearly the lesson that sometimes a seemingly-unrelated chain of events is necessary to lead you to your goal. Had I not followed the inspiration to clean the shed, I would not have found the box containing the toy, I would not have had it in my pocket while watching, and I would not have had this experience. God orchestrated it so that I would have that very symbolic item on my person and be in the right place at the right time to hear HIS message.
I know now without a doubt that all of the financial challenges are behind me, that the blocks to my success are released, and that all IS well because the Lord IS with me. I have the strawberry to prove it.