“You’re a what?”, the people roared.
The whole crowd began chasing me with pitchforks and torches in hand, and I was exiled from my hometown, never to be seen again.
Alright, so the aftermath of openly claiming to be a Christian didn’t exactly go down like this, but I swear this was pretty much what I thought was going to happen. I’m not quite sure where this image stemmed from in my head, but it’s comparable to the townspeople in Beauty & The Beast aggressively encroaching the castle near the end of the tale.
Yeah, pretty cinematic, indeed.
I thought that if the topic of God, Jesus, or even just plain spirituality came up with, well, anyone, that I’d sound and look like a complete idiot. Or worse ― a hypocrite. I knew what they’d think in their heads. They may not say it but, oh, they’d be thinking it!
“But you said you didn’t believe in God… for like… ever.”
“You posted videos and articles about how religion is used to brainwash the masses.”
“You advocated for the freakin’ Zeitgeist film, for Christ’s sake.” (No pun intended, but it worked out nicely.)
I know, I know… I KNOW. And that’s why’d I’d feel intense anxiety about being publically humiliated if others threw these regretful, yet accurate, facts in my face.
The truth is that I was, and still am much of the time, afraid of being judged for what I believe. There are areas in my life where I don’t feel as vulnerable to public scrutiny ― areas in my life that have stronger, fixed foundations.
But my spiritual life? It ain’t one of ‘em. Prior to a few years ago, questions of the spiritual realm or the supernatural consisted mainly of me eerily recalling and telling others of my ghostly encounters from ages 4 years old and up after watching a horror flick. Ya know, when the movies would trigger those memories.
I absolutely was not spiritual, religious, or whatever you want to call it… Yet I had experienced multiple inexplicable things that didn’t seem rational to any sane person or even myself (and I wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel and claim insanity just yet…)
So, I don’t mean to get all Sixth Sense on you, but I’ve seen some ish. Yep, an old ghost lady sleeping beside me in bed, plates moving across kitchen counters (with my cream cheese bagel on it.. The nerve!), and a huge shadowy figure pinning me down and whispering in my ear, “Nothing can save you.”
Yeah, that last one still gives me the heebie jeebies. If you’ve never experienced Sleep Paralysis, consider yourself lucky. It’s the most terrifying experience I’ve ever encountered, and before December 2013, I had seen that same shadowy figure in my room three times.
Every time it would happen, I’d be totally conscious and awake with my eyes completely open, yet I couldn’t move a muscle or utter a single word. I’d try to scream for help, but nothing would come out. I was only left with the feeling of sheer terror and helplessness.
And that last time it happened, with those words whispered in my ears… It haunted me.
So, a few days after the event, I googled “Can’t move, black shadow whispering in my ear”… And low and behold, I found literally hundreds of thousands of results about people seeing and experiencing the exact same thing!
“Nah, there’s no wa ― Holy crap, they saw the exact same shadow man as me?! It’s a what? A demon? Pfffft….”
I thought I must’ve been off my rocker. Too much coffee… too little sleep… too many Taco Bell Gordita crunches… too many Paranormal Activity movies… somethin’.
The weirdest part of it all was the timing. Prior to that last experience, I hadn’t had Sleep Paralysis in well over a year. But during that last time, I had recently begun digging into who this Jesus dude really was. Me and my now-husband (then-boyfriend) would have deep discussions about purpose, the meaning of life, and ― of course, since it’s inevitably tied to it ― the possible existence of an omnipresent, omniscient God.
I told him about my Sleep Paralysis a day or two after the whole “Nothing-can-save-you” thing happened, and he casually told me to say the name “Jesus” the next time it occurred.
“I can’t speak when it happens though”, I replied. I won’t lie ― at the time, I thought he was a bit… ughhh… insane. (Sorry, hunny bunches of oats!)
“Well, say it in your head then. The name has power, and evil will leave right away”, he retorted with a fully straight face.
Damn, I had to give him some credit there. He looked like he actually believed this spiritual mumbo jumbo. Hella convincing… I mean, to him at least. To me? Not so much.
But I thought it was worth a try, nonetheless. I guess it beat being pinned down by a massive-sized demonic creature and not doing anything…
So, wouldn’t ya know it? The next night, I felt the Sleep Paralysis coming on AGAIN. I became suddenly aware of my body stiffening up and fear began to take over…
But then, I remembered our talk… And as much of a looney tune as I felt, my desire in that moment to get rid of the evil presence ― whatever the hell it was ― was greater than my ego. (And, admittedly, my ego was pretty damn huge!).
I said the name “Jesus” in my head about 3-4 times while this thing was already paralyzing my body and approaching my bed…
And… it worked.
HOLY $#%*, IT WORKED.
I was as much surprised as I was confused about what that meant for my life from then on… I jumped out of my bed to flick on the light, and just sat there for hours reading, watching YouTube, researching… anything not to fall asleep again that night.
Then, days and weeks went by without any sign of Sleep Paralysis… And here I am over three years later without ever having experienced it again.
So, why did I tell you this? Is this the main reason I believe in God today?
Nah, it’s only a small part of my story. It is, however, an important puzzle piece to share with you because I know I’m not the only one out there that has dealt with demons. The demons that haunt you may not physically manifest themselves as monstrous shadow men like mine did (lucky me!), but they’re there nonetheless keeping you guarded and fearful of what’s to come.
Over time, I want to continue to share more of my testimony, because it’s a long one and it’s been a very gradual process. It transcends across every single facet of my life today ― my marriage, family, friendships, work-life, etc. ― and, personally, it wasn’t a sudden life-changing moment for me which I, and many others, would expect it to be.
It’s usually never what you expect it to be when it comes to the Big Guy Upstairs. As they say, “God works in mysterious ways”, and I can attest to that.