My experience is not an NDE, but it was
very much like one, and it had the same long-term impact on my
life than an NDE would have had. It took me many years of reading
about NDEs, and many years of exploring spiritual ideas and writings
to realize the significance of my experiences. I say "experiences" rather than "experience" because there
have been a number of them of varying degrees and impact on my life. But
one stands out above the rest as being the one which has shaped my journey,
the one which sent me on a desperate "quest for love".
When I was a child,
I didnít believe
in God. I thought that God was for weak people. My parents didnít have any
religious beliefs, so I was free to form whatever beliefs I wanted. I decided
that God was a fabricationa figment of peopleís imagination.
I guess God had other plans for me.
When I was around
19 years old, I had a dream. I was walking on a beach at sunset,
hand-in-hand with a male who seemed to be around 25 or 30. He
had longish hair down to his shoulders, and it was a dark blonde
color. As we walked in "silence", he was communicating
things to me. He was communicating his unconditional acceptance of me as
well as other things which I canĎt remember.
As we walked along,
I had the feeling that he was my best friend. I began to feel
unconditional love all around me within all the particles of
the universe, and it was the most wondrous feeling. It was so
powerful and overwhelming that after a few moments it was all
I could feel, and it washed over my soul and satisfied every
part of my being.
Then I woke up. And
as soon as I did, I began to cry, because I had been "cut off" from that feeling. I
was completely grief-stricken. I didnít want to be alive or in
the world, which now felt like a cold and hostile place to me
by comparison. All I wanted was to go back to that place and
stay there feeling the unconditional love all around me. I had
absolutely no idea what that place was. It took me many years
to realize it seemed an awful lot like heaven. And the person
walking next to me did resemble that guy called Jesus (who, by
the way, was terribly embarrassing to talk about).
With no religious
background at all, I assumed that such a wonderful love could
be found here on earth, and it became my "mission" (read: "obsession") to find it. I began by trying
to find it in other peoplespecifically from romantic relationships.
After several years of searching desperately, I began to feel
that I would never find it. But that intense longing never left
me. It dominated my life.
Fast-forward to my
attempt to become a "Christian". Eventually my journey led me to Christianity (or it
came and got me, depending on how you look at it). The story is very long
with many twists and turns, but suffice it to say, the journey has been
excruciatingly painful and arduous over the years. I would not wish such
a painful journey on my worst enemy, but this is where my search for "unconditional
love" led me. A strange paradox. The more I suffered, the more I had to
wonder where God might be in all the suffering. The more I "tried" to believe
in God, the more difficult each test became, and the less it seemed like
there was really a God. If he loved me, I wondered, why did he allow so
much suffering to come my way over and over again? All my attempts to be
a "good Christian" were proving quite unfruitful; no matter what
summit I reached, it seemed that there was a more difficult one
Somewhere along the
way, after I had heard the phrase: "the unconditional love of God" enough times, I
began to wonder if thatís what I had experienced in my dream of many years
earlier... Eventually, I realized that, yes, it had to be one-and-the-same.
I realized that just because it came through a "dream" didnít mean it was
any less real than any other encounter with Godís unconditional love and
acceptance. Finally I "got it". I realized that I could never feel that
kind of love from another person. If I really wanted to experience it again,
I had to seek it from God. More importantly, I had to seek God, and I had
to let go of the desire for the "experience" of being unconditionally loved
againa process which, in itself, also took many years.
Anyone who has experienced
this unconditional love will know how hard it is to let go of
and to come to a place of living life fully without it. It hurts
something awful to let go of what you crave with every cell of
your body. It feels like death. Many times it felt like more
than I could bearto let go of it, to
surrender myself to this life. It was when I read Embraced by the Light
that I saw meaning to my own bewildering experiences. Now everything
made sense. The book was the greatest blessing and the greatest
gift during a time of desperate need. It literally saved my life.
Whether here or in
the life after, I pray everyone will one day experience what
I had a sweet taste of in my dreamthe unconditional love
of God. It is real, and it makes all the difference.