About four years ago I was seeing a counselor for depression, and was engaged in what is called ‘talk therapy.’ As usual, I brought up the issue of the death of my father when I was fifteen, and how I believed that trauma was the root of all my problems. I had talked to therapists about this before, many times, so was in familiar territory emotionally. Being in the company of a licensed psychologist was comforting, also, and I let my guard down in order to grieve. It didn’t take me long to become misty-eyed as I tarried on the wonderfulness of my dad and how much richer my life would be had he lived. Suddenly the therapist stopped me by holding her hand up and said bluntly, “So when are you going to move on from this? He’s dead. Get over it.”
I was mortified. How DARE she step on such sacred ground! I abruptly ended our session and went home to sulk. I literally felt the tight heaviness of outrage in the center of my chest, and it lasted for days. I wasn’t very prayerful back then, so it was like holding on to a glowing hot rock and refusing to let go. Finally, though, in a moment of quiet contemplation, I heard my father’s unmistakable voice speak the very words that had offended me: “So when are you going to move on from this? I’m dead. Get over it.” I felt the shackles of my own imprisonment fall away, and I finally understood that my counselor’s words were probably the kindest, truest and most necessary advice I had gotten in years. Since then, I have not lost a single precious memory of my father, nor do I miss him any less than before. I merely let go of the anchor of my own unhealthy attachment to the loss, and was free at last to heal properly. Now I feel spiritually closer to my dad than ever before.
I have another issue that has held me back, but this time I have hope in Christ and faith that he will deliver me from my self-imposed imprisonment. Let me explain. When I was eight years old my family converted to Mormonism. I was active in the Priesthood, and was involved with practically every program I was allowed to join, from the church basketball team to the Boy Scouts, from church plays to helping grow food for the hungry, from delivering the weekly sacrament to travelling to the new church Temple in Washington DC to be baptized for the dead. All that came tumbling down when my father died because I was angry with God for taking him. Instead of going on a mandatory two year mission when I turned eighteen, I joined the Army and turned my back on the church.
Not long after, I was introduced to a New Age religion that combined Western values and practicality with Eastern philosophy and deep esoteric knowledge. The religion, Eckankar, claims to have been around since the misty dawn of time, assuming different names but teaching the same message. Those individual souls must reincarnate over and over again until it reaches the state of Self and God Realization. Karma (Cause and Effect) is the prevailing rule of the planes of duality, and understanding and overcoming it is central to spiritual advancement. All the great historical spiritual leaders were actually Masters of the Eck (the Eck being the incessant force that emanates from God), including Jesus and other enlightened figures throughout time. The one thing an adherent of Eckankar should know is that no matter where you travel in the lower or upper worlds, the image and presence of God is but a projection, no matter how holy. It is taught that when you face God, look over Its shoulder and seek the deeper essence.
In 2005 I came to the foot of the cross. I was literally slain in the spirit. I confessed with my lips that Christ is Lord and believed with all my heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). There is nothing in this world to compare being baptized in the Holy Spirit and having all my sins removed by the Blood of the Lamb. On July 31st, I became a slave of God. According to Paul in Second Corinthians 5:17, I had become a ‘new creature,’ that old things had passed away and all things had become new. My life had begun anew, but I still carried the memories of the past, and Satan used them against me relentlessly.
Before being saved I had spent many years indoctrinated with many beliefs contrary to Christianity, and as I begin to grow and mature in my new life, I am sometimes haunted by doubts and questions. What if there really is reincarnation; what if the God of the Holy Bible is just a reflection of a much more profound and unreachable God. What if the miracles Jesus performed were the result of his mastery of this world’s dualistic illusions. What if, what if, what if? I feel as if the rug of my belief has been yanked out from under me. But these times, during the most troubling spiritual crises of my life, I have resources available to me. I have the scriptures (1st Corinthians 6:19-20, “What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God,, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”), I have prayer, I have the fellowship of other believers. Mostly, I have the Spirit of Christ in me to show me the truth, to guide me through Satan’s temptations and doubts, to prove to me that Jesus is indeed Lord, that he took up the sins of the world and gave up his life as the sacrificial Lamb of God, then was raised in three days to conquer sin and death. I was and am continually comforted in that every time Satan reminds me of my past I only need to remind him of his future. Whenever I am in doubt, I hear my Savior telling me “So when are you going to move on from this? Those beliefs are dead. Get over it.” My fleeting uncertainties are replaced with the words of that old hymn ‘Blessed Assurance,’ and in that moment the anchor or my past beliefs fade away:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.