The story I’m about to share has been long overdue. But it’s raining outside, I’m wearing my spectacles (looking all intelligent) and feeling led to type out my truly remarkable experience.
Heads up. This might be lengthy, but I promise you that it’s going to change your life. And not in the way that seeing the new Star Wars movie might, but genuinely alter your outlook on the way you live.
I grew up in a christian home. We went to church, my mom prayed for us daily, I posted scripture every now and then. I called myself a follower of God. I’ve always been a good person. I was kind to others, listened to/sang christian music, didn’t sleep around, never drank or did drugs. Never did I think that how I was living my life wasn’t enough. After I graduated high school and moved out on my own, I never went to church. I was in a new city, knew no one and never had time because I was always working. That was my excuse anyway, but I didn’t really have much desire to go to church, because I didn’t feel like it was a priority in my life at the time. I wanted to have fun, to fit in; I was just like everybody else and didn’t see that as a problem.
Even though I was a 4.0 student, and got accepted into both an art and music school, I had made the decision not to go to college because I knew that wasn’t God’s plan for me. Shortly after I made my decision though, I began to question and regret it. I didn’t have any friends, and felt lonely a lot. I’d see all these photos of everyone else at college meeting new people, getting dressed up and going out and I was just feeling really left out. I felt like a loser. I wanted those things because at the time, they seemed so important. I was always really unhappy, though I didn’t let on at all. There were times I was having so much fun and feeling perfectly content, and then later I’d just feel so empty and alone, and I didn’t know why. I was impatient with people (which is a bad thing to be when working in customer service), and often times wasn’t as kind to customers as I should have been. But I never thought much of it, since they were rude to me to begin with. They didn’t deserve my kindness when they weren’t kind to me, right?
It wasn’t until a couple years after graduation when I posted a craigslist ad looking for bandmates so I could perform with a full band at the Iowa State Fair. I got numerous replies from musicians, but also got one from a pastor. He reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in becoming the worship leader for the youth at Point of Grace Church. I didn’t know much of worship, because I grew up in a town where we sang hymnals to an organ. I agreed to come check out the church and ended up accepting his offer. Once I started to regularly attend church and hear the word, I started to realize how far from God I really was. And I didn’t like it. At all. Like most people, I didn’t like feeling guilty, and being told (not directly) that some of the things I was doing in my life weren’t acceptable in God’s eyes. I could feel myself getting defensive and telling myself that what I was doing wasn’t wrong. That times have changed. I was only living like everyone else. But the thing is, yes, times shift, however, that’s just because more people get comfortable with sin. The world may change, but the word of God never does. I’m so thankful the Lord placed me at Point of Grace because being apart of that church immensely altered my life and is what lured me back into God’s arms and got me back on the path He has paved for me.
At the time I was in a relationship. My boyfriend was the cutest. He was sweet and we had so much fun together. I loved him. But our relationship was not centered on Christ, which is a criteria that the movies leave out. The closer I got to God, the further I felt from him. I started to act differently because I was trying to get right with God, which meant our relationship had to look different. And that was really hard. Like really hard. I had felt for a long time God was telling me to end my relationship. Not because he wasn’t a good guy, but because I could never get to where I needed to be in my relationship with God unless I completely cut myself off from the things that Satan used to temp me and pull me astray.
I wasn’t ready to let go of something that had been all I’d ever known. I was scared of a future unplanned. Most of you know about my time on “The Voice” and how I felt God used that experience to show me how I was not where I needed to be spiritually. He showed me that I hadn’t fully given Him my entire heart and thats why I hadn’t been able to achieve my ambitions. Although my actions weren’t selfish, I wasn’t pursuing music for selfless desires either. He opened my eyes, and told me to move to Nashville and draw near to Him. I was scared I would lose my relationship because of the move (even though God continually told me to let it go). It took me a long time to listen to Him, and when I finally did I felt like I made the worst decision of my life.
I was filled with so much hurt. And didn’t understand why God would tell me to do something that would cause me so much pain. I almost let my emotions win and almost got back together with my boyfriend. But I reminded myself that the word says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.” I knew I needed to just trust in Him, but that didn’t make it a cake walk. But I could feel myself getting a little closer to God each day.
Now getting to the primary part of this story. Yes, that’s right, I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.
Quick update of my life right now. Currently I’m a voice/piano teacher for young students at a place called Rock Zone School of Music, I also work at a place called Savant Vintage, and Sundays (and starting this Wednesday!) I lead worship at Impact Church. I’ve still let my emotions confuse me with my relationships. Missing someone back home and falling for someone here. I have been trying immensely to keep my focus on God. My relationship with Him has grown so much over the past year, as I actually set aside hours in my day for prayer and reading the bible, something not many people realize is key to a real fellowship with God.
Now to the good stuff. Are you ready?
It was a Tuesday, earlier this month. I had come home from work feeling defeated, depressed and distraught. Everything was weighing on me at once. One of my students at Rock Zone was dropping out because she told her mom I wasn’t giving her piano lessons in our hour long voice/piano lesson, which wasn’t true. It really bothered me because I had felt she and I really clicked. We were friends and always had a lot of fun in our sessions. I didn’t understand.
At Savant, my boss and I have been building a website. We’d been piecing together outfits and having people model them for the site. My sister’s a photographer, so I’ve had lots of experience modeling, but my boss just keeps stressing on how we need “skinny” models. She’s always saying how certain items would look good on “so and so” but never once suggests I model anything, though she is well aware I’m experienced. Sometimes she says things on how only super skinny, flat girls have a future in modeling, and well, I’m neither of those things. And although she may not have directed that towards me, it still hurt me. Often times she says a negative remark about what I’m wearing or how I do my hair/makeup, and I know she doesn’t mean to criticize me but it’s been really affecting how I see myself lately. And that night I was feeling belittled and insecure about my appearance and my weight.
I was struggling with the drama of boys. Missing my ex from home, but having feelings for someone down here too. My heart was so conflicted, but I didn’t want to move on without confirmation from God on where to go.
I sat on the floor in front of my bed and started to talk to God. I was so frustrated and confused with life, I just burst into tears. After crying for a good minute, I said aloud, “I wish you could just sit across from me and I could talk to you.”
I lifted up my head and caught glimpse of my terrifying, makeup smeared face. It was then I decided to shut off the lights and move into my closet where I do most of my praying.
I have two of those over-the-door hook hanging rack things on either side of my door. You see, I have lots of hats/belts/bags/scarves, and thats where they live. So I never actually fully shut my door when I go to pray. I always leave it about 1-2 feet open.
I sat down indian style on my closet floor and picked up where I left off in prayer, which mostly consisted of me having a one-sided conversation with God. I was talking/crying about my ex and how I still missed him and didn’t know if I was really supposed to get over him. I looked up at the ceiling, eyes open, and spoke about worship and how I had been feeling really overwhelmed and under qualified to be in charge of Wednesday’s. I was doubting myself and thinking maybe I wasn’t good enough to orchestrate it all.
Then all of a sudden my door slowly began to close and I felt the Holy Spirit shoot through me. There was a gust of wind and goosebumps covered my entire body, it was as if someone had walked right through me. I can’t lie, at first I was completely terrified. I mean, I was just sitting in my closet, alone and in the dark, when my door just magically closed 2 whole feet. I was scared, but I wasn’t, because I knew I was in the presence of the Lord. Jesus had walked into my closet and sat across from me, just like I had wanted. I had felt His presence but NEVER like I did then. I then said aloud, “OMG, I can feel You, like REALLY feel You.”
I was praying for my dad. Praying for God to heal his broken heart, and it felt like he put his hand on mine. It was warm. When I opened my eyes I was surrounded by a gray-blue movement of something smoke-like. This is an odd comparison, but have you seen the “Haunted Mansion” with Eddie Murphy? Well, it was like the yellow spirit-smoke thing the kids were following. And it was circling me. I knew it was the Holy Spirit.
I began to ask questions, questions that I got strong responses to. There was a floating/moving ball of the gray-blue smoke hovering in front of my stomach and when I asked a question whose answer was yes, it went through me and I was consumed with chills everywhere. To make sure that was a confirmation, I asked “Is that a yes?” and it would again go through me. I asked, “God, do I need to let go of my ex?” and the spirit went through me, signifying yes, I needed to let him go. I began to weep and I felt an arm around me.
I started to pray about my mom and how I knew I needed to improve our relationship, make it right and give her the respect she needs. It was then I opened my eyes and saw the face of Jesus lean in towards me. All the lights were off, but I could definitely make out his face which was an outline made up of the gray-blue smoke. He almost looked animated, as most people do when you see them in the dark. He had these HUGE eyes full of love and compassion, a long slender nose and a small mouth. As He leaned in, I reached out my hand to touch His face. My palm grew warm and I was covered in goosebumps. There He was, sitting in the corner of my closet. I could feel warmth radiating from where He was sitting, just like you feel someone’s body heat when they sit next to you. Any time I’d reach out to my left I would be overwhelmed with chills. When I reached to my right, there was nothing. Again to my left and CHILLS. I knew I was not imagining it.
I began praying about my sister and everything she was going through, and He was there to comfort me with His touch. I brought up “The Voice” and my music career and how humbled I was for Him to bestow the gift of music to me and the anointing placed upon my voice. I finally realized that the reason my voice stood out so much, was because when I open my mouth to sing, it’s Jesus that pours out. I had been feeling so discouraged about where to go/what to do with my music, but in that moment I felt so at peace because of His presence. I didn’t want to ever leave, it was so surreal. I kept saying, “I just can’t believe it, I mean I do believe it, but this is crazy.”
I did some in-closet worshipping, which isn’t weird at all because 1.) I sing all the time, and 2.) I was in the presence of the King. It had been about two hours, when I wrapped up my prayer/talk/Jesus hangout with “well, I’m about to read my bible. I’m sure You’ll show me whatever I need to see.”
The scripture that came to me was Romans 4:12, which was about being circumcised, which obviously had nothing to do with me, but the title directly below it read “The Promise Realized Through Faith.” I decided to read through it. It’s talking about Abraham’s old age and Sarah’s barren womb, but God’s promise to give them a child. Romans 4:20-21 stood out to me.
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Something about that scripture brought me to tears, as did Romans 5:1-5.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into His grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope for the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
That verse depicts exactly how I felt in my closet, “..the Holy Spirit pouring God’s love into me.”
My scripture of the day, the day before, was also on love and endurance.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord lead your hearts into full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
What God was telling me couldn’t have been more clear. Not only was I doubting the gift He’d given me, but I was also doubting His plan for me to use that gift. My patience hadn’t been present, and I was too caught up in worldly sorrows when I should’ve been getting caught up in Godly joys, which was causing my endurance and hope to lack.
The next night when I went into my closet, the Holy Spirit showed up again knocking off the hat on the corner of my door when it entered and pulled it shut. It wasn’t as strong as the night before, but still there. I haven’t been able to stop thanking God for that experience because it made me want to draw even closer to Him. How amazing is it that Jesus shows up when we need him? I’ve finally discovered and am experiencing what it ACTUALLY means to walk with God. I so very much encourage you to invest your time seeking Him because what His word says is true.
Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently, will find me.”