Why God chose me is a mystery—inexplicable and unimaginable, really—but a truth I have known my whole life. Visions, dreams, and intense prayer experiences have all revealed God’s presence in my life and the depth of his love for me.
Living with mystery—accepting it and embracing it—is the invitation God extends to me every day. And I have tried to live by accepting the mystery of how God interacts with me and the ways he intervenes in my life.
Until recently, I have held my “God moments” as private, but now I feel invited to share them. This is a shift in my thinking, and as I reflect on it, I think of Moses in the desert for forty years. I was twenty-one when I started having mystical visions and sixty-one when I started blogging about my spiritual journey.
As a child, I felt a strong connection to Jesus and a deep desire to grow in my relationship with him. But at twenty-one, I went through a very dark period in my life and was in deep emotional pain. Unhealthy relationships and overindulging in alcohol were the outward signs of my pain, and, at the same time, I started to attend daily Mass to pray for a conversion.
“I want to be zapped like Saint Paul,” I told my pastor. He was quite certain that would not happen and encouraged me to be diligent in daily prayer and to keep turning away from unhealthy behaviors and relationships.
Then at the end of Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest said, “Go now, cleansed in mind and body, to love and serve the Lord.”
Cleansed in mind and body was exactly what I was not.
I began to cry and knelt to pray: “Please, God, cleanse me.” As I prayed, I saw in a vision a large sword cutting me open, and I watched as all kinds of darkness and filth spilled out. It was like a river flowing out of me until I was empty. I felt gutted, as though there was nothing left to me.
The space that had been filled with so much darkness was now ready to receive light.
All of a sudden, I felt free, and I knew God had zapped me with grace.
“God zapped me,” I shouted to my pastor as I left church, tears of joy running down my cheeks. He conceded that God did sometimes “zap” people, but he cautioned that I would still need to be diligent in prayer and monitor my behavior.
I remember the reactions of people at work that morning. Apparently being “zapped” by God’s grace was visible because all day I was asked what had happened to me. “You are glowing,” people commented.
I wish I could say that experience signaled the end of my dark days, but it took years before I could completely turn away from destructive behaviors—years of prayer and lots of therapy.
But that Ash Wednesday vision and the experience of knowing God’s love and compassion stayed with me and helped me trust the mystery of God’s love.
Madeline Bialecki grew up in Detroit and recently returned after living in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. She began writing about her spiritual journey and faith life after the death of her best friend in 2012. She likes to read, knit, bake and garden. She shares her spiritual journey here.