A Jesus-Shaped Hole in my Heart

A few years ago, I bumped into an old friend, John. He was one of the guys I used to go to church with, as a teen.

Whereas I lost my faith as an adult and walked the path of atheism and science, John kept his faith.

It was nice to see him again, even if we didn’t believe the same things.

But then John did that thing that Christians sometimes do – he tried to bring me back into the fold. He told me I still had a Jesus-shaped hole in my heart, even if I no longer believed.

I laughed it off at the time – I thought it was another of religion’s oddities. But I was touched that John still cared about me and my fate.

There were some things I missed about the times I went to church, over two decades ago. In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I missed the feelings of unity and community – this was especially true during singing or group prayers.

On Saturday 24th August 2019, I became “saved” in a religious sense. (I may already have been saved from when I was a teen, but I figured getting saved again wouldn’t do any harm).

I went to the largest church in my town. I repented of my sins. I made my relationship right with God again.

It’s hard to describe how this felt. My heart was full of joy, forgiveness, love, happiness, serenity and a gentle knowing that what I’d done was somehow right.

I physically felt as if my body was filled with the Holy Spirit. I felt that the breath of God was within me. It felt so wonderful that I almost cried with joy.

I’m in no doubt that the physical sensations were real. As for what caused them, well, I was experiencing drug-induced psychosis at the time. So, according to what you (the reader) believes, I was either experiencing something deeply religious, or it was simply a strange episode cause by mental illness.

The next day, as I reflected on the previous day’s events, I found it hard to relate to what had happened. It almost felt like it had happened to a different person.

I didn’t regret going to church, praying to God, and getting saved. But somehow it didn’t fully make sense to me any more.

I’ve been attending a 12 Steps fellowship for 3 weeks now. A big component of it is God (or Higher Power, however each of us understands it/Him). For some people, it’s simply the power of community: people getting together and helping each other. For others, they believe in a literal, very real God who is like a Father looking out for them.

I’m still not sure what I believe. A few years ago, I believed in nothing, I was an atheist. Then I thought of myself as a humanist – I felt that humans could be good without God.

But since my Spiritual Awakening on the 13th August, even though the psychosis seems to have passed, I now believe there is some kind of Higher Power. I know to some people (notably atheists), that will sound a bit pathetic and wishy-washy. But I really do believe it. Maybe He is mechanistic and blind, like Fate. Or maybe mankind truly is made in His image and he cares deeply for each of us. I don’t know, but I’m remaining open-minded, like a good scientist.

In the 3 weeks since my Spiritual Awakening, I’ve been noticing a large number of “signs”. Scientifically, I know I ought to write these off as mere coincidences. I acknowledge that I’m noticing them partly because I’m kinda looking out for them. And humans are extremely good at noticing patterns, even if they don’t really mean anything (think of faces in clouds).

But a part of me also remembers being a teen and begging God to show me signs so I could believe in Him… but He was silent. If He existed, I felt God had abandoned me, so becoming an atheist made the most sense.

Maybe God wanted to show me signs back then, but the time just wasn’t right. Maybe He’s showing me so many signs now because the time is finally right.

I cannot explain how amazing my 12 Steps fellowship is. It’s such a beautiful thing to have addicts come together in a spirit of honesty and humility. It’s only been 3 weeks and already it’s changing my life for the better. I feel so honoured and humbled to be a small part of something making such a gigantic difference in many people’s lives. 12 Steps literally saves lives.

I have been holding off telling the world about these religious/spiritual experiences because I’ve been worried about being judged or mocked. But, frankly, all of this feels real to me, even if I can’t understand it, so I don’t really care about anyone else’s opinion.

I trust and have faith that my Higher Power is guiding me on the right path. I’m feeling fully Courageous for perhaps the first time in my life. If that makes me deluded or insane, I really don’t care.

It feels real to me, therefore it’s real.

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