During my extended seperation from God, I did reach out to Him on more than one occasion. Usually those occasions were initiated by my own fear for my life. If somone asked me if I believed in God, I would joke that I was a Christian on takeoffs and landings. I wouldn't really be joking, though. It was true.
I was afraid of two things.
First, I was afraid for my life, and prayed a hasty prayer that I would survive this trip and I gave a blanket sorry for all of my sins to-date. I would wonder if He really would forgive me. I would ask for forgiveness with the most sincere heart I had, but still feeling perhaps I was not really sincere *enough* because, obviously, I was only asking when I thought I had a better chance of dying that day than average. I did it anyway.
I would ask God to not leave my children motherless. No false "drama" here: I am motherless, and it's something I can get myself crying just thinking about the possibility of leaving them alone in the world.
Second, and more telling, is that I was really more afraid of Going To Hell. I don't want to go to the Hell I can't even admit to myself might be waiting. The vision I got growing up was the literal fire for eternity. One of the images I would always remember from the Bible was that of a sinner in Hell, in agony for eternity, desperate for just one drop of water on his tongue. So yeah, when I was alone on a big scary airplane, listening to the engines whine and smelling that stale air that seems to have no life in it, I would pray because I didn't want to go to the Bad Place.
Negative rewards. They can get temporary results.
When the fear went away and day to day life resumed, the visions of demons and crying children would slowly dim, and I would not remember again until the next moment of fear came along.
Things are different now though – in such an amazing way.
Last night, I almost called 911 for myself. I woke up, confused and disoriented. It took me a few minutes to realize it was because I could barely breathe. I remembered finally that my ex-husband (whose never really been my ex-husband because we never got divorced and now is soon to be my re-husband because we're getting back together but not 'til summer) has bronchitis, and that what was happening to me. I haven't had bronchitis for years and years, but I remembered now why it was a powerful enough motivator to get me to stop smoking the first time.
Not breathing hurts!
I stumbled into the bathroom, turned the shower on full blast and shut the door, and breathed the steam for a half an hour or so. I was so weak, I could barely get up to turn the shower off again. I laid down on the bathroom floor. I called my husband. He talked to me for a little bit but really could not help. He had the kids with him, and couldn't exactly wake them up and bring them over. I called my friend Alexander, but he was not home, so I left a message and hoped he would call back. I was scared and this close to calling 911. I was not sure what to do, so I laid down on the bathroom floor and prayed.
I prayed for comfort. I prayed for breath. I prayed for Him to help me trust Him. I prayed to give Him to take care of me – to take my life in His hands. I prayed to tell Him that I was sorry for my sins, and that I was never going to be able to be sin free and that I was so happy He loved me anyway. Or at least this is how I remember it. I was kinda out of it, but that's the gist of it.
And I slept right there on the bathroom floor.
I never thought about Hell or punishment or guilt. I was able to trust in God at the 911 moment. I haven't been able to trust anyone or anything for years and years.
I'll tell you about how this came about as time goes on. But I wanted to get that story out.
I have someone to trust, who will save me.