We all have our fallen-nature bondages. We all need to find ourselves as our innermost being. We need to find our identity as our true self. Sometimes this takes a lifetime, but isn’t that what this life is all about? Aren’t we in this body living this life to discover our true self? Discovery has been my story.
I see my life as three phases.
My first phase spanned from birth to High School. Raised as a Christian with a very traditional understanding of the Bible, I thought if I believed in Jesus and followed the steps for salvation then I would be saved. This kind of fundamentalist approach to Christianity was my foundational understanding and all I knew as a child.
We didn’t ask questions as kids back then. It wasn’t appropriate to challenge doctrine or tradition. We understood that a happy final destination was only possible if we emphatically believed in the doctrines we were taught. Doubt or disagreements were not permitted. This fundamentalist religious rigor instilled persistent fear in my life. Every deed and thought was evaluated through a religious lens.
There were glimpses of something more in those early years. My grandfather was one of those. He was a preacher and was well versed in the traditions and teachings of our denomination. His Sunday morning rhetoric was unbending but he was the kindest and gentlest and most considerate man I’ve ever known. From the pulpit he educated me about an angry God, but He disclosed to me a loving God in his love for me.
College was the start of my next phase. I was living on my own, far from the influence of my family and tradition. In college, I had a newly found freedom to ask all kinds of questions. Like the prodigal son, I was given the autonomy to discover on my own. Mistakes were made and I didn’t always make the best choices, but I did get to see another side of life.
Since High School I had been charting a course to be nominated as an astronaut. I felt, deep down, that being an astronaut would bring me closer to God and give me a voice to tell others about God. I know that sounds strange, but that is how I interpreted the voice. The problem was chasing the astronaut dream was an obsession for me. As a result I became a particularly self-centered person in this phase.
In 2003 everything changed. I was on course for the Astronaut adventure but I crashed suddenly. I had been drinking much of my adult life to cope with stress. All the preparation and internal burden to achieve, produced a restless and worried person. Alcohol was a way of self-medicating. I was arrested for drinking and driving and in an instant, my Navy career and dreams to be an Astronaut vanished. It was a crushing blow to my ego and a wake up call to see the bigger picture.
I felt very alone and my future looked bleak.
This is where phase three begins. Not knowing what to do, I thought God would have answers, but my paradigm was still religions. My first inclination was to return to my church tradition, but I wondered if they would accept me. The guilt of not being a part of the church for so many years was crushing, but I was desperate and willing to try anything. To my astonishment, Jesus found me right there at my lowest point.
As a child I studied facts about Jesus. These facts were akin to data we extracted from the Bible. I had a command of the material. But facts were not what I needed. My thorough knowledge of facts and figures did nothing for me in my extreme anxiety. I needed something or someone more personal, more intimate, and more alive. In this low point I found my first breath of air. That inner voice became very real to me.
In those months after the DUI, I encountered God in ways that were fantastic and surreal. I didn’t know you could be intimate with God. My tradition said experiences like these weren’t real. I remember doctrines and teachings against these mystical moments. Still, in these moments, I trusted my inner voice and felt a superior truth bubbling up from within. The love of God captured my heart and changed me forever. From this point forward I was intensely driven to discover more of Him.
In the years that followed, I experienced a profound transformation. Remember, all I knew was religion so it was natural to look for answers in church. I was stuck in a religious paradigm pursuing the truth of God and those familiar intimate experiences. I experienced a hunger that church events and more involvement didn’t satisfy. It was time to expand my quest.
In 2012 after so many years of searching, I unconstrained my superficial boundaries and took a leap of faith. Working from within a religious framework frustrated me. Like so many I had prayed more and studied more and tried harder and worked harder and served more and tithed more and repented more and just couldn’t DO any more. I had to leap and I had to trust. God caught me.
Just a few months after leaping, I launched this blog called alancetotheheart. The blog was an account of my findings. I wanted to share what I had learned on this journey and the posts were a good starting point. These posts are about the journey and about what happens when we leap in faith.
Every person’s story is unique. None of us are the same. We all have so much to offer. We are learning and developing and being transformed. Our minds are being renewed. Each person has a path to take. When we share our journey with one another we grow together. Sharing some of my journey with you may answer your burning questions. Let me be your guide and share my revelations.