Some of my earliest memories are memories of terror. Lying in bed at night thinking about what they told me about the afterlife I was despondent that I had ended up in this world. I had to make choice. God hated me for being born the way I was born, in sin. He wanted to send me to eternal torment unless I could escape. To escape, I had to love Him. I had to be baptized and speak in tongues. I could pull the baptism off. Maybe I could utter some words that no one could understand. But, how was I going to love Him? I didn’t understand why He hated me enough to send me into this world with this burden. I didn’t ask to be born. I would have done anything to undo it.
All I wanted was to be with my family. I couldn’t remember where I came from. I pictured it as a void. Deep cold, dark space. When I imagined where He was going to send me, it was back into that Void. I didn’t picture Hell as a place of fire or demons. It was a cold, lonely, disembodied existence. Hour after hour, year after year of just being alone. There were nights I didn’t sleep at all as these thoughts rolled around in my head. The afterlife was something to be avoided at all costs. I didn’t really want to be here, but that was worse.
It’s taken me nearly fifty years to turn that perception around. In a few weeks I’ll be 55. I now know the things I were taught were based on the stories made up by the priests and kings to keep the masses in line. It was the carrot and stick approach. You get heaven if you’re just quiet and accept what we say now. Get out of line and you get hell. It was never God threatening us with that petty vengeance, it was our fellow man putting those words into God’s mouth so that he could control us.
Now I finally do know where I came from. I still don’t remember, but I know. And I know where I am going. It’s Home. This world has never felt quite right to me. Most of my life I have felt lonely. Only being with Ty, Kayla and Shayna has even put a dent into the thirst for love that has never been satisfied here. Someone asked in the near death group I am in “What is it like to be dead?” Most say you can’t put it into words. One woman however said she felt a love that dwarfs the love she has for her two sons. Woah. Wait a minute. I called her on that. I asked her if she really meant that. That is something I cannot even imagine. There is nothing I would choose over the love that I have for Shayna and Kayla. There is nothing I can imagine that would even compare. I remember hearing that God loves us more than we can imagine and it never made any sense to me until the girls were born. Then, I could finally have some sense of what that meant. If this love that woman described exists, I can’t wait to experience it.
My view of God and the afterlife has turned 180 degrees since those lonely nights in my bedroom half a century ago. I don’t fear God or death anymore. I don’t picture myself going to a void when my life is taken from me. Death is a door I will pass through. I will get my real body back when I slip this one off. And I will know again, the Love that I came from.