MY TESTIMONY—from IMPURITY to TRINITY—long version 1.2
I. My testimony. meeting with God. Summer and fall of 2009 prayer, and around November 10 2009 commitment.
This is a rather long-winded story, but the short part is simply that my mind was becoming rather worldly, fleshly, and even demonic. Trying to change myself did not work, and God had to really lead me step by step, and show me what it meant to allow Him a place in my life.
This whole process started the summer and autumn of 2009, when I surrendered to Him, and the first year was hardest. I am not sure when I realized I didn’t struggle at all, but the hardest was the first year. But learning all the different and new things, as well as my journey theologically was throughout my college years 2009-May 2014. So that is how I put it. A radically new journey shifted after I graduated, and made a new commitment in May 10 2014, but that is the next story (hint: trinity). Until then, I will speak of my struggle, and how my conversion from sin to sacred, really took place.
Due to certain circumstances in my life, I struggled to allow God my mind completely, and fantasy and escape were very easy for me to do. However, after puberty I struggled with romantic fantasy, and then sexual fantasy particularly. It was a gradual decline, but a growingly steady obsession in my mind, however I had always a sort of “moral limits” until I was 17 ½. I was very depressed from a negative situation, and felt abandoned by God.
I chose to rebel, and tell God to leave my mind and not to “impose” any sort of moral limits, and not surprisingly got myself into a very dark place rather rapidly, and wanted “out” even before my 18th birthday. During this time, amazingly enough, I read (still my favorite) literature: Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, and All the King’s Men—and all of them pointed to God in an implicit but very obvious way, of showing that man apart from God was depraved, and all need God for anything to be good or just or true. So God truly touched my heart through these books.
However, my own attempts to “fix myself”, not too surprisingly, failed. Which was to form some kind of proper moral limitations on my fantasy. But every time I broke the rules! So I began to realize I was hopeless. So I surrendered to God. But only through God’s help. I remember telling my mother on a hot summer day, that I wished that I could change. She didn’t ask what it was, but said quietly that it is our own decision, to choose the world, or Christ. Somehow that answer surprised me, and gave me hope.
I began asking God to help me to want to change. I realized I wanted to want to change, but that was not the same thing. Yet this prayer really helped me fan the flames of desperation and seeking a love for God that I did not yet possess. This was small, but also an important step.
My simple surrender
My surrender was the smallest and simplest prayer I ever prayed, and yet it was the biggest one too.
I was in the laundry room, with piles of my family’s dirty laundry—and no matter how much I did it, or organized the laundry room—it always got messy. Perhaps this is what made me think about my life as well. I was thinking about something, and somehow God began to speak through my mind and imagination to me. (It was quite normal to me then, and is now, and all my life).
I felt Jesus tell me “I want the key to your heart”, and in my mind, I saw a wall, like the Dykes holding back water. “If I let you in, the smallest crack, I will drown” I told Him in my mind, for I realized that the dark-side of my mind, the fantasy realm I had had all my life, since before I could speak, and that had helped me all throughout my life see history come alive, was now being taken over by Satan—and no matter how much I tried to take it back—I could not on my own. I then suddenly realized, that like a string being pulled out of a ball of string, the thread would take me back farther than I could control, and indeed my whole identity, would be unraveled. How could I separate between good and evil, when all my life I had been under influence of darkness?
So when I saw this wall, (I am not that visual, but I knew it was there), I realized if I admitted “this imagination or fantasy is wrong” I would have to answer, what I was trying to do and why fantasy is wrong in the first place. There were so many questions, that I knew I could not answer!
If I did, I suspected that even my religious and Protestant heritage, would also collapse—in fact, I knew it. I knew that the spiritual nature of my sin was rooted in faulty assumptions about the world, about the mind, about imagination, about worship—about God Himself. So I could not unravel it alone. And I realized this, perhaps honestly for the first time. And I was open.
Without words, I asked this question “God, I can’t. What next?” And I heard in my mind like words (which again, I often heard since I was a child, and then, and now—I have always spoken and listened with God, but not so honestly) “Just give me the key to your heart”.
And in my mind, I realized there was a door into that wall. And that door was my heart. And I could not open the door. I could not give a crack of my “justice system” that was constantly nagging at me, constantly trying to give myself verdicts of “what was sinful”, “what was wrong”, “what I should do differently next time”, and new rules I was constantly trying to give myself…instead, this was the answer. Just surrender. I didn’t think of it like “surrender”, but I was just giving it away. So I said, and I believe I said it almost audibly, because this decision, though so instantaneous, was really heartfelt, and different. And I wanted it to be. So I just said just barely audible: “Yes, Lord. I give You the key to my heart.”
All I remember, is stepping outside of the laundry-room into the hallway, and thinking to myself “Alright, Lord. What’s next?”
I was like a child, a free person, a new person who has just been introduced to humanity, with great curiousity.
First steps after surrender
How that should happen when for months, and years even—it was “my secret”, and the fear of shame and guilt and despair, should suddenly turn into a question. I cannot forget that. For now it was God’s business, and I was free to ask Him what He thought.
And then I thought that suppose there were no one to tell it to—before I thought “no one can help me”–and now instead I thought, “Oh, send someone to me, Lord, that can help me!” So I began to learn to ask, and watch and wait. Also listen to what could be God’s voice.
I was on a hill perhaps a month or so later, at a musical concert, and walking on the hill outside the building. And I heard “I will send you a helper.” I was so happy!
And inwardly I thought “Dear Lord, I hope You are not just referring to the Holy Spirit”–because I wanted so badly to have an actual person to confess my sins to! But as I began searching, and tried talking to a few Christians I knew—they were clearly not interested. God will show me the person, I thought, and waited.
However, in the meantime, I did get help. Even like visit, consultation, counseling. He was very gentle, very wise, very patient, and very good at asking me questions. But it was a voice, not a person. It turned out, I believe, to be the Holy Spirit.
The small and gentle voice
At first I wondered if I was making up these very good questions myself, and since they were not bad or sinful, why not try to answer them? But one time I sort of paused before answering, to see if it was myself or not—and it was the quietness I heard as if someone were still waiting for my answer. And I remember suddenly saying to myself “It can’t be me—it’s too patient!” Then this thought scared me greatly—but not because I was threatened. For I was not in the presence of evil or wickedness that wanted something…I believe I was actually in the presence of greatness. For it takes greatness, for a anyone to listen and wait for an answer. In fact, it takes humility. And when I realized that, I knew it could not be me!–not for a second! Then I became hushed, in awe. I will never forget that excitement I felt, and then wonder, and then fear—at the honour…of something so patient.
For I believe it was this same voice that asked me the first night I surrendered a question. It almost always felt like it came from my mind, or my heart, or my deepest inward parts…but something about the timing, and the gentleness didn’t seem to be from me.
As I lay down, about to go to sleep, and the temptations came, instead of trying to battle them, I simply asked, (like a child), “Now, Lord, what should I do?” I knew I had no strength to resist these old ruts. I heard a question ask me “What do you want to do?” And when I heard it, since it was similar to the voice that I asked, I knew it could be God, and probably was God, and perhaps myself, but it was beautiful somehow. So I decided, why not try to answer it? At first I thought the answer was simple. But it wasn’t. I was struggling to answer, and came up with many different ideas…Pleasure, no. Comfort? Not really. exicitement? Sort of… Adventure? Maybe…but more, always more–much more. When I finished thinking, I was actually getting curious myself.
What was it that I was trying to achieve, or get out of fantasy? Wasn’t always something similar, (that was lost), or something new (which was also lost), an addiction that itself was not answering simple questions? Finally, I said “I don’t know. Do you?” And it was very quiet.
Again, this was the first time perhaps I had sensed that feeling of someone listening to me, but responding with silence. It amazed me. It was then I realized I had spent around 30minutes trying to answer a simple question! And I realized that I was different also, then when I had started. I no longer wanted to try to calm myself or put myself to sleep in the old way. I was relaxed, and curious, but also peaceful, and meditative. I realized I did not know myself, perhaps at all—as I had thought.
Yet it also made me smile, for I realized I had been “tricked” or distracted from my problems, by giving me a new one. It was perhaps the first time God made me smile. And I began to learn that this was another of His “tactics”–was learning to laugh at myself too.
However, during these times, I knew the time to fully commit and give my mind completely over to Him was necessary. I knew it would mean not just harmless fantasy but completely “turning off” and giving over my mind to God—and to see what He would say or do. I was convinced He would shut down the whole “business” of my imagination in disgust. This was the biggest fear that haunted me for years. However, in the days leading up to my surrender, and the days following it before the “leap” of commitment, I started to bet that God would probably do something unexpected. I could not imagine what—but I knew He wanted all of it.
The day of commitment
However, I guess I wanted a sign of some sort, or a gift, to make that leap and that commitment, without its being another of my plans to “fast my imagination” type thing (which I had done for years). So I watched and waited for this “present” or this moment to come. I did not seek out fantasies, but I did not entirely resist them—though it was different because of the questioner. Instead, I felt it right to withhold judgement from myself, and only allow the new questioning that had taken place.
This present was soon to come.
I had asked for it to be on my birthday, because I like dates like that. But it came around 5 days earlier, on November 10th 2009. I heard a voice say “I’m giving you you’re birthday present early”–though it was not in a very pleasant situation—involving a few of my relatives quarreling. Yet it showed me, that I was indeed right to “jump” into the unknown path of God, rather than to hang around in the familiar.
In fact, it felt urgent, that I make that commitment and decision to jump in without looking back.
I said “yes” inside, but I was torn, and as I walked into another room to pray, I wept as I spoke to God
while staring at an ikon. It was the most painful time in my life up to that point—but it helped me trust that God was bigger than what I had previously known, and would help me trust in Him.
When I saw this same ikon 7 years later, (It was Jesus surrounded by angels) and I realized that it had been 7 years since I prayed—something clicked. I unfortunately cannot remember what God had spoken to me when I was praying, as I usually (and still do) suppress many of my conversations with God (for being unorthodox or challenging) but I am convinced it had to do with the years that I would suffer, and be free entirely from this temptation and challenge.
Perhaps it was my own mind wrestling and betting with God, and merely God’s kindness to me in reminding me that it was over—for it is over, Thanks be to God. Of course I have wrestled and am wrestling with other things too. And it certainly does not mean that I cannot try to “go back” into the same sin again. But it will not be the same, because I have changed and grown up. It is like a professional athlete who may try to become fat and unfit again. It is certainly possible, but his body will still be changed from what it used to be when it was not fit at all, before he trained it. This is to God’s glory of course, not mine. (My trainer, also).
Walking in freedom, and learning from the falls
Of course I was already free in a way, in my heart, from that snare. But to not be tempted was another thing, and that took at least a year before I noticed I was not “resisting” or battling it regularly. There were relapses too. But I learned swiftly to always speak out to God, asking for forgiveness, and hope—as soon as possible. Even learning how to speak amidst “attacks” or relapses, saying “I don’t want this, Lord, but I don’t know how to stop” helped—God always showed me something new, even after I fell, and the next day asked for help. He would show me during the non-tempting times, that I had to be aware of my moods, my emotional states, my commitment—before the challenging times came, which was usually before I went to sleep. God is a very encouraging trainer. He does not judge, for judgement makes one believe in oneself and separates himself from God. So I had to flee from guilt or frustration, as seeing those as tools of the devil to make me rely on myself or hide from God.
Although many of those relapses were not demonic or even immoral by my old standards—I had changed too, and could no longer have any compromise. In fact, I believe God even taught me how to be encouraged from relapses, and falls, by showing me that it was always something a little different than I had faced before. In other words, the devil was trying new things, because I was learning new things from God too. This was a way of giving God thanks for small things—even learning how to thank Him that I confessed to Him so quickly, and that I was learning to escape more and more quickly, and really just lean on Christ’s bosom in humility, like a child.
New Challenges, and new battles
I began experiencing a lot of different emotions too. In a way, this was really challenging for me too. Getting out of the mess I knew was one thing, but immediately new temptations were fashioned through the fact that I was experiencing new freedom, and feelings of confidence, and happiness.
For one thing, I experienced pleasure or joy in an almost ecstatic fashion—which I had never experienced before. (Apparently this is common for people who get out of addictions—to suddenly experience a flood of emotions and highs (and lows) that they never experienced before. This meant that in a way, it was even worse than before—but not really—because Jesus was with me, and I knew who the enemy was and what he wanted to do. He was really trying everything, and trying to trip me up every single day, and even during the day.
And there was so much good around me I had never seen before. Beauty in small things became almost painful—flowers, air, trees…it was as if I had been cut off from the beauty of the planet, and of its very breath, while I had been underground in my mind and soul. I truly believed then and do now, that the whole universe is connected with our minds and our creative souls, and the decisions we make. It was as if the trees were rejoicing with me, and I with them—in my new freedom and purity!
On the one hand, I was greatly encouraged by God by these new emotions and views towards the world. And amazingly, I began experiencing a sort of “renaissance” interest in arts, music, crafts, ideas, novels, stories began to flow through them—so too God gave me rebirth. However I suffered greatly though too, every day, in fact, and night when the struggle began. I suppose it is very similar to drug withdrawal. It was terrible, but amazing. God would always give me new ways to escape, to overcome, or to endure these temptations. But at the same time, I became more sensitive to everything else around me, and to emotions, and the false connection to sexual arousal—so that temptation “evolved” in a way too—yet was recognizably trying to ensnare me. This was also new for me.
Once I awoke in middle of the night with the presence of evil–and it was as if the devil were mocking me. I was tempted to feel extremely guilty, though I had done nothing wrong. But I shakily and humbly surrendered this attack to Jesus Christ, understanding that the devil had influence in my life, and was now appearing to be “more powerful” than before, as a way to threaten me and cower me into guilt and hiding. This was very spooky, and the devil certainly has this way of bullying you back into the addiction. However, it was also as if the alien were exposed. And he could not succeed. Instead, I was convinced that this was war, and I would commit even further to Christ.
Of course there were spiritual battles as well all the time—not this one incident. I felt as if hoardes of demons were assailing me—and I battled it with the psalm memory and the repetitive prayers using the rosary, mostly effective was pure childlike trust and devotion: “I love you Jesus Christ” and “Thank you for loving me, Jesus Christ”–for the demons of fear and guilt do not like simplicity and humility of love. I also began writing and praying to the Christchild, which was God as a child. I have not done so since then, but at the time it was very encouraging to me.
I also began asking Jesus to intercede for me at the very same age that He would be as my own—I was 19 years, and then 20 and so on. I think this was also very encouraging to me, although it sounds rather strange. My reasoning, was that since Jesus were God, He would have known me even at that age, and especially understood my struggles and desires—and that there would be a sort of communion between us, as if we were growing up together. I felt that in a keyhole of time, Christ could see me, and I could be close to Him also.
I began experiencing conversations with God during these times, that completely changed my worldview—and theology. I experienced a “falling in love” with the Trinity, for the Trinity was also the only thing that could save me from my own addiction, my own limitations, and my own limited understanding of the world and of God and those around me. For the work of my mind, body, and spirit were so complex and interconnected, that it was as if I needed the very body of Christ, the very mind of the Spirit, and the very destiny of the Father—to call me out of bondage, and remake me into something that was so easily selfish into something eternal and selfless.
Why I became a Theologian
For this reason, I became a “theologian” though I had never been interested in Theology until this point. Somehow, it took philosophy for me to understand why God’s ways were greater and bigger than my ways. Even though I knew that I was a mess and unable to help myself, I really wanted to know what was happening to me, and believed that God would reveal it to me also.
Perhaps my desire for philosophy was because I had tried to “bite the bullet” on my own, but since that did not work, I desired that God not only help me, but teach me how the suffering would be meaningful.
As a protestant, I believed that the “Truth” that was in God, could be revealed to me, and when revealed to me, could transform me, and also when I was transformed, that I would learn something about truth as well as suffering. So I would ask, and wait, and listen. That is the very beginning of my conversion. And the reason why I began writing theology as well.
What is happening today…
What is sort of happening today, is too amazing, and requires a lot more stories of what God has done for me and is doing.
The beginning started May 10 2014 in Salt Lake City, when I committed to an adventure of revealing what I had been studying and learning for all my “hidden years” in college 2009-2014—about God and the Trinity, and of course my personal experience as well. That sort of led me, unexpectedly to Vienna, and also to Jerusalem, as well. Although this struggle has ended, new struggles emerge, but God always supplies new tools, and the beauty of Theophostic (or Tranformative Prayer ministry) as well as the Unbound Prayer ministry, has been beautiful and life-changing. I will write more about that later. However, this period is ended, and a new one is beginning. I hope to write more about that as well. It is more about God, and less about me. But His book is the best! 🙂 I know that for a fact.