Though I’ve had a deep and abiding belief in God since childhood, I’ve never really understood why He chooses to intervene in humanity sometimes and not in others. I’ve only had what I would say is one supernatural experience of God. This is the story of that event.
Growing up with two parents who were substance abusers, I was exposed to many harrowing situations. So many times I was alone when I shouldn’t have been, or seen what I shouldn’t have seen, or subjected to what I shouldn’t have experienced. When you’re a child, you interpret these things in all kinds of ways. Sometimes I appreciated the ability to stay out as late as I wanted or eat whatever I wanted. Beneath that was an insecurity: Who will help me if I need it?
I could recite many of these stories but for this post, I will focus on one in particular. My father drank more and more and I got older. He was a different person when sober than when he was intoxicated. Over time, the periods I would see him sober became less frequent.
One night when I was perhaps eight or nine years old, he was angry at the police for some reason. He came home and unleashed a flurry of threats and profanity to the Greensboro Police Department on the phone. Eventually, I went to bed and managed to get to sleep.
I was awakened to a loud knocking on the door. I kept hoping my father would answer it, but when that didn’t happen, I overcame my fear and went to respond. When I opened the door, a bright flashlight shone in my face, and there were three or four officers. They asked for my father, and I told them he wasn’t there; I thought he was gone, since he hadn’t answered the door. They insisted he was, came in, and indeed he was in his bedroom.
I was shuffled off to some neighbors who were willing to look after me while he took a trip to the jail. (It’s funny how you remember little things. I was trying to sleep on their sofa when their refrigerator came on and startled me!)
This is one of many such episodes. I am beyond thankful that I escaped largely unscathed, all things considered, from such situations.
Perhaps the biggest remnant from my youth was a sense of shame. When your parents do things that humiliate you, you carry a lot of shame by proxy. I felt this in my high school and college years. It seemed to be worst in the mornings — not the way you want to start your day.
And then, when I was a college junior, I was walking in an area, ironically called The Pit, when from out of nowhere, I felt a flush run through me in my mind, body, and soul. My legs felt weak. I knew at that minute it wasn’t a normal occurrence, and I also knew at the time I would never feel irrational shame again (and I never have). I suppose if one is only going to have one supernatural experience in life, that wasn’t a bad time or purpose.
I saw a friend a short time later and told her what happened. With no real reason to know, I was sure that I had been healed of this particular problem.
I try not to extrapolate too much from this, nor do I discuss it often. Still, perhaps there is something so insidious about shame that this is the only way I could have been freed from it. I enjoy the benefits of this extraordinary gift every day.