Dr. Phil McGraw, bestselling author and TV host, says in his book, Self Matters, we all have 10 defining moments, 7 critical choices and 5 pivotal people in our lives that define who we are and/or redirect the course of our lives. While I’ve never actually counted mine, I know for certain there are at least three significant moments that redefined me and dramatically altered the way in which I live my life.
Defining Moment #1
My first defining moment is easily recalled with crystal clarity: it began with the unexpected termination of my thirteen-year marriage. Without warning, my high school sweetheart announced he no longer wanted me as his wife, citing only that we had “drifted apart”. (Drifted apart? Really? After eighteen years together, that’s all you’ve got?) The year was 1982. I had been a stay-at-home mom for twelve years and had just re-enrolled in college to complete my degree in psychology. The prior year had been a challenging one, including the diagnosis of my then nine-year-old son with glaucoma in his right eye. Surgery and treatment over the past year yielded discouraging results and additional surgeries in the immediate future were imminent. In total, he ultimately had seven surgeries in the following nine months, all without success.
Additionally, I was unexpectedly thrust back into the work-force to help support my young family. But due to the unpredictability of my son’s treatments, was unable to sustain a conventional job. I was hired and fired in a single day from what appeared to be promising employment. Desperate times call for desperate measures so I began a home-based business which I successfully ran for the next sixteen years. However, the stress of everything I was dealing with was more than I could bear (or so I thought at the time) and I subsequently developed an eating disorder as a coping mechanism. I was drowning in fear and pain.
About six weeks into our separation, I awoke one morning suffocating in despair. As I swung my legs over the side of my bed, I knew they would buckle should I attempt to stand. The additional weight of the hopelessness resting upon my shoulders was more than my 5’2” frame could support. Tears welled up in my eyes. “I can’t do this”, I cried out to God. “It’s too much. I have nothing inside me.”
At that very moment, a gentle Presence filled the room. It permeated every inch from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Strong, protective, comforting – it was distinct from anything I had ever experienced. Presence was not of this world but of one outside the realm of human understanding. Most pronounced was the intense sensation of Love. Unlike the equivalent human experience, this was pure, sacred, holy and unconditional. I knew instinctively I was in the Presence of the Divine. I felt arms of reassurance envelop me as I felt Presence convey words without speaking. “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you know I am here and will never allow anything to happen to you?”
Instantly, calmness infused every cell of my being, removing all anguish and restoring strength. I rose to my feet. Intention complete, Presence softly retreated, leaving hope and serenity in place of sorrow, which by now had dissipated into a harmless memory.
I had been in the Holy Presence of God and in an instant my life was forever changed. I knew with great certainty I could face and conquer whatever life put in my path for I had the unconditional and ever-present strength of God within and around me. From fear to faith in under sixty seconds.
A fleeting moment in the presence of our Lord changes one for all eternity.
Knowing God, truly knowing God - not in your head as most of us know Him but in your heart -transforms you. It’s like knowing health. We all know being healthy means being free of disease, feeling strong, being void of pain or physical restrictions. We know it in our head. But most people don’t experience it in their bodies. Most have some physical ailments: allergies, back pain, headaches, diabetes or worse. We have days when we feel relatively strong and healthy: our arthritis isn’t acting up or that wretched cancer momentarily rests in obscurity, providing false respite. But imagine for a moment, what it would feel like to experience perfect health? For anyone who has ever recovered from a serious illness, it is easy to compare the profound differences. Being completely healed from physical imperfections invites an entirely new understanding of health and transforms the way in which we live our lives. Every joy is magnified, every opportunity appreciated. There is an undeniable change in our internal as well as external being. It radiates from every cell of our existence; it is reflected in every decision we make, every encounter we have with others, every word spoken.
So it is with genuinely knowing God. God is Love. There is no distinction. They are One and the same.
To experience perfect love, unconditional, without judgment or restriction creates a yearning for more.
Every day, I long to be at one with the Source of Perfect Love. I yearn to have Divine Love reflected in me and through me so that in everything I do, in everything I say, with everyone I encounter, I am Love manifest in form. (Just for the record, I haven’t perfected this yet but I am making remarkable progress.)
Each morning, I remind myself of who I am as I recite the following prayer:
“Lord, I am a physical manifestation of your presence in this world. Let all who know me come to know you through me. Help me to live my life today and everyday in a way that pleases you. For you alone are my Lord; you alone are my God; you alone are my Savior. Amen.”
Nothing in life matters more to me than this: To be a living example of the Father’s love.