A year ago this month I had an experience that fully solidified my spiritual beliefs in regards to what happens after death. I’ve been wanting to write about that experience for a period of time now, but wasn’t sure how I wanted to present it. A close friend of mine recently lost her mother, and in offering her words of condolence it renewed my desire to express my views on death.
To provide some background first, I was raised Christian. I went to a Methodist Sunday School and while my family wasn’t “hardcore” in terms of praying before meals or anything, I did follow the religion like the average person. In high school I began attending a Lutheran church and became very involved in it. I really accepted the theology of the religion, and worked at trying to improve myself to be a better Christian. Everything about the religion made sense to me; the idea of sin and needing forgiveness in order to go to Heaven. The only thing that never quite sat right with me was the idea of Hell. It just always seemed like a scare tactic to me… “Oh better be good or you’ll be thrown into a fiery pit”. I guess in my mind if God was as forgiving and loving as the Bible made him out to be, and if Jesus truly died for all sins, then everyone would find some way of ending up in Heaven.
When I left for college everything changed. Well, maybe not everything. I did, however, find myself with a lot of free time on my hands that resulted in me going for long walks around campus and the town of Annville. During the walks I started to question what exactly made Christianity the “right” religion. Who was to say that Judaism, Buddhism or another religion didn’t have it correct? That train of thought ultimately led me ask what exactly made any religion right? No one had solid proof of anything beyond what religious texts stated, and why should I feel obligated to spend my life trying to adhere to some book’s “rules” anyway?
I wanted to make my own mistakes and learn from them. I didn’t want to feel “sinful” for listening to music like Disturbed and trust me, for a period of time I did. Growing up I had a very innate guilt complex; I could feel guilty for nearly anything even if I wasn’t. This didn’t work too well for me when it came to Christianity. It seemed like any time I realized that I had “gone against God” that instead of just asking for forgiveness and moving on, I dwelled on it a lot. How could a religion that was supposed to bring about “salvation” and “glory” cause a young girl to feel so down any time she made a mistake?
I grew farther and farther from Christianity and religion in general. I toggled between calling myself and Atheist and an Agnostic. My boyfriend at the time was an Atheist, and when I stopped wanting to go to church my mom blamed my relationship with him for the reason I suddenly didn’t want to be a Christian. It was always my thoughts, my choices, my mindset and questioning that made me turn away from Christianity and not look back.
The ironic part in my movement away from the church was that I developed a keen interest in studying religion and spirituality in general. I took many religion courses throughout college, almost ending up with a minor in it, out of sheer enjoyment. I liked learning about other peoples’ beliefs and trying to figure out why exactly they believed what they did. I also liked learning about religion and spiritual ways of thinking that weren’t so traditional. I took a course on metaphysical religion which covered topics like the Quakers. I read about Satanism and debating buying a copy of the Satanic Bible purely for intellectual reasons, but had a feeling my family would think I’d gone off the deep end, so I decided against it. A friend of mine had books on Wicca and I glanced through those from time to time.
In all my courses and reading though nothing ever really answered questions enough for me to decide that I wanted to follow a certain religion again. I just never thought much about death and the after life. Being young I of course was like many others in just thinking that nothing bad would happen to me anytime soon. I was content to go through life with the moral thinking that as long as my decisions did not hurt those I cared about then I was living a moral life.
This mentality continued up until I moved north to live with my current boyfriend, and I picked up one of his books called “Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives” by Michael Newton. In short, it is a book written by a psychologist who developed a way to put people into a “hypnosis” that allowed them to regress both back into former lives as well as the time between their lives and recount their experiences. This book struck a cord with me. Finally something seemed to make sense both spiritually and logically. I also read two of his other books which deepened my interest and belief in what was being said even more. Still, I couldn’t say that I had actual proof of anything. Isn’t that what most people want after all in order to believe something?
So I did a search on the internet to see how close a past life specialist was to my area, and fortunately found that Carol Bowman was outside of Philadelphia, about a 2 hour drive from me. I called her in Dec. 2012 and made my appointment for January. That was the first step in my journey to find proof of my new beliefs.
To be continued…