by: Lisa Natoli
I just figured everyone talked to God.
All my life I could sense there was a world beyond the one I could see with my eyes. I lived in a world of fantasy, and had many conversations with my host of “imaginary” friends. I spent a lot of time alone, and felt more comfortable in the presence of these invisible characters than I did with my friends and family.
I started to lose my hearing at the age of 8, and because I had difficulty hearing what anyone was saying to me, I spent even more time by myself reading, fantasizing and daydreaming.
From there, things got very strange during the night. While I tried to sleep, I would have what seemed like strange experiences of being “trapped” in my body, and the next moment float out of my body, but then I would be “trapped” in the room, and the room would expand like a balloon, and I would expand to cover the whole room but never be able to get out. Sometimes I would travel out of my body, floating outside of it. I found it was easy for me to travel this way. However I still had a feeling of being contained. My parents would find me in my room, talking to someone and ripping off my clothes. Or I would be taking apart the phone and the radio trying to figure out how communication was actually established through these devices. Nothing made any sense to me during that time. I felt this intense need to know certain things. Where did I come from? Why am I here? What is Heaven? I didn’t find anybody who could answer my questions!
One morning I woke up and as I came up the stairs, I found my mother sitting on the couch, looking at me in a frightened way.
She asked, “Are you okay?” and I answered “uh-huh.” Then she asked me, “Do you remember anything of last night?” and I said “No”, because I didn’t remember anything. “Well” she then said “You were doing very strange things, and your father and I are very concerned.” This particular remark became a turning point at which I stopped having conversations in my mind with God and my imaginary friends. The behaviors and dreams at night also came to an end.
From then I had a normal happy childhood. I studied, I got good grades, I was well liked. Not surprisingly during high school I developed a wild-streak and always looked for adventure. I was constantly surrounded by friends, and lived entirely in an external world. I drank. I partied. I played sports. I dated. I studied.
In College I pushed things to the extreme, because I was bored. It made no sense to me that I would study as hard as I could, so that I could work as I hard as I could. That I would be able to save up some money to pay bills, go on a few vacations, and eventually retire and die. It made no sense to me, whatsoever. I wanted it all to make more sense than it did. So I partied like crazy. I slept with total strangers. And in my out of control behavior, I gained 60 pounds. I just didn’t care. I kept on drinking. I started smoking, taking drugs and kept acting like I was having fun. But really, I couldn’t believe I was stuck in this little hellhole called Earth. I just wanted to not be in pain anymore. I wanted to feel alive, to have an adventure, to feel peace and be happy, but I just didn’t know how to accomplish these things. And so I lived every day as if it were my last.
One day during the fall of 1988, I knew something had to change in me.
One morning I woke up and found my mother sitting on the couch as I came up the stairs and she was looking at me as if she was completely scared of me.
I was a total mess. I was in a completely impossible situation and the only thing I could think of to do was to get on my knees and ask God for help. I needed a miracle, and knew that on my own I was incapable of accomplishing anything meaningful. Within a month I was in Florida, a whole new environment.
It was a fresh new start. I got accepted into the university. I stopped drinking and smoking and joined a gym. I lost weight. I studied hard and got good grades. I was writing in a journal and communicating with God again. I was happy.
But the difficulty, always, is maintaining a continuing relationship with something you cannot even see with your eyes. I believed in God, but at that time in my life I only turned to Him when I needed help.
As soon as things started getting good, I would forget about God. Before long, I was drinking again and smoking and screwing up all my relationships and constantly worrying and depressed and angry and sad and lonely. I’d have brief moments of happiness and success, but these moments were indeed moments.
Things would get good, and then they would get bad. There was no consistency in my life. There was joy, followed by fear. But I was mostly afraid. On the surface, I had everything: a great relationship, an amazing job, lots of money, great friends, a terrific family but inside I knew I was a total fraud. I knew that my so-called “successful life” was a house of cards, and that if I let down my guard for one second, the whole thing would crumble in an instant. So I became vigilant to be the perfect girlfriend, the perfect employee, the perfect daughter. I worked all the time, never letting myself relax, not even for one second. I was exhausted trying to keep it all going. And then everything fell apart. I felt so exhausted. In order to cope, I was drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.
I was happy again.
And that’s when A Course in Miracles dropped into my life. I didn’t understand a word it said at first, but deep within me I knew that it was Jesus and that it was the answer to my prayers.
I also knew that if I simply followed the instructions and did the Workbook lessons every day and got into a daily practice of communicating with God, I would be led directly into an experience of only love, that wouldn’t go away. What I did not anticipate was the magnitude of my own transformation.
At first I got little glimpses, small miraculous happenings. I suddenly noticed I never got sick anymore. I would wake up happy. I felt hopeful. I came to know moments of total relaxation and peace, and that was the biggest miracle of all.
The turning point for me was July 4, 2000. Things were beginning to get really good in my life, but I knew that I had only scratched the surface of my own awakening to the Peace of God. More than anything, I wanted this to happen now. So I stood in my living room and declared God as my new boss. I had no idea what that meant or what might happen, but I knew that I had to call on forces unseen to get the kind of results I desired.
I knew that writing a letter, responding to an ad, or making phone calls, putting my name on a petition, volunteering or doing good deeds would never compare to leaping into the unknown and trusting that there was a force that would enter fully into my life at my request.
Six days later, on July 10th, I lost my job. That’s when I knew the adventure had really begun. I made a decision to spend the next year writing a book about A Course in Miracles. I would use my savings and dedicate my life entirely to God. I had an idea that if I followed the instructions in the workbook exactly as stated without compromise, that I would know the truth.
I had seen many books written by people after they had a transformational experience, but I had never seen a book written during the process. So it was my idea that I’d make a total commitment to God and spend a year doing the workbook lessons and document my own awakening. And that’s exactly what I did.
What ended up happening was that as I was approaching the end of that year, I was happier but still experienced moments of depression, worry, confusion and sadness, and I knew that something was still missing. A Course in Miracles promises only love and since that was not my experience after doing all the work I’d done, I figured the book was just another feel-good self-help book and I gave up entirely. I screamed and cried. I felt totally alone. I abandoned all faith in God. I told him I was giving up. He could go to hell. I quit.
It felt like total defeat. I simply did not have the strength to continue on a path that seemed to wind on to nowhere. And now that I’d been out of a job for a year, I figured no one would hire me and I had no money. It was a totally impossible situation. Two days later an angel appeared before my eyes.
At first I thought she was a human being, a well-dressed woman in her Sixties with a strong Dutch accent, but it instantly became apparent to me that she was not from this world. I knew almost immediately she’d been sent in by God to help me. She laughed a lot. Her simple presence filled me with hope and joy, and a complete renewal of my faith in God.
From there, everything sped up really fast. Other angels arrived. Then more. Then more. They said if I wanted to go to Heaven they could bring me there. They said the door was open, that I could leave anytime I wanted to, and all I needed was the desire. So I said yes show me.
That I did NOT anticipate was the magnitude of my own transformation.
I was lifted out of time. I have difficulty describing the experience in words. Everything got really white and bright. My body no longer contained me at all. I was free, I knew I was limitless and eternal, that death was impossible. Overwhelming feelings of peace and joy and happiness enveloped me, and I knew then I was forever safe in God. All time and space disappeared entirely and I knew I wasn’t in the world anymore. I could see that there was no space or distance or time, and that all things are joined in perfect Oneness with God.
And then I felt myself being drawn back into my body, but everything was totally different, as if I’d been replaced while I was gone. I suddenly had no desire to drink or smoke. It was a complete transformation. I dropped 50 pounds practically overnight, with no effort at all. Complete awareness of my Identity as God’s Son was restored to my awareness. Now I know salvation of my world does depend on me. That all power is given me and there is nothing outside of me and I am responsible for everything I see.
And so now I know that A Course in Miracles truly is a course in MIRACLES. You must have a direct encounter with the light. There’s no other way. It’s impossible to understand the course alone, without a teacher. The only way to get to a place where you can see that there is only love is by undergoing an experience of rebirth and resurrection. You must wake up in order to know you’ve been dreaming. Reading and studying the concepts of the course will give you a pleasant experience and occasional glimpses of insight, but it is only by springing into Heaven personally that you will know. You must have an experience, which will show you the truth.
Ask, and you shall receive.
It’s a real place.
|About The Author
Lisa Natoli is the creator of the website Gorgeous for God. She is a minister, a teacher of A Course in Miracles, a disciple of Jesus, and a really great cook.