I bought The Peacegiver years ago and didn’t get much beyond the second chapter. I was reading it slowly because I knew this was a book that I would have to digest and consider. But eventually, I started other books that were easier and more interesting and it went in the bookshelf (although I used the cover because it was a good size to cover the novels I took to church).

I read it last week in two hours. And thought “why didn’t I get this before?” I recall getting the concept that Jesus had already paid for the sins of those who’d sinned against me before, but not internalizing it or changing my attitude.

But I am here to tell you that God lives. Because I had a sacred experience last week that, I hope, has given me an undeniable and lasting paradigm shift. Let me preface by telling you that my life has turned upside down since May. I apologize for being a bit unclear, but some of the details are pretty personal. But, oddly (and odd describes my life from the get-go, for sure), the events that transpired have resulted in a 180 in my marriage and in my attitude towards life. God certainly works in mysterious ways.

These are some specific things I’ve learned about myself:

1. I love my husband. (Now, to be fair, he’s realized how much he loves me and we have found each other in a way that we never did at the beginning of our marriage. There is a gentle spirit in our home now.) Before May, I was planning to leave him. It was quiet and dark at home, ships passing in the night. Contempt was a large part of my feeling for him and we spent little time together. Divorce is no longer an option.

2. I want to live. I’m not afraid to die, but I realized that I’m alive in this dimension and have deep attachments for the people here. While I still mourn for my lost loved ones, they have become strangers, in a way. There’s something intangible about the here and now, including the beauty of nature and the awareness of self. Suicide is no longer an option.

3. I am known and valued to God. Without doing a thing to justify myself. He is mindful of me. And, if He’s mindful of me, He’s mindful of the people I love. God is a God of miracles.

So, many awakenings here. Last week, another one. I’ve been to years and years of different therapists; the latest I’ve been going to for about six years. He’s a wonderful guy, head of the masters of social work program at the university here and also a counselor in the stake presidency (he was the bishop of his ward when I started). He’s had some struggles in his childhood that have given him some empathy and he’s non-judgemental, but devout.

I’ve been urged to try hypnotism–the school of thought has changed on that because twenty years ago, in the days of John Bradshaw abused children were urged to remember everything and feel their pain. Which, in my opinion, ruined a lot of lives. I had done a bit of that, but didn’t know if what I was experiencing was a real memory or if I was just imagining. Nothing felt “real.” I was scheduled to have hypnosis with one of the top psychiatrists in Utah dealing with ritual abuse and its after-effects the day after I was notified of James’ suicide. I cancelled that, of course, and never considered hypnosis again. I’ve refused to focus on my childhood except to attempt to deal with its fallout in my present. Which has been considerable.

I finally agreed to attempt guided imagery, which is not hypnosis, emphasizing to my therapist that I did not want to relive or even remember any traumatic events in my childhood. I was ready to address what was becoming the real possibility that I’d developed some kind of dissociative behavior as a coping method. I realized the level of dysfunction in my relationships this was causing and was ready to attempt healing. So, we’ve gone through a very gentle process; we set a safe place (took three weeks) and started gently healing.

I was trying to change my thought patterns to more positive ones through this process. All of my years of research into issues like these had convinced me of the enormity of that task. Self loathing is a hard habit to break and it comes back to bite you in the way you treat others—in large part because you’re convinced that nothing you do matters anyway. People who don’t value themselves can do a lot of damage thinking they have no real impact in the lives of others.

Geez, I take a long time to get to the point. Last week we began the guided imagery exercise by going to my safe place and launching from there. I kept my mind blank to make the process as pure as possible. I was led to my little girl self, who’d been a sort of guide, who was at a playground. She wasn’t playing, but wasn’t uncomfortable or left out by the other children. During this process, I became aware of my first grade teacher who abused me. She hit me, shook me, treated me with disdain and scorn. I ditched school in the first grade! I created a brick wall around her and then in the imagery experience, swept her from the face of the earth.

I didn’t allow my child self to go home with my mother, but took her to another guide that had been present during the experience, an older woman in white who I do not recognize (my therapist found this normal, he noted that this woman has probably been with me all along.).

Suddenly—and guys, I was totally conscious—-I was on a hilltop speaking with my father. He was kneeling and speaking softly and lovingly to me. I felt totally loved. He explained to me, not in words, but in impressions, like pure intelligence that my teacher knew clearly how wrong she had been. That she was deeply sorry and had repented totally.

My feelings changed. I left that experience with empathy for that teacher, although I don’t condone what she did at all, and as an adult, am still appalled that a teacher treated a child that way. However, in some way that I can’t explain, I understood how the process of repentance works in all our lives. I’ve been able to implement that attitude so many ways just in the last week. I feel more patient.

Like I said, I wasn’t hypnotized or asleep when I had this experience. I certainly didn’t imagine it–I wouldn’t have! I was all over putting her in a cement block and sweeping her out to Jupiter. And I don’t directly approach my father in my thoughts as a rule. I did have a dream several years ago where he came to me and apologized for what he did and said he would stay with me, but I’ve felt like accepting his help was a betrayal of my sisters and my mother.

My therapist is a believer–he is, I think, relieved and grateful at my willingness to address my childhood in even this small way. He believes in the spirit world (btw, I asked him to approach my therapy in the context of his testimony of the gospel because it’s a relevant part of my life, he is not overbearing in the least about his membership in the church. I suspect he has cllients who don’t know about it) and he accepted my experience without question.

I believe that I will always be a work in progress. I’m sure I’m not beyond the wreckage and chaos that has characterized my relationships. But my attitude has changed in significant and lasting ways.

Have any of you heard that story about the old guy who experiences the supposedly bad and good things day after day. Others will lament his bad luck or celebrate his good luck to which he replies “maybe yes, maybe no.” I don’t understand how God works; I don’t understand even a fraction of what this life is about or what we can expect. I’ve used the “prisoners in a cave” allegory often, referring to our impressions and conclusions about God and eternal life, even the gospel.

But some really terrible things have happened in my life in the last few months that have actually turned out to have blessed me. I don’t understand it; I’m not necessarily glad that I went through them, but I’m better for them.

And I’m sharing this for maybe the one person whose life will benefit from what I’ve experienced.