A person centred religion 3

The last post began to discuss the account of a deeply personal conversion experience of a woman in her 40s who had previously no expectation of a relationship with God.
In her account the woman writes of being both wonderfully happy but deeply disturbed and frightened as what was happening was outside of all previous expectations and assumptions. She describes that her fear was that she had perhaps gone mad and was suffering from a mental breakdown – perhaps schizophrenia … or … could it possibly be that there was a God who was communicating with her? She also feared some supernatural visitation perhaps something like a poltergeist – it seemed too much to believe that there was a God who delighted in personal encounter.
She says that the first instructions came quite early on after the actual ‘voice’ had stopped and they were
1. The most important thing to learn is to listen. It is impossible to do anything more without this ability.
2. You must empty yourself so that I can come into you.
3. You must never do anything you don’t want to do.
When I read this third instruction from her account I laughed and like the author marvelled because it seemed so counter-cultural within the Christian tradition
After ten days all the lessons pouring into her head suddenly stopped and having felt overwhelmed and totally swept up in the experience she felt the Presence withdrew from inside her leaving her completely free to make her choice. This to her great surprise felt totally devastating and feelings of abandonment and desolation took over.
She had decided to follow all the instructions and did exercises in creative visualisation to imagine emptying herself such as removing large blocks of stone from within her and with an army of cleaners scrubbing her ‘inner walls’. Towards the end of this time she was given an instruction to go and tell a named person about what had taken place so that she would not afterwards pretend it hadn’t happened. She hadn’t spoken even to her partner about what was going on but too embarrassed to speak she gave the named person everything she had written down and he, a doctor, said that she was not mad and that this was God! He suggested she visited a priest he could recommend whom she found deeply reassuring and who was in no doubt about the good nature of her experiences. About the third instruction he said that she was lucky to have been told this because ‘it was not much understood but it was right.’ ‘He told me that I had got the wrong idea of Christianity, that it was like being held in someone’s arms, and I should not be frightened.’ Rather than a noose it was a yoke and he gave her some helpful books to read though with no pressure, as the priest added ‘I could see you were being pressurized from elsewhere.’
We learn that the woman to whom all this happened goes on to become confirmed and the family trauma is healed… she writes this account which although kept private for many years: ‘What God does for one,’ she thought ‘may have meaning for many’ – and so I pass it on… because this extraordinary contemporary account is about person centred religion.