On the morning of April 22, 2017, prior to breakfast, which starts for me at 8:00 am, I had what I shall call an “out-of-body experience”, from now on, (OBE) experience. I have never heard of an OBE experience like this one. So, I am not sure I am labeling it correctly, but it is something that happened to me.
I found definitions in dictionaries they could apply to one degree or another. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines OBE as an “unusual experience taking place on the brink of death and recounted by a person on recovery, typically an OBE or a vision of a tunnel of light”. This definition does not work too well for my experience. Or, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines OBE, in a more friendly way towards my experience, “as relating to or involving a feeling of separation from one’s body and of being able to view oneself and others from an external perspective.” This definition works fits better for what happened to me.
Thanks to the work of Kubler-Ross and others, OBEs are well known and twenty million Americans claim to have had them, and now, me too. There is a remarkable unanimity of the experience for all different kinds of people; yet, the subjects did not experience what they expected to see.
A little psycho-babble, “the problem is that unusual experiences could be deceptive, just as ordinary experiences can –perhaps more so, since their force compels us to believe them, unlike ordinary experiences where the doubting ego is still active.”(Handbook of Christian Apologetics) I hope my reader comprehends the statement better than I do. Still, another caveat,
the truth or message usually derived from near death experiences by their subjects seem to contradict Christian doctrine, for even when they meet the “being of light,“ there is no fear, no sin, and no repentance or perceived need for repentance. ” (Handbook of Christian Apologetics)
So I am going to move off these considerations because I am no expert and this is not a class assignment. This happened to me. Religious interpretations of these OBEs are complicated by the fact that the same positive experiences have been reported by believers and unbelievers alike.
The reason, the context for this “experience”, I believe, is due to my having issues with letting go of some of the baggage I have been carrying around with me and praying about for years. I don’t think that the issues are relative to this experience so I won’t relay any of them here.
Anyway, on the morning of April 22, 2017, I couldn’t find anything better to watch on TV, so I started watching a movie which I had seen several times before, Amish Grace. The first sign that something was different, unusual from my previous experience of seeing this movie was how many things I could see in the first half hour of the movie, that I had never seen or noticed before. What I am saying, I could see immediately what was going on in this film, at a level, I had not previously been able to comprehend.
A few moments later, it was like I was in two places at one time. I was in my living room sitting on my recliner, and I was crying, I mean really crying. It has never been easy for me to cry, I was brought up,” real men never cry”. There were times I really wanted to cry because I knew afterwards; I might begin to feel better.
So here I am sitting watching this movie aware that I am seeing it differently from previous viewings. I realize that this crying is something I almost never do. All the time I was crying, I was talking, rambling actually, a motor mouth perhaps. I realize that this is something foreign to me. I cannot comprehend what exactly I was saying or to whom.
Based on everything that was going on, I would say I was talking to the LORD. I believe He was showing me things, both good and bad about my life covering a period of time from the age of 6 to 73. All of this in a matter of 45 to 50 minutes, I was gaining insight into things that happened in my life and how they would come to play out. Everything was going to be ok. I do not remember what was happening or the reasons why, I did get and an overwhelming sense that everything was going to turn out fine. I know some will say this is my need for a “happy ending” and I do know there is some truth to that statement. Whatever, for that reason I was experiencing an overwhelming peace of mind that I had been praying for a long time. I didn’t know how the things turned out or why, what I did know gave me peace of mind and that was the answer to my prayers.
Another thought crossed my mind, since I was aware that I was sort of reliving events in my life and it is said that people just before they die, relive events in their lives. “Does this mean I am dying?”I thought. “Is this what is happening here?” I didn’t know, this kind of thing has never, never happened to me.
So, on the one hand, I was talking to the LORD and on the other hand I was sitting in my living room, on my recliner crying and weeping; all the while rambling on and on, in motor mouth fashion. Tears were flowing out of my eyes; I was constantly wiping my eyes to clear them.
For those of you that don’t know, at the undergraduate level, I majored in the sciences and math. That side of me wanted to know how I could be in two places at one time and not be God.
On my left was something happening with my consciousness, and I knew I was there, though, the exact picture of everything was kept from me. I knew something unusual was going on and that I was not going to have a clear picture. It would not be possible for me to bring back these insights and share them with anyone. I could, however, feel and know something pretty spectacular was happening. If I speculated at all, what I believe was that temporarily I had my heavenly body. That is what I think, and I’ll stand by it.
On my right I was me in my living room, sitting on a recliner both weeping and talking like a motor mouth. The speech was real fast and I was jumping from one topic to another. Sometimes, I was saying “I’m sorry”, and words expressing emotions I was feeling from the left side. Sometime, something like, “Oh, so that’s how it works, hummm”. I was talking very fast, way faster than I do in normal speech. I did understand the things I was saying. Note, I had noticed that I was not stumbling over any words that I know so well, but could not come up with on the spot due to age and memory related considerations.
My consciousness on the right was the regular me, I was completely aware of what was going on and my environment every second of time. Whereas, on the left, I also knew it was me; however, there was a veil keeping the details from me. In place of exactly seeing what was going on; it was revealed to me that everything was going to be worked out just fine, or see how everything fits in the God’s plan. A peace of mind began to sweep over me like none I had every experienced in my life before other than my conversion experience. I knew it; I could actually feel it happening.
As I write this, it is now a few days since I had this so called OBE experience. What I notice is the benefits of what happened are still being realized. For example, I see everything clearer and faster, I suppose because, I am no longer carrying the burden of the baggage to the exclusion of everything else. I now cry with ease, at things I could never have cried about before.
I don’t know what to do with this. It is a very special moment for me with significant impact on what is left of my life. I decided to write of this for my own documental purposes. Is this something I should share with others and possibly put myself up for ridicule? There might possibly be something here for others vicariously? Or should I keep it to myself as a very private and consequential happening?
It is a little too early to see long term developments. What I have noticed so far:
• It is a whole lot easier for me to cry. I have gone from hardly ever crying to crying about anything, whether it’s a TV scene or a Facebook incident or hearing Jackie Evancho singing or something happening in real life. At anytime, I can have both happy and sad tears.
• When one is younger, one can survey a situation, a cause or a context and come to conclusions in a relative brief period of time. I am regaining some of that speed due to the lesser baggage that I am carrying around slowing down or even blocking those thought processes.
• The really, really big one is the sense of peace that has come over me. The sense that I can really put all of this garbage to rest. A heavy burden has been removed from my shoulders. I do, indeed, notice the symbolic weight loss.
• Concerning the issue of discernment, I believe this was about and from God. It changed my life forever and, I believe, it was a free gift from God, an unusual one perhaps. If it was not of God, what did the devil gain? Everything that happened seemed to be good for me, things I had been asking God for help with for a long time.
• On prayer itself, prayer has been in my life from the beginning, starting with, “Now I lay me down to sleep….” To one degree or another, I have counted on prayer for comfort, hope, inspiration, confidence and communing with God. As I mentioned in the above article, I have been praying about my garbage and garbage related issues for quite some time. I have had prayers answered, I’ve had prayers not answered at all, I’ve had prayers answered in ways I could never have expected, and the answer I got with the garbage related issue has been the most spectacular answer I have ever received from prayer. It has to be one of the biggest blessings I have ever received from my prayer life.
• Thorn in side—my arthritis pain has doubled if not tripled. My gout is not going away. Is this one of the prices I will have to pay for this OBE? It is still, probably worth it.
• I need to give thanks for this very special OBE and whatever else I may need to do, that I don’t happen to see at the moment.
• This has been an experience like none other I have had in my life. I am very thankful for it and am starting to learn to live with some of the accoutrements that go with it such as crying at the relative drop of a hat.
• Within a few days of this OBE, I have felt a desire to begin painting again. All of my painting experience was is California, basically a Sunday painter. After retirement I started taking painting classes at the local senior center in Whittier, California. I took oil, watercolor and pastel classes to expand my painting skills and experience. I also took some classes put on by local art galleries. After we moved to Illinois in 2008, I had a number of friends question why I had not started painting again. My answer was: “I just don’t feel inspired. “ The feelings were not there, and I could not force them. I think now, I was just carrying too much baggage to be inspired for any creative expression.
• I’m afraid of being weak in explaining this one—they say if you can’t change the thing in front of you, then change your attitude to the thing and it will free you. I learned or was taught this somewhere along the line, I don’t know who said it or if my paraphrase of it does it justice. It’s easy to say, not so easy to walk the talk. Based on my OBE, I would say acceptance is not resignation and the OBE really freed me to actively to deal with and endeavor to change my situation—drop the baggage, kiss it goodbye, write it down and toss the paper in a fire. Further, along came this interesting and apropos comment by Michal J. Fox, in ARRP Magazine just in time for me to use it here:
My happiness goes in direct proportion