Anne Lamont was addicted to coke and alcohol, involved in a messy affair that produced a child whom she had just aborted, and she watched her best friend die of cancer. Sometimes Anne would visit a small church nearby sitting in the back listening to the singing but always leaving before the sermon. Immediately after her abortion, she became disgusted with herself and drowned her sorrows in drugs and alcohol. After bleeding for several hours from the abortion, she fell into bed, shaky and sad, smoking a cigarette. She reached up and turned off the light. Listen as she describes in her own words her experience.
After a while, as I lay there, I become aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there—of course, there wasn’t. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this.
And I was appalled… I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud, “I would rather die.”
I felt him just sitting there on his haunches in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, but that didn’t help because that’s not what I was seeing him with.
Finally I fell asleep, and in the morning, he was gone.
This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition, born of fear and self-loathing and booze and loss of blood. But then everywhere I went, I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever….
And one week later, when I went back to church, I was so hungover that I couldn’t stand up for the songs, and this time I stayed for the sermon, which I just thought was so ridiculous, like someone trying to convince me of the existence of extraterrestrials, but the last song was deep and raw and pure that I could not escape. It was as if the people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful at the same time, and I felt like their voices or something was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared kid, and I opened up to that feeling—and it washed over me.
I began to cry and left before the benediction, and I raced home and felt the little cat funning along at my heels, and I walked down the dock past dozens of potted flowers, under a sky as blue as one of God’s own dreams, and I opened the door to my houseboat, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said, … “I quit.” I took a long deep breath and said out loud, “All right. You can come in.”
- from Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli