1/ Desire of closeness

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be close. This cry within me. Cry for God.

One Sunday, I don’t know how old I might have been then, but less than thirteen, I went to church. I went to church every week for Sunday Mass, and even every day at certain points in my young life. All I can remember from that time is the desire to experience God. That He would appear in specific situations, the same as in the stories from the Holy Bible that I listened to since my childhood. “You are, I know you are” – I used to tell Him. I looked for Him on a regular basis. In repetition. In rituals I wanted to know exactly. In symbols. I needed to experience each of the holidays fully. All of these were explained to me by my dad.

I don’t remember anything from that Sunday except one verse. I don’t know who read it or in what context, but I do know what happened when I heard it. My heart burned. It burned to the unity I wanted to have with Jesus. It flared to the closeness I dreamed of. It caught fire and it stayed that way.

I needed to express this moment somehow. Mark the experience of the heart in the reality of the eyes. It felt like it would disappear if I didn’t. I wanted to remember every day. I returned home, took a marker pen and wrote on the wall: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) I know we met then as I wanted.

I grew up in a happy family. Mom, dad, two older brothers. Lots of love. I studied well. I liked writing, counting and painting. My parents gave me space and time for all of this. When I had my essay to write, I dropped everything and thought about the content. I wrote and changed, wrote and changed. It took me a long time. I was exhausted and happy. I solved math problems for relaxation and satisfaction, like crosswords. The head rested in painting and other art activities. This is also how I expressed myself. Everything is perfect, I thought. Yet often I found a sadness within me that I couldn’t explain. Feeling like I’m unhappy. A craving for something I don’t have, but I don’t know what it is. Even despair at times. That I’m not enough for who I really want to be. I had everything a child needed. And anyway, I felt that it was not enough.

For myself, I only wrote unhappily. Only in those bad moments I had words that were good enough. Occasionally I would imagine things that would break my heart. Then I was describing what was happening inside me. And this heightened my feeling that I did not fit in with life.

I wasn’t thin. And I wore these extra pounds not only on my body, but also in my identity. Usually, no one gave me a sense of what I looked like. But I remember two situations (what I understand more today than then), which lied to me for years about defining my value. One boy said in front of the whole class: what do you know about love? (in the context of male and female and the fact that I am ugly and fat). And another, when we were to play a game in pairs, that he would not be with such a fat cow. Or was it a pig?

When we were watching a movie in the living room in the evening, I was afraid to go down the dark hall to the toilet. Once I was alone at home for the night. I didn’t sleep even with the light on, paralyzed with fear. Often, when I fell asleep, I had the impression that a person was standing over me and looking at me. It happened that some time after falling asleep, I jumped out of bed screaming, with the impression that a huge spider had wrapped its web around me. He stood by my head and looked me straight in the eyes, even though they were closed. Then I woke up.

This is about me in my early teenage years. When I was thirteen, my older brother came to our family home for the weekend. And he told me about someone.

I remember it this way. My brother said everything I needed to hear back then. Each word was at the same time a response that brought relief and a belief in a good future. We talked for a long time, but I remember that he told me about Jesus, who can be a friend. With whom you can talk. Who is always close and answers. About Jesus with whom you can be with every day. And about the people he met and who live this way. About the church. That day, I believed Jesus with a special awareness of what He had done for me. I believed that His death and resurrection did not only refer to salvation and life with Him always, but only after death. I believed that He died and rose for our closeness and relationship now. I said He is my Lord. I knew that this was the only answer to the lack, hurts and fears that I already carried within myself then.

And I found a desire within me. For Jesus only.

I began reading the Bible chapter by chapter consistently, though I understood little of it. But I was stubbornly clinging to the life I had experienced. I spoke to my brother on the phone, asking questions. I listened to cassette tapes with recordings of Sunday services from the church in Gdansk (then the church “Without walls”, later “Army of David”). What delighted me most about these recordings was the sounds of the children in the background. Whole families who came to church and children who could remain children even during the sermon. My brother also brought me a recorded testimony of a man who, entangled in the occult, was completely freed by Jesus. It opened my eyes to the presence of the spiritual world, which also tangibly affects us.

The biggest change that came right away was the sense of meaning regained in a moment. The emptiness and hopelessness that I carried with me every day were gone. Not because I made a new good life plan. Or I took a few deep breaths. I was thirteen. And Jesus came to me and I accepted Him. The emptiness in me was not about achieving something I don’t know yet. This emptiness was a place for Him. A place that – once Full – changed how I felt, how I looked at.

I stopped writing depressingly. And I haven’t been writing for years. I remember – here I will run ahead for a moment – when I was sitting in a rented apartment in Gdansk, already in college, and told God that I could not write anything for Him. That it would still be my best to write about pain. And He showed me that it is not yet time. Writing was still too important to me. It was still not a tool for bringing glory to God, but a source of self-gratification and satisfaction. The obstacle was me. It was only a few years later that He said: write so that no one has any doubts that everything in your life is only thanks to me.

I was no longer concerned with my body, but I was still living in misfit habits. I know this now, but then they were me and I didn’t recognize them. I won’t go outside without my makeup and my head washed in the morning. The legs must be perfectly shaved. I do not eat sweets in public places, because they will think: so fat, and she still eats sweets. (And at that time I wasn’t fat anymore.) In love? Only in secret. Because if someone could love me? At different times, differently. I was learning about myself all over again. It was the Word of God which showed me who I am. It revealed God’s good intentions for me. For years, God had been convincing me of my independence from the words of another human being. And He invited me to depend on His.

Today I don’t remember exactly when the fear of the darkness disappeared. When the person left my bed. When the spider didn’t wrap its spider web around me anymore. When I became completely free from that demonic influence. Influence, the source of which I do not know to this day. But I remember lying in bed one evening in a dark room and suddenly realized that I was no longer afraid. That I can’t remember the last time the above-mentioned things happened to me. And it never came back since then. Yet my brother came to our parents’ house for the weekend twenty-two years ago.

This is how I experienced God I wanted. And so I began to live an answered prayer for closeness.

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