My Relationship With God

Relationship With God

My relationship with God has been a gradual process, to say the least. I completely understand what it feels like to want to know God, but feel unable or unwilling to believe.

My family was what I call “Christmas Eve Christians”, we said we believed in God, but we did not pray, attend church, or otherwise consider God in out lives, except the odd occasion, usually around Christmas time.

chucky virtanen

My Mother

I got drunk for the first time at the age of five years old. I was in the hospital for minor surgery. The ether that was administered did not knock me unconscious, it merely got me high. The doctor administered some ethanol to expedite the process. It was the best experience of my life and I remember it like it was yesterday.

All my worries in life were transformed into a big joke. I was laughing, singing, dancing and enjoying life more than I ever thought possible. My mother was beside herself, crying with the same intensity as I was laughing.

“Mom, why are you crying? This is THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!”
The obsession began. It is difficult for a five year old to get a hold of much alcohol, but I never missed an opportunity.
At the age of ten, I became very interested in the occult. I wanted power over other people, and I did not care about the cost. I summoned demons, cast spells, communicated with ghosts. It was terrifying, and always escalating. I was perpetually summoning stronger demons to protect me from the previous ones that had turned on me.

You see, demons have no loyalty. They will cooperate as long as I can help them do more harm. When My usefulness to them is at an end, they attack me without a moment’s hesitation. It ended badly. My friend and I agreed to pledge our souls to Satan, in exchange for supernatural powers. We went on with our lives, and tried to forget about it. I was unable to.

Teenage Years

My teenage years were an alcoholic haze. My mother became more involved with the church. She invited me to attend. I agreed. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the church, but I didn’t hate it either. The smiles and pleasant words were a refreshing contrast to my usual social group of Satanists and small time criminals, scowling and spilling out threats and insults.

Belief In God

The church pastor asked to meet with me. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I believed in God or not, and that I didn’t think it was helpful to say I believe if I don’t. He agreed, and asked me if I would pray to God, even if I didn’t believe. I didn’t see any harm in that. We prayed that God would reveal himself to me, that I would prepare my heart to receive him.

A short time later, I went to another party. I dropped a little more acid than I was used to. I had a bad trip. Satan notified me that he was calling in his debt. That I had already died, and I was in Hell. Taking a look around, this seemed to be the case. This was the most terrifying time of my life. What could I do. Everywhere I looked, seemed to be confirmation that I was in He’ll. This trip lasted far longer than the duration of the drugs. In desperation, I asked for an emergency meeting with paster George. I told him I wanted to accept Jesus, and prayed that it wasn’t too late.

This was an important first step, but it didn’t solve all my problems in life. I still carried the belief that I had come to Christ too late. That I had defiled myself so badly, even the blood of Christ couldn’t make me clean. After only 30 days of tea-totaling, and phony church enthusiasm, I turned back to the criminal underground. I was, of course, berated for giving myself to Christ, but I did not renounce Him. I just got drunk.

My alcoholism continued, I was taking drugs also. God did not forsake me. Sometimes, I would feel inspired to join a church and get a little bit involved. Before long, it would get in the way of my addiction and had to be left behind. I sometimes heard the voice of God compelling me. In My case, it was not an audible voice, more like inner dialogue, but with more confidence and authority. God told me that I was a healer.

On a few occasions, I would be getting drunk with people and someone would complain about being in pain. I would offer to faith heal them. I would pray quite loudly, touch the person, sometimes near the painful location, sometimes in a seemingly unrelated location. Often, I would flip open a bible to a random page, and read out the scripture. Usually a scripture that was alarmingly appropriate for what the person was going through.

The effectiveness was startling. One woman, in particular, was relieved of long term shoulder pain. She told all her friends about it, and my phone was ringing off the hook. I was scared. I felt like an impostor. I refused to see any of these people. I told them I couldn’t do it anymore.

In my mid 30s, my addiction hit critical mass. I was drinking and smoking crack constantly. I finally recognized how badly addicted I was. I prayed “God. Help me get this crack habit under control, in Jesus name, Amen”. The next crack hit I took failed. I was affected by the usual symptoms of increased heart rate and perspiration, but I didn’t get the moment of euphoria I needed. Instead, I got a headache.

I immediately thought of my prayer from the previous night “whoa God, I think we had a misunderstanding. This isn’t what I meant. Please let me get high!” I proceeded to desperately smoke huge rocks. The relief wouldn’t come.

Some helpful neighbors told me that this was bound to happen after daily use for such a long time. There was an easy solution, I just had to put a pinch of heroine into my crack rocks. It worked. I overdosed the first time I tried injecting it. I asked my neighbor to “make it a good one”, since it was my first time. Immediately after the injection, my neighbor recognized that I was going down. She tried to encourage me to stand up, but I felt so good, I couldn’t be bothered. Then She said “quick, smoke some crack!” Now that’s an order I’m inclined to obey!

For those who don’t know, taking a stimulant was a popular overdose countermeasure. Few people had Narcan at this time. I took a big crack hit, and hit the floor. I stopped breathing for 20 minutes. I didn’t experience the typical “go toward the light” experience, rather I was in a fairly dimly lit ice arena with a large, but quiet crowd. I was doing a solo figure skating routine, (I’m a terrible skater in real life), to Molly Hatchett’s Flirting with disaster.

A moment before I landed my grand finale, I felt like I was pulled out of a tub of cold water. The paramedics were standing before me. “How do you feel?”
“I feel really, really good right now”
“Oh, maybe we didn’t give you enough Narcan. Usually people are bitching that we ruined their trip”
“Nope, in my case it’s just the right amount”
They took me to the hospital. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I scored some crack on the way home. I told a friend about the overdose. “Well, if one good thing can come of this, at least you’ll NEVER do it again”
“I wouldn’t say NEVER.”
“You’re still doing it?! What is wrong with you? You were actually dead for 20 minutes”

Some people just don’t understand addiction.
My addiction was now at top tier. God still didn’t forsake me.
I finally reached critical mass. I had a mental breakdown. My dissatisfaction with life was undeniable. My emotional distress was so great, I wanted to commit suicide. I wracked my brain. Was there any other way? I was bombarded with flashbacks of the thousands of times people told me to get help.

The handful of recovery meetings I had been pushed into attending. Now, I had two choices. Kill myself, or give up the only source of pleasure I had left in life. It was not an easy choice, but I did the right thing.

I went on a confessing spree. I called my mother, brothers, friends, boss, and family members. I told them how much I was using, and about my overdose. Few were very surprised. It turns out, my secret wasn’t as well hidden as I’d thought. My mom had been attending Alanon, preparing for this for years. She had me in the rehab center the very next day. For the first time, I admitted that I didn’t know what I was doing. I started listening to what people were saying. I started seeking people who had the kind of life I wanted.

I started listening to what God intended for me. I got clean, one day at a time. I returned to the church. I got in the habit of praying every day. A little at a time, came to believe I had been made worthy of the presence of God through the blood of Christ. In my first 30 days of Christianity, I bit off more than I could chew. Dishonesty is sinful, even when in faking being enthusiastic for Jesus.

There are days when I just don’t. Sometimes the church message drops a bomb on me. Sometimes I fall asleep. Sometimes I’m grateful to have abundant food and water. Sometimes I’m cursing because I can’t afford a car part I want. God has blessed me, my whole life.

He will continue to do so. When I’m well, I am eager to share his blessings and sing his praises. When I am unwell, I cannot trust him to look out for me, I feel compelled to take more than my fair share, and horde my surplus. This is the biggest hindrance in my life. Im working hard to completely turn my life over to Him.

I am healthy because I accepted God’s healing, and I want to share my good health with the unwell. I am confident because I accepted God’s wisdom, and I want to share this gift with the anxious. I am humbled by God’s grace. If a friend treated me as badly as I treated God, I would not want to be friends anymore.

I suspect this is the reason I have struggled so much to feel worthy of God’s love. My ability to forgive is very limited, my ability to love is very limited, my ability to heal is limited. God is all powerful, he has no such limitations. When I understand that, it is easier for me to accept the blessings He offers all the time.

Belief In God

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