Just last night I was talking to a good friend who said something very profound. "I was always chasing relationships, chasing love, I was tired. Then I heard the Holy Spirit say, "Chase me and you will be chased".
I wish I had the friends I have today back then. Resurrecting this blog of stories has shown me so much. How God molded me, how God saved me. God was in everything, but it wasn't till I got serious about chasing God that everything fell into place.
Here is yet another story that you need to read.
Again being the single person in the church everyone wants to play match maker. But this one was an odd one. My friend Gladys was playing cupid with her ex husband. She was divorced and had already remarried and had children with her new husband but had a friendship with her ex. I didn't think to ask why the divorce if they got along so well. Gladys and I went to the gym together like gym rats and we always talked and we both went to the same church together. We were friends and I thought if there was anything concerning, she would tell me.
We met at a restaurant, he was definitely older but charming. He stood up greeted me and we sat down for dinner. We joked, we laughed, and before I knew it we spent four hours in the restaurant talking. He had his own business, great work ethic. Adored his kids and provided. We even spoke of Gladys and he said nothing but kind things about her and how they both just screwed it up, but he was happy she found love and he moved on a long time ago. They were successfully co-parenting, which is unheard of in this day and age.
So then it hit me, Gladys is co-parenting, it makes perfect sense that she would play matchmaker. She has a good thing and wants to make sure that it remains a good thing. I was impressed. So then I asked the question, "what church do you go to?" he responded with, "I'm catholic, but can't say that I am practicing. Gladys told me you were a believer, and I believe I just don't... go as much as you do?"
There was hesitation on the last part of that sentence. But nonetheless he was funny, so the dating continued.
One day in his car I noticed a charm, it looked like a tool. It was hanging from his rear view mirror and oddly it bothered me every time I looked at it. So I asked, "what is that?", he said, "A good luck charm, why does it bother you" and I said, "yeah it does, I don't know why either" and we laughed it off. Then the nightmares started. Literally, nothing bad happened between Stephen and I, I was nightmares. Like sit up and scream nightmares. One time I saw Stephen chanting around a fire late at night and when I went to approach him a man with white make up and tribal wear jumped in front of me to stop me in my tracks. The nightmares would not stop.
Two months in and Stephen and I saw each other every day, but I was starting to feel like a crazy nut with all the lack of sleep. Something wasn't right. So I asked again, "Do you really believe in God". Stephen paused and asked me why I would ask him, so I told him about the dreams and he laughed and said, "They are dreams, maybe you have trust issues do to your past so your mind is self sabotaging a good thing. This is a good thing, I really like you and I don't want this to end"
I was so tired, I thought maybe he's right. But I needed God to tell me and my emotions were all over the place.
What went wrong
Day one of my fasting I waited for God to say something, and nothing. Day two, "God tell me who he is, if he is not the one, I will end it right now" and nothing. Day three I was downright starving. I was at work and there was this incredibly delicious looking orange on my desk. I was so hungry, I was going to give up right then and there and eat it. But I stopped myself, looked up at the ceiling of my office like if God was hovering over my head and said, "I'm turning in the fast. I am going to open my bible and I need you to speak to me. Then I am eating this orange". Talk about putting the pressure on God. So I played bible lottery, its when you flip through pages and wait for hit to open to where you think God is going to talk to you. So I shuffled the pages and let it fall open on my desk to Matthew 23:27 " "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean"
I had no idea what that meant so I emailed my friend Sonia who is a Yale divinity grad. I honestly wish I could put a USB in her head and download all that info. Before she could respond I picked up the orange and smelled it. It was so ripe and I could smell the orange juice so I started to peel the orange. While peeling I read, "back then the tombstones they used were beautiful, "whitewashed" but if you open it you only found death" Now that should've been clear in just reading it but like I said, I was sleep deprived and starving. Three days on just water. My orange was fully peeled so I dug my thumb into it and it burst open and a small burst of dust filled the air and the orange in my hands was black and the insides pulled apart like cobwebs. It scared me so much I jumped up and ran out the office. I couldn't leave as my purse and car keys were with the dead orange. Then it hit me like fire over my head. He's not catholic, he's something else.
I picked up my cell phone and dialed his number. He could hear the panic in my voice and said could explain everything. "Explain? How the heck do you even know, what I am calling about?"
Well it turns out he was a Santero, he practiced Santeria. Its a form of witchcraft practiced heavily on the islands. They say they are catholic because when the Christian crusades happened centuries ago they were told to either convert or die. So they converted and disguised their practices and gods under certain Saints. He had spirits that would do what he requested. When we sat down to talk he tried to make it colorful. How they helped him make good business decisions. How he is where he is today because they guided him and he owed them so much. And then he ended with, "They don't like you, I asked them to leave you alone, but they don't like you".
Me:"the good luck charms?" Stephen "those are tools used for calling the spirits"
I wasn't crazy after all. But I did lose it with Stephen, I told him who I was and who I believed in and how God was telling me that all of this, All of it, was going to destroy him if he didn't walk away from it. "I can't be with someone like you"
6 Months later
Stephen called and sent text but all of it was ignored. We were no longer even friends. Stephen gave his life to Christ after. He went to a church where the pastor knew of Santeria and its roots. Apparently Santero's have altars in their houses and that Pastor helped him take it down and rid of it. My interest in Stephen turned into disgust and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. As for Gladys and I, we were no longer friends either. She said she was praying for her ex to convert and that she knew with me it would happen. And in hindsight that is flattering, but at the moment she put me in a dangerous situation and I couldn't trust her as a friend.
I learned so much about Santeria aka Yaruba in its original name. It has surfaced again from time to time. I'm glad Stephen found Christ.
Every trial I went through God has molded me into his likeness, and it hurt. It did validate me though. I wondered if all my mistakes that God knew me and heard me but I wasn't a like a favorite or really a treasure, just part of the mix. But in that moment, through that situation I felt like my dad stepped in to protect me and it made me feel valued and cherished. From the beginning from the charms, to the nightmares, he was talking. I just didn't trust that it was Him. So this was a turning point, how do I fine tune my ears and eyes to see when its God speaking? Just listen....That's another blog post.