Trigger warning: mentions of hell, death, anxiety
Today is Ash Wednesday. This is a day when Catholics in particular decide to put ashes on their foreheads, and remind each other to repent or else. “Remember you are dust and to dush shall you return.” I grew up Catholic, hearing these words many times throughout my childhood.
The last few days, those words have haunted me. Honestly, it’s been longer; closer to several months. I’ve been struggling with so much death anxiety. Someone on Twitter came across my feed talking about a near death experience where they got close to ceasing to exist, and I’ve been struggling with that for some time. A relatively conservative pastor, whose sermon I decided to listen to, decided to speak of a negative NDE where they narrowly escaped “eternal conscious torment.”
I decided to do some research on negative NDE’s. Someone stated they believed they were more common than people think. They stated they believe people simply don’t share them very frequently because of fear of judgement. I have no desire to scare anybody. I simply wanted to share what I’ve been struggling with lately in relative privacy. The ideas that God doesn’t exist, or that God allows any of us to be tortured, or that a Creator doesn’t keep us in existence, all leave me and my faith in God shaken. On a day-by-day basis, I simply have to continue putting trust that God will eventually save us all.
I read a book about someone’s vision of hell once. Prior to that date, I’d coped by saying that even if hell is real, I will do my absolute best to hold onto my sense of self, to my sense of Love, my sense of joy even in the darkness of it all. Perhaps that was vanity to rely on my own strength. That book seemed to imply that free will is taken away when you enter there, and my own ability to hold onto those things could be taken away from me.
I could never quite make myself believe it isn’t real. I’d love to bring myself to that point, but it seems to be branded into my mind. I long for the Lord to free me of that, but that day doesn’t seem to have come yet.
Admittedly, I have as of late had a bit of a short temper with atheists, choosing to avoid them for the most part, since to interact with atheists on the topic of faith has been leaving me struggling to find my own center. I choose to believe in God’s Love for all, even when I see so many people harming others. There is so much pain in this world, as well as joy. I just need to keep holding onto my sense of joy and the presence of the God who is Love. Or perhaps I need to merely trust that God-is-With-Us.