At the River
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV)
Many years ago, I was married and had four children out in the middle of nowhere in Montana. I was thirty-three years old and working two jobs to help to support our family. My husband suffered from PTSD due to his time in Vietnam. He was depressed, angry, and not there mentally.
I took it upon myself to help as much as I could by working at a nursing home, and also working at a gas station at night. Even so, the propane tank (our heat source) was empty, and there wasn’t much money left after the payment on the house and the thirteen acres we had on the Jefferson River was made.
I’d heard the local church helped families in need and so I went down to talk to them. We definitely needed help. Montana winters didn’t care if you had the money for heat; eighty degrees below zero was not uncommon with the wind chill.
With tears in my eyes, I let it all out. No more being proud, or trying to make things work when there simply wasn’t enough money to do so. They kept the tank filled for three months, and that was a relief. I brought food home from the nursing home for the kids, as they would rather give it to me than throw it away. No one went hungry, and we were warm.
One day in the twilight as the sun was setting, I felt incredibly sad. Working two jobs with four kids to feed and raise had worn me down. I went out by the river on the bank in the quiet, and just stared at the flow of the river, peacefully meandering along so naturally.
I remember feeling beaten down, and asking why I wasn’t good enough. I felt like I was a terrible person. I guess years of being told that I was worthless had taken its toll and I was so tired. I always thought I never deserved love or happiness. There was so much torment in me, flowing from inside and out. I loved my kids so much but couldn’t even take care of them. I was at a low point, and the torture I was putting myself through was sinking me even lower. Suffering seemed easy for me. I stayed there and cried all by myself, thinking maybe things would be better if I were just gone.
While crying, I saw a light on the river begin to move; as it started toward me, I thought maybe it was just my tear-filled eyes playing tricks on me. I wiped my tears away, but it was still there, growing bigger and bigger. As it came closer, I noticed it was blue and white, with a man in the middle of the beautiful, amazingly brilliant light, with indigo blue on the outside of the white. I saw that it was Jesus, with his long dark hair and beard, blue robe, and dark eyes.
His booming voice asked, “Why do you think you are not worthy?”
I clearly heard the voice, and saw the face and the colors. I looked at the sphere, rubbed my eyes, and cleared the tears away again.
He then asked, “You are not worthy to be loved?” I shook my head to say no, and started really crying, when he smiled and said, “You are worthy, because you are love. We are the same. I am in you, not outside you. You are worthy of love, as a child of God.”
I looked around and there was no one there; just me, Him, and the sound of the river. Then I felt it: pure joy and love. For the first time ever, I felt a deep, deep love. He kept saying, “You are worthy.” I could feel him inside my heart; that color of the sphere that He was in was in me, in my heart. I cried with joy and amazement. I knew something had happened and it was big. My life was going to change. This was real. It had always been real. Why did I ever doubt it?
The sphere was gone inside me but the feeling remained. The night was closing in. I laid back and I felt it, inside me. This is going to grow. You are going to grow. I picked myself up and walked back to the house. I was still stunned, but a joy filled me.
After that time by the river, my life was never the same. I was stronger. I was beginning to believe I was worthy, that we are all worthy. I understood that it had to start with me.
This is inside us all. When we turn inward to love and forgiveness of ourselves first, we open ourselves to love others freely, through the eyes and love of Source God. We gain wisdom through love, forgiveness, and internal spiritual empowerment.
I think I saw Jesus because I have always loved Him. When I was a small child, I thought I was married to Jesus and wanted to be a nun; I wanted to go home, but thought I wasn’t worthy enough.
Over the years, I have learned about love in all its forms but the most important form is to love ourselves. I can look in the mirror today and truly say I love that beautiful spiritual being looking back at me, and that we are one.
With love Renee
Jody E. Freeman