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Rise and do not be afraid: My personal testimony of Transfiguration

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"A cloud cast a shadow" over Peter, James and John, and God's reality came forth from in the darkness. It's not metaphor, it's real

I have been scared my entire life. Scared of what? Rejection, having people not like me, saying all the wrong things, being left alone, and countless other things.

Had anyone asked, though, I would never have admitted that I was scared, because I didn’t know it. I thought I was angry and unlovable, but I never considered that I was living in paralyzed fear.

Strangely, it wasn’t until my oldest son died by suicide that I felt free from it. In the midst of grief, I have been wondering what this peace is, and that’s made me feel tremendous guilt for believing that it was a peace born of no longer having to deal with Anthony and his mental illness.

But I know, now, that just wasn’t it. I miss my son every single day. I loved him with the kind of love that most people don’t ever have in their life. He was not just my son, he was my best friend and because I got pregnant with him at 16, he was like a little brother to me, too. In many ways, it was as though we were growing up together, and I would take a million days dealing with him at his worst over not having him here with me.

One morning after therapy I sat in my car and cried, from a kind of relief. I realized that the peace I have been feeling has come from being freed of the fear that has been with me my whole life. The worst that could possibly happen has happened; what else is there to fear?

I looked hell right in the face when I looked at the EMS workers doing nothing to revive my son, because there was nothing anyone could do to put life back into his body.

I have made funeral arrangements for my 22-year-old son while comforting his 4-year-old child as she asked, again and again, why her daddy died.

I have watched my mother’s heart break from losing her first grandchild.

I have seen the horrified face of my husband after he found our son.

I have seen my ex-husband break down with his arm around me as we looked at our child in a coffin.

I have watched the coffin of my greatest love be lowered six feet into the ground.

Like most mothers, my greatest fear was to lose my child – any of my children. For 22 years I checked on Anthony and worried about him because I was so scared of losing him.

Yet, here I am, standing up after losing my child the worst way possible. And he chose to die. Whatever illness or spiritual warfare influenced that choice, it was still his choice; the excruciating truth.

For five months, I have survived, quite literally, by the Grace of God. God has sustained me; God has brought people into my life who have cared for me and loved me in ways that I have never been cared for or loved before. Ever.

Maybe part of the reason it has never happened before is because of the life-ruling fear that has been my companion for so long. It kept me so afraid of being hurt again that I made sure love, intimacy, were not real options. Too often, if I did let my guard down, if I did let someone get close, it was the sort of person who, on some level, I knew was not capable of taking care of me. I self-sabotaged without knowing it. It is an emotional kind of learned helplessness.

Grief has taken away my fear. All I want in life is to live in love, with Christ. I want to love my children and grandchildren. I want to love Anthony until I see him again. I want to love my husband to the best of my ability, and allow him to love me. I want to tell people that God loves them and that I’m proof He can find and redeem anyone.

And this is my testimony of transfiguration: that out of the clouds that overshadow us in our lives, there comes the reality and presence of God. Peter, James, and John didn’t have to look as hard for it as we sometimes may have to, but it is true, nevertheless. In the darkness, we are not alone; in the shadows, we are reminded of the Beloved Son who defeated death, for all time.

I was very much afraid. Now, I am standing up because the love of the Christian community has shown me Christ, and said his words: “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

I have been through the hardest five months of my life. Thanks to everyone’s prayers for my family and for Anthony and for all the support in these five months, I have survived. Not only survived but I have come out a little bit stronger.

Having read my testimony, see the consolation of scripture:

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
— Matthew 17:1-9

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