Out of the darkness into the light
I lived a lifestyle of a socialite, parties and lounges with friends became a habit; there was a constant need for entertainment. However, the fleeting joys quickly changed when I was alone, specifically at night, I couldn’t close my eyes to sleep without being terrorized; dreams of levitating in bed, rapidly falling from the sky or experiencing invisible restraints, it was like something was holding me down with immense strength sometimes choking me. Needless to say, I had no peace and suffered from anxiety.
My relationship with family members was plagued with misunderstandings, especially with my mom; there were many arguments about the lack of communication. Many times, when we had a heated disagreement, I would leave and go to a girlfriend’s apartment for comfort, but just to find temporary relief and the same problems there.
The truth is that the problem was inside of me, there was a bitter loneliness. I had a few relationships that were promising, but when they ended, I would spiral into a series of short-term relationships, and the cycle started over again. Despite my best efforts, things would not work out correctly, we were not on the same page.
My mom encouraged me to go with her to the Universal Church, and I decided to go. I was really skeptical and negative about the purposes of faith; after all, it was different from other churches I attended. However, I needed help. So I continued attending the meetings, especially Fridays, and surprisingly, I no longer had the sleepless nights, there were no more nightmares; I could finally rest at night. However, I didn’t understand that once God sets you free, you have to remain in His presence by resisting the temptations and not go back to the old habits.
An invite to brunch here, an after work “happy hour” there, little by little I went back to the old things: more women, more parties, and things got worse for me. I lived like this for about ten years, going back and forth, feeling empty but powerless to assume my faith. In all honesty, I wanted to live a clean and straight life with God, but the guilt, the mistrust and broken vows were unbearable, why would He forgive me? “You aren’t worthy of His love!” – These evil thoughts robbed my strength daily, until the day I got tired of it all; an opportunity came up through a purpose of faith in the church for transformation, and I took part in it.
It was like that purpose was tailored only for me; I was living a fake life with fake friends and no happiness, so I had to make a decision not for a change but a transformation. I received deliverance through that amazing purpose. In church, I heard people speaking about their encounter with God. After reading Bishop Macedo’s Nothing to Lose 1, which shared his early experiences with God and how he received the Holy Spirit, I wanted to have my own experience.
I realized that without the Holy Spirit I would relapse back into darkness sooner or later. At that moment, there was a purpose of fasting from social media and entertainment to receive the Holy Spirit (21-Day Fast of Daniel). I put my all into it. I committed myself to God with all my heart, strength and soul, because I truly wanted a transformation. On a Friday night, I received the Holy Spirit, and He has turned my life around.
Today, I have an unshakable peace within me, and I am transformed. I have a developing relationship with my mom. I value myself more and have been preparing myself for a blessed love life. I no longer hop from one relationship to another or seek “happiness” in the nightlife. The true happiness and fulfillment I needed are now inside of me, and that is not fake, it is real and blesses my life in an extraordinary way, something that I have never experienced before.
Testimony of Marlon from New York