Epiphany; noun: plural noun: epiphanies
A) the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
B) the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.
C) a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
D) a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
Yesterday was Epiphany. Traditionally, it marks the end of the Christmas Season. The day the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus and bestowed their gifts to Him.
Epiphany also means a sudden revelation, insight, and/or appearance of a supernatural being. Eighteen years ago, I experienced epiphany on many, many levels. I was seven years into a devastating depression…one I could see no way out of. I was over prescribed medications by a medical community that my husband at the time belonged to. I was a doctor’s wife. I had WAY too ready access to medications I had no business being on because a referral pattern is a terrible thing to waste. Doctors hate to take care of other doctor’s family. It puts a lot of pressure on them to go above and beyond…to be exemplary…to have a positive outcome, no matter what. Unfortunately for me, that meant seven years of medications that made me a zombie. Add a psychiatrist who told me at every visit, that this was just the way I was…I would need to take these medicines every day for the rest of my life…that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I lost my 40’s…literally. My marriage was irreparably damaged. December of 1999 found me struggling. My 20th Anniversary came and my husband told me he wasn’t in love with me anymore. I was devastated. I couldn’t see how I could possibly live without him. I circled the drain and on January 6, 2000…I overdosed on two full bottles of pills and I very easily could have died.
As they worked on me in the emergency room…these doctors and nurses with whom my husband and I socialized…I “faded”. My vision became a tunnel. My hearing damped down till it sounded like I had tin cans over my ears. I didn’t see a great white light like some talk about when they have a near-death experience. I’ve drawn it here, as close as I can. It was this incredibly beautiful disc of cobalt blue with golden rays of light radiating from it all around like an eclipse. It was ethereal and sparkly and incredibly peaceful.
As I stood in this immense ocean of blue light, my hearing left me and there was no sound. Dead air. Nothing. And suddenly, my grandma’s voice cut through the silence and straight into my left ear, as if she were standing beside me and bent down to speak directly to me. She shouted at me!
“Young lady…you get back down there right now! You have work to do!!!”
Immediately, my eyes flew open wide and I was in the ER, lying on a gurney, the overhead light shining in my eyes. I squinted at the glare and the sudden rush of noise. I rolled up on my side and threw up violently. After a while, I turned on my back. A nurse was leaning over me…a look of sincere concern on her face. I burst into tears when I realized what had happened. I kept crying, “I’m so ashamed, I’m so ashamed, I’m so ashamed.” She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close to her and whispered in my ear, “You have nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve been sick. You’re going to be ok.”
I was at the bottom of the barrel in that moment and I had to begin a very long climb back. It took a great deal of intense therapy to convince me the other doctor was wrong and I really didn’t have a chemical imbalance in my brain. It took a full three years to wean off the medications he had me on. My marriage was over. I nearly lost my relationship with my kids. It took a huge amount of work, strength, and determination to rebuild my life.
I think that experience actually gave me tools to help me cope with losing Mr. Virgo years later. I survived that horrible ordeal. I surely could survive this one. I’ll survive the next. It’s fitting that the overdose occurred on Epiphany. The symbolic ending. The supernatural appearance of my grandma’s disembodied voice…nine months after her death. The moment of sudden revelation and insight that I had gone as far away from where God wanted me to be as I could possibly go.
I look back on those years with a sadness that I lost so much. I look back on that night with the absolute conviction that God sent the one person I would listen to…my grandma. I believe with all my heart that God saved me that night because He wasn’t done with me. He still had work for me to do. And, I also believe I could not have done any of this work if I had never had those seven years of walking through hell…if I had never had that devastating overdose…if I had not nearly lost everything.
Those of you who have been following me for a long time have probably heard this story before because I consider January 6th my “Re-Birth Day” in a literal sense. My second chance. My do-over. And for those of you new enough that you haven’t heard it yet, it might give you a sense of where I’ve been, even before the devastating loss of Mr. Virgo. We all have struggles in life. And, so far, I’ve survived all of them 100% of the time. For a long time, I was embarrassed by this story. Depression. Anxiety. Drugs. Dysfunction. Once I became a Christian, I realized God can use me to help others in similar circumstances. If I shine His Light into every dark corner of my life and show that Light to you, then I am doing what He put me on this earth to do. I’m at peace with that part of my life now. It doesn’t embarrass me. I am not ashamed. I am strengthened by a God that wouldn’t let ME decide it was time to go. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given…a chance to rebuild broken relationships…a chance at great love, not just once, but twice. I’ve lost much…but I’ve gained so much more. ❤️
““Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
Isaiah 60:1 NIV