Once I completed my two years of community college I moved sixty miles away so that I could spread my wings and exercise independence. I hastened the experience by beginning my classes that summer, rather than waiting until the fall. I met interesting people, but my introverted personality kept me from enjoying true college life.
The fall semester began and within a few weeks Islamic Jihadist attacked our home front. It took a few days for the 9/11 attacks, the reason behind them, and the religious implications to sink in. And when they did, all those suppressed fears I had accumulated over the years finally took over.
A friend and I were standing outside after class. He informed me not long after we met that he was an atheist. He grew up in a Baptist Christian home, yet the geographic exclusiveness of Christianity left him skeptical. Unable to comprehend why someone living in a remote village in Africa would go to Hell when no one ever told him about Jesus led him to conclude God was not real. He was also unable to fathom why a god-fearing Buddhist Monk would be condemned when he lived a solitary life and never hurt anyone. At the time, I had no answers for him. He also shared that another one of our friends, who was an evangelical Christian, believes Jesus will return once everyone on earth has had a chance to hear the Gospel. He further predicted that with the miracle of the internet, the mission would be accomplished in three to five years.
Hearing our friend’s prophecy upset me to my core. I felt dizzy. Nauseated. I almost passed out. I took in enough oxygen to get myself to my car and drive to my apartment. I called my mom and talked to her about my concerns. My older brother had been living a less than righteous life and I was afraid he would be in Hell should the world come to an end. My mom recently conversed with my brother about his relationship with God and she attempted to reassure me.
Our conversation deepened and I asked, “Does God REALLY send people to Hell for not believing in Jesus?”
She replied, “I don’t know. Some people don’t understand how God could send anyone to Hell.”
A few weeks later I visited my long distance boyfriend and of course, we attended church. 9/11 was still fresh on everyone’s minds and needless to say, the preacher made use of it in his sermon. By the time the clock said I had to make my way to my apartment, all my energy was beings spent fighting back tears and panic. I forced myself into my car and drove away. While driving south on the interstate, I lost it.
I had heard cases where a person feels some type of omen prior to their death. This is made known by the person making a simple comment about their upcoming departure. Was I about to die? Is this what it feels like?
Halfway through my journey, I contemplated taking the turn to my hometown rather than continuing to my apartment. However, I decided not to miss class that early on in the semester. I mustered up enough courage to finish the drive. When I arrived at my apartment, I rushed inside to the bathroom and began sobbing uncontrollably.
Once the sobbing ended, I called my mom and told her I had been depressed and was very scared. She suggested that I come home the next day. She arranged for me to talk with our pastor.