When you crash through the doors of heaven, your loved ones will be anxiously waiting to ask, “Are you okay?”

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It takes a conscious effort to not allow the struggles and tragedies of life define us in a negative way. Resentment is like a cancer that can destroy our hearts. Pride, jealousy, envy, and judging others also eats away at our hearts. I think it’s helpful to always keep our eye on the eternal perspective. Ask yourself, “Will I want to hold on to this anger eternally?” The answer will always be no. After having a near heaven experience, I can say that you would not want to take any negativity with you. It’s too beautiful and perfect to be blemished with hatred – and there was no hatred in my experience.

Events that have happened to us are in the past and we have no power over the past. Since we can’t change the past, we have two choices. We can hold onto anger, or we can accept what happened. For me. One possible way to respond is that I could hate every person of the same race or religion of the kidnapper and everyone who reminds me of him. Without conscious effort, isn’t this what we do as a society? We judge groups of people because of the actions of a few. How many people hate all black people, hate all white people, or hate people of a different religion, political affiliation, profession, or sexual orientation? So I can hate or I can accept. Whichever road I choose will affect my heart and change who I am and who I will be eternally.

The truth is that the kidnapper never actually hurt me because my spirit remains untouched. We don’t know how or when or body will die, but we all have a shelf life. Our bodies are dying. In 200 years, everyone’s body that is on earth right now will be dust. When our bodies are dust, we will still exist and as we hate, we are hurting this part of ourselves that is eternal.

In life we mistakenly confuse who we are with what we have. Somehow we think our bodies, our houses, our cars, our education, our money, and other external aspects of our lives are who we are.

The truth is that all of these things that we think make up our identity are only temporary and we will one day be stripped of all of the external facades. We will be left with only what’s inside us, and that’s what really matters.

I’ve heard people say that growing old is cruel. Our youth and beauty fades. Our skin, hair, nails, bones, muscles all begin to change. Even our senses begin to fade such as eye sight, hearing, and taste. At first glance, this seems cruel… but maybe it’s really not. Perhaps this is an opportunity to learn and grow to prepare us for when we no longer have this physical body. To help us keep our eye on what is most important. An opportunity to look at, and focus on the part of us that is eternal. Growing old can teach us what is truly important, if we keep our eye on the eternal perspective.

When I had the near heaven experience, there was a clear distinction between all that is good- all that is based in love and all that is not good. Being in a space of pure love was the most amazing experience in my life. I look forward to the day that it will be my turn to return to this beautiful place! I know that I won’t bring anything with me but my heart and soul. This is the treasure at the end of our lives.  This is what matters, the part of us that is eternal. It’s our love, which we take with us.

If you were to hear the news that a loved one was in a car accident, what’s the first thing you would ask? “Are you okay?” You wouldn’t care about the car so much at this moment, the real treasure is who is inside the car.

If you were to hear someone’s home burned down, what’s the first thing you would ask? “Are you okay?” You wouldn’t care about the house, but you would care about the people inside the house.

I know that one day, my body will die. I don’t know if I will die peacefully or traumatically, but I do know that when I crash through the doors of heaven that I will be greeted by a loving community anxiously waiting to ask, “Are you okay?”

We want to still shine brightly inside at the end of our lives; without taking into account the external factors such as our body, house, car, bank account, and so on. Life can be hard and knock us down. We don’t have control of some of the events in our lives, but we are in control of our response. We don’t have to let pain and suffering destroy us. Love is the key. As we choose to forgive; as we choose to love, we don’t allow tragedy to define us. Our spirit can remain untouched. That should be our goal- to shine brightly from the inside out, despite our circumstances so that when we are greeted in heaven by our loving community, they will give a sigh of relief and then cheer. “She made it home! And she is okay!”

 “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Gautama Buddha

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Forgiveness – The Road to Peace and Happiness

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One of the questions that I’m asked the most about being kidnapped is if I have forgiven the kidnapper. If I decided NOT to forgive him, I don’t think anyone would blame me. After all, he took me, held me against my will, tortured and attempted to kill me. Finally, he left me in the hills to die. For someone to take an innocent person against their will and hurt them –it’s just wrong!

When I returned home, this was a difficult time for my family. Everyone was happy that I was alive, but there were many other emotions that my family was faced with. Anger, resentment, sadness, fear… everyone was on edge. The kidnapper said he’d come back and kill me if I talked and now the story was all over the news. Would he come back and kill me? Would the police catch him? Would he be punished for his acts or would he continue hurting other innocent children? How could God allow this to happen?

It’s in these tragic moments, when emotions are raw – these are the times that the decisions we make on how to respond become forks in the road of our lives. Our responses to these tragic events determine the level of peace and happiness we will experience for the rest of our lives. (Unless another decision is later made)

It’s not easy! People who hurt innocent children don’t deserve to be forgiven! I’m sure we all agree to that! The problem with staying in that space and hanging on to that anger and resentment is that those emotions will destroy us. They will steal our peace and happiness, along with the peace and happiness of our loved ones. Anger doesn’t destroy who we’re mad it. Anger only destroys the one who is angry.

When I was being held by the kidnapper, I was a victim. I had no power and no control. That was a terrible feeling! If I remain angry and resentful, I remain a victim. If my loved ones remain angry and resentful, then they too become victims – casualties of this tragic event.

We can get past our tragedy. The terrible event can become a simple bump in the road of our life. Our futures are in our own hands and not in the hands of a person or situation that may have harmed us in the past. It takes work, but with perseverance our future is our own. We are free to create the future we want!

Previously, I wrote about how our thoughts determine the degree of suffering we will endure. Our thoughts will also determine the degree of peace and happiness we will experience.

I trust that God will take care of all the details in the end so I don’t need to worry about what will happen to the kidnapper. I don’t need to think about him. God will take care of it.

Forgiveness is not something that you do one time and then you’re done. It’s more of a constant attitude. It begins as a commitment to yourself. Once you choose to forgive, you may have to remind yourself to be loving, to not judge, to let it go over and over. The more you practice forgiveness, the easier it becomes.

When I had the opportunity to have a small sampling of heaven in a near heaven experience, even though my body was dying and in a violent situation, suddenly the terror disappeared and I was part of a completely peaceful and loving experience. There was no fear, no pain, no anger, no resentment – it was pure heaven! I want to live my life like that! Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant in the Lord’s Prayer when He prayed that we would live on earth as it is in heaven.

I would like to challenge you with today with a thought. Instead of focusing on the injustice and bad aspects of your tragedy or struggle in life, begin looking at the difficult situation as a gift – as a blessing. I know that sounds strange, right? How could I possible see my tragedy as a gift? For me, I have had the opportunity to see people’s lives change as I share my story. That’s a gift. When I was kidnapped, I should have died several times and the only explanation is that I experienced miracles. That’s a gift. If I had died, I would have remained in an amazing place! That would have been a gift. Don’t be a victim of the tragedy by hanging onto that anger and resentment. Use that energy to ignite a passion to make a difference in the world.

Let’s live our lives on earth as it is in heaven!

I hope you’ll check out my Instagram page this week. I added some great quotes from Nelson Mandela about forgiveness. (Find us on Instagram at Through the fire book)

Katherine

Throughthefire.blog

 

When slipping into a “Near Heaven” experience, this is what I wanted to share with my loved ones…

As terrifying as the experience of being kidnapped was, it was also one of the most profound experiences of my life. I will share more about the miracles that I experienced firsthand and the many lessons that I learned later. For now, I will say that I’m deeply grateful that God was with me during this entire ordeal. When I was kidnapped, I had what we call a near death experience. I prefer the term “near heaven experience” because it’s much more fitting. As I was slipping into this beautiful place, I remember thinking that my family would be devastated when then they found out how I died. If they only knew that I was okay, I was truly okay. If I had died, I would have remained in this amazingly wonderful place that is filled with love and peace that can’t be compared to anything in this life. Since I didn’t die, I was able to come back home to my loved ones. Either way, there was something wonderful on the other side of the pain. (Through the Fire) I feared that my loved ones would replay my violent death in their minds over and over. They would imagine how I must have felt and what I looked like at the time of death. They would picture me in pain, sad and alone… and they would have been so wrong.  What I was actually experiencing was nothing like what you might imagine based on what my physical body looked like. Initially, I was terrified and in excruciating pain… but then, like a bolt of lightning, the pain vanished and was replaced with super charged loving comfort. There was no more fear, no more pain, and I wasn’t alone. I was experiencing an unimaginable degree of peace, love, and joy, even though my physically body was failing. I wasn’t suffering any more. I actually felt better than I ever have in my entire life.  If my loved ones had a sense of where I truly was, they wouldn’t be sad for me at all. They would be happy because it is THAT amazing. If you have lost a loved one tragically, I can tell you that the experience for them is not at all what you might imagine. There’s something beautiful on the other side of the pain and suffering! Once through the fire there is no pain.

I remember thinking that I wished I could tell my family what my death was really like from my perspective and to let them know that I was in a really good place. Since I have been given the opportunity to live a little longer, I hope to be the voice for those who have passed. I believe that people who have died tragically would also want their loved ones to know that they are in an amazing place filled with love and joy. There is no pain and sadness and they are not alone. They would want their loved ones to think of happy memories they shared together. They wouldn’t want the tragedy to be replayed over and over in the minds of their loved ones. They would want them to live every day to the fullest with love and purpose.

Yes, we are fully confident that we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

I hope that as I share my story, that I can help people who may be stuck “in the fire” to find peace and happiness. Please follow and share. If you have any questions or comments that you would like to share with me, visit my contact page and leave me a message. I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

Katherine

Throughthefire.blog