I wasn’t planning on writing this post. It’s going to be a long one, so thank you if you decide to read it. I’ve heard stories like mine many times in the past and to be frank, I never believed them. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me but I am compelled at the moment to write it.
It was 2006. I was in high school, agnostic and suffering from depression. I was too smart for my own good and frankly an insufferable turd. I was attending my parent’s church out of obligation. My father had recently converted and my mother began studying theology (she has her Master of Divinity now) three years prior.
On March 1, 2006, I suffered a horrible nightmare. I barely understood it at the time and it was completely foreign to my mind. At that age I was regularly having lucid dreams and I remembered my dreams very well. This one came out of left field and as stupid as it sounds, I never believed that it came from my mind. It felt like the dream lasted for days. This dream has kept me up many nights over the last decade and I have yet to forget it.
I jolted from the nightmare on its conclusion and suffered what I can only describe as a panic attack for the next two days. I had locked myself in my room and refused to have a conversation with anyone or eat. My parents thought I was sick and left me alone. My brain kept replaying the nightmare over and over, trying to understand it. It was completely foreign to me.
To summarize the dream without writing a novel (as you’ll see below), I was in Hell. It was not an image of Hell I had ever seen before. The only visions of Hell I possessed at that age were the fire and brimstone version and the black nothingness version. It felt real beyond anything I had experienced in a dream before and is the single most terrifying thing my brain has witnessed.
I became obsessed with the possibility of an afterlife and didn’t want to end up with what I had just witnessed. Over the next several years I became obsessed with theology, history, world religions, near death experiences, prophecies, anything to help me understand what I witnessed. I spent countless hours debating theology as an agnostic on various forums, attempting to find out what I believed in.
Eventually, I discovered Christ. When I was 19, I was baptized at my parent’s church (I became a member shortly after). I’ve stumbled a lot in my walk with God but he has always stuck with me.
The last two months in my relationship with God have gone incredibly well. I’ve been able to open up to him in my prayer and forgive those in my past who I never thought I could forgive. Through prayer, he helped me quit smoking, a habit I picked up from an abusive relationship I had once suffered. I had tried to quit several times before, but never did I ask for his help because I was never ready to actually quit. With his help, I finally did.
He has transformed my life and I can say with full honesty that I do not recognize who I once was a decade ago. My relationship with God is worth more than anything else I have and I imagine I will have a whole eternity to be grateful for it. I’m a good place with God right now and I look forward to the coming years.
With all of that context established, I can get to why I’m writing this. A few days ago, I was compelled to read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.
I’ve seen this book mentioned many times on this subreddit and I was already familiar with C.S. Lewis’s work, primarily Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. It’s a great book and a short read. I highly recommend it. However, it leads to the point as to why I’m writing this.
I dreamed The Great Divorce in 2006.
I dreamed that I was stuck in the Hell described by C.S. Lewis. I visited various stores and I waited for the same bus. I was spoken to by a spirit of a person I once knew, trying to show me Heaven. I rejected her. I not only rejected her but I hated the spirit so much that I tried to kill her. I tried to sink a dagger I had conjured into her back before ending up back in Hell. I spent what felt like days in that Hell before waking up.
Lewis nailed down the details which I saw and experienced, down to the fight at the bus stop, the eternal evening twilight and the rain. I knew what was happening the second I started reading Chapter 2. I had seen this world and allegory before.
I’ve known God long enough to not accept most events as mere coincidences. What happened to me appears to be beyond a coincidence because what happened to me is impossible. Aside from being an unwritten character, I witnessed what C.S. Lewis wrote 60 years before. I had never seen the book before, no one had ever talked to me about it and I had never witnessed that view of theology (albeit in allegory) or Hell before.
It’s the ultimate joke. 10 years ago, God gave me the dream which drew me to him. Now he shows me that the dream that changed my life was a telling of one of C.S. Lewis’s bestselling books from another perspective.
I’ve had a few days to recover from this discovery. I’m not sure what to think about it. I’ve prayed a lot since opening the book but I’m still at a loss. What do you say or think when you’ve witnessed the seemingly impossible?
As I said at the beginning, I don’t expect anyone to believe me. I said before that I’ve rejected believing these kinds of stories before. I need help understanding what I just witnessed. I’m at a loss.
Thank you for reading.
Edit: I want to thank you all for the incredible support and insight you’ve all been offering. It’s been an interesting few days for me to say the very least. I’ll continue to make an effort to respond to every comment which comes in. You’ve all been very helpful and for that I am truly grateful.
Edit 2: /u/andmoreagain posted a short story in this thread from Philip K Dick. I may not agree with all of his conclusions but it’s eerily similar to mine. Thank you for sharing!