Most of you know me from my first blog entry, regarding my path to Nontrinitarianism and my baptismal experience :) . This time I would like to share with you my early experience, on how I became a Seventh-day Adventist. You may find my path to be a very different, from the paths of most Adventist converts - I always thought it to be boring for other people than myself, but after Adrian Ebens encouraged me to write about it, I decided to do so. So here we go! (I must warn, that this entry is very lengthy and has many details of what I believed before and how I lived)
The background of my experience
I was raised as a Roman Catholic, like most of the folks in Poland. From my childhood I was always a shy, introvert and withdrawn kind of person, having relational and communicational problems with other people. And it's not just plain words, since I never even had a girlfriend :) (although I did have some good friends in my neighborhood, but this was thanks to my younger brother). Even now this is still much a problem for me. I think, that a very sensitive (even oversensitive) person who is being brought up in a performance-based environment has only two options for life to choose: either he will try to prove his value by performing many things despite being constantly discouraged, or he will give up his life of performance at all (due to this discouragement). And this includes relationships as well. My tragedy is, that I chose the second option, leaving me withdrawn from many aspects of a real life.
So all this has left me seeking for knowledge about the world, universe, and the purpose of our existence. I became increasingly interested in astronomy, cosmology, astrology, and our role in the universe, and these themes have always had a big amount of mysteriousness. I must tell you, that I love many kinds of mysteries - and back in my early teens, I was engaged in getting to know many of them. These also included the so-called paranormal phenomenon. There was a Polish TV program called "Nie do wiary" (which may stand for "Incredible", "Unbelievable" or "Beyond belief"), which talked about UFOs, conspiracy theories, lost civilizations, ghosts, end-time predictions, extrasensory perception and so on. Also my love for the science-fiction deepened my interests, I loved all things accociated with future, space and aliens: computer games, music videos, movies... My imagination regarding these themes was very vivid at this time. I was also engaged with some of my friends in fantasy role-playing games (RPGs). This was also the first time, when I heard of the "Age of Aquarius" (I had a magazine on astrology, where this concept was mentioned). All this was prior to 2001.
As I wrote before, my experience in relationships was little. Yet in year 2001 (I was 15 years old, so during the puberty period) I actually started to put more emphasis on this area of life. I became in love with a girl in my school (it was a middle school), but I didn't even find the courage to talk to her (we were actually strangers). Eventually I have disconnected myself from my feelings towards her, but in later time I have made few unsuccessful attempts towards other love-interests. I was also loosing contact with my early friends. All this has left me depressed and I was feeling quite lonely during this time.
A change in life
This was until June or July 2003. I have received a book written by Joseph Murphy, "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind", and I can say, that in a way this book has changed my life. In brief, this book emphasized the false idea, that subconscious minds of all humans are somehow connected together in one great network, and that if you want your dreams come true, you just have to plant a good idea inside your subconsciousness and observe the results in your life. It was said, that this could be done by meditation or prayer, even to "God", as long as this meant your subconscious mind (so this was my first contact with meditation). I very much liked the idea and started to practise it. In a very short time I became very sociable and I had not much of a problem to talk to girls about anything. I remember my brother being a little scared about this :) . Somehow I have even managed to talk to this girl I fell in love with previously (this time in high school), and even when I later heard that she had a boyfriend, I didn't even became upset. I was having this attitute for a few months and it eventually died out (thank God), but at least I came out of my depression. This was also the time, when I started to collect a few magazines dealing with the paranormal (although this was only on occasion), most notably "Nexus".
Later the same year, thanks to my younger brother, I have found an e-zine called "Action Mag" (it was part of a bigger computer game magazine), which contained a section called "Area 51", that was about paranormal phenomenon. It had all kinds of articles regarding the paranormal, like aliens, parapsychology and end-time predictions. I was delving deeply into this. There I have found first information about the so-called "Bible code" or reincarnation (in which I started to believe), but what was most interesting to my meditational experience, was the information regarding the so-called chakras, auras, telepathy, telekinesis, lucid dreaming, astral projection, and a whole method of meditation, called Silva Method. In brief, anything accociated with parapsychology and esoterics. I was quite crazy about the possibilities, that with a bit of a training I would read in somebody else's mind, move objects by will, or even leave my body and wander around outside of it! With a bit of reserve at first, when it comes to practicing these things (in case they might prove to be dangerious), I eventually started practicing this kind of meditation, knowingly putting myself to Alpha brainwave pattern and sometimes maybe even lower. I was observing my thoughts and, let's say, "thought-shapes". I was also trying to practice aura recognition, lucid dreaming (few attempts were successful) and astral projection (but never experienced it). The good thing is, that about this time I was also trying to speak with God. While it wasn't important for me to know, who this God is, I was just talking to Him, about many things. I just had this need. Maybe this is, what has eventually led me to give up all esoterism...
The peak of my esoteric experience
The peak of my parapsychological activities was, when we have gained access to the Internet at home (prior to that I was visiting Internet-cafes and my dad's workplace). Because it was difficult for me to make relationships in real world, I have turned to the Internet. Having a new "window on the world", I eventually started searching for more esoteric information. Eventually I have found a Polish version of "AstralDynamics" message board. This was my first Internet forum and I have stayed there for next few months and made new relationships. I figured: "At last I have found some people, that I can talk with regarding the subjects I have learned". This message board consisted of many kinds of people: some were New Age, others were Neopagans, I think there were even Satanists. Maybe some were even Christians, who were trying to expose the dangers of these esoteric practics and ideas. Most important to me was the fact, that I could share my experience with others and get to know other's experiences. And of course, new ideas! These included some ideas on the lost civilizations (like Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria, or the case of pyramids in Egypt), as well as on the so-called spiritual evolution of beings, which involved reincarnation, good and evil aliens and other ideas. I was also told, what the "Age of Aquarius" was to be all about. I must say, that I was very much fascinated with these concepts. So much, that I wanted to straighten them up and try to find, what is the truth in regards to our existence and our path of life. I wanted to create a concept, that would be universal and that everything would fit within it: chakras, reincarnation, spiritual evolution etc. Today I'm laughing, that I wanted to create myself a personal "Tower of Babel".
As for my meditational experiences, I didn't mention this before, but there were some strange events, that back then I just could not explain. For example, once I was in bed and was trying to lift up my wall calendar by my will. I quickly gave up trying, but just then something in my room fell over and caused noise. I was scared, that I caused it to happen. The next day I saw, what it was, that fell over. Back then I was guessing, that I have incorrectly directed my mental energy :) . Today I know, that if it was not anything usual, it has to be the work of a demon. Another event was, when I once became quite sad or depressed. I was sitting beside my computer and became increasingly angry. I think that I have not been that angry in all my life. I was chating with a friend from the forum and she tried to calm me down, and eventually I did calm down. The problem is, I didn't know, from where all this anger came from, I just couldn't explain it. Now I know. Another strange thing was, when I was lying in my bed and being in a meditative state was trying to imagine myself a pyramid hovering above my stomach. In my mind, this pyramid was collecting cosmic energy and directing it to my stomach. The thing is, I felt how my stomach became warm. Was this the work of a demon, or just my own imagination, I cannot tell. Yet I'm sure, that it was inspired by demons.
A great reverse
With the start of year 2005 (having 18-19 y.o.) I became very much interested in conspiracy theories. On the Internet I have found a Catholic site, which was speaking of conspiracies against the Roman Catholic Church (especially in Poland), which involved the Masons, Illuminati and New Age. The information was, that every action taken by the United Nations, the USA government, EU government or many other governments, is against Poland and against Catholicism - that they are building a "New World Order" according to the Illuminati and New Age ideology. While at first I was reluctant to accept all this information, the fact is, that I became increasingly affected by this approach and eventually paranoid. My first attemts to deal with these informations, were to somehow explain them in the "light" of what I have learned about Esotericism and New Age. I believed, that the New Age doesn't have any evil intentions to destroy the Catholic Church.
Just then (it was February 10, 2005), on the "AstralDynamics" forum I have found a link, that has changed my life forever. The link led to a site, where was shown a graphic illustrating human chakras. The problem is, I believed that there were 9 chakras, while the illustration was showing 13 chakras. Not long before, I was content with my spiritual evolution worldview (which included these 9 chakras), but now looking at this picture I wasn't sure anymore of anything. I can say today, that my "Tower of Babel" just fell. I was very puzzled, I have lost my sense of stillness, I have lost everything that I could hold on to. Some people on the forum was repeating, that truth is relative, that there is no objective truth, that all people have their own truth. But I have never believed this - I have always believed, that real, objective truth exists. I just couldn't believe, that people have their own Universes in their heads, and that they are all real and objective. This was not for my mind - I needed to find something I can hold on to without the fear of loosing it. As I was thinking over the problem all day, in the evening I became increasingly sure, that a Christian God is something or someone, who I can hold on to. As I was preparing myself to bed on that day and brushing my teeth, the thought came to my mind, that the most still and sure belief is the belief in "God, Jesus and the Bible" (now I call this the motto of my conversion).
Apparently, because I wasn't in touch with any other Christian denomination, than Catholicism, I became to consider myself a Catholic again. Now I didn't have any problems as to these conspiracy theories I mentioned earlier. I was now studying these theories about the New Age movement, the Masons, the Illuminati, and the 666 number. In Poland we have a famous conservative Catholic radio-station (Radio Maryja), which is most of the time ridiculed by mainstream media. While I didn't start to listen to it myself, I was much in admiration in regards to the work, that they are doing. Still, the funny thing is, that I didn't start to go to church again - it's maybe just because I was too lazy to do it, especially, when my parents also ceased to go to church back in my early teens (although still being Catholics). Another funny thing is, that I didn't wholly give up Esotericism. While I did stop meditating, there were some concepts, that were not easy for me to reject (like cosmic energy or spiritual guides). I tried to fit them in my new Christian and Catholic worldview. On the "AstralDynamics" message board I was politely trying to defend the Roman Catholic Church and was being constantly challenged by others (they couldn't understand my change, but they didn't ridicule me). This is the state of my mind, that lasted for just 18 days.
First contant with Adventism
On February 28, 2005, I have clicked to another link given on the message board, which lead to a blog named "Number of the Beast". As I was reading it, one of the first things I was reading was about the number 666 and that it fits to the papal "Vicarius Filii Dei" title. Prior to that, I believed, that 666 meant an identity number for every human in the world, controled by a supercomputer in Brussels (like some paranoid Catholics and Protestants believe). Now it became apparent to me, that the Roman Catholic Church isn't actually the true Church, and that what matter most, is to truly live out our Christianity, and that the truth about our existence will be revealed to me over time. On this blog I was also for the first time reading about many Protestant concepts, like that we should not pray using images, that we should not pray to saints, that consubstantiation is a wrong concept etc. I even read about the Sabbath! While I was reading this blog, my affiliation with the "AstralDynamics" forum started to fade away.
I sometimes wonder, what kind of faith I had back then. Maybe it was something between Esotericism, Catholicism and Protestantism. Probably I could consider myself as just a Christian, and no one else. The fact is, that all this took place, when I was preparing myself for my high school maturity exams. Even more, this was the time, when pope John Paul II was dying. I remember, that when he died on April 2, 2005, few days later I went with my mother to a farewell Mass in honour of John Paul II. We participated in making a great glowing cross, made up of candles on one of my town's crossroads. While I probably had doubts, as to whether or not participate in this event, I knew, that I wanted to be a good Christian and to follow in Christ's footsteps.
Later in April, when my maturity exams commenced, I again looked up on the "Number of the Beast" blog to see, if I could read some more of it. There were a few links: one of them led to an article, the title of which I can translate as "The return to the Christian roots of Europe", the other one led to a group of articles about prophecies of the Book of Revelation. Since I was interested in true Christianity, I started reading the article. To my surprise, this article was not about medieval Catholic roots of Europe, but about first century Christians. It was talking about, how first century Christians lived and what they believed. It told about the Sabbath, some Protestant rules like "Bible alone", about a true communion of Christians, the state of the dead, and many other concepts. And there was a link in this article, that led to the Nadzieja.pl site ("nadzieja" stands for "hope"), so I went there. And I must say, that very quickly I started reading throughout the whole site (I believe, that the same day I have found this site - April 22, 2005 - I added it to my favourites :) ). I was reading articles on the Sabbath, on the state of the dead, on the Sanctuary, on the weekly creation, and many more. There were even chapters of some books of Ellen White, especially "The Great Controversy" and "The History of Redemption". Digging deep through them, I became acknowledged with the fact, that the Catholic Church was the antichrist and a great persecuting power. This information was accompanied with the information from the second link, that is, the articles about prophecies from the Revelation.
Having been previosly indoctrinated with the conspirational paranoia, I received this new information with quite a fear. It took some time to settle this information in my mind, especially regarding the observance of Sabbath. But eventually, let's say in a month or two after I have found Nadzieja.pl site, I started to practice the Sabbath observance. And it's only later, that I found out, that these were the websites of Seventh-day Adventists!
In becoming an Adventist in year 2005 I was totally alone (I believe, that only God Himself was with me). It took me few months to find a company of other Adventists. During the fall of that year I have found a Polish social network portal. While at first I didn't know, why did I sign on it, I thought, that maybe there are SDA's here. So I searched for them, and have found them! But it took me nearly a whole year to find courage and attend a worship service. First I wanted to meet with one girl outside the church, but she offered me to come to the service. So, having many doubts and fears, on August 12, 2006 for the first time I have attended the church service :) .
Of course I have met new people, and my experience is quite rich later on, but I would like to finish this here. Like I said in the beginning, my experience in becoming a Nontrinitarian Adventist is written down in another entry, titled "How I got here" (it's my first entry on this site), so I would encourage you to go there. The link is at the beginning of this testimony.
I hope you did come to this point of my entry, and that you enjoyed it. Blessings to you all!