Sometimes an experience can be so intense and so profound that it changes your entire life. My life-changing experience happened when I was ten years old. My family of five lived in a tri-level home at the end of a court in suburbia. I was a very shy child who was deathly afraid of the dark. Every night when I went to bed, the nightlight had to be on before I even entered the room. My mother would attempt to shut the closet door somewhat, but I would repeatedly cry out, 'A little bit more, mom, a little bit more.' I had a very normal, average childhood. We went to church most Sundays. But really, all that I knew spiritually was that Jesus was born on Christmas (when I got all those presents) and he died on Easter. I also knew Noah had a boat with lots of animals and that Adam and Eve were two naked people who loved each other. But I didn't really know much more than those facts and I wasn't bright enough to have made up a story like the one that I am going to tell you. My childhood was delightful in many ways. There was a ton of children in my immediate neighborhood. We spent our years playing tag, building imaginary worlds in the sandbox and creating chalk highways where we could ride our bikes for hours.
For my tenth birthday in May, my mother threw a party with all the neighborhood children where we played games and enjoyed my mother's chocolate cake. But by the end of the evening, something was very wrong with me. I began having trouble breathing and ran an extremely high fever. My mother bathed me down with sponge baths to try to reduce the fever. Her efforts were unsuccessful and I drifted in and out of consciousness. I was then admitted to the hospital. Days went by and the doctors could not find anything wrong with me. They did test after test but nothing determined the cause. In the meantime, I was unconscious a majority of the time. After a week passed, the hospital told my parents that I could die. My mother then informed the school of my illness. The students made homemade cards for me, and because religion was still allowed in the school in those days, my classmates were told to pray for me. During a lucid moment, I said a prayer to God. I told him, 'I'm too sick. I'm ready to die now.' I lost consciousness once again. Then, I had an extremely severe pain in my chest. If it had lasted longer, I would have screamed.
After just a second, it was gone and I felt wonderful. A golden light surrounded me and I realized how very easy it was to breathe. After basking in the glow, my room began to fade into view. I was still lying in my bed. But in the upper right corner of the ceiling, a bright light appeared. It was very small, but began to grow larger and larger. As the light got closer, I could see that it was a man walking towards me. Finally, after what seemed a long time, he arrived. He was wearing a brown robe and was floating in the air. He had brown hair, a beard and the most incredible eyes that I had ever seen. He smiled at me and I smiled back. Then he spoke to me, although we didn't speak with our voices. We spoke with our minds and that seemed absolutely normal. The man said, 'Are you ready to die?' Immediately, I said, 'No, I'm just a little girl. I haven't lived yet.' I then looked away for a minute and thought to myself, 'That's strange. You said that you were ready to die.' I looked back at him and he smiled again as if to say that it was all right. He then said the most incredible thing and something that I would never forget. He said, 'What have you done with your life?' I can't remember a part. I've thought a great deal about this. In my opinion, I think that man showed me some things that I could do for Him if I went back. Then, I think that I was given the choice of whether or not I wanted to go back.
I don't think that these things happened to me because I was special. I think of it as being like a grand ceremony when the millionth person crosses the bridge. When this happens, there is a giant celebration with balloons and fireworks. The millionth person gets to meet the head honcho and then gets a prize of some sort. In my case, I was the millionth person over the bridge. Jesus was the celebrity and the prize was the choice of whether to live or die. The next thing that I knew, the man was halfway gone. I was watching as the light got smaller and smaller and I was out again.
Then, after being unconscious for an undetermined amount of time, I was very much awake. I was standing in the middle of my bed and the light in my bathroom seemed so very bright. I immediately reached over, picked up the phone and dialed my mother. She was shocked to hear my voice, 'Beth, Beth, are you okay?' I was very excited, 'Mom, a man has been to see me and he asked me if I was ready to die.' Of course, my mother panicked to hear about an intruder and called the hospital. Suddenly a flood of nurses rushed into the room, flipped on the lights and began looking around frantically. They wanted to know what this man looked like. I told them and their eyes got very large. Then, they wanted to know what he had said. I told them that he had asked if I was ready to die. I then told them his second question, 'What have you done with your life?' As a child, I didn't understand what was happening, but all of the nurses immediately froze in their movements while their eyes began to dart back and forth at each other in a knowing way. The nurses then did additional blood work and took me for yet another X-ray.
The next morning, a new flood of people began to arrive. This time, a few priests, ministers and a pair of nuns came to talk to me. They were all armed with notepads and they wanted to hear about the man in the brown robe. After a few days, I was allowed to go home. The hospital had found that I had a severe case of pneumonia. After being invisible on any previous tests, the pneumonia was showing up on every test. It was extremely evident what was killing me. I was still an invalid and it took me three months to recover fully from my illness. It was summer and each day, my parents would place me in a hammock under a tree. I think that they thought the fresh air would do me some good. One interesting fact, before my life-after-death experience, I had been very afraid of the dark. As soon as I got home, I wasn't afraid anymore. I would go upstairs in the darkness. I didn't even need a nightlight. The intense fear had left me. I wasn't afraid of insects, either, and would let them crawl on my hands. About six months later, I went to talk to my mother about my experience. 'You know, mom, I think that I know who the man in the brown robe was,' I said. 'Who?' My mom asked in surprise. 'It was Jesus,' I said. 'I think so too,' she replied.
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No. Illness Other: Unknown illness where I was hospitalized. Parents were told that I could die.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
Did you feel separated from your body? No
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Normal consciousness and alertness The same level of consciousness
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Normal
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. There was no sound. We spoke with our minds.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Intense warm, glowing light. Felt extreme peace and feeling wonderful.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? No pain, no problems breathing, felt wonderful, happy, peaceful
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No I think that Jesus might have shown me past experiences and ways that I could help Him if I went back.
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a definite conscious decision to return to life When He asked if I was ready to die, I said 'no.â€™, I was surprised when that was my answer because I had said that I was ready because I was so ill. That was okay. He smiled at me when I answered in this way, as if it wasn't a problem.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Other Christian Baptist
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes Strong belief in God
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Other Christian As a child, we went to a small baptist church
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I always remember His statement, 'What have you done with your life?' Everything that I do, both large and small, revolves around my answer to this.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? Yes I now believe that this was Jesus. He wore a brown robe, had a beard and mustache, and had the most incredible eyes.
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? Yes Jesus asked me, 'What have you done with your life?' I don't think that He really expected a response because I was a child. But I think that He wanted me to remember this question and the importance of doing special things with my life for Him.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain I saw someone who spoke to me. He was floating in the air.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes My whole life is based on this experience as a child. I have a book that was given to me in a dream. The dedication in the book says, 'To my sweet Savior who gave me this book in a dream'. That story is also published in Guideposts' Mysterious Ways Magazine. http://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/mysterious-ways/miracle-words
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Uncertain I believe that I was shown things that I could do if I went back to living. My entire life has been based on this experience.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Greatly fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No Jesus asked, 'What have you done with your life?' In my opinion, I think that I was then shown things that I could do if I went back.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Uncertain Described above
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life My experience changed my life. I remember the experience all the time and I live my life as it has purpose. For example, I have three master's degrees, have two articles in Guideposts' magazine, and am a public speaker on domestic violence issues.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I help people all the time in both large and small ways.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience. Experience was life changing. I went from being a frightened child, to not being afraid at all.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes To my mother, later to my friends, and recently to Guideposts' magazine
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I knew that something had happened because of the number of religious people who interviewed me afterwards. I also realized on my own within a few months that the man that I had seen was probably Jesus.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real The hospital believed that something unusual had happened because they were the ones who brought in religious people to interview me.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes Had a dream about another being who gave me a book in a dream.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Some of the questions keep repeating what I have already answered. But you can't go on with the questionnaire unless you answer it again.