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Look for the Good and You'll Find God
The Spiritual Journey of a Psychic and Healer
By Echo Bodine, Yvette Bozzini
New World Library Copyright © 2008 Echo Bodine
All rights reserved.
My Childhood Relationship with God
ALBERT EINSTEIN IS WIDELY QUOTED as having said, "I want to know God's thoughts. The rest are details." I'm no Einstein, but that's exactly how I've always felt. For as long as I can remember, I've had a deep yearning to know God — and hearing Bible stories in Sunday school did not meet that need.
I grew up the oldest of four kids. Both of my parents were alcoholics, which made life unpredictable and scary. I was taught at an early age to always say my prayers at bedtime, so I did. I used to pray that my parents would quit drinking and for God to break all the whiskey bottles in the world. When this didn't happen, I got discouraged with praying. What was the point of prayers if they weren't answered?
My father's mother was a very religious woman and a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Movement. She talked about hell a lot, saying that's where drunks went when they died. She made God sound so scary. This was the guy I was supposed to be praying to every night? In spite of what Grandma said, and even though my prayers were unanswered, I still had a desire to know the real God. I wanted the truth and somehow knew there was a whole other story than the one I was hearing.
I remember my parents taking us to see Fiddler on the Roof. I was deeply affected by the main male character, who would go outside and talk to God all the time. I felt a yearning to be just like him, no matter how long it took.
I went from feeling discouraged to being mad at God for not answering my prayers. I decided to pray to Peter Pan instead. I figured if nothing else, he might come and take us to never-never land. Then I wouldn't care if God didn't break all the whiskey bottles. Peter never did show up, so I went back to saying my prayers at night, pleading my case to God.
Thankfully, when I was fourteen, my prayers were answered and my parents got into recovery. Life took a wonderful turn, and I felt like we were finally becoming a normal family. Mom and Dad both got on a spiritual path and taught me everything they were learning. I was like a person who had been in the desert for years; I soaked up everything they could give me. They would tell us really cool stories about God that they had heard at meetings, and this just made me want to know this guy even more. My father was an avid reader, and I would read his spiritual books, such as Emmet Fox's Sermon on the Mount and books by Norman Vincent Peale and Catherine Ponder, when he finished them. I could not quench the thirst I felt and knew I had to go even deeper, although I didn't know what that meant.
By the time I was seventeen, life was going very well. We all seemed to be healing from the previous years and were getting on with our lives. I was in my last year of high school and got accepted to the University of Minnesota. I was looking forward to becoming a social worker, a mortician, or a minister — a strange combination of interests, I know. But I felt drawn to helping people with their pain, working with the deceased, and helping people know God.
Whenever I tried to pick one career, my inner voice would tell me, "Wait." Every day I asked God to show me what His will was for my life. In the fall of 1965, I got my answer — and I wasn't at all happy about it!CHAPTER 2
Discovering My Spiritual Gifts
ONE NIGHT WHILE MY FAMILY WAS SITTING around the dinner table, chatting about the day, one of my brothers went downstairs to practice his drums. He was just learning to play and usually sounded kind of clanky.
After about a minute of his playing, something changed. The music began to sound really nice — smooth and professional. My parents, my sister, and my other brother all stopped talking and listened. A few minutes later, my brother came flying up the stairs. He was visibly shaken and kept asking us if we'd heard the music. We all said we had, and before we could ask him how he'd done it, he blurted out that a "white figure" had floated through the door, moved across the room, put his hands on top of my brother's, and played that really nice music. My brother said he'd tried to drop his sticks but couldn't. He also said that even though he'd had his eyes closed, he could still see this "man" playing the music through his hands.
After a few minutes, the ghostly figure had floated back across the room and out the closed door. That's when my brother dropped his sticks and came running upstairs. He was very upset and said he was never going to play his drums again.
My mother was in a prayer group at the time, and one of the women there had mentioned going to see a medium in St. Paul. Mom immediately called the woman and asked for the name and number of the medium.
When Mom called the medium and introduced herself, the medium replied, "Yes, Mrs. Bodine. I've been expecting your call." Mom told her what had happened, and the woman said the white figure was my brother's guardian angel. The angel was named Dr. Fitzgerald, and when he was living on earth, he'd been a drummer.
The medium told Mom that this had happened for a reason and that she needed to see Mom and her oldest daughter (me) for a psychic reading. She also said that Mom and her children were born with some very unusual gifts. My mother hung up the phone, telling the medium that she would call her back but that she needed time to process all this information.
When Mom told us what the medium had said, I took no comfort in the explanation that my brother had a guardian angel who used to play the drums. All I could think about was, What if I had a guardian angel who wanted to get my attention? What might it do? That night, I slept with my lights on — and they stayed on for the next two years!
Mom called the medium back the next day and set up an appointment for us. We were so curious to know what she meant by "unusual gifts" and why she'd been "expecting" our call. We had our appointment about a week later, and Mom and I freaked each other out on the drive over to St. Paul. We had no idea what to expect. Mrs. Olson was an absolute sweetheart. A petite woman from England, she had an adorable accent. Mom went in for her session first, while I sat in the living room watching TV with Mr. Olson. I was so young and naive. Seventeen and a senior in high school, I couldn't imagine what this woman could possibly have to tell me. As far as I was concerned, my life was already all planned out. I was going to attend the University of Minnesota, get a career, get married, and have a bunch of kids.
When Mrs. Olson called me into her office, I was very nervous. There was a glass of water by the chair I was sitting in, and when I reached for it to take a drink, she told me not to touch it because it was "for the spirits." What was she talking about? The whole time she was channeling a message to me, I kept an eye on the glass, wondering if the water was going to magically disappear.
Mrs. Olson had quite a bit to tell me — and nothing that I wanted to hear. She said I was born with all four of the psychic abilities and that someday I would be a world-renowned psychic. She said I would write many books, be on radio and TV, and teach others how to develop their abilities. She also said that I was born with the gift of healing and would be famous for that as well. Mrs. Olson talked about my past lives and told me that I was one of the original writers of the Mystery Schools. In a very significant past life, she said, my name was Ruth. She said she couldn't tell me who Ruth had been but that when it was important, I would find out and it would help me understand my purpose for this lifetime. (She added that this was not the Ruth of the Old Testament.)
Nothing, and I mean nothing, this woman said fit me, as far as I could see. I told her I had none of these abilities and no idea what she was talking about. I told her that I wasn't trying to be disrespectful but that I didn't want psychic abilities or the gift of healing. I was going to go to college and maybe be a social worker. I was going to have a nice, normal life. Her response was that I could have a normal life in my next life, not this one. Past lives? My next life?
I asked Mrs. Olson about a husband and children, and she said I would marry later in life and that there was a question mark above my head about children. She also said that my father was at home with a migraine headache, which was true. When I got home, she said I should lay white hankies on his head, put my hands on top of them, and ask God to work through me to heal the headache. She told me I'd had the ability to do this my whole life but had grown accustomed to it. Once I understood the gift, I would recognize that I had it.
The whole way home, I asked my mom, "Why me? Why do I have this stuff?" Mrs. Olson had told my mom that she and my brothers and sister all had the gifts as well and that we'd each do different things with them over time.
When we got home, I told Dad what Mrs. Olson had said about his migraine and asked if I could give her instructions a try. I got out some handkerchiefs and carefully placed them on his head. Then I stood back, not sure what my hands were going to do. When I placed them gently on top of the hankies, my hands immediately heated up, like little heating pads, and trembled. I stiffened them up to make the movement stop, and it did, until I relaxed my hands, when the jerking started again. After about five minutes, my hands cooled off, and Dad said, "Well, I'll be damned if my headache isn't gone."
Seventeen years old. Shy. Naive. Barely any feeling of self- worth. I'd suffered from depression since I was a kid. None of this made any sense to me, so I figured Mrs. Olson was wrong. But as little as I understood any of it, intuitively it felt right.
A few weeks later, my mom got a call from a woman named Birdie Torgeson. She said she was a spiritualist minister in the Twin Cities and that her spirit guides had given her the names of eight people in the area whom she was supposed to help develop their psychic abilities. Mom's name — and mine — were on the list.
A woman we had never met calls us out of the blue to tell us her spirit guides told her to teach us to develop our abilities! All I could think was, "What in God's name is going on?" And speaking of God, what did He think of all this? Did He endorse it? Was He behind it? Or was this all from the dark side, like some of my friends were saying?
Every night I prayed for clarification. Was this something He wanted me to do? Was this His will? What about my will? What about college, marriage, and kids? Why was life going in this direction?
Mom and I did attend the psychic development classes for about a year and learned a great deal about spirituality and psychic abilities. Even so, my mind was all over the place trying to figure it all out. Unfortunately, no answers came. Well, none that I could see.CHAPTER 3
A Dark Period
MRS. OLSON TOLD ME that I came into this lifetime with many issues to work out. I would experience most of this turmoil early in life, she said, and then later use the wisdom I had gained to help others. In retrospect, the summer after my graduation from high school kicked off a six-year period that was indeed filled with turmoil and lessons.
During this time, I had my heart broken by someone I thought I was really in love with. Because of this experience, I started college with a chip on my shoulder. As I've described, my family was healing from the pain alcoholism had earlier caused us. We were all much better on the outside but had lots of unresolved pain on the inside. My pain became more and more apparent after the breakup. I was also still hoping that Mrs. Olson was wrong about my path in life. I just wanted to meet Mr. Right and live happily ever after.
During my first quarter at college, I was asked to the home-coming dance by a very handsome young biology major. I was sure he was going to be my Mr. Right. The night of the dance, we went out to dinner with another couple, and my date asked me what I'd like to drink. (He'd brought along a fake ID for me.) In that split second, my life changed.
I had made a pact with my brother when we were kids that we were never going to drink. Our pediatrician had told our mother that the odds of at least two of us four kids becoming alcoholic were very high. I loathed alcohol, but this was (possibly) Mr. Right asking me to drink. The boy who'd broken my heart had split up with me because I wasn't a "party girl." I didn't want that to happen again, so I looked at my date and told him I'd have whatever he was having.
To this day, I don't remember a thing about what happened after that first drink. I had a total blackout that night — and just about every subsequent time I drank. It was pretty obvious from that first night that I was not a light social drinker.
I never drank in moderation. I drank hard liquor and drank it fast because I couldn't wait to reach the point of being oblivious to the pain I was feeling inside. When I got there, the insecurities that plagued me and the depression that was always with me went away. I found that I felt beautiful, smart, and sexy when I drank. So I drank.
I continued to date this potential Mr. Right for almost a year. When he transferred to another college, we drifted apart, and I met another young man. I was immediately attracted to this new man for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he was smart and good- looking, but he was also cool and aloof and acted like he couldn't care less about me. He was the ultimate challenge, and I was determined to make him mine. When he asked me to marry him, I was on cloud nine.
We had many differences, but they didn't seem to matter. Winning his love validated me as a person, so I tried not to think about all that separated us. He was Jewish; I was Christian. He hated alcoholics, and I was becoming one. My psychic abilities were growing, and he didn't believe in any of it. I had a relationship with God, and he didn't.
When I was a sophomore, I became pregnant by this wonderful man who just wasn't the best fit for me. I already had a great deal of shame and guilt about having sex before marriage. Now I was pregnant. Because of my shame, I didn't know if I could turn to God for help and guidance. I felt awful about who I had become and assumed God felt the same way. I literally cried and prayed for three days, pleading for answers. In the end, I knew that I needed to give birth to my child and place him for adoption, even though my boyfriend felt certain that we should get married and keep our baby. He and I received some premarital counseling, and the counselor did not think I was ready to become a wife and mother. In addition, my boyfriend was about to join the army.
It was so odd to have what I thought I wanted so badly — a husband and child — placed right in front of me and still know that this was not my path. I knew intuitively that God was telling me to trust that there was another road for all three of us. No matter how much I pleaded with God for a different answer, I would always get the same sense that I was not supposed to go down the road of what I thought I wanted.
This was not easy, and I struggled. It was tremendously difficult to want what I wanted and know I should not take it.
Ultimately, I went to California, stayed with family friends while I went through my pregnancy, and then relinquished my son. When I came back from California, I went deeper into depression and began drinking again to stop the pain of my loss. My boyfriend and I stopped seeing each other at the insistence of my parents, but we eventually got back together for a few more years.
When I was younger and went through bad bouts of depression, my mom taught me to focus on others and on how I could be helpful to them. This always seemed to help lift the dark cloud of hopelessness and despair (for a while). I asked God to show me how I could turn this experience into something good. I truly felt that if I didn't find something positive in having placed my son for adoption, I would lose my mind.
One day, shortly after that prayer, I felt directed to go home for lunch after my morning shift as a waitress. I turned on the television while eating and saw a minister from Lutheran Social Services. He was talking about a program they had for unwed mothers who were trying to adjust to life with or without their babies. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I called the number on the screen and spoke to the woman in charge of the program. She invited me to their next meeting.
Excerpted from Look for the Good and You'll Find God by Echo Bodine, Yvette Bozzini. Copyright © 2008 Echo Bodine. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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