Every time I move, I carefully wrap up each of the angels I've collected over the years in newspaper. My angel collection started in the late 1990s, and most of the angels I've accumulated are ornaments for my Christmas tree. My collection was never accidental. It didn't start because someone gave me an angel, and I decided I wanted more. No. I started collecting them deliberately. Each angel represents my belief that angels are real. To me, they illustrate God's light, love, and His miraculous nature.
You see, I not only believe in angels, but I'm also sure angels saved my life. They helped my faith journey change from one of confusion to one of clarity.
As a girl growing up, my mom took my sister and I to church every Sunday. She was raised Southern Baptist and that's how she chose to raise us. I believed that God was real. I remember being seven-years-old when angels visited me at church one day. They told me that I was special, and God loved me. The experience, the images, happened in my head. As I grew up I naturally questioned their reality. Perhaps I just wanted to see angels, and I imagined them.
By the time I turned 12, I questioned everything. One day at school, I heard some other students in my class having a discussion about God. Another girl in my class chimed in with the comment, "There is no such thing as God." I was shocked. How could she say that? So, I said, "Of course God exists." She responded by asking if I could prove it. I couldn't. As I mulled over what she said, I wondered if she could be right.
When I got home, I declared to my mom that God didn't exist. I'm sure this news hit my faith-filled mother in the gut, like a hard punch. She didn't lose a step, though. She asked why I thought this. I told her my revelation, "You can't prove He exists. Science explains it all." My mom took this in and quietly responded, "Can you prove He doesn't exist?" I couldn't respond, because I couldn't prove God's existence either way.
At that point, I became agnostic, unsure about the existence of God. My mom then told me to talk over my questions and feelings with my dad. It was then that I learned that he was agnostic, too. He had searched for answers nearly his whole life.
And although I had my reservations about God, my mom made me go to church every Sunday; this time at the Presbyterian church we recently joined. I didn't believe all that was said, but I listened anyway. It was all possible. Then, as a high school student, I got involved with the Senior Youth Group for four years. Even though I went to church and participated in the youth group, I remained agnostic.
Despite not being sure of God's existence, I begged for His help several years later, at the age of 24, as I stood on a balcony's edge. I said a prayer, "God, if you do exist, please help me! I need your help." Moments later, I stepped off that balcony and fell 11 stories to what I presumed was my death. I don't recall seeing any trees below me before I stepped off, but falling through a tree is what saved my life. To this day, I'm convinced that God heard me and sent His angels to save me. They made sure I fell through that tree so that I could live today.
As my body started healing from the trauma, doctors told me that I was a living miracle. They never expected me to live even as they fought for my life. Then, one day as I looked around my hospital room, I noticed the cards and balloons friends and family sent me. For the first time, in a long time, I felt loved. As I took everything in, I realized, in my heart, that God did exist. He saved my life. He and His angels performed miracles to keep me alive. My need to collect angels commenced in that moment, and my faith in God has not faltered since that day in 1996.
I've amassed many angels since that day. Most are packed away in a box until my toddlers get older and are less likely to destroy them. Each time I hold an angel or look at one, I'm reminded of how far I've come in my faith. I'm also reminded that God performs miracles. After all, He and His angels saved me.
This post originally appeared as a guest post for The Mom Cafe.