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Divine Providence Reveals that Trial and Tribulation only Appear to be a Curse (Pt. 2)

You'll be surprised read, here in part two, that Cortland had farther to fall. Miraculously, he can see that all he went through was a direct expression of his spiritual state. Through it all, the Lord was revealing his inner state for what it was, calling him to love the truth for the right reasons. (Start with part one here). -Editor

From Part 1: There was a hitch in my giddy-up. All I did was work, drink beer, smoke marijuana, and socialize. Although I was a hard worker my work ethic was not based on the principles of charity so I was externally productive but still void of fruit. Even still, I believed that pure influx would lead me to a life of genuine good use and the most egregious part of my life was long behind me. Boy did I get a wrong number! What was to come was purely a manifestation of where my spirit was and it manifests itself in every particular of my life.

From here on the reader will have to excuse me for not going into detail about what happened over the next 10+ years. If I were to attempt to do so it would fill many pages so I hope the trials and tribulations in themselves will reveal what this small piece is trying to express.

On November 23, 1999, two days before my 30th birthday, my mother called 911 and told the operator that she was going to take her life and then proceeded to do just that. I appeared to be doing okay until about two months after when it dawned on me that Mamma was gone. For the next two years I sat in my studio apartment(as I had moved away from my children) with my one and only love: alcohol. I was able the receive a two year respite from full blown addiction only because of the fact that I drank myself into destitution and had to move back in with my family. I still drank on a daily basis, but it was not as bad as it had been during the previous two years when I lived alone.

On the fourth of July, 2004 I got into a huge argument with the mother of my children. What it was about I could not tell you since I have no clue. This was on a Sunday evening. The following Tuesday I called a taxi, packed up all my worldly possessions, and checked into a dive motel room where I would live for the next seven months. Although my drinking picked up considerably, since I lived check to check my money would always run out a few days prior to my next pay day and this allowed me much needed sober time throughout each month. I would eventually find an apartment to rent and shortly afterward the clerk who ran the corner store got the notion that I was a stand up kind of guy and began to lend me credit. Shortly after that the owner of the liquor store just around the corner from the corner store would also lend me credit and there went my sober time.

During the next four years my typical day was to wake up and drink at least two sixteen ounce cans of Old English 800 before heading off to work. I would usually stop by the liquor store and pick up a couple of shots of brandy for the drive into work and then have at least one beer whenever I took a lunch break. As soon as I was off work I would pick up a twenty-four ounce can of Old English for the drive home and right before I arrived home I would stop at the same liquor store that I had been in that morning and get my usual six pack of Old English and a half pint of E&J brandy. I entered myself into twenty-eight day residential rehabilitation program on two different occasions, but it was simply a vain attempt to get some long term sobriety, as I still desired to go back to drinking in a normal fashion.

In June of 2009 I was just days away from being physically evicted from my apartment, and in desperate need of a place to stay. I found a room to rent with a sixty-eight year old man who turned out to be just what I needed in a roommate—he was also an alcoholic. My desire for strong drink became a habit, and then I became dependent and finally addicted. It came to the point that I could not even brush my teeth before I had a drink and after having a drink I no longer felt the need to brush them. I made another attempt to get myself together by entering a detox at a location that provided a sober living environment at a very affordable rate. The problem was that it was actually too far for me to travel back and forth to work, so after spending eight days in the detox, I arrived back at the same place and drank that very same day. I had still not given up on trying to sober up, and I went down to see about some help through an organization I heard about through the county of Sacramento.

The home that the man took me to stay in as a sober living home was not in any way conducive to sobriety so, after spending one night there, I returned to the home of my old alcoholic roommate. On the 25th of November, 2009, it was my birthday, and it happened to be my roommate’s birthday also. We had started drinking as usual when our eyes opened that morning and by about 7:30pm we were quite saucy to say the least.

I began to speak upon my roommate’s apparent hypocrisy as he was in the midst of his usual attempt to speak upon the character flaws of his friends and neighbors. Since I was relentless in my rebuke, shall we say, he got a little hot under the collar. In short, he threatened to set me on fire if I did not cease in my verbal attack. I refused to take him seriously and continued on in one form or another as I refused to accept the fact that he would even attempt to make good on his threat. In a fit of anger he walked to the side of the house and procured a can of gasoline or some type of flammable liquid used to run a weed eater. He preceded to dowse the left side of my torso. At this point I still refused to believe the man was actually going to set fire to me as I stood in a defiant, yet calm and casual way. My roommate stepped back as if he expected me to attack, which was actually the furthest thing from my mind. And right then and there I had what they call in Alcoholics Anonymous “a strange mental blank spot,” but those of us who are familiar with the spiritual influx understand that my mind was far from blank. To the contrary, the evil spirits had gotten a hold and were not about to let go. My intent was to prove to my roommate that I had no fear of him, fire, or even death itself. Without saying a word, I pulled my own lighter out of my pocket as my roommate and two other individuals who were present jumped back with wide eyes as they tried to convince me to halt. I clicked the lighter and moved it over to my left arm that was covered by a long sleeve soaked in a highly flammable liquid. I remember breaking two world records at once: the fastest man ever to remove his clothing as well as the fastest person ever to sober up. I suffered first degree burns on my ear, nose, and neck, second degree burns on the left side of my lower back and the left side of my chest, as well as a third degree burn on the hinder part of my waist line.

I went back home to LA to heal from my wounds and make another attempt at sobriety. My wounds healed but sobriety was not to be acknowledged, although a vain attempt was pursued. I returned to Sacramento on January 18, 2010 and returned to work two days later. On the 24th of the same month, almost two months to the day of my burning, I was called into work to cover for a sick employee. Less than three hours after arriving at work I was lying on an operating table going into immediate surgery due to six stab wounds I received from a coworker. I was sober at the time and the incident was not directly alcohol related on my part. My attacker fled and did not turn himself in until two days later. When one is fighting for their life they don’t really have the time to see if their assailant has liquor on their breath or dilated pupils.

My struggles would continue long after I was stabbed but in essence it was the beginning of the end of a journey into the deep dark self-love that was revealed to me in both its internal and external forms. One might be led to believe that my mother's suicide and the unprovoked attempt on my natural life were not in any way my fault, and thereby not directly related to some of the trials and tribulations of my interior/spiritual conflict, but I must further enlighten the reader so they might know the spiritual implications. I lived with my mother prior to her taking her life, but chose to move back with my children and their mother. She begged me to stay and I refused. Two months prior to my mother shooting herself over the phone with the 911 operator, she indeed told me that she planned to take her life and I believed that I had talked her out of it. It was my endeavor to convince her to go on living, not out of concern for her life, or what she was going through, but because I did not want to lose her in my life. Even after she told me that she would not do it she made every arrangement to do just that and I refused to see all the evidence of what she had planned although it was right in front of my face. Yes, it is true that if my mother was determined to take her life ultimately I would not have been able to stop her. Yet, if I was not so selfish and might have been empathetic toward her pain, at least I would not have to live with the guilt that will last as long as I live in the natural world. Although unconsciously, this guilt inevitably left me to attempt my own demise through drunkenness, self-destructive behavior, and even my own attempt at literal suicide.

In regard to the attempt on my life, the work environment was extremely hostile without adequate leadership. No one expects the work place to cause one to loose their life, no matter how hostile, yet I knew that I needed to get out of that job, and it would fill many pages to make this evident beyond any doubt, yet it would be easy if space permitted. If it were not for the fact that I was battling alcoholism, I would have been able to remove myself from the situation which was causing stress, anger, and anxiety, even if I would have never been attacked. As a matter of fact, if my lifestyle had not been self-destructive, I would of never sought the job in the first place. In a word, everything that happened was a manifestation of my spiritual state, and my spiritual state was a manifestation of my love of self which led me to seek truth for the sake of gain, respect, and eminence. I would have been okay if I had stayed an atheist and sought secular truth to procure this goal, because ignorance does not cause violence to genuine truth. Once I stepped into the world of genuine/spiritual truth I simply had to be let down into myself as a means to confirm the Divine Truth of the Lord's Words within the Universal Doctrine of The New Church.

Divine Providence is so amazing and I wish I could share with the reader in detail how the only thing that kept me alive was the Lord's love. He kept me in enough of the truth within my understanding to realize what I was going through and why. I would like to end this essay by assuring the reader that at this time my study, prayer, and endeavor corresponds to the regeneration of my soul. I can honestly say that I do not know what will become of my life in the future, but I know that I am on the “narrow” path and I refuse to turn or even look back. I also know that the trials and tribulations of life are indeed a blessing when we survive them and are able to eventually receive our Lord in charity and faith.

Cortland Bell

I am currently a student seeking my Bachelor's degree in criminal justice. I have been studying New Church doctrine/theology for about eighteen years (actually closer to twelve, as I was unable to study effectively for about four to six years due to what is written in Part 2). I have just finished reading/studying volume nine of Arcana Coelestia, (three volumes to go). I now live (to the best of my ability) what I learn. I do have goals, plans, dreams, and aspirations but as the Lord is my witness I have no idea what His Providence has in store for the rest of my life. What I do know is that I am willing and able to follow His will whatever it maybe.