Today I am honored to be guest posting for my internet friend Amy Peterson. She writes about culture, faith, family, and Southeast Asia, which are some of my favorite topics! She is also in ESL education like me. Right now she is running a beautifully honest series called Second Simplicity, on spiritual coming of age stories , and it’s a privilege to share my thoughts as part of this series.
During my sophomore year of high school I went with some friends to a youth service in downtown Nashville. We were in a large room in the basement of a building. The lights in the room were dimmed, but there were disco balls, strobe lights, and the hot white stage lights on the band in the front of the room. There were a bunch of other Christian teenagers there, and everyone was singing and dancing to the bands’ music. I looked around and saw hands raised high into the air, swaying to the beat. I saw faces scrunched in expressions of intense worship: eyes closed, brows furrowed, lips moving in whispered praise. Suddenly a blonde-haired boy in the front row collapsed. Several people around him knelt to catch him before his head hit the floor. He lay there, in a white-and-gray striped shirt, his eyes closed, breathing hard. “Is he okay?” I asked.
One of my friends leaned in. “He’s slain in the spirit,” she said. “You’ve never seen that before?” I shook my head. I’d heard of such things, but I’d never seen them in person.
But as I watched the scene, I realized: I wanted it. I wanted that euphoria. I wanted the Holy Spirit to hit me so hard I couldn’t stand up. I wanted God’s presence to be so strong it overwhelmed me. I wanted to be like these kids, who seemed so cool, so with-it, such Jesus Freaks. I lifted my hand in the air and waved it, just like some of the older people at church did when they got blessed and started shouting “Amens!” in the middle of a service.
I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me. God, send your presence to us now. Let us feel you here with us, I prayed. And he did. I could almost see Jesus himself standing there in under the strobe lights, swaying to the music. I sank to my knees and sat on that cold, hard floor with tears running down my face, thanking Jesus for his faithfulness. My friends knelt to surround me on the floor. “Karissa, are you okay?” one of them asked.
“Yes,” I said dramatically. “Yes! I’m more than okay!”
So it wasn’t being slain in the spirit. But it was close enough to what I wanted: To feel God so much I’d be literally brought to my knees.