By Wendy Sue Noah (Contributor for the Culture of Awareness)
Note from the editor: This story is part of a full memoir by Wendy Sue Noah, which you can find here:
For ten years, I belonged to a religious cult. The group centered around a man whom I first took to be a spiritual master, but who turned out to be extremely abusive, manipulative and controlling. And with him, I had five children.
By the time I’d met this man (when I was thirty), I was already quite successful. But something always seemed to be missing. And this man, a man of powerful presence who sensed my vulnerability, came along at just the right place and time, offering me just what I wanted: the chance for something deeper. And I jumped at it.
Ten years and five babies later, after a slow self-awakening in which I came to question – and then to no longer accept – his abusive treatment of me and my children, this so-called “spiritual master” threw me out on the streets. He was no fool.
In order to preempt my leaving with the children, he took advantage of my long-suffering silence to secure a temporary restraining order, claiming that I was the abusive one. He also took our children away to his sister’s house, where I was refused entry.
And, so, in September of 2007, I found myself homeless, penniless and childless.
How is this a tale of thriving? Well, it is a story about thriving from the inside out, thriving even when you’ve hit ground zero. And if I could manage to do it in such dire circumstances, I know that you can transform your circumstances too, so that you and those around you may truly thrive.
Let me share with you how my transformation took place, and what the path to real transformation looks like.
Yes, I was at ground zero, suddenly an ex-cult member, estranged from family and friends, even my birth name changed – and as well my children taken from me, their births not even recorded in birth certificates.
Shorn of human community, from the bottom of my heart and soul, having nothing left of this world but my connection with the Source, prayer arose out of me:
“Dear God, I have nothing but you. No home, no children, no money, no family… so take me and do what You will — if you want me to have full custody of the children, so be it, I will do whatever I need to do to give them the best life I can.”
I literally had no idea what would happen next, nor if I would ever get to see my precious children again. But that first evening, I felt something that is hard to describe, except to call it an overwhelming sense of peace and love arising right in the midst of total darkness and turmoil.
This is when I intuitively knew that I was not really alone, that I had a Partner by my side. My false belief in a “spiritual master” had now given way to real faith in a Divine connection beyond the challenges of this world. And this faith, I discovered, is the foundation of transformation.
In fact, out of this faithful state of mind and heart, miracle after miracle occurred in my life – but not because I simply sat there and prayed. No WAY! As the Quakers say, “When you pray, move your feet.” My prayer became a marathon race without any end in sight, a steady effort undertaken and accomplished through strength of faith in the Divine.
This faith, this resolve, was already the enactment of transformation: gone were ten years of blind subservience; found was my God self, a confident, intelligent and tenacious woman grounded in grace.
Had I made mistakes? Had I brought my children into an unbalanced world? Yes and yes again – but I was sure in my faith that there was a way forward.
Everything in me – the Source itself – told me that I owed it to my children to give them a chance for a happy and healthy life. And this was already an answer to my prayer.
So don’t be paralyzed by guilt and regret! In faith, just undertake the necessary task at hand. And mine was to save my children from any further abuse and to give them the life they so deserved. Purely and unselfishly, in Divine partnership, I visualized my children enjoying this new life. Yes, visualizing your goal with a pure heart will help give you the strength to accomplish it, and it will also call the universe to what needs to be done.
And so we were on our way! The first major miracle was finding free legal help at a Los Angeles non-profit family law center.
The kind and capable people there spent weeks with me to prepare for the trial that would determine who would get custody of the children. But they also let me know that there was a good chance that I would not win, since it would be very unusual for a judge to award custody of five to a homeless mom without a job.
After many sleepless nights and passionate prayers, our day in court arrived. I hadn’t seen my children for over six weeks, and my heart ached to hold and comfort them. This was the day where the truth would either set us free, or they would continue their imprisonment in an unbalanced, abusive world. It was one of the longest days of my life.
But, against all odds, I was awarded full custodianship! I believe this happened because my pure faith in the rightness of my cause was apparent to the judge, just as the falseness and complicity of the children’s father and his cohorts clearly became apparent.
Together with all of my concerted efforts and the aid of many others – and even in the actions of the perpetrators themselves – the universe had come together to disclose the truth. Faith in this fact can produce wonders.
This was the first of many challenges overcome: homelessness; education; a job; and re-integration into social circles. In each situation, in resolve and awareness, I opened my heart and intuition to the signs of what was next for us, following through with skillful action.
You know, one of my favorite discoveries about how to thrive is this: the more you share, the more blessings will come your way. For example, the one thing I did have with five kids was an abundance of food stamps, so I’d help feed the many people around me that didn’t have as much. And the light in the faces of these folks was already blessing enough.
And so, with great faith, visualized determination, open intuition and compassion, my children and I continue to meet the twists and turns of life. Understanding the great value of this approach, I’ve used the internet to reach out to many, to spread the message of faith-grounded, loving resolve.
And guess what the name of the street is where my children and I now live?! Freeman Ave! Where we are literally free, in heart and soul, thriving in faith and love, as we all can, even in the midst of life’s up’s and downs. I hope you will join me in this wondrous endeavor!