Out of Darkness
By Stormie Omartian
Once you recognize the darkness for what it is, it is possible to walk out of it and into the light for the rest of your ife. I desperately needed restoration, and I found transformation! If I could find it, anyone who wants it can find it too!
Escape to Nowhere
In 1969, I worked in television as one of four female singers and dancers on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Glen was the best, but the work was challenging—and I suffered from chronic doubt about my abilities. Besides two TV series a week, I crammed every spare hour with recording sessions and commercials. I was obsessed with working. It helped me minimize my deep feelings of inadequacy and enabled me to keep a tighter rein on the depression and fear that always threatened to control my life. Depression was something I dealt with daily. For most of my life, at least as far back as age13, I awakened every morning to the thought, Should I kill myself now or can I make it through another day? Unfortunately, I believed I was only as good as my last performance, so when a job was over, so were my good feelings about myself and my life.
Despite the frightening aspects of the occult, I was irresistibly drawn to it. I was desperate for anything that could possibly fill my emptiness inside, soothe the intense emotional pain I felt, and quell the unreasonable fear that threatened to control my mind. There had to be an answer for me. From Ouija boards to horoscopes, to seances, no matter how I tried to think good thoughts, the fear, depression, anxiety, and panic in me grew worse. Peace eluded me.
After two close-death encounters from drugs and alcohol, I knew I had to correct my lifestyle or I was going to self-destruct. Every day I entertained suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t really want to die. Wishing that I didn’t have to live alone, I resolved that I would not live alone. Marriage was the answer, and Rick was the most likely candidate. I had known him the longest of all the fellows I had dated, and we were somewhat compatible. Despite pleas from a friend and Christian musician, Michael Omartian, that I not marry Rick, I was getting married. I had to settle for some amount of security and reprieve from my intense loneliness and fear.
After marriage, my loneliness actually increased daily, along with my fear and self-doubt. I needed more from Rick than he could give, and I resented him for not being able to give it. And the growing bitterness toward Rick was taking its toll on my body. I was frequently ill. I felt ugly and old. All the choices I had made for my life that I thought would save it were killing me.
Living in Darkness
One day, a friend who knew I was struggling called to give me the name of a psychologist. My emotional affliction had been affecting my work! With the assurance that the doctor gave “good advice,” I made an appointment. Not being able to hold in my emotions any longer, I blurted out all my problems to this man. With reassuring words, Dr. Foreman suggested that I open a few doors from my past to see that what was once so frightening no longer posed any threat to me.
I took a deep breath and slowly began with my earliest recollection. I was four years old, sitting cross-legged on top of the large laundry basket that was filled to overflowing with dirty clothes. I waited in the darkness of the small closet beneath the stairway of our old, two-story ranch house, not daring to get down from my position because of the mice that frequently scurried across the floor.
My mother was always angry with me. Her bitter anger was so frightening that I had frequent nightmares about her. When she told me that I was ugly, stupid, bad, and would never amount to anything, I realized I was a very undesirable person. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, futility, rejection, abandonment, sadness, fear, and self-hatred settled heavily on me. These were words too big for me to fully understand or verbalize at age four, but they were genuine feelings I experienced every day.
Throughout my adolescence and high school years, Mother’s behavior was erratic and volatile. Her behavior made no sense. I was always aware of the fact that I lived in a crazy house—not like the homes of normal people. There was no laughter, no fun, no peace in our lives, and no hope for it ever being different. My last year in college I learned that my father had consulted a doctor who diagnosed my mother’s mental illness with a string of medical terms of which “schizophrenic” and “paranoid” were the only ones I understood. So, it was officially confirmed: There was something definitely wrong with my mother, something that had a name.
It was during this time too that I learned that I was pregnant. The news devastated me. Marriage was out of the question, and suicide was a solution to my terrifying dilemma of being pregnant and unmarried. The weight of the world was on my shoulders, but I knew that my dad and younger sister needed me. There was just one place left to turn. I drove to Tijuana, Mexico, for an abortion. I knew the risks. I had wanted to die so many times in my life, and now the thought frightened me. I prayed silently, “God, please let me live and I’ll be good.”
For years I had dreamed of doing the things I was now doing, but all of the modeling, commercials, television shows, and acting could not convince me I was attractive or talented. I still saw myself as ugly and unacceptable—a failure who would never amount to anything, as my mother always reminded me. And all my grasping for love caused me to end up in the same situation that two years earlier I had promised God would never happen again. I got pregnant. Getting pregnant was definitely a bad career move, and without my career, I would cease to exist. In contrast to the last abortion, when I felt relieved to be alive, this time I felt depression, failure, and disgust. It had been so ugly.
Finding the One True Light
Dr. Foreman listened to my story unfold over a number of months and helped me gain some perspective, but neither of us could understand the origin of my mother’s hatred toward me. Then one day, Terry, a Christian friend who knew I wasn’t doing well, asked me to come with her to meet her pastor. “What have you got to lose?” she insisted. I looked at the devastation of my life and clearly saw that she was right—I certainly had nothing to lose.
Pastor Jack listened intently as I shared about my depression and fear. Then he asked, “Have you ever heard of the term born again?” He explained that being born again is a spiritual birth, not a physical birth. It’s the opportunity to not only secure your eternal future, but your future in this life as well—to begin life anew, with your past forgiven and buried.
Pastor Jack gave me a reading assignment, including the Gospel of John, which gave me something tangible to do while looking forward to our next meeting. Later, meeting with Terry and the pastor, I confessed that I didn’t believe in the devil. Pastor Jack calmly explained that the devil wanted me to believe that he didn’t exist, that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, and that the Holy Spirit wasn’t working with power in my life right then. “That way,” he said, “you are rendered totally powerless.”
The book of John was making things a little clearer for me. Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” I didn’t fully understand, but I recognized that the light had been there all along, but I couldn’t see it. My spiritual eyes were so blinded that I had chosen darkness over His light, and I didn’t even know it. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
When Pastor Jack asked if I wanted to receive Jesus and be born again, I said, surprisingly without any hesitation, “Yes, I do.” It was simple and easy. I was born again, and according to the Bible, I was the Lord’s and His Spirit lived in me. And that is how I knew the Lord would change me from the inside out. I sensed a supernatural presence of love so powerful that it permeated the air and washed over me. There’s life here, I thought to myself. And this life is real.
All that remained between Rick and me was resentment. When I told Rick that Jesus had changed my life, he demanded that the name of Jesus never be mentioned in our house again. That, plus the fact that Rick was becoming even more critical and cruel, pushed me to the edge. I couldn’t take it after that. I moved out the next morning. I had nothing much left, but I had the church and the Lord. I had received the Lord into my life, and at this point, I gave Him mine.
After a year of dating and going to church together, Michael Omartian asked me to marry him. We prayed together and sought to discover God’s plans for our lives. Good things were happening in my career, but I continued to struggle with depression. Thoughts of suicide still plagued me. With Michael’s encouragement, I made an appointment with the church counseling office.
Mary Anne knew the Word of God and had great faith to see people set free from emotional pain. She explained that through our sin, evil spirits influence our lives and bring about oppression and torment in the form of fear and suicidal thoughts. She instructed me to pray and fast during the following week.
When I returned to the office the second time, I renounced all my occult involvement and alignments with the realm of darkness. I listed my failures and confessed my sins, particularly unforgiveness toward my mother. Then Mary Anne and another pastor’s wife prayed over me. They addressed the spirits that had an oppressive hold on my life: spirits of futility, despair, fear, rejection, and spirits of suicide and torment. She told me that Jesus had the keys to unlock the places in me where I had been held prisoner all my life. As they prayed, I felt the physical manifestation of my depression leave, like an enormous burden lifted off my shoulders.
I left the office dazed and almost numb. The next morning, I awoke without any feelings of depression whatever. No thoughts of suicide, no heaviness in my chest, no fearful anticipation of the future, no anxiety. I never again experienced those paralyzing feelings. Though depressing things happen in life, depression never controlled me from that time on. I had gone into that counseling office knowing Jesus as Savior; I came out knowing Him as my Deliverer.
A Word About Deliverance
Deliverance from darkness happens in different ways at different times. Sometimes it happens simply by spending time in God’s presence and walking in obedience to Him. Sometimes it happens by crying out to God in prayer and exalting Him in praise. Sometimes it happens in the counseling office with the guidance of trained and qualified Christian counselors. But no matter how it happens, it’s only Jesus—the Deliverer—who can truly set us free. He is the One True Light who comes to burn away the darkness that tries to separate us from all God has for us.
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And upon those who sat in the… shadow of death, Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
That was me. I had been living in the shadow of death and thought I could never escape it. That was the big lie I had accepted. But the Lord Jesus—the One True Light—dawned on me and I have never been the same. I felt it! I knew it!