Marian apparitions are a curious matter to me, especially as a Methodist who was never taught about these mysterious incidents. Recently, the one apparition that I’ve focused on is the one in Medjugorge, Croatia, where Our Lady appeared to six different children, and revealed visions of heaven, hell and purgatory.

Among the six children, not all of them received visions of purgatory and hell. Two of the visionaries asked Our Lady to not see Hell, for whatever reasons they had. But each of them saw Heaven.

A recurring theme among the varying visions they saw was that the people there in Heaven were truly, fully happy. Everybody they saw in Heaven looked to be no older than 30, and old age had apparently disappeared. The places they saw were far more beautiful than anything here on Earth.

The account that was shortest, but caught my attention the most, was Jakov’s.

Loneliness on Earth

It is important to note that along with Vicka, one of the other visionaries, Jakov was actually taken physically into Heaven, rather than seeing it in a vision.

Rather than reveal what he saw there, Jakov chose instead to say to his interviewer that if he were to dwell too much on his time in Heaven, he would die of loneliness. He went further, noting that living on Earth after being in Heaven was incredibly difficult.

Who can blame him? What earthly thing can hope to compare with the beauty and peace he must’ve felt in Heaven?

I think there are times when we, too, can get overwhelmed with that deep longing for Heaven. For an escape from our own loneliness, despair, and suffering. Jakov probably felt that ultimate release while he was taken to Heaven, and I can only imagine how hard it still is for him to not be there right now.

I’ve had many moments when all I wanted was to go to Heaven and be free from all of the negative here on Earth. And like many other people, something else that deepens that desire is my wish to see my deceased loved ones again.

What is the “Tyranny of Memories”?

The most profound part of Jakov’s account of his visit Heaven was the bit of advice he gave to his interviewer after being asked how he handles his memories of his experiences.

All he said was that Our Lady wants us to be careful about the tyranny of memories. Rather, she wants us to give up the pain of the past to her and God, so that we can be freed from that burden.

Reading this made me cry almost instantly, because it struck a deep chord in me. This is a problem that can be monumentally difficult to overcome, because trauma can take a long time to heal from.

Thank goodness Our Lady addressed this, because victims of trauma need help to survive the pain of what was done to them, of what they were forced to experience.

A major part of our pain can stem from the shame of feeling powerless to prevent what happened. Victims of any form of abuse or assault, especially, can potentially feel that they are to blame for “allowing” their torment to occur, even though what happened will never be their fault.

Going further, past trauma can easily affect how an individual perceives the world and others. Trust issues, paranoia and anxiety can form from the damage suffered, and can cripple the victim daily. The fear of the pain happening again, and thus the constant drive to avoid it is understandable, because who would want to suffer their trauma all over again?

What all of us who are hurting need to remember is that we are not to blame for what happened to us. Our oppressors, perpetrators and enemies are the ones responsible for the horrific choices they deliberately made against us. As Jakov told his interviewer, we have divine assistance readily available for us to call on, powerful help in our journey towards healing.

My Own Tyrannical Memories

As I mentioned in another article, I once had to deal with a group of atrociously homophobic girls in a dorm two years ago. One of these girls, the presumed leader of the group, had a bizarre obsession with my daily habits on our floor…to be specific, how much time she thought I spent in the restroom.

Somehow, probably through the peephole in her door (which, conveniently for her, gave her a marvelous view of the hall containing my room and the adjacent bathroom), this girl was able to figure out when I entered the restroom. There were two separate occasions when I would be in there, simply washing my face, and I heard her and one of her friends, standing right outside the door and whispering about me.

Ever since then, I get on edge whenever I hear anybody whisper just outside my room’s door (in a different dorm, thankfully). Just a few weeks ago, around 2:00 a.m., I heard two guys whispering and laughing about something right outside my door, and, well, I clenched up and got quite paranoid. I was afraid that I was experiencing that stalking crap all over again.

I never want to experience that nonsense ever again, and I hate admitting that it’s affected me that badly.

For a while after I moved out of that toxic dorm, there was a frustrating period of time where I would face verbal homophobic harassment from random strangers that occurred on a weekly basis. I didn’t know how to predict who would be the next perpetrators, and when it would happen. And so, my paranoia didn’t go away, and I borderline distrusted every single stranger that walked into my path unless they made it clear that they meant me no harm.

Truth be told, that distrust and paranoia towards strangers hasn’t fully gone away yet, because I want to feel prepared to stop it from happening again. There are times when I’m on edge in public, when I think that there’s more homophobic, malicious drivel coming my way. But, as one can imagine, this behavior isn’t helping me, and has been a real problem in developing new friendships. My general trust in others has plummeted over the last few years, because in my opinion, people seem to have a disturbing capacity for malice that can be provoked easily.

I definitely need spiritual help in letting go of my fears, of my memories of what happened to me, and Jakov’s advice was something I desperately needed to hear.