From the height of my life to a collapse, I finally decided to reach out and see if perhaps heaven could help.
For the next year I blocked the ghost event out of my mind as I began my new job at Spotify. I was not about to let one strange, potentially supernatural experience be the foundation for changing my atheist views. And even if I was going to let it change my views, what in the world would I change them to? “Excuse me, sir?” from a strange female ghost in an AirBnB in London gave me no tangible information other than hinting maybe there was more to life than our classical materialistic perspective.
My job at Spotify was incredible, and I felt like I was on the top of the world for about eight or nine months. This was the engineers dream that I had been working toward my entire atheist life! I was dating eastern european women, living in the “hip” country on the planet with the best rating for human rights, and working at a company that had just gone IPO. This was the highest point for me.
But after around six months things started to crumble. One manager in particular began to be super hostile toward me. My personal life was a mixture of ups and downs, and a woman I was dating - who I had been warned was probably trouble - attacked me after an argument where I asked her to leave my apartment, broke my hand, and then insinuated that if I called the police she was just going to lie about what happened. This was right during the #metoo movement as well so I suspected nobody would believe my story. It felt like everything was turning against me and this liberal atheist utopia was not nearly as innocent as I thought.
Around this time I had a short vacation to Ibiza. My friends and I met up with some girls and one of them was a proud scientific atheist. She announced that she could explain anything paranormal. Suddenly for the first time in nearly nine months, I remembered my ghost experience in London. Maybe this girl could explain it? After telling the story, she got super quiet. She tried a few simple explanations and then gave up. It began to dawn on me that maybe I did have a solid paranormal or spiritual experience, after all? As I thought about it more, I realized my one experience checked off all the boxes I could think about for confirming a supernatural event. What if the experience was the answer to my prayer for some form of "evidence" that was not only in my head? And if it was an answer to my prayer, what in the world could it possibly mean? A disembodied female voice announcing greetings outside a shower door is no basis for a religion.
In February of 2019, an international paperwork mixup at Spotify with the stock management company caused a glitch which nearly lead to all of my options at the company being sold and accidentally sent to the IRS as taxes. In a full-blown panic while I was filling out the paperwork at the last minute in an attempt to hit a one hour deadline before all my money went “poof” to the United States government I got a text from a girl I really liked saying she enjoyed our date but was pretty busy and would not be able to meet anytime soon. Dropping my paperwork, I replied angrily. This was the worst timing. First my boss turns against me, then a coworker starts bullying me, then a girl breaks my hand and now not only am I in the middle of potentially losing all my Spotify stocks, but a girl rejects me on the same day?
That night I lost it. I was at my dream job, in my dream country, living my atheist life and events were just continuing to be against me. It felt like I was fighting against something. Seething, I went to bed that night and tried to sleep. Because I was waiting for a reply on the paperwork I sent, which was in New York timezone, I was not going to know if it made it in time to stop the draining of my account until 4am.
In my rage and insomnia, I started thinking.
I thought about my family. My one Christian brother had a great wife and several beautiful children and he seemed rather content and happy. Heck, even their cockatoo seemed happier than me. My other brother, despite being even more of a rebel in many ways than me, got married as well and seemed to be putting his life together. My family may be desperately wrong about their religion, but they seemed to be happier than me. How was it that I was pursuing this life of radical devotion to the truth and my life sucked so much? How was it that these intellectually hypocritical Christians had it better than me?
But then I got to thinking about my life. I mean, I was a hypocrite too. After all, I was angry that this girl rejected me, but I had literally just rejected a girl a week before so I could date this new girl. I really had no right to be mad. In fact, I had no right to be mad at anybody. Sure, some of my friends were making more money than me back in the United States, but it was my choice to go to Sweden. It was my choice to not get married to one of the sweet women that liked me when I was younger so that instead I could play the field. It was my choice to not have kids and settle down back at home like my brother. It was my decisions that lead to me being alone and in a country with lower salaries and higher taxes. It was my decisions that lead me to being a rational atheist and ignoring my hearts pleas for meaning.
Then I again remembered the voice from the AirBnB and broke down. Maybe there was something to the supernatural. Certainly at least one spirit seemed willing to reach out, so maybe there was more? I could sure use it right now. I decided to pray a simple prayer, alone in my bedroom:
“God, or whatever you are, I am so sorry. I am so sorry for being so hypocritical. I have been living my life completely for myself, completely selfishly. If there is any chance you are there and listening, please help me. I don’t want to live my life for myself anymore.”