The Wisdom of Solomon
When I was a little kid, I used to pray to God to bless me with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, like the great King Solomon. I asked over and over, from the depths of my heart. Well, looky here now — the sapiosexuals can’t get enough of me. It is what it is. Jokes aside though, King Solomon was my favorite Bible character. Being young and impressionable, I thought that perhaps I could emulate the great man. You see, at that time, I had a deep-rooted, almost manic desire to prove that I was better than all of my peers at school. That’s what I thought being the wisest meant.
As I grew older, however, I lost the naivete that made me believe in God and Bible stories. I had a million questions, and too many things just didn’t make sense. There were simply too many inconsistencies in religion. Slowly, the fascination with King Solomon faded. I believed that whatever accolades I garnered were down to my hard work and talent, not some nebulous, invisible being. I renounced my Faith.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally gotten to appreciate the gravity of King Solomon’s prayer. My life experiences have taught me that true divine wisdom, the kind King Solomon was blessed with, is not about knowing more stuff than everyone else. It’s not about being able to answer every possible existential question. All of that’s fool’s gold. See, true wisdom is more akin to basic common sense. But, alas, as the colloquialism goes, common sense isn’t always common.
My quest to acquire wisdom was a very painful one, one that had me plumb some hellacious depths. For years, I was a stubborn fool. I sought counsel in vain pursuits, like books. Now books are great, don’t get me wrong. They provide us with priceless knowledge. But books lose their value without the underlying understanding of their vanity. Maybe you’ve found Nirvana in one of the million self-help manuals out there, and if you have, then great. But in my experience, there isn’t a single book that’s been written that can fill the emptiness of the human soul. Whatever knowledge is gained from books, as with anything else, will only leave you with yet more questions if you don’t have the foundation of Godly wisdom. That’s my truth. King Solomon was blessed to understand this uniquely, and now I get it too.
Let me switch gears for a minute here. It’ll all come together in the end, I promise. I’ve found that many manic episodes have a spiritual component to them. People have postulated theories for why this is the case, and I have my own answer. It’s taken me a while to put it together, but I’m now finally able to articulate all that I was thinking and why I acted the way I did during my manic episode (I had one too, in case you weren’t aware). I achieved this clarity through my Faith in God. But I must acknowledge, lest I come off as delusional, that my actions had very damaging consequences. I’m not denying this. I also know that there are millions of people who don’t believe in God or any supernatural phenomena. As for those folks, it’s my sincere hope that by sharing this story with you, you might pause and reconsider your stance on the subject. And for those who already believe, I hope that you absorb this message as further proof of your conviction.
The Divine Visitation
In December 2015, I’d been living with severe undiagnosed depression for a long time. I was down on my luck, in a job I thought was unbefitting, and stuck in a rut, with no discernible way out. I couldn’t figure shit out, no matter how hard I tried. It seemed as if everyone was moving along in life without me. How was it possible that I, from whom so much had been expected, could find myself in this predicament? I had hit rock-bottom. My confidence, my self-esteem lay shattered to pieces. And I kept it all bottled in. But one fateful night, in the throes of my despair, I finally found the inspiration to do something I had not done in a long time, about 7 years to be exact. I decided to pray. The problem was I had forgotten how to do so! So I just went with the simplest prayer I knew, from my elementary school days. The days when I still believed. It was The Lord’s Prayer. I wasn’t even sure that this would help. But I muddled through the words anyway.
After saying this prayer, I went to sleep. The next day came, and I went about my business. At the time, I worked as a tutor for grade school kids. At some point, my mother reached out to me, and we had a conversation where she told me that there was a Bible scripture she thought I should read — my mom always suggested reading the Bible as a solution to my issues — and that I should make sure to meditate on it. The passage was Deuteronomy chapter 8. Mind you, I hadn’t so much as opened a Bible in years. But this time, for whatever reason, I listened to my mother, and upon getting home in the evening, settled down to read this passage. And then the most peculiar thing happened. The words sounded like they were directed precisely at me!
“Therefore know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens thee.”
— Deuteronomy 8:5
It was stunning how relatable the entire chapter was for me, and I couldn’t help but bawl like a baby when I got to this verse in particular. Years of pent up emotion came pouring out of me involuntarily as I felt an acute sense of realization — the realization that I’d been suffering the whole time because I’d lost my Faith. But there was more. I could sense another presence in the room. I reflexively shut my eyes because it seemed like I could not bear to look at whatever it was. It felt like something pure, yet exceedingly powerful at the same time. Its aura filled the entire space, and there was no doubting its palpability. And then it hit me, with the force of a thousand bricks. I’d been visited by the spirit of God! Scared shitless, but also elated, I ran out of the room in a mixture of excitement and panic. I wasn’t to know it at that moment, but this was the start of my manic episode.
The phenomenon of actually “seeing” God is, to put it mildly, scary, but exhilarating at the same time. And fool that I was, I thought that this happened to me because I was special. The next day, I went straight to my friends to tell them about my breakthrough. I was going to write a fantastic bestseller. Now that I had the answer, I was going to make everyone believe. My fellow agnostics would definitely be on board since I was one of them, right? I was completely oblivious to the fact that this was the exact kind of story I used to scoff at, stories about miracles and such nonsense. My ego was stoked, and I became full of myself, to the point of delusion.
After seeing The Creator, I felt a oneness with every single living being. I felt omniscient, like I understood all the finest existential mysteries. I was overcome by how much love I had for all of humanity. My senses were amplified beyond recognition. I wanted to cure the world of all its ills. My ego had now blown up into a full blown messianic complex. And somewhere in the middle of my delusion, I decided to assume the responsibility of dying for the sins of everyone, like Jesus. I was able to make that decision, rationally I thought, because I now had proof that there was indeed life beyond death, that death was not the end of the believer’s existence.
Would you believe me if I told you that while I appeared insane, deep within my soul, I felt at peace? No matter what was going on, stripping off my clothes, running into the street — it felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do. That this was part of God’s plan for me. The demons tried to make me doubt my conviction. But I could hear a multitude of angels reassuring me that it’d all be okay. Telling me not to be scared. I could hear them singing, cheering me on. Their voices were clearly different from those of the goading demons. It felt like I was an actor on a stage, just playing my role. At times, the force of the attacks would overwhelm me, and I would scream out in physical pain, but, and this might not make any sense to you, I only felt myself getting stronger. Legions came, but none of them mattered. They couldn’t harm even a single hair on my head, an angel cheekily whispered in my ear. I laughed out loud, my confidence growing. To the naked eye, I appeared to be yelling at thin air, cackling maniacally. Slowly but surely, however, the demons receded. It became clear to them that my Faith was not to be shaken. And I became calm again.
The reason why the demons were able to get to me was that I did not have enough Faith. No, scratch that. After beholding the image of God prior to my meltdown, I did have Faith, tons of it. But as believers know, our Faith must surely be tested in this life. By showing Himself to me in the beginning, God prepared me for what I was to face. I had the iron-clad proof that He would see me through. I’d stopped being misled by the demon of Doubt. And when Pride, my greatest flaw, had me in its clutches, had me thinking myself the Messiah, had me called insane, it was Faith that rescued me. God, in His infinite mercy, chose to give me a second chance at it because He loves me.
Master of Demons
Alright, let’s wrap this up by circling back to King Solomon once more. Some parts of that story might have been tough to read, and yes, it wasn’t easy for me to write either. Dredged up some harrowing memories. But I now realize that my travails were simply God answering the heartfelt prayers of a young, naive boy, in His own inimitable way. It might sound cliche but it’s true — the greatest treasures require us to travel the most perilous paths to acquire them. One of God’s names is Ad-Darr, The Distressor. He is also Ar-Rashid, The Guide through distress. He works in unimaginable, mysterious ways. Sure, I took the most scenic of routes, as was necessary. But my sincere request as a little kid was eventually granted by the Bestower of the Best Bounties.
Yes, King Solomon’s unmatched wits led to him becoming the richest and most famous of all the kings of Israel before and after him. He lived a splendorous life, built all the monuments, married the thousand wives and concubines. But despite the trappings, his life journey was no picnic, far from it. There was tremendous responsibility that came with King Solomon’s wisdom. It was a hefty burden to carry, one that entailed severe emotional pain and sorrow. It was the greatest blessing, but one that came with plenty of agony. For to whom much is given, much must be tested. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he muses:
I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind;
For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Sometimes, reading through some parts of Ecclesiastes, it might seem as though the words were those of a despondent, broken man. But here’s what I’ve discerned from reading that book — King Solomon knew that he was always going to be okay. He did not lose Faith in God, as some opine. Through the highs and lows of mania and depression evident in his published works, he stuck gamely to his assigned task of doing The Lord’s work. Writing those timeless proverbs. He was able to conquer his demons thanks to his perfect understanding that God was the source of all of his accomplishments. He was a quintessential demonstration of the application of wisdom even in the midst of life’s storms, the perfect exemplar. And he did it all with ease. Peace be upon him.
See, mastering demons doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect on you. Heck, living with bipolar disorder as I do can be extremely difficult. I’m beset by my demons all the time. But I’m no longer debilitated by them. We co-exist in harmony. My demons don’t frighten me one bit, because I now have the compass required to navigate through them unscathed, thanks to King Solomon’s example. I have the strength to take on legions. And by the grace of God, I’m winning my battles every day, one step at a time.
I’m not satisfied with that, though. I’m driven to share what I have learned in my journey with the world, and hopefully, by so doing, help as many people as I can win their battles too. My message is this — Faith in God is the foundation you need to take on any demon you might be struggling with in your life. Peace only comes when you submit your heart to Him. Put Him first, and everything else falls into place. Now the ball’s in your court. The Heir of Solomon has told his tale.
Make of it what you will.