“It was so deeply embedded in my heart that I was a worthless, unvalued and unloved person,” said Jan Tijmes, of the years before his spiritual awakening. “I never had attention as a child; no one looking into my eyes, looking into my soul, showing me I had worth and value by giving me their time.” His Dutch-German family, fleeing the political upheaval in Chile in the early 1970s, arrived in America, and struggled to adjust to changes in climate, language and culture. Jan’s parents’ divorce and his mother’s remarriage thrust him into a blended family that would mark him and sour his adult relationships. “I didn’t feel like I belonged. I had a deep sense that my father had rejected me; I was angry that I wasn’t getting the kind of love and attention my mother could give. As the middle child, I kept my older and younger brothers in line. I lived with an impending sense of doom. I became controlling and extremely rebellious, doing things my own way to create an illusion of safety in my life. I went into my teens growing extremely resentful.”
“I struggle with being in my head and overthinking things. If you were a normal person, you could probably see the struggles that I was having internally. I was so much in the Twilight Zone, so much in denial and delusion about my life, I would have told you that everything was fine, and that any day now my life was going to be amazing, and that I would have a breakthrough, and things were going to get better,” Jan said. Instead, he began using alcohol and other substances to numb the pain, and exploring eastern mysticism to see if he could find the peace, wisdom, order and discipline he craved. “In my 20s, I started to use spiritual drugs. I could go to a world that I knew was real, I could play there and experience some peace for the inner struggle that I was experiencing. But it never lasted.”
Jan went to Texas A&M, earned a degree in environmental engineering, and began his career. “I was a classic alcoholic, moving every two years. I knew I had to start over sober, so I began taking antibutes and self-medicating to stay sober,” Jan said. He was working in Colorado and decided to spend the weekend with friends and family. He hit the bottle as he hit the road, and at about midnight, he blacked out, veered off the road into the center median, flipped his Subaru several times, and ended up in ICU for five days, where doctors worked to save his severely damaged leg. “There were a number of surgeries to rebuild my left leg. But we were in ski country with the world’s best knee doctors and knee surgeons there, and they saved my leg,” Jan said. Even as he lay in the hospital bed, with his parents crying in another room, he wondered if he could still keep drinking. Then it occurred to him, ‘Maybe this is my bottom,’ and he prayed. “I felt tingles all over, and I knew that the spirit of alcoholism was forever removed from my life. No longer would I have that desire to drink again. What I didn’t realize was that God had only removed the 8% of the iceberg that floats above the surface, and the 92% below the surface was the pain in my heart that I still had to deal with.”
After three months of rehab, when life was starting to return to normal, Jan began to question the reality of his experience. He had attended private Christian schools, had miraculous answers to very specific prayers, and had seen a neighbor’s life radically transformed by faith. “Something in my heart was calling me into a deeper life and spirituality. I knew it was angelic power that kept me alive, but I didn’t surrender to God. I went full force for ten years into the New Age. I went as deep as one could. I made people my higher powers: gurus, spiritual teachers, psychics; I went from cult to cult, always gaining in knowledge but never in wisdom,” Jan recalled. He left engineering, cashed out his retirement accounts, and began to devote himself to studying, practicing and teaching New Age. His search for truth led him to India, and then to Sedona, places he refers to as “spiritual Six Flags”. He led and participated in spiritual retreats, taught meditation, personal development, and healing. He worked from home as a spiritual healer in an international phone-based business, and created YouTube videos about how to have a perfect life. “I became adept at healing modalities, but my heart was in the wrong place. I would take everyone’s info and sell it and use it for my personal gain. My inner heart was festering, and the pain was still present. I was still trying to get love. I was still extremely afraid of things that happened in childhood. Most of my motivations were tied to proving myself to my father. I was still trying to prove my self-worth,” Jan recalled.
“The enemy knew I had a tender heart bent towards God at a very young age. Without strong mentorship in my life, the enemy really did speak into my heart, my mind and my soul–in my formative years when I was going through those struggles–and derailed me for a long time,” Jan recalled. Finally, when Jan was coming to the end of himself, God introduced two people who took the time to get to know him, and they persuaded him to enter a recovery program. He didn’t think he needed it, since he wasn’t drinking anymore, but he soon realized he had to deal with his other addictions. “There was so much pain and brokenness inside of me. I had been a taker my whole life, never a giver. There was hypervigilance and control, and I couldn’t let go. I never felt welcomed anywhere. I find dysfunctional relationships everywhere I go. There was a lot of abuse. I was the cause of a lot of that,” Jan lamented. “The most important thing that has helped me is strong discipleship. Mentorship is so important,” Jan said.
Then he met Jesus, the ultimate disciple maker. “I couldn’t believe God came in human form and died for my sins. After I went through ten years of New Age, practicing every technique under the sun, understanding magic, controlling energy, spirits, angelic work, and akrastic records, I realized the magic Jesus did when He came here, fulfilling all the prophecies, finding the perfect connection and bringing all of it together in a way where He did defeat death, hell and the grave, and provided perfect redemption for me. [The Apostle] Paul says that we have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven (Ephesians 1:3). As I’m reading that, I experience His warmth of forgiveness, and I know that I have an eternal life. I’m not stuck in the wheel of the cycle of birth and death, which l learned when I was trained as a buddhist. I went so deep in that path looking for reason, hope, and healing for my heart. At the end of all of that addiction, at the end of divorce, at the end of all these things I did to practice finding peace and comfort, was Jesus Christ. And this loving Father came into my life. No one had to tell me about Jesus, He just appeared the deeper I went into confessing my past and walking through the 12 steps of recovery.
By God’s grace, Jan has been recovering for the past seven years, and now helps others on their own recovery journeys. He currently works as an environmental engineer in Sedona, Arizona, where he lives with his wife of four years, and her children. They recently bought a house. “Today I can tell you that I am a child of God. I am very much loved, I am valuable in the kingdom of God. I’m worthwhile, I’m a success. He cares for me. I know these things and they are starting to come into my heart for the first time in my life.”