Candice Sumera moved into a 60-story old hotel in New York City after high school — a hotel she believed was haunted, but it provided affordable housing for drama students. She thought her suspicions confirmed when voices woke her one night.

“It sounded like … many people … calling my name,” Candice said. “It was the strangest, most honestly frightening thing that happened. … For whatever reason, I feel like I’m one of those people who is a little more open to the spirit world, and they’re attracted to me.” 

She thought she was going crazy at first, but then she realized it was the culmination of a lifelong interest in the paranormal, beginning with her childhood and the deity she named “Spirit.”

An Introduction to the Supernatural

Living as a truther, better known as a conspiracy theorist, Candice came from a diverse background — an atheist father born in India and a protestant mother not devoted to her faith. Candice’s parents raised her without any belief system. 

Still, she felt a connection to God even from a young age. She didn’t know exactly what she was connected to, but she felt there was a higher power, something greater than humanity, and she just needed to find it. So she called this higher power “Spirit.”

It was her older half-sister who officially introduced her to God. When Candice was only a child, she’d open a tiny Bible her sister gave her and read the red words. But without anyone teaching her, she didn’t understand anything she read. Her interest faded as her confusion grew, and she went back to the ways of her parents. 

Her mother picked up a book on New Age topics — with a forward by Shirley Maclain, if that tells you anything — when Candice was a young teen. This book started Candice on the path of New Age spirituality, particularly reincarnation. 

Throughout the years, Candice continued feeling that presence, the indescribable feeling that we aren’t alone. Instead of learning about Jesus and God, though, she skewed to the supernatural as an explanation. 

After high school, Candice headed to New York City to study acting. That’s when she moved into the allegedly haunted building where she heard spirits call her name.

Brainwashed

A few years after her spirit experience, an acting teacher got Candice involved in Scientology, and she delved even deeper into the supernatural. 

“I was looking for somebody and something to believe in,” Candice said. 

As she got deeper and deeper into the cult, she started neglecting other aspects of her life. She worked, went to acting class and practiced Scientology. There wasn’t time for other outlets, friends or family. 

By her mid-20s, Candice returned to her home in California where she was heavily involved in Scientology, although she didn’t call herself a “Scientologist.” She was interested in the self-help aspects of the cult. Looking back, though, she realizes she was brainwashed. 

“I felt like I was dying,” Candice said. “My life force was leaving me. My life was so bleak. I had been pursuing my dreams, and now I found myself in a prison that I didn’t know how to escape.” 

Breaking Point 

One day, a thought popped into her head, a whisper she couldn’t place, saying, “You will never find God on this path.” 

“I was a mess,” Candice said. “I was totally empty. I was totally depleted, and for some reason, just that one thing, ‘You will never find God on this path,’ kind of woke me up.” 

She left the acting class she loved, the one that got her started in Scientology, and felt like a prisoner who had been released — free, enlightened, but also scared and alone. 

Candice started questioning whom she was following — was it the spirit from her youth, the acting coach or God? She set out on a journey to discover whom she wanted to follow. 

She downloaded books, speeches and podcasts from spiritualists like Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and other yogis. After exploring a lot of mystics, even becoming a practicing sound healer, Candice got a job working on a reality show for cats. 

Candice appeared on the show after struggling with her husband’s cat. They planned to rehome the animal, but the show edited her story to make her out as against animals. She started getting hate mail, angry emails and fake Yelp reviews on her business, all by angry cat-lovers telling her she was a horrible person. They even told her she was unfit to be a mother to a human, much less a cat. 

That was her breaking point. After ghosts, Scientology and trying to make it in Hollywood, it was a reality TV show about cats and the cyberbullying that broke Candice. 

Redemption

Candice felt compelled to buy a Bible. So she went to Barnes and Noble, purchased a Bible, sat down and started reading. 

“Maybe I need to become religious,” Candice thought. “Maybe this time I really believe in God, the God of religion, because the god I have been entrusting in has been majorly messing with me. … My life is a mess.”

She started in Genesis, but it didn’t go well. All the conspiracy videos and ideas she believed in darkened her view of God. Growing angry, she closed her Bible and decided yet again to search for purpose anywhere except God. 

This new direction for purpose started as a YouTube channel. She created it as a way for her to share her views on New Age meditation, Scientology and the different philosophies she loved. 

Yet even with this newfound purpose, Candice was miserable. She felt depressed and still lost, even after all the journeys, all the healing rituals, all the retreats, all the signs. 

Until one night when she cried out in despair. 

“‘Jesus, if you are real, I need you,’” Candice said. “‘I really need you, like I’m so lost, and you are my last hope because I haven’t found God, a real god, a personal god.’”

Jesus answered her in that moment. 

“I felt His presence envelope me, and I knew it was Jesus,” Candice said. “I felt like I was being held and very gently being shown why I was experiencing what I was experiencing.”  

Since that night, Candice changed her ways. She gave up the New Age practices. She started studying the Bible and felt convicted to change her life. 

“I knew, without a doubt, that Jesus is real and He is who He says He is, and I need to be following Jesus,” Candice said. 

As for those who are dealing with New Age practices, Candice has a few words of wisdom: “Stop looking for signs, people. Look for Jesus.”

Image via Pexels.