What’s considered "good" and "bad" on Earth, it might surprise us to hear, is diametrically the opposite of how things work in the afterlife. Earthly comforts are not coveted in eternity. But hardships are gladly taken as joy.
So says Penny Wittbrodt, 52, a retired nurse from Kentucky, who attests to having two distinct near-death experiences (NDEs), respectively in 2014 and 2016, after suffering anaphylactic episodes that rendered her comatose. She describes transiting to a void between Heaven and Earth and encountering spiritual beings radiating loving energy—including her late grandmother and none other than God Himself. These experiences pivoted her perspective on life a full 180 degrees. Awakening from her second NDE, she said she became cured of her anaphylaxis. Her decision to return was made with profound reluctance, for she described the other side as almost Heaven—on its threshold—yet she hadn’t fulfilled her purpose on Earth.
While awaiting treatment—racked by stridor in a hospital hallway, feeling like death—Penny was approached by a PA who saw how horrible she looked. Just as someone mentioned the possibility of imminent death, Penny quit breathing and "popped" out of her body. She experienced seeing herself: "I'm thinking, 'Man, who is that girl? She's pretty sick,’" she said. "I didn't realize that was me."
Leaving her corporeal shell, entering the spirit world, Penny manifested a state she describes as "not solid," and entered a dark void of an "oppressive nature." Her senses were altered, including her sense of time. “Time here [on Earth] is so structured, and time there really gets away from you," she said. "If I had to compare this earthly time with the time that I spent in the void, I would say it was probably about 10 years.
“It just occurred to me that the spiritual space that I was in was a picture of the spiritual space that I had made on the Earth realm. ... Since my divorce many years ago, I had kind of built this wall around myself to protect me and protect the kids. The isolation that I had built on this side followed me over to the other side."
With this realization, she experienced the smothering darkness instantly "shattering" like glass, and a brilliant light shining forth. Then a spirit appeared before her. It was Penny's grandmother, not appearing as an old lady but as a golden, angelic woman with hair of fire. “I'm so relieved that someone's there and I'm not alone. And the dark is gone ... I'm just overcome and I'm crying,” Penny said. “She says telepathically, because they don't speak ... 'Calm yourself dear one.’" The words were a sedative; such was the spirit's comforting energy.
Then, without realizing, Penny was alone again, floating in the light. She recounted how a thought becomes reality in that realm. “I would think something, and as soon as I thought it, the answer was there,” she told The Epoch Times. “I remember thinking 'flowers,' and then suddenly ... I looked down and my thought had created flowers." They were yellow, not as we understand yellow but "brilliant."
"Each flower has its own vibration, and its own song, and its own smell and taste. And you don't have to get near it to experience it," she said. "You can just look at it. And none of the flowers clash with each other. And every blade of grass had its own resonance and song. And it all just worked together. It is so much richer than any experience I've ever had on Earth."
Penny then described meeting her Creator, God, and attested to harboring bitterness toward Him for what she and her loved ones were dealt in life. Then, He revealed to her that the so-called "bad" things, as seen on Earth, when protracted into eternity, bear redemptive fruit beyond the minute comprehensions of mortal beings.
"'I've seen what you've allowed my own children to go through,' and I said, 'Here their dad abandons them when they're just babies, and him leaving me was hard enough, and not deserved,’" Penny told Shaman Oaks. "I can take whatever he did to me, but watching those kids talk to him on the telephone and then go to the mailbox every day to check for a gift that he said he was going to send—it's never coming—and watch them walk back heartbroken every day ... What kind of God allows that?"
This "injustice" had fueled her resentment. Along her NDE journey, God revealed His designs and cleared up her human misunderstanding of the true situation. They flashed forward and Penny saw her eldest son, David, watching his own son from the bleachers as he played soccer. David said, "Mom, I'm going to be the dad to him that I deserved." Sure enough, she recalled, years later—and she hadn't told her son that story—David uttered those exact words as they watched his son on the field.
"It just sucks the air out to you. I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, that happened and it was this confirmation from God!’" she said. "'You were here.' There's times you doubt that near-death experience, because so many people doubt it. And [God's] like, 'No, you were here.’"
Many apparent injustices—children enduring torturous cancers or being born with horrible deformities—have their higher purposes in Heaven. "Those are the most sacrificial spirits," Penny said of these ones. They endured so much just for the opportunity to show people a love that transcends speech.
Dwelling in the presence of God, floating weightless in blissful light, Penny agonized over the prospect of returning. She felt a cord connecting her to her earthly body and knew she could go back. She also knew she hadn't lived life as God intended—not even close.
"I had avoided doing the things I was supposed to do. I can't tell you how heartbroken I was to leave [the spirit realm]," she said. “My husband's like, 'Why would you not want to come back to me?' And I'm like, 'I can't make you understand that until you've been there.'
"'I knew you'd be okay eventually.' And so I made that decision to come back, and I was crying. ... I told God, I said, 'At least let me remember it, because if I can't remember this I don't think I'll have any hope.’"
Mortal beings are born with eternal designs, which are atypical of what we think of as "good": when everything is smooth sailing. That's actually not good, Penny said. When we're nested in comfort, idle, that's bad. We're meant to move forward, meet challenges, and share kindness. It was to complete her purpose that she solemnly chose to reenter her human body in the mundane world.
"Before we come to this life, there's actually a decision-making process that we go through, with some consultation of spirit guides and things like that, about what family we want to come to and what general lessons we'd like to learn while we're here," she said. "I think we forget it when we get here. I try to remind people that, because before you came, you knew what traumas you were gonna face. And you were like, 'That's the life I want to live. I want to have those lessons because those are going to contribute to the growth of my spirit.’"
Having returned, Penny continued where she left off. She shared her experience with the world on social media and in interviews on various podcasts and platforms. She has endeavored to offer evidence attesting to her NDE, presenting things seen from outside her body which she otherwise could not have known—be it a mismatching outfit her sister was wearing on a certain day, a text she sent on Facebook, or what have you.
This account is a fraction of what Penny has shared of her experiences in offering to humanity.