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Finding home

From the December 17, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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Jill Gooding, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Ripley, Surrey, England, was the guest on this chat, available on JSH-Online. Jill has been a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors, President of The Mother Church, and has served on the Christian Science Board of Lectureship. The chat has been edited for publication. To hear the full chat, go to sentinel.christianscience.com/chats/finding-home.

Several years ago my husband and I lost our jobs, and as a result, our home. We got another home, but my husband lost another job, and is still unemployed. I’ve been praying all along, and we have not yet found a solution. 

You know, it doesn’t matter how deep a pit we seem to fall into in these sorts of things—we can break this cycle of loss and deprivation. 

The first verse of Psalm 91 reads, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” That really is our permanent dwelling place. We may move from house to house, and we may lose a house, but our dwelling place is always that secret place of the Most High. 

“It is impossible that man should lose aught that is real, …” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 302) and home—the true sense of home—is real, and it cannot be lost. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t really have a permanent dwelling, but he was always at home—he was always feeling the presence of God that was guiding him to where he needed to be.

You can have the same thing—it’s a law of good. That law is available to you right this moment, so these losses and difficulties can fade out. You’re dwelling in that secret place of the most High, right now.

Jesus said, “Take … no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matthew 6:34). There’s a little phrase, “Worry is ingratitude in advance.” Worry implies that there’s going to be sometime in the future when God’s power and presence aren’t going to be available. 

If we’re living in the now, we’re going to be grateful for what we have now. “Our gratitude is riches,” so being filled with gratitude is being filled with riches (Vivian Burnett, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 249). 

After 25 years of marriage, I’ve been going through a divorce. There have been huge losses monetarily and personally. At 55, I’m trying to reenter the job market. I’ve felt God’s guidance at each step, but what can you share to help me through the doubt?

Doubt is just such a niggly old serpent. So often we unconsciously find ourselves doubting prayer, doubting God, doubting that we’re good enough, that we can pray well enough. But the Christian Science textbook, says, “Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow …” you (Science and Health, p. 495). When fear and doubt start knocking at the door, we can replace them with the insistence that the only power governing us is good. The only presence that we’re in is good, so we cannot be in a wrong place, we cannot fail to witness to God, good, in our job, in our home, or anywhere else. 

Also, God is your Father and Mother. “Thy Maker is thine husband” (Isaiah 54:5). So, you’re not separated from those husbanding qualities of God. You can feel that sense of safety and security right now. Even though it may appear that you’re going through a divorce, you can feel the husbanding love of God. You’re the child of God: “Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 278).

I am living with my soon-to-be-ex-husband, who has moved on with his romantic life. I feel I can’t find home or a job. Do you have any thoughts? 

I have a friend who was going through a similar experience, and she decided that she would divorce herself from everything un-Godlike, un-Christlike, that seemed to be in her home. She was only going to welcome into her home the true qualities of manhood. 

The marriage was abusive, and she had every reason to go through with a legal divorce, but she felt she had to do it in her own thought. She was going to see herself as fully married and at one with God. And the most wonderful things came into her life. 

The husband whom she thought she was divorcing totally changed from being a drunkard and abusive and so on. He suddenly became a different man, because the mental atmosphere changed as she refused to have anything in her home that was not Godlike. 

Sometimes when we face these very challenging situations, we need to realign ourselves and wed ourselves anew to God, to Love, to Principle, to Mind, and see our oneness with God. That will bring us a wonderful sense of freedom and fearless living.

What if your spouse is verbally abusive? They are either critical or don’t talk to you at all. How can I pray about this? 

The friend of mine I just spoke about was very abused. Her husband drank, he never had a job, he abused the children—it was a very bad situation—and she was the one who decided she was going to be divorced. She did not have to go anywhere to do it; she just was going to do it in her own thinking, and she refused to have any abusive individual come into the house. 

In prayer, she consciously rejected anything that was abusive in any way. She was going to welcome only the Christ-man into her home. She expected that and she found it. The man completely changed—he stopped drinking, he started to take care of the children, he got a job. But it was through her affirming, “I am not having abuse in my home.” 

What about finding home when you are a solo parent? The children are married and have families of their own, but they are at a distance. I love being a grandmother, but I don’t want to be identified just by that.

I think others may also be in that particular situation. But don’t downgrade being a “grandmother.” If we take on the concept, of “grand mothership,” we won’t feel possessive or that we’ve lost something. We’ll be able to see everyone in our family as having one Father-Mother. You are cared for by that Father-Motherhood of God, and so are your children and grandchildren. 

Sometimes when we go through chapters in our lives—and one chapter is from becoming a parent to becoming a grandparent—we resist that change and hold on to the old. But as we’re mentally opening the door to the light of a new experience coming into our lives, wonderful things pour in. 

You will find the right ways to be with your family, and you will be a wonderful “grand mother.” You can’t be separated from a true sense of family, and you can see that you’re not a “sole parent.” You’re already wedded to the true sense of the husbanding qualities of God.

Science and Health says, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love” (p. 66). So, as we’re opening the door of thought, we’ll see “new views of divine goodness and love”—not limited ones, not lonely ones, but fresh, illuminated ideas, coming from God.

What if we have too much stuff, whether we are moving or not? How can we feel inspired about de-cluttering our home? 

Once when I was moving, I seemed to have so many things, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I remember turning to God, saying, “How do I deal with all this?” And I opened the Bible to a sentence I had never read in my life. It was in the account of Joseph’s family moving from Canaan to Egypt, and the verse said, “Regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours” (Genesis 45:20).

That’s exactly what I was surrounded with—stuff. Just stuff, stuff, and stuff. I thought, “OK, I don’t have to regard this stuff. The whole of the good of the land of Egypt is before me.” I found that I was able to go through everything and give away things I didn’t need anymore. It was a blessing to everyone. 

God’s creation is always “in beauty, grandeur, order” (Frederick W. Root, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 329), so our homes need to express those three things—beauty, grandeur, and order. If we seem to be cluttered with a lot of material things, see what those things represent. For instance, a lamp, very simply, represents light, warmth. If we’re living with the ideas, we’ll find that anything excess in our lives can be given to someone else. We don’t want to live with clutter—that’s not part of God’s kingdom. 

How we can pray for those who are homeless—especially those with mental challenges?

I think this is something that does need great prayer, patience, and love. I always love to think of the first verse of Psalm 90, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Regarding those who appear to be homeless, whether they’re refugees, exiles, or they’re living locally, we can know that they’re always living in God’s presence. 

Man cannot be without a true sense of home and care. Sometimes we might outline what we feel people should have or do, but God may have something much better for them. Even if they don’t understand some of these ideas about God’s provision, they’re still under the law of Love’s care, and they can feel that, even in the remotest parts of the globe. 

Every idea dwells in Mind. You can’t have an idea that’s outside of Mind. Each idea lives in Mind—is governed by Mind—and every one of God’s children is an idea of God, living in the Mind which is God. That Mind will provide just the right place for those individuals to be. 

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