Victory over a mindless habit

Nothing had stopped the nail biting for more than six months.

It kept happening—I couldn’t seem to stop biting my fingernails. However, frustrated at the mindlessness of this behavior, I so wanted to find an answer. Over a period of 35 years, I had tried many different supposed remedies for this habit, including painting on awful-tasting nail polish, sitting on my hands, and wearing gloves, and had spent thousands of dollars on acrylic nails. But nothing had stopped the problem for more than six months. In my adult years, the habit had even twice damaged one of my teeth. Most often, I was gnawing on my fingernails without knowing I was doing so. And I was very aware that the pull to bite them was especially pronounced during times of anxiety.

I have been a Christian Scientist my whole life, and I have experienced other healings. So why had I allowed this pattern of behavior to plague me for so long without putting up a better fight—in other words, without taking a stronger spiritual stand in my thought? I know that a problem is never really what it appears to be on the surface. For me, it was never actually about healing a habit or anxiety but about letting go of an insidious belief that I have a mind separate from God and can act in ways outside of God’s control. I knew that God made each one of us spiritual, and that therefore I and all others can truly express only divine Mind, God.

More than a year ago, this statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy stood out to me as I was reading that week’s Bible Lesson, found in the Christian Science Quarterly, on the subject “Mind”: “Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear,—this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony” (p. 324 ). All those decades of nail biting were surely a false landmark, and I sat down the next day and wrote out a metaphysical treatment affirming the truth of God and His creation and refuting mindlessness.

Here are some of those spiritual truths I noted about divine reality and my true, spiritual identity: There is no mindlessness. There is only Mind, God—omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. God is infinite and always at the helm. I reflect this Mind and so am ever alert; never unfocused; never absent-minded, unaware, or “spaced-out.” There is never a moment when I am not reflecting God. The reflection of God’s goodness and perfection is immediate, and I am reflecting this divine goodness now and always. Goodness does not include anxiety. Only good governs me. My actions are never mindless or unloving; therefore, I can be only loving to myself. There is one consciousness—divine Mind, divine Love, divine Truth. 

Regarding this consciousness, I found a statement by an early student of Christian Science helpful. From comments Mrs. Eddy made about the spiritual import of the first verse of Psalm 91, Irving C. Tomlinson understood that “we shall abide in Truth, for we have but one consciousness; we realize we are united to divine Love, then we shall have health perpetual, no lapsing but abiding harmony” (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition, p. 90). 

Mind controls the balance, poise, and productivity of our thoughts, providing only purpose and clarity.

After praying in this way, I continued with my busy life. It wasn’t until some weeks later that I noticed I had fingernails, and I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had bitten them. This had never happened without some kind of intervention, and I was so stunned that I went back to my journal to confirm that I had actually written those spiritual truths. Sure enough, there they were, and I knew the healing had come through taking this stand in thought. It is well over a year later, and there has been no further nail biting. And I know it will not return.

I have realized that I can combat other unhelpful thoughts in a similar way—understanding and affirming that thoughts as well as actions are, in reality, governed by divine Mind. Mind controls the balance, poise, and productivity of our thoughts, providing only purpose and clarity.

There is no time frame or expiration date for healing. Decades-old problems can be healed quickly, even instantaneously, when we see them correctly as errors in thought. This story in the Bible is a great example: When Peter and John saw a lame man begging at the Temple gate, they healed him immediately. The man didn’t have to learn to walk or spend time strengthening the muscles in his legs. The Bible simply states: “[Peter] took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:7, 8 ).

Regardless of what is challenging any of us, we can take a stand for our right to healthy thoughts and actions. We can know that our thoughts are governed by God’s harmony and our actions by God’s grace.

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Forward, gracefully
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