Forgiveness brings freedom
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, declared, “The Sermon on the Mount is the essence of this Science, . . .” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 271 ). Elsewhere she calls the Sermon on the Mount the “digest” or summary of Science (see Rudimental Divine Science, p. 3 ).
Several years ago I began reading and pondering this sermon each week, usually before or after church. I read it in a variety of Bible translations, frequently using an online site to view different versions. This helped me to gather fresh meaning from its familiar passages. I sought to understand it spiritually and to let its many lessons transform me.
Just before this, late in 2015, a friend had abruptly dissolved our friendship when she moved on to a new job. I had blanketed my dismay and hurt with layers of self-pity and self-righteousness.
Some time after that, a deep and lingering cough developed in my chest. At first, I was concerned that it might be related to a mold problem that had recently been remedied in my home. But having lifelong experience of healings through prayer in Christian Science—of sprains, colds, flu, hearing loss, and many other issues—I did not seek a medical diagnosis regarding this condition. Instead, I began to pray for myself.
Every time I prayed about the cough, a sharp memory of hurt over the lost friendship popped up. And each time, I brushed it aside with irritation and puzzlement, then continued my prayers halfheartedly.
After I moved to Arizona in 2019, the cough still bothered me. One day I again sat down to humbly listen to what God was telling me, so I could experience healing and regeneration. Again, the bitter memory sprang forth. But this time I continued to listen in prayer. Now that God had my attention, immediately there came a three-fold angel message: “Forgive her, love her with Christly affection, and pray for her well-being in sincerity and in truth.”
Rather than berate myself for taking four years to respond prayerfully to those earlier vivid memories of hurt, I at once sincerely forgave my friend. The smothering emotional blanket of irritation, hurt, and anger dissolved. I was then able to affirm that I loved this dear one as a sister in Christ. What a transformation—once I was willing to listen! The Christ-spirit, imbibed through regular study of the Sermon on the Mount, had moved my heart from smoldering hatred to pure affection.
Since we were now two thousand miles apart, I wondered how I could express this genuine affection toward my friend. I remembered the last part of the angel message—to pray for her safety and well-being. While I could not give her Christian Science treatment without her permission, I could know that God’s love was overflowing and embracing her, too. I could lovingly correct my thinking about my friend, seeing her as God sees her and reversing the years of resentment.
Using an idea from a loved hymn, I affirmed that my dear friend was “cared for, watched over, beloved and protected” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 278 ). She was guarded and guided by God. I recognized that we were both loved and loving children of God, with no power or inclination to offend or be offended. I stayed in prayer for several minutes, letting this regeneration, this renewal of affection, soak in.
Within minutes of this spiritual uplift, the cough lessened considerably, then completely vanished within a day or two. In First John, we are assured that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” and that therefore “we should love one another” (3:9, 11 ). To me, this means that unconditional Christly love and forgiveness are built in to our true nature, which, as the reflection of God, is spiritual, good, pure, loving, humble, and obedient. And no circumstance or seemingly obstinate human nature can prevent us from understanding this truth of our spiritual innocence and demonstrating it.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 ), says Jesus in his well-loved sermon. During those four years, wasn’t the great heart of divine Love seeking to comfort my mourning for a lost friendship? When I finally welcomed the angels of God that were unfailingly knocking at the door of my thought and let in the light of Love and the meekness and humility that imbue the Sermon on the Mount, the blessings of comfort, peace, and healing embraced me. Although it’s possible that I may never see my friend again, peace has been restored to my heart and the hurt healed. Thank you, God.
Charlene Anne Miller
Tucson, Arizona, US