“I just kept learning about God”
These two sentences encapsulate what Christian Science means to me: “Who that has felt the loss of human peace has not gained stronger desires for spiritual joy? The aspiration after heavenly good comes even before we discover what belongs to wisdom and Love” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 265 ).
When I began to study Christian Science many years ago, I was seeking only peace of mind—I didn’t know that it heals. Three people had told me I was on a spiritual search: a minister, a counselor, and a job coach. But I didn’t want to believe it, so I vehemently denied their assessment.
At the time, I was angry that I was a divorced woman with two small children in a patriarchal society that frowned on such a thing. It felt as though there was no place in the church I attended for someone like me, so I was on my own and unhappy about it. At this point, I began experimenting with different lifestyles and New Age beliefs.
I visited modern-day witches and jumped over smoking mesquite bushes. I watched for UFOs and attended “channeling sessions.” I studied an Egyptian religion and read part of a book on Scientology. I even joined, and then later quit, a church that initially appeared to offer what I was looking for at the time but proved disappointing.
While working at a bank, I had noticed how intelligent and full of vitality one of my customers was—and how much integrity she expressed. One day I blurted out, “Do you belong to some kind of religion that makes you this way?” She replied, “Yes, I am a Christian Scientist.”
Without knowing it, I had just been introduced to what I believe to be the “pearl of great price” referred to in the Bible (see Matthew 13:45, 46 ). And from that moment, I began to “sell all that I had” in order to possess it. I started to learn that the core of Christian Science is about following the teachings of the Bible and the life of Christ Jesus.
When I started reading Science and Health, it was not easy reading for me, but I couldn’t put it down. I loved the ideas I was learning about, such as the fact that Church is not a building but a way of life. I also discovered that I didn’t need an intermediary to talk to God, but instead could, and should, strive to recognize my own relation to God. One great realization was that since each one of us is lovingly governed by the authority of God, the great I am, there can be equality of the sexes!
I began to have many healings, which happened so naturally that I didn’t stop to wonder how they happened. I just kept reading and learning about God. I was healed of migraine headaches, something I had suffered from on an ongoing basis. Looking back, I realize that healing happens when we take our mind off our troubles and put it on God. It’s all about God, not us.
Eventually, I took Primary class instruction in Christian Science. On the third day, the teacher said, “This is the day you go out and heal.” I was astounded. I did not realize that class instruction was about becoming a healer. I thought it was just something you did to be a good Christian Scientist. The moment the teacher made her announcement, I felt pain in my legs and for three nights was able to sleep only fitfully.
After three long days, I approached the teacher to tell her that I didn’t think Christian Science was for me, that I just wasn’t up to it. Before I reached her, I heard God speaking to me: “Mary Ann, I would not give you anything you could not handle.” It was such a direct statement that I couldn’t ignore it! So I turned around, went back to my seat, and sat down. I’d glimpsed that real healing is natural and to be expected. Even if we have only a little understanding of God and of the healing Christ, we can continue to grow spiritually, heal, and help others do the same. The leg pain and the sleepless nights stopped.
My involvement with Christian Science included joining The Mother Church (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston) and a local branch church. I served on committees, in the Sunday School, on the church board, in the Christian Science Reading Room, and as First and Second Reader. Eventually, I became a Christian Science practitioner advertising in The Christian Science Journal as available full-time to help people through prayer, and still am today.
There’s no doubt that I actually was on a spiritual search, though I didn’t know it at the time. And I found exactly what I didn’t realize I was looking for.