“No!” and know

One Sunday, as I was putting things away after a volleyball tournament, I twisted my back through some heavy lifting. Every move took my breath away and was quite painful. I went to my office and took a few moments to just sit and listen for thoughts about God and to find out what God was knowing about me. 

I remembered an instantaneous healing I’d had a few years earlier. Soon after my family pulled into a camp site, I had a brush with poison oak. Within seconds, my legs felt as though they were on fire, and I started to pray. What came to me in prayer was quite simply “No!” There was such clarity with that single word that I felt it was divinely inspired; it was a powerful way to reject evils such as poison and pain as not created or caused by God and to affirm what I had learned in Christian Science of the reality of God as infinite good.

That “No!” prayer was effective in healing me. Within five minutes, the fiery sensation and all appearance of poison oak vanished.

As an athlete, I recognized that I was getting spiritually fit with this prayerful workout.

For years after that experience, I had tried to be diligent in saying no to claims of imperfection, pain, or disorder. But this time, with the pain I was experiencing in my back, a new idea inspired me: to not only say no but to also know. What did I need to know? A passage came to me from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: “There is but one way to heaven, harmony, and Christ in divine Science shows us this way. It is to know no other reality—to have no other consciousness of life—than good, God and His reflection, and to rise superior to the so-called pain and pleasure of the senses” (p. 242). That gave me a lot to think about! 

As I thought more about this, I remembered another experience that helped bring the “no and know” idea home. When my daughter, Savanna, was about eight years old, she started taking piano lessons from a very sweet lady who never seemed to get her name right. She called her Samantha for the entire year. At first we tried to help by using Savanna’s name quite a few times in front of the teacher, but to no avail. At this point, I told my daughter that as long as she herself knew that she was not Samantha, that’s what really mattered. To this day, when our family is struggling with something, we say, “OK, Samantha,” and a smile comes across our faces, because we know who we are in God’s eyes. Christian Science makes it clear that we are all children of God, good, which means that we inherit this goodness and have all that we need to overcome any difficulty.

When we are in the thick of a challenging situation, though, it can feel as if our thoughts are tangled up. So with my back difficulty, I thought it would be helpful to make a list of challenges I could say no to and spiritual facts I could know. This little exercise really helped me move past the tangle. I wrote down things such as

• Say no to fear, and know that God is with me. The Bible says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

• Say no to worrying that it might take a lot of time to be fully healed. Know that the power of God is what heals and that it is always present. Science and Health says, “The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science, the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord,—not because this Science is supernatural or preternatural, nor because it is an infraction of divine law, but because it is the immutable law of God, good” (p. 134). 

• Say no to doubts—to thinking that I don’t have enough faith and understanding to be healed. Know that Christian Science is the most effective method of healing. 

This last concept is explained in Mrs. Eddy’s answer to the question “Can all classes of disease be healed by your method?” Using Mind as another name for God, she writes: “We answer, Yes. Mind is the architect that builds its own idea, and produces all harmony that appears. There is no other healer in the case” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 41). How freeing that our job in healing is to not be offended when the physical senses call you “Samantha” and to instead smile with gratitude that you are actually “Savanna.” 

For the next couple of days, I strove to fulfill this duty, but it took perseverance and discipline. As an athlete, I recognized that I was getting spiritually fit, so to speak, with this prayerful workout. The first day of this exercise, it felt as though I were “no-and-knowing” a hundred times an hour. The first night, it was tough to sleep—as every movement hurt, I was afraid to move unless I absolutely had to. But this verse from Hymn 66 by Violet Hay was a particular comfort to me: 

O perfect Life, in Thy completeness held, 
None can beyond Thy omnipresence stray; 
Safe in Thy Love, we live and sing alway 
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
(Christian Science Hymnal, © CSBD)

It gave me the courage to say no a few more times, and I bathed in knowing the truth of the hymn’s spiritual message that I was complete and safe in Love’s omnipresence. Alleluia!

Tuesday morning I awoke without thinking about the issue and went to my normal swimming workout. I dove into the pool, and as I was flip-turning, I smiled with gratitude, realizing that I was completely cured of the back problem.

Now, when a challenge comes my way, I get excited to “no and know.” Whatever someone or something may try to tell me, I can smile and know who I truly am.

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