Burden released, stiff neck healed

One Thursday evening last March, as I was driving to an airport to pick up my adult stepson, I noticed a tightening in my neck. I did not think much about it at the time, but the next morning I could not move my neck at all, and swallowing was painful.

I called a Christian Science practitioner and began to pray. I considered what it means to have a stiff neck. One definition of the word stiff stood out to me: “incapable of or highly resistant to bending.” Some synonyms are inflexible, rigid, and unyielding, and near antonyms include elastic, resilient, and workable (merriam-webster.com/thesaurus). I asked myself if I was I becoming stiff-necked—mentally inflexible and rigidly insistent on carrying a false sense of personal responsibility regarding what I thought needed to be done in church or family. I realized that I did, indeed, need to overcome willfulness and a sense of burden.

I was doing a lot for family, while also serving as First Reader in my branch Church of Christ, Scientist, which was holding both in-person and online services. Several church members had even referred to me as a pillar of the church. What is a pillar? Stiff! I realized that I had taken on too much responsibility for our small church, and that I needed to let go of ego and any sense of personal burden. I remembered learning that it is a form of false theology to believe that anyone could feel worn out or fatigued as a result of working in the service of God. 

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “What God cannot do, man need not attempt” (p. 231). And Hymn 82 in the Christian Science Hymnal begins, “God is working His purpose out / As year succeeds to year” (Arthur C. Ainger). These helped me see that neither my branch church nor anything else, including my family, was founded on me. All that is good comes from God, who is the Rock of Truth, the only foundation or pillar. My job was to trust that God is working His purpose out, listen for His direction, and make “my great concern” to “love and praise [Him] more” as another hymn says (John Ryland, Hymnal, No. 224, adapted). That is what I began to do.

For most of the weekend, I stayed in our bedroom while my husband and his son spent time together. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer with its spiritual interpretation (see Science and Health, pp. 16–17), the “Daily Prayer” (Mary Baker Eddy, Church Manual, p. 41) and “the scientific statement of being” (Science and Health, p. 468). I studied that week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly as well as articles from the Christian Science magazines. One article helped me realize that regardless of where the pain seemed to be coming from, I needed to recognize more reality in God’s goodness than in the pain. 

I began to more consistently keep spiritual facts in the forefront of my thoughts and prayers. Grateful for the solitude, I recalled in humility that I was not needed to “steady God’s altar” at church or to tend “the regulator” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 87, 353–354) of church or family. 

Finally, I realized that just as we progress through school by building on lessons already learned, we also progress spiritually by learning from and building on prior healings. This idea that I was building on the foundation of prior healings and not starting from scratch each time allayed my fear and refuted the false suggestion that I didn’t know how to pray or give a Christian Science treatment. I did know, and I had proved it before! 

Things I had learned from healings over many decades began to flood into my thought. I glimpsed the absolute necessity of putting into practice what we already know and have proved in addition to listening for whatever new ideas and healing truths God’s angel messages are revealing to us. 

My husband asked his daughter, who lives about sixty miles away, to return her brother to the airport, and she was happy to do so. By that time I had more mobility in my neck, but I resisted the temptation to insist that I could drive him. As I saw the opportunity that our son and daughter had for a visit with each other that they had not expected, I realized that my striving to take care of everything myself was very likely depriving others of learning experiences and opportunities for healing and spiritual growth. 

When I awoke Tuesday morning, I was able to move my neck normally and swallow without pain. I am so very grateful for this healing and all the lessons learned, especially that each time we persistently tackle challenges with prayer, and healing occurs, our understanding and confidence in applying Christian Science grow. 

Carol Ames Sewell
Seguin, Texas, US

Testimony of Healing
The light of Truth
November 21, 2022

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