Skin condition healed through forgiveness

Years ago, I had a falling out with a dear person I have known my whole life. Up to this point, we’d had a mutual understanding of many things, and on the occasions we disagreed, we at least had respect for one another’s opinions and for what was important to the other person. 

One day I received an email from this individual attacking—out of nowhere—both me and something of great value to my life. It was obviously written in a moment of discontent and frustration. I was on my way to an appointment when I got the message, and it almost took my breath away. I had to stop for a moment to get a grip on myself because I was shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened before. I was eventually able to make it to my appointment, but I couldn’t let it go. For months I felt victimized, sad, and resentful. You might even say I let the incident get under my skin. 

At about this time, a skin condition developed on my foot and became open sores, which were spreading. I made sure I always kept the area clean, and bandaged it when needed. 

Through my study of Christian Science, I have learned about the mental nature of disease. Mary Baker Eddy explains in the Christian Science textbook: “Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 411). This doesn’t mean that all physical challenges are the result of sinful thoughts, but in this case it became clear to me that the problematic false mentality that had become externalized included irritation, resentment, and a feeling of having been wounded. In the following months I prayed to forgive and to put the past behind me. I was convinced that this would bring healing.

There were sweet days of feeling the presence of God, divine Love, and a release from all hurt and injustice, and the skin would be almost entirely healed up. But not long after, thoughts such as “Can you believe he said that?” “How could he?” and “Why can’t he apologize?” would come pouring in. Then the skin condition would flare up again, and I felt I was back where I started.

One day, in deep despair I reached out to God for an answer. Suddenly, a thought came to me that I know was from God: None of this had anything to do with conflicting personalities. This was not an attack on me, personally, but an attack on the truth—the truth that we each are God’s reflection and have a spiritual individuality, not a material personality. Hatred and frustration are no part of this individuality. I saw that neither this individual nor I could be used as a channel for the suggestion that we are anything but the reflection of God, good, and could be either a victim or victimizer. Such a suggestion was nothing more than the workings of animal magnetism, the false belief that there is a power apart from God. 

I had received new light, and at that moment I was able to humbly and joyously forgive and let go. I saw with great clarity that God’s children are spiritual, perfect, and without offense. From then on, the skin rapidly healed without any scars. The false belief of sorrow had left no mark.

Soon after, I had the courage to call the other person and ask if we could move on from there. This was well received, and we have been talking regularly ever since—that was six years ago.

When Christ Jesus told Peter that we must forgive “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22), I feel that he was speaking of the importance of continually purifying our hearts in order to be a transparency for divine Love, God. This purification includes surrendering the belief that our forgiveness has to depend on whether the other person has changed to our liking or not.

Christian theologian Lewis B. Smedes once wrote, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” As we forgive on the basis of the unchanging love of God that Jesus taught and lived, we are no longer prisoners of suffering or ill health, for a consciousness filled with divine Love manifests harmony and perfection. 

Nikki Paulk
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, US

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