An answer to violence against women

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Despite the progress women have made in the past few decades toward securing equal rights and protections, violence against women continues to be a major problem around the globe. Even in countries where women have made the greatest strides, the media frequently report rape, murder, and domestic violence against women. But being a woman doesn’t have to mean being a target for abuse. Nor does it have to mean practicing martial arts. There’s another form of defense that I’ve found quite effective.

Learning how to defend oneself spiritually brings real protection and freedom from fear. Spiritual defense starts with an understanding of God and His creation. The Bible tells us, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). And how could it be otherwise? I’ve found that by embracing the idea that God is wholly good, I cannot at the same time fear that some evil might be lurking in a dark corner of God’s creation. To understand that God is ever present and all-powerful means we can rest assured that He is governing His creation harmoniously every moment. 

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Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, explains, “There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210). 

I learned the effectiveness of spiritual defense when I was fairly new in my study of Christian Science. One summer I began to notice how often fear intruded on my thought and made it difficult for me to feel at peace while I was moving about in my urban neighborhood. 

I became curious to know how the community would look if I could sweep away those nagging fears and see it with an innocent eye and a childlike expectancy of good. I began taking long walks through my neighborhood so I could get to know it better and appreciate all the good and beauty it had to offer. 

The first thing I discovered was that suggestions about my vulnerability as a woman alone always had to be silenced before I could pay attention to anything else. The early part of each walk was spent turning away from self-concern so I could dwell on what I was learning about God and His loving care for all His creation. 

This purifying of thought was never easy. There was always a resistance to letting go of fear. But persistence brought great rewards. During those walks I experienced joyous moments of closeness to God. 

We can rest assured that God is governing His creation harmoniously every moment.

One time I remember looking around at the bright lights and sharp contours of the city against the night sky and feeling a burst of gratitude for such exquisite signs of God’s beauty. This kind of unselfed, pure perception was far more than a gratifying aesthetic experience, however. It was the very essence of protection, as I was to find out a few weeks later. 

One evening after dinner, I was walking home from a restaurant in a troubled frame of mind. My car was in the shop for some expensive repairs, and as I walked along, I was so absorbed in wondering how I would pay the bill that I took no notice of two young men coming toward me. 

Suddenly the men grabbed me. I fought to get away, but they overpowered me and dragged me into their car. One man pushed me roughly onto the floor in the back and hissed, “Don’t scream, I’ve got a knife.” He jabbed something sharp against my neck. The other man got in front and started the car.

Though I was trapped on the floor of the car and unable to move, I was still free to think. I knew I had a choice to make: I could allow myself to be overwhelmed by terror, or I could pray. I turned to God for help, and the first thing that came to me was “the scientific statement of being,” which appears on page 468 of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mrs. Eddy. 

It begins, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” I began saying this statement out loud, and as I clung to those truths, my thought began to clear. I knew that in spite of what the material circumstances seemed to be, the scientific fact was that God was in full control of His creation, and nothing contrary to His law of harmony could really be happening. 

Then, as I had done so often during my walks that summer, I instinctively turned away from fear and focused on God’s goodness with childlike trust. What came to me next was the memory of the beautiful city lights. I let go of the fear completely and yielded once again to joy and gratitude for God’s goodness. 

Immediately there was a turnaround in the attitude of the two men. The one who had been holding me down said in a gentle tone: “Don’t be afraid. We’re going to take you home.” He took the knife away from my neck and let me sit up on the seat. “Please don’t look at my face,” he said, and there was remorse in his voice. He noticed that my lip was bleeding where I had bit it in the struggle, and he apologized. 

I had absolutely no fear of the men any longer. I knew they wouldn’t harm me, so telling them where to drop me off seemed perfectly natural. A few minutes later the men stopped their car in front of my apartment building, and I got out unharmed except for some minor cuts and scrapes. 

Christian Science teaches that we can never truly be exposed to anything harmful “out there.” Whatever evil there appears to be is just an illusion—a lie that can come only as a thought. And once the lie has been ruled out of thought, it is eliminated from experience. So a deep trust in God, based on the understanding of His goodness, has protecting power. As I continued praying over the next few days, those small injuries healed without leaving scars. More important, I was able to forgive the young men who had abducted me. Whatever their evil intentions might have been, they had felt God’s healing touch, just as I had, and had been deterred from carrying them out. This experience has left me with a clearer vision of the world God created, and a deeper conviction that this world includes only good.

My 'cover to cover' project
October 22, 2012

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