A growing trust in God: lessons learned as a teen
All my life, I have been a student of Christian Science. I grew up attending the Christian Science Sunday School, calling on Christian Science practitioners for prayerful help, and studying the Bible Lesson published in the Christian Science Quarterly. Prayer, along with my study of Christian Science, was helpful in my youth when I was faced with decisions.
During my middle school and high school days, I had a fear that if I studied Christian Science as much as I really wanted to, I wouldn’t have friends. I was finding that what I was learning in Christian Science was not in alignment with the interests, activities, and conversations that I was sharing with my current group of friends. For example, I felt pressure to hang out only with certain people, to drink and smoke, and to always be social and never miss a party. Because of this, I became quite reclusive and would often spend my weekends alone. I started to become fearful that I would always have to be isolated, and that I had to sacrifice my high school experience. I was concerned that I would have to distance myself from these friends, whom I loved dearly, because my values were changing.
Through my early years studying Christian Science, I had learned many valuable lessons about trusting God that have even been helpful in my adult years. I learned that we can pray about the “small things” and ask God what to do when we have to make a decision. I learned we should always be obedient to God and have the motive to love.
“The true essence of following Christ is to love.”
As I prayed about how to address the fear of losing my friends, an interesting thought came to me: “If you are feeling fearful, you are not loving. The true essence of following Christ is to love.” I began to pray daily about how to love. I learned that this love isn’t a human love, but a spiritual love that comes from God, divine Love, our infinite source. After I got this angel message, I reasoned that if I was growing spiritually and doing good, that couldn’t have a negative result. And if my true motive was to love, I could never really feel isolated. As one studies Christian Science, one learns that our ability to love others is already at hand, because God loves all of His creation. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “And Love is reflected in love” (p. 17).
Also, I was reminded of a statement by Mrs. Eddy recorded by one of her students and included in the book We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume II: “I love; one will ask, Who[m] do you love? I answer, I love. What do you love? I love” (p. 125). With this in thought, I realized that it was not about whom I should hang out with, whether they agreed or disagreed with me, or when I should stay home. It was about listening, being obedient, and loving everyone. I had a new mission—not to get friends or to fit in, but to listen, to be obedient, and to love.
While praying about how to love others in a spiritual sense, I felt it was also important to pray about which activities to participate in and which parties to attend or not attend. I prayed with the guidance from this idea in Science and Health: “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it” (p. 452).
There were some get-togethers that I felt right going to, and others that I did not. For example, our class waited all year to go to the beach together for a week. But through my own prayer and the prayers of a Christian Science practitioner I had called, I felt strongly that I should not go, and that I needed to be obedient. Although I initially felt I would be missing out, since all of my friends were going, later I was grateful I had been obedient to that gentle guidance I’d felt through prayer, because the next day, an underage drinking party during my school’s “beach week” made national news. Although I’d had no intention of drinking, I had planned to be there to spend time with friends. I was glad my prayers had led me to stay home.
On another occasion, I was at a get-together with a lot of friends. As more and more people showed up, it ended up becoming quite a party. As my friends were getting drunk, I wasn’t drinking, and after a while, it became hard to connect and interact with others. I felt left out and alone. It was loud, and I was starting to feel that it was time to go home. Before leaving, I stepped into the bathroom to have a quiet moment to myself amidst all the noise. I felt that the impulse to step away like this was an angel message, or a thought from God. I walked into the bathroom, and there was a girl, unconscious, with her head fully immersed in the toilet water. She didn’t appear to be breathing. I prayed immediately to know for myself that she could never be touched or harmed by this experience, as some friends and I lifted her up and called her parents. After I knew she was OK, I left the party.
I had been afraid I wouldn’t have any friends, but I ended up having more friends because I loved more.
I had completely forgotten about that experience when, a few years later, I saw the same girl at a sports event. She gave me a big hug and said, “You really saved my life; thank you.” I was grateful to God for showing me that we can carry our spiritual understanding with us wherever we go, and it will always bless. I knew in that moment that God was her life. It had never been up to me to save her life. There was just one Life, and her life was safe in God! I was just thankful to have been a witness to God’s work, and obedient to Her direction.
By the end of high school, I found that, through trusting God, I actually hadn’t lost friends. I had gone from thinking I had to sacrifice participating in important social events to understanding, through prayer, that continuing my spiritual growth would be the way I would love and be loved the most. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Truth, Life, and Love are the only legitimate and eternal demands on man, and they are spiritual lawgivers, enforcing obedience through divine statutes” (p. 184). Through my prayers and obedience to God, I actually gained friends. I found that instead of people thinking I was different, they respected my standard of living.
I had also prayed to see the people in my school as God sees them, and this allowed me to love with a selfless love and to heal all fear about whom to hang out with and what events to attend. I was pleased when someone mentioned to me that they didn’t think I belonged to a certain “clique.” I was grateful for this proof of healing. I had been afraid I wouldn’t have any friends, but I ended up having more friends because I loved more.
I learned from this healing that we can never be punished for doing good. Being a Christian Scientist as a young woman was not a burden, but was actually more of a blessing than I could have imagined.