Have you put so much faith in someone that you rely on him or her for your happiness, your peace of mind? You are so close that you see them almost as an extension of yourself—that you are a unit, that you complete each other?
Well, I did just that. I married my college sweetheart on that very premise and expected to live happily ever after. After several years, we had a comfortable home, two children, and my husband had a good job. It was perfect except for one thing—the beginning premise. I wasn’t happy, and he couldn’t fix it. I didn’t like the part of the country we lived in. I had two wonderful children, but I was tied down at home with no car, and although our needs were met, we always seemed strapped financially.
I brooded. I thought living closer to family in a “prettier” part of the country would be the answer. My husband tried to accommodate me in this desire. He moved us in with relatives, and he stayed back to sell our home while looking for a job nearer to family.
The house sold but the job didn’t materialize, and by Christmas of that year, he visited and dropped a bombshell. He no longer wanted to be married. He’d tried to make me happy, but he’d done all he could. He’d provided a home, he loved me, and he couldn’t understand why that wasn’t enough. In the few months while we were away, he’d reevaluated his desires. He’d met new friends and felt more like a single man, and he wanted to be free and single again.
I was flooded with self-recrimination. Why had I been so selfish? Why couldn’t all the good in my life have been enough?
My husband headed back, and the children and I stayed behind. As the new year began, fear and depression closed in and had a physical effect on my body. I lost all appetite and the ability to salivate. I couldn’t swallow solid food and began to lose weight rapidly. I also contracted a patchy skin irritation on my arms, legs, and abdomen. I didn’t sleep well and dreaded daybreak.
This was my opportunity to prove the statement “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” For in that darkness, I turned like a tired child “to the arms of divine Love” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 322). It was during one morning, just as the sun was coming up and the sky was lightening, that I heard bird song. One bird, one voice brightly singing, and my heart stirred with gratitude at this expression of joy. I mark that moment as the beginning of the change—a change of thought, a shift from reliance on person to a reliance on God.
Mary Baker Eddy states in Science and Health, “Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul” (p. 60). As I began to weed out my thinking—to reverse old beliefs and replace them by centering my thinking on God—the physical ailments occupied less and less of my thought and finally disappeared. I prayed to realize that God is the source of all good, that God is my life, my peace of mind, my joy. I saw that my husband reflected and expressed qualities of love, faithfulness, joy, unselfishness, but he was not the source of them. What a burden to unload from someone!
The lecturer pointed out the spiritual fact that there is no perpetrator and no victim in love.
My heart was softened, and I had a heightened sense of gratitude at this time, which completely eliminated fear. This is all the more remarkable because at that point my husband and I were having difficult phone conversations and still discussing divorce. The temptation would arise to file for divorce first because I was then living in an alimony state and he was not. However, I completely overcame that fear by claiming that my supply was not dependent upon material means, nor was it in me to cause hurt in this way. I am so grateful that during these conversations, which were sometimes very painful, divine Love kept me from speaking or acting in a manner that could be destructive to our tentative relationship.
After a couple of months, my husband agreed to my coming back, with me staying with a girlfriend so that we could try to work things out. This was a big step, and loving family members took in our children. Soon after I arrived, my friend and I decided to go to a Christian Science lecture in that town, and we invited my husband to come with us. The title of the lecture was “Love.” I will never forget that lecture and the love that the lecturer, a Christian Science teacher, expressed to the audience. It was palpable. He pointed out the spiritual fact that there is no perpetrator and no victim in love.
The message totally melted any resistance between my husband and me. During the lecture, he reached over and held my hand. As we got up to leave, he quietly said to me, “I know one thing. I want my family back.” I was overcome with love. Love for God. Love for this man who was listening to God. Love for my true nature as a child of God—and love for everyone. My heart was full.
This experience, which happened over 20 years ago, was crowned with blessings. The children and I moved back, and we reestablished our home. Our marriage became much stronger; our family grew to include another child. I found peace and purpose actively working in a branch church where we lived. We did eventually move, and have moved several times since, including a stint abroad. But our home we’ve carried with us in our hearts, and we continue to have a deep affection for each other and a loving relationship.
Wendy Clayton lives with her husband in Crane Hill, Alabama.
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