When I was in college, I injured my back at work. After lengthy medical treatment ending in a month-long hospital stay, I was told by doctors that they could offer no cure for the chronic pain that had caused me to drop out of college. I had been raised in a loving Protestant church, where I learned about the Bible, but my faith in God was now faltering because of this prognosis. I couldn’t understand how God could “allow” this to happen to me when I had tried hard to live a good, Christian life. I questioned whether I could worship that kind of God.
In the hospital, as I reached out to God in tearful desperation, my prayer went something like this: “God, if You are there, help me out of this mess. I’ll do whatever You ask!” I felt like the Psalmist who sang, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears” (Psalms 18:6).
Suddenly I felt a transcendent peace that I’ll never forget. I saw mental images of myself in a beautiful place, helping people. I dried my tears, and when I got home to my parents’ house, I wrote to friends who were people of faith. I asked them, “Can God heal my illness?”
A friend who was a student of Christian Science wrote me a letter filled with the promise of healing for any problem, because, she said, “God is good.” Others I’d talked to said that I was in pain because I had sinned and deserved this problem—that God was “teaching me a lesson.” Even though I’d made a few bad choices in previous years, I just couldn’t believe that anything merited the punishment of lifelong chronic pain.
My mom, who had a very negative impression of Christian Science, was away on a trip when I visited a Christian Science Reading Room and a local Church of Christ, Scientist. By the time she returned, I had studied the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, which contains passages from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. My mom surprised me by saying, “If this helps you, pursue it!”
I spent the next year studying Christian Science, hoping that its healing message was true. Church members patiently answered many questions, and I read testimonies of Christian healing in the Sentinel. It amazed me that people had experienced healing of all kinds of problems, including ailments that medicine had pronounced incurable. I learned that healing as Christ Jesus taught and practiced it had to do with embracing changes to human consciousness and character; it wasn’t just about seeking relief from physical pain and distress. Moral, mental, and physical adjustments take place as a natural result of an increasing understanding of God.
Christian Scientists recognize the nature of God in seven names for God given in Science and Health. These synonyms are Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Principle. I learned that as God’s child, I reflect the qualities of God, which are spiritual. Since God is Love, I am truly both loving and fully loved by God. Because God is Truth, my true, spiritual nature is honest, and it’s natural to see honesty and goodness in others. I also learned that evil and illness don’t belong to me. Material conditions can seem to contradict God’s goodness by arguing for the reality of pain and disability, but the material picture is deceptive and does not define us.
Still, the key concept of Spirit, God, being All—meaning that matter has no substance and is unreal—was tough for me to understand. It seemed so uniquely different from the concept of a concrete material reality that I’d studied in school.
As I continued to study Christian Science over the course of several months, I experienced lovely healings of strained relationships as well as protection from harm, and I found a renewed sense of hope. However, the physical healing I sought eluded me. I was then invited to a Christian Science Youth Meeting at a large university. The back pain had not improved, but I was able to attend.
In a conversation with a physics professor (who was also a Christian Scientist) at the Youth Meeting, I asked this question: “As a physical scientist, how can you believe that there is no matter, and that Spirit is the only reality?” His reply astonished me. He explained that as we break down matter, we see that it doesn’t actually have substance at all. And then he said that as a Christian Scientist, he takes it even further, bearing witness to the fact that we live in a universe of Spirit, divine Love.
What this meant to me at the time was that the qualities of God I had been studying for more than a year—the expression of the nature of God as spiritual Life, Truth, and Love—were, in fact, the ever-present reality of the universe.
This was an “aha” moment for me, and while looking out at the night stars on the flight home, I felt the universal presence of Love, similar to the vision I’d had in the hospital room years earlier. The next morning I was able to bend over while cleaning the house, something I hadn’t been able to do for years—and I realized that all of the back pain was gone. I was overjoyed! When the doctor who’d treated me in the hospital heard from my mom about my Christian Science healing, he said to her, “Wonderful! My grandmother was a Christian Science practitioner.” The healing has been permanent.
After this healing, I joined a branch Church of Christ, Scientist. I also resumed activities that doctors had said might be impossible—running, horseback riding, skiing—and later gave birth to two beautiful children. Opportunities for giving and sharing in business, education, volunteer work, and praying for others have abounded since that healing took place, bringing my initial vision of a life of helping others to fruition.
Now, if I am tempted by doubt or fear, I recall that time of prayerful persistence when healing seemed so far away. I can joyfully proclaim, “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25, New International Version).
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