WHEN I GOT TO KNOW Patricia several years ago, one of the things that struck me was her delight in what she was learning every day about life with God at the center. She wasn't full of religious talk, but she brimmed with joy.
When you read her story [see sidebar], you'll see she didn't get to that place easily. Suicidal thoughts tormented her for years. But healing power sprang her from that mental prison. Patricia wouldn't claim to have solved all life's problems, and yet she has discovered her worth in God's eyes and seen that she has something to give to the world. Now she can look people in the eye, laugh, love, and live unashamed in a way she didn't think possible in earlier years.
Anyone can experience the power of spiritual truth to end self destructive thoughts. No matter how hopeless or ruined you feel, God knows you as His/Her worthy and loved idea, and as such you can't be controlled by these hateful thoughts. Surrendering to the truth of your spiritual identity will defeat awful monsters that feel as if they're you. Anyone who wants to change for the better can certainly live without shame, fear, and the desire to die.
Authority for this assurance comes from the deepest wisdom of the ages — the holy Scriptures. Here's one beautiful promise to those willing to surrender to God's truth: "You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be bright as morning" (Job 11:16, 17, New Living Translation).
It's good to grab on to that promise. It's even better to understand that there's a law behind it that makes each of us willing and able to surrender to God. Even if you or someone you want to help is resisting to the hilt, divine power is greater. Christian Science explains why: "God's law is in three words, 'I am All;' and this perfect law is ever present to rebuke any claim of another law" (Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 30).
Some theories of physical science present destructive behavior and disease as the effect of insurmountable laws—as dysfunctions that can be moderated or controlled, but never completely healed. But there's an eternal and unchanging Science that contradicts the most convincing material appearances and theories. This Science is revealed through spiritual insight rather than material observation, and spiritually minded people in all ages have grasped it, lived it, and been healed by it.
Some basic points of divine Science, or Christian Science, are: God is the only reality, or Life. God is Spirit, infinite good, and is our life now and always. Divine Life includes nothing unlike itself, nothing deformed or evil. Many people who become aware of truths like these (God's truth) say it's as if they've woken up to something they've always known—that they and everyone are really the spiritual, pure, whole, indestructible expression of one Life. Infinite Life is inescapable, wonderful, and includes everyone.
A desire to die isn't anyone's real desire. The spiritual law that causes us to surrender ungodlike desires is that they aren't any part of God's expression, which is in fact who and what we are. Life's law, "I am All," rebukes the claim that there's some messed-up life that should die. It lets you stop fearing or hating the failed person calling himself or herself you. It's not you; it's a lie about you.
How can you believe these statements when shameful mistakes stare you in the face? By remembering that God's reality overrules any claim of another reality. Divine Life is perfect and causes only perfection. Of course, from the unawakened viewpoint of a matter-created universe, things are far from perfect and people may find good reason to be ashamed. But calling the material viewpoint a lie doesn't ignore, or excuse, evil. The great healer Christ Jesus called it a lie, and that gave him the power to destroy evil.
Once Jesus healed a man who habitually cut himself with stones. It was a very bad case. The Bible account says the man cried day and night and couldn't be controlled (see Mark 5:1-20). Yet even in this mental state, when he saw Jesus in the distance, he ran to worship him. As hopeless and incapable of reason as the man appeared to be, he was drawn to the love and truth of God that shone through the Master. Hope and reason can't be lost, because they're qualities of our spiritual nature. People respond to God's love because it arouses a memory of something they know deep inside—that they're good; that God is their source.
There's much practical help to be gained by probing beneath the surface of the healings Jesus accomplished. The man who cut himself lived among tombs, which could be likened to constant thoughts of death. Yet he ran to one who promised eternal life. People who seem attracted to death must in fact be hungering for a higher idea of life, because there's nothing in us, as creations of Life, to want or even know death. Perhaps the man among the tombs had realized, more than some who were living more contentedly, that what's called material life isn't real life. He was attracted to the truth of spiritual life that Jesus radiated. Spiritual life has nothing to do with social achievements, or appearance. It's the joy of living humbly, compassionately, and with trust in God.
The man threw himself at Jesus' feet and shouted, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?" (Mark 5:7). The Bible presents this outburst as the demons that possessed him protesting that they didn't want to be destroyed. A lot of us might recognize it as a mental state we've felt ourselves, at least to some degree—fear that we can't succeed in a good purpose, or maybe anger at ourselves, the world, or what we falsely believe God is. Fear often causes people to say they can't or don't want to be helped. Did Jesus know that man's cry was an effort to break out of unjust imprisonment, as if he were asking, "Can I—this horrid wreck of a person—hope to have anything to do with you who are so good?" "Could I possibly also be a son or daughter of the most high God?"
Jesus asked the man his name. "Legion," he answered, meaning "many"—a good description of the countless inner enemies that feel as if they can overwhelm us. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, commented, "The Scripture seems to import that Jesus caused the evil to be self-seen and so destroyed" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 411). In her writings, she uncovered a fact crucial to spiritual healing: that evil is the fundamental error that there are many minds and lives, whereas God is All—the one Life and Mind. When we even begin to admit that we simply express this perfect Mind, the legion of fear, shame, and despair is already plunging to its destruction.
Jesus didn't exorcise real demons or diseases. His understanding of God's truth caused every form of evil to be seen as a lie, or error. By his resurrection he proved that death is a lie, and that it's impossible to end life. By restoring people to moral and physical health, he proved that the loss of one's integrity is a lie, and that our worth is in reflecting God.
No matter how hopeless or ruined you feel, God knows you as His/Her worthy and loved idea.
Power is not in the lie but in spiritual truth. The truth that there is one good Life, and that Life is God, destroys the lie of many enemies, and even many personalities. As individual expressions of one Life, we exist in unity and harmony with everything else that lives. Jesus' ability to heal came from his total conviction of this harmony. When he saw a tormented person, he saw through the lie to the reality—perfect Life expressing itself right there in a perfect identity. In the presence of that understanding, people woke up to their true selves.
To see and understand in that Christlike way is to reflect God's love. The more we practice doing this, the more alert and prepared we'll be to help those who are suicidal, or those affected by another's suicide. Whatever thought or action claims to have destroyed happiness, or even life, can't really do it—because everyone's identity is spiritual and continually progresses. The divine consciousness that heals isn't confined by barriers called birth and death, past and present. It's always revealing to everyone the truth that causes misery to flow away and makes darkness bright as morning. |
Margaret Rogers is a contributing editor. She lives in Greenbrae, California, and is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher.
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