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HERE IS PATRICIA'S STORY. . .

WHAT I WAS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR IS WHAT I HAVE NOW

From the May 7, 2007 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


I wanted to feel light, free, and find a way out of the trap, the monotony. I wanted to say I was so, so sorry. To move on, comfort those around me, say it would be OK and mean it. I wanted to feel unity with everything and everyone. For a long time I didn't feel any of this. What I now know is, those desires for a better existence were prayer (see Science and Health, p. 1).

Starting in middle school, I was obsessed by thoughts of suicide. I was diagnosed as manic depressive and given medications. I took them off and on, but they made me feel worse. Later I got into heavy drinking and eating disorders. At first they seemed to offer hope, a way out of suffering, and a opportunity to change myself. But at some point that suddenly flipped, and my fears became more extreme.

This all went on for about ten years. I felt I was letting down everyone trying to help me, and I couldn't help myself with will-power. I longed to be a better person than I felt I was. Finally, I started to be honest with myself about my fears—for instance, the fear that I was worthless. Honesty was key. I learned not to be afraid to pour out my heart to God. And then I prayed that these fears be removed. It was letting God be God, instead of thinking I had to fix everything. Things started to shift. I felt the action of God, and the fears began lifting. I was becoming childlike and open to receive more.

Someone introduced me to Science and Health. When I began reading it, thought, "This is what I know." But it went further than I thought was possible—it gave me a clear sense of a whole, new identity. It filled a longing, a memory, a hunger for Something I knew—that we're spiritual. I read, "Matter has no life to lose, and Spirit never dies" (p. 275). And, "Man is more than a material form with a mind inside, which must escape from its environments in order to be immortal" (p.258). It made sense. I saw the stark divide between the material and the spiritual—and that the spiritual was the reality I wanted to live by.

In thinking of suicide, I'd wanted to forget myself. I loved the permission Christian Science gave to look away from my body. The eating disorders were the result of my wanting to feel light, beautiful, small, and worthy of protection. When I tried to achieve these conditions by starving myself, I just felt frail and vulnerable, and the image in the mirror was never good enough. It wasn't my body but my thought that had to change, to become more spiritual.

I felt encouraged that Mary Baker Eddy had said that reading Science and Health might cause a "chemicalization," or stirring up, as thought becomes spiritualized—and that this is favorable. When I felt stirred up during this time, I knew what it was, and was reassured that I didn't have to analyze or control the situation. I could do what the Bible says, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46: 10). At first, God meant to me the activity of harmony. Then God came to mean Love, Mind, Life extending everywhere, infinitely. It meant feeling one with everyone.

When I read Science and Health, I felt the author knew what she was talking about from her own experience. I didn't want theories. The way she described the absolute and eternal was how I'd always felt, although the human footsteps I needed to take toward it had always been murky. Science and Health described the ground to be covered—where I'd been and where I was going. It was about divine Love meeting my human need. It showed me what my true job was—being still and receptive, removing fear, and opening entirely to a consciousness of Love's presence. I began living in the clear light of divine Life, translating everything into spiritual ideas, watching God's grace elevating my thought and experience.

I've continued reading Science and Health for several years now, and the suicidal thoughts, medications, drinking, and eating disorders are gone. It hasn't been easy to face and be rid of things that bound me, but I want to say that when it's hard, it doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. Healing for me began with the deep desire to change. I'd thought I had to figure out what was wrong with me and change myself. But I found instead that I could let lies just drop away, as Jesus taught in his parable of the tares and wheat. I'm so grateful to continue the self-examination and the purifying—and to have something to give.


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