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From the September 10, 2007 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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PEACE AND TRUE HAPPINESS. This is how I would describe the natural outcome of turning to God in my prayers about life's most heartfelt questions. One landmark experience, in particular, helped me see the value in seeking God's goodness first, and then trusting that all my needs would be met.

Several years ago, the man I was dating called me at work one day and asked what shape of diamond I liked best. I knew then that a marriage proposal wasn't far away.

As I sat at my desk during a summer internship nearly 2,000 miles away from him, I remember thinking it was all happening so fast. We'd met only six months earlier, in business school, and immediately started spending lots of time together. So right then, I prayed to feel clarity about this relationship and a deep, peaceful sense of God's presence. All my life, I'd been used to relying on prayer for direction, so it was totally natural for me to look to God for guidance in the biggest decision I'd probably ever have to make.

A strong angel message came that if this engagement wasn't right, I could expect a clear indication not to move forward with it. Over the years, I'd prayed with many of the passages from the "Marriage" chapter in Science and Health, and was reminded of this one: "From the logic of events we learn that selfishness and impurity alone are fleeting, and that wisdom will ultimately put asunder what she hath not joined together" (p. 60).

Soon after I returned home, my boyfriend proposed, and we began planning a winter wedding for the upcoming Christmas break. Even as wedding plans got underway, I became aware of issues in our relationship that made me uncomfortable. However, this only made me dig in my heels and try even harder to make it work. At one point, after an argument, my fiance and I decided to call off the wedding.

The day the engagement ended, I called a Christian Science practitioner for some prayerful support. His response to my news was, "You are already married to God." His comments reminded me that my marriage should exist as a reflection of my spiritual connection to God. His remarks encouraged me to seek God first and also echoed a sentence in Unity of Good where Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Hourly, in Christian Science, man thus weds himself with God, or rather he ratifies a union predestined from all eternity . . ." (p. 17). I thought about this beautiful fact often.

Even as I prayed about these spiritual ideas, I struggled with the thought that God had somehow cheated me out of happiness. Because my boyfriend and I still really cared about each other, we continued dating, and the next eight months were an emotional roller coaster. I had trouble sleeping and lost my appetite. I felt like a cartoon character walking around with a little rain cloud over my head.

I'd always been a happy person, and dealing with these depressing feelings made me feel robbed of my true identity. Often, I would pray to see that my love of life was something inherently part of my spiritual nature that could never be taken from me. During this time, a passage from Science andHealth stood out to me: "The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares" (p. 574). This helped me see that I needed to dig deeper spiritually to see that God, or Love itself, would provide relief from fear by helping me feel His presence and control.

I had a mental image of a mountain river with all of the water moving in one direction. Similarly, I could see that events in my life were moving together in one direction to fulfill a good purpose.

One morning following a sleepless night, I opened my Bible at random. Through my tears, I read this passage: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jer. 29:11).

Right then, I felt so loved and conscious of the fact that God was speaking directly to me. He was thinking about me! As I basked in this idea, the fear I'd been feeling just lifted. I had a mental image of a huge roaring mountain river with all of the water moving in one direction. Similarly, I could see that events in my life were moving together harmoniously in one direction to fulfill a good purpose. This purpose was ultimately to express God and continually discover more about Him, and nothing could oppose it. God was leading me to a wonderful outcome, no matter what turmoil I was facing.

Soon after this insight, it became very clear that the relationship needed to end, and my boyfriend and I broke up for good. My prayers had helped me realize that the antidote to fear and instability of any kind was feeling divine Love's presence.

Following graduation from business school, I took a three-week European vacation with one of my girlfriends. I felt refreshed and ready for a new start; things started looking bright again.

Upon my return, I started an exciting new career in finance and took a break from thinking about relationships. But as I began to notice how many people around me were paired off or married, feelings of discouragement set in again.

Although I knew that the broken engagement had been for the best, and I didn't miss my former fiance, I began to ruminate over the idea of what could have been—marriage, children, progress in my life. The notion of starting another relationship with someone new someday seemed overwhelming. These thoughts pulled me inward again with the suggestion that I'd missed my last chance for domestic happiness.

But as I let the idea that I was wed to Love continue to grow and develop through my prayers, I realized that there would never be an interruption or break in God's constant love for me. There was an eternal oneness reflected in our relationship that could never be broken. The story wasn't truly over until there was a joyful ending. As I held to these ideas, I felt a new sense of mental freedom.

One quiet weekend soon after starting my job, struggling with recurring feelings of sadness, I called my mother, and she gently suggested that we think together about how I could bring joy to other people's lives. A light went on in my thought. It broke through the mesmeric pull of my sadness, and my focus shifted from my personal inward struggles to an outward focus on others.

Grabbing a pen and paper, I began to make a list of activities in which I could make a difference, involving tutoring programs in the community, animal shelters, women's organizations, or just plain smiling at people again! In about 20 minutes, I was completely free of the dark feelings that had gripped me for so many months. I realized with elation that I could live a wonderfully satisfying life without ever being married. My purpose could be totally focused on bringing maximum good to others' lives.

A few days after this realization, I spontaneously met a man after a 5K road race. I was trying to get my keys out of my locked car. He helped me out, and, soon after, he became a reliable running partner. At the time, I wasn't at all interested in dating, but as weeks and months passed, I realized that I had more fun being with him than with anyone else. We were great friends for a while before we eventually went on an official date. And after we did, it still took some time for me to fully open up again. Gradually, it became crystal clear to me that this relationship was a perfect fit.

My friend and I fell in love and got married. This relationship is full of good humor, joy, and continues to support our spiritual growth. When I look back on this experience, I'm in awe of God's plan. I've learned that approaching each day as an opportunity to seek and express His will can help bring more spiritual satisfaction to our relationships than we can ever imagine.

As a frequent runner, I've always prayed through things when I'm out for a jog. And since this major healing, I've noticed that my thoughts are peaceful and free from the anxiety that used to haunt my steps. Better yet, I'm convinced that a deeper commitment to acknowledging God's constant love sustains us and moves us forward in the most progressive way.


Natalie Aide lives in Houston with her husband and their newborn daughter. She is a wealth advisor for a regional Texas bank.

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