WHEN MY HUSBAND PASSED ON, everything that I had counted on was in a state of upheaval. I was afraid of everything. I felt alone. I had a teenage daughter whom I would be raising on my own. What was her life going to be like? What was my life going to be like? Obviously I was depressed. I was deeply grieving the loss of my husband. But even more than that, there was a tidal wave of mental darkness that seemed impenetrable.
I had a really good friend who patiently and consistently called me nearly every day. Frankly, she was worried about me, and she needed to know whether I was making any progress. One afternoon about a month and a half after my husband's passing, she called to ask how I was doing. That day, I could articulate it exactly—without any filters. I didn't think I needed to couch my feelings in happy terms. And so I told her I was angry.
"At what?" she asked. And I remember thinking, "I don't know. I don't know what I'm angry at." It was enough that I could actually say I was angry. What I was thinking seemed to violate everything I had been trying to communicate to others—"Oh, everything's fine. I'm doing fine."
She asked, "You're not angry at God, are you?" And I found myself telling her, "Absolutely! I am angry at God. I am furious at God!"
Her immediate response stopped me in my tracks. She asked, "You're not angry at good, are you?" At the moment that she equated God with good, I realized that I needed to think about that. Was I really angry or rebelling against the good I hoped to have in my life?
One of the problems I was dealing with was that I hadn't realized to what degree I had framed my whole life around another individual's being there. My husband and I had made plans that affected my career, our home, our family. I saw that with his passing, all those plans were out the window.
And yet—I longed for a future. I longed for good. Here I was, sitting in the midst of darkness, but unable to say I was angry at the presence of being under the weight of evil. But, to answer my friend's question, I couldn't really say that I was angry at good.
Over the course of that weekend, I actually felt angry at my friend for what she had said to me. But her words caused me to begin to think—deeply. I had been, for the last month and a half, feeling, but not really thinking. Now, as I considered these questions of God and good, of being angry, of moving forward, I realized that what I was really longing for was a clearer concept of who my God was. I began to see that I had been thinking of God in a very anthropomorphic sense—as a man sitting on a throne, saying, "This person lives, and this person doesn't live. This person can be happy, and this person is unhappy." I understood that a lot of the anger and the stir—centered very much around this concept I was holding of God. At this point, I saw that what I really needed was to get to know God, the anchor of my life, better.
An indispensable tool in getting better acquainted with God was Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health. I turned to this book in pursuit of a clearer, deeper, more practical understanding of who God is. And I marched through it three times straight, letting it talk to me, letting it redefine my God to me.
Was I really angry or rebelling against the good I hoped to have in my life?
I had been a longtime student of the Bible, and of Science and Health. But at this time, I really needed to go deeper in my study. And I found that I was getting fresh glimpses of what the good that I wanted in my life really was. For instance, in the chapter "Prayer," the very first chapter of the book, there is a lot of emphasis on the nature of God as Love. What I read expanded my view of love as not coming from a person, or being distributed in bits and pieces from a humanlike ruler who says, "I'll love you this much if ..." or "I'll give you this much good when ...." Love, I discerned, was spiritual—the good that was with me constantly. I can now look back over this experience of deepening my understanding of who God is and see how I became united more closely to God as a presence I could trust, as my Father-Mother, my constant companion, my friend, my boss, and my husband in the very deepest sense of that term.
I realized once again in an even profounder sense that the God I know, the God I love, doesn't send evil. The God who loves all of us, Love itself, is blessing us all. And it's for that very reason that there is hope when we are up against a wall. I got a glimpse of a God who isn't just sending good here and there, but is always present, and who gives opportunity to see good, and to be good, and to do good. As I was letting go of the concept of God as a human dictator on a throne, I was beginning to see God more as an underlying constant Principle of good to which I could always turn.
My concept of marriage and relationships underwent a change. I saw that my connection to good, connection to others, and my security were not dependent on a particular individual. God was more apparent in my life as an infinite presence, coming to meet my needs in countless ways.
And as I was gaining a higher view of marriage—my weddedness to God, if you will—my appreciation for my husband deepened and deepened. I could appreciate all that he and I had ever had together, all that we'd ever done together. I could see qualities could just continue to grow. And I felt quite certain, too, that he was going forward, as I was.
My whole concept of God expanded to the point where the light in my life now far outweighs the darkness. I can't say that this has been an easy or a quick journey. But I can say that I've come to know that God is the anchor for the good in my life. And what I've learned has opened the door to a new world for me.
This account was first broadcast on Sentinel Radio.
Michelle Boccanfuso travels widely from her home base in Ewing, New Jersey, giving public talks on Christian Science.
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