Freedom from ‘problem gambling’—the spiritual way!

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, January 11, 2017.

I was a “problem gambler” in my 20s, playing the fruit machines (one-armed bandits) in the West End of London, day in and day out. On the occasional time when I managed to leave victorious over the odds, the glow of victory was short-lived. I would invariably take my winnings back to the arcades later that day.

So my heart goes out to those who are experiencing such misery and even risking their marriages by giving in to the urge to gamble (see editorial on facing page). Looking back from the freedom I’ve since found, I pray individuals will find their own route out of such circumstances, as I finally did.

What happened in my case was someone introduced me to Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a deeply healing book that introduced me to a love of the Bible’s profound message of comfort and hope and has since become a constant companion. I was blown away to read something overtly spiritual that made practical sense. It clarified spiritual moments I’d previously experienced that had a practical impact on my life. It showed me that such glimpses of spiritual awareness should and would bring actual healing.

I wanted to “beat the odds” that claim addiction is a problem that can only be managed and never defeated. Reading the Bible brought to light Christ Jesus’ sweet assurance that God is Love and loves us all. It also assured me the kingdom of God was not just a distant promise, but included the experience of harmony here and now. Science and Health says: “This kingdom of God ‘is within you,’—is within reach of man’s consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it. In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God” (p. 576).

In other words, my overriding need was to understand God better. So I read more. I prayed more. And I came to understand that God is ever present and all powerful.

I saw that it wasn’t true to my spiritual nature as the child or expression of God to be governed by material urges. And as I challenged those urges, I found that happiness and self-worth were within my grasp as I let the spiritual idea of being that empowered Jesus in his healing works lead me to learn of my own, and everyone’s, relation to divine Love as God’s pure, spiritual reflection. As I did so, many opportunities to express love toward others—and to feel cared for by others—came about, and I found myself increasingly at peace.

Compared to all that, the pull to gamble just totally lost its hold on me. I not only stopped giving in to the habit, but stopped even wanting to gamble. The desire hasn’t ever tugged at my thought in the three decades since.

While stuck in the gambling rut, I believed my thoughts and actions were beyond my control. Now I understand, and to some degree have proved, that I am a child of God under God’s control, and that’s enabled this (former) problem gambler permanently to say, “I’m free!”

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, January 11, 2017.

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Editorial
Christian Science—sacred not secret
February 27, 2017
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