The only light came from a lone street lamp and the periodic flickering of cheap convenience store lighters. There were about 15 high schoolers in the park. But of them, I was the only one who wasn’t smoking marijuana.
I’ve been a Christian Scientist my entire life. When I was younger, I accepted Christian Science because it was how I was raised. Prayer was something I used mostly when I got sick. There was always the nagging feeling that maybe religion was just a waste of a Sunday morning and nothing more. But through the healings I’d had, I knew there was more to Christian Science, and that evening my trust in God was tried.
Lexi (not her real name) and I had become friends because I had made her laugh at school. The first time we hung out outside of school, she asked me to come to a party at a park near her house. I left my bicycle in her garage, and we walked to the park together. I didn’t know anyone else at the party, so I was nervous about fitting in. I was looking forward to the rest of the night until she turned to me and asked, “So, do you smoke?”
“No,” I replied.
She looked surprised. “What? Really?”
“No,” I responded. “I’ve never gotten high or drunk.”
All the desire to try pot slithered away.
My mind started racing. Lexi had asked a simple question, but it really got me thinking about why I should avoid drugs, and whether I had reason to at all. According to my friends, pot was harmless fun. To my parents it was wrong. I knew that Christian Science tells us it is not wise to do drugs because they cloud our thinking and turn us away from listening to God. But I had always been curious about what it would feel like to get high. Half the kids at my school either smoked or drank. Many of them were my friends. From Lexi’s question I figured there would be drugs and alcohol at the party. Surely there couldn’t be any harm in trying them just once?
Her response caught me off-guard: “Then how are you so … chill?”
Being chill—relaxed, natural, funny—was already part of who I was. Did she really think that drugs were involved? It was then that I realized that my identity was already good and couldn’t be enhanced by a material influence. All the desire to try pot slithered away. Hadn’t God already provided me with everything I could ever want? Years of Sunday School had taught me that my satisfaction comes from the spiritual qualities I express. But would I be able to show this resolve to everyone else?
Eventually everyone showed up, bringing snacks, sodas ... and pot. My bike was still locked up in Lexi’s garage, so I couldn’t easily leave. So I stayed. When I was offered a hit, I declined. And despite the fact that everyone else was high, I was able to enjoy myself. The party ended after a few hours, and as I was getting my bike, one of the guys came up to me and asked: “So what’s your secret? How do you stay sober?”
The reason why I chose not to use drugs was not because of my parents, or because of blind repulsion, but because I knew that man (meaning all men and women created in God’s image) has God-given dominion. I am a complete expression of good, with no need to be preoccupied by material suggestions. I realized that my life is completely encompassed by God, Spirit; there is no room for anything else. Friendship, acceptance, creativity, satisfaction—all the good in my life—have a spiritual basis. Man, as “the compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 591), can be made no more perfect or at peace than he already is.
There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit.
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 102
But I wanted to tell all of this to my friend in a way he could understand. I told him about all the things and people in my life that make me happy: my friends, the places I’ve traveled to, the music I love to write for the piano. And he understood. I knew that greater than any high was the satisfaction I felt in living—expressing God as infinite Life.
Sam Soetarman will be a freshman in college in the fall and enjoys playing the piano in his free time.
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