From anger and annoyance, to love
In middle school, I was having a difficult time getting along with my parents and enjoying school. I always complained about the overload of homework and how I believed the majority of my teachers were unreasonable. I felt constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Eventually, I began taking out this anger on my parents, straining our relationship. Every little thing they did annoyed me, and I felt misunderstood.
Then, in the middle of the school year, I became sick and had to be pulled out of classes. What started out as minor symptoms gradually increased and became persistent. My mom prayed for me and shared ideas daily, but, as had become typical for me, I only became agitated with her. I stubbornly held to the thought that the sickness would pass on its own. However, when I began to experience severer symptoms, I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help and also listen to the ideas my mom was sharing.
My practitioner and my mother discussed metaphysical truths with me, and I began praying earnestly with each truth and spiritual idea. While I don’t remember any specific quotes from the Bible or Mary Baker Eddy’s writings we talked about, I know we worked with the idea of health in order to recognize that, as the reflection of God, I could reflect only God’s perfect, unchangeable nature. My body could not tell me I was sick since a material body is not part of who I really am—a spiritual idea of God.
While I knew I wanted to continue to rely on prayer, I remember complaining to my mother when it seemed like there was not immediate improvement. I was so focused on changing the material picture and praying to heal various symptoms that I wasn’t receptive to the change and spiritual growth that needed to take place in my thought.
When I called my practitioner for the umpteenth time that day, she bluntly asked, “Courtlyn, whom are you mad at?” This question took me so much by surprise that I hurriedly answered, “No one!” At first I was shocked and offended that she would ask me such a question, as I felt my personal life was being intruded upon. And I had no idea how she knew I was mad at someone! However, I also knew that I actually was frustrated with my mother and that my practitioner was simply demanding that the lie be uncovered—the lie that I could be angry and irritated with someone I love.
Eventually, I grudgingly admitted my anger, so she shared with me how anger or hate tries to influence our thought and can therefore appear to be manifested in our lives. She told me how I have to love everyone for who they are as God’s loved children and to be on constant lookout for good. She also shared how I can love others by understanding all of the spiritual, God-given qualities that they really express.
It suddenly dawned on me how my anger was connected to feeling physically uncomfortable. My general frustration with the situation and my annoyance at my mother were false attitudes that needed to be dismissed from my thoughts. I also realized that my resentment toward some of my teachers and my schoolwork was adding “fuel to the fire.”
After speaking with my practitioner that day and collecting my thoughts, I began praying to better understand unlimited divine Love, which is a name for God. I thought about all the wonderful qualities that my parents, teachers, and school exuded. I stopped limiting my thought and began looking for all of the good around me, appreciating what I saw of the qualities of God that are reflected everywhere. I began genuinely loving everyone and replacing any sense of hate with love. I saw that I was surrounded in an atmosphere of divine Love and its goodness, and nothing could separate me from the love of God; therefore, nothing could keep me from loving and appreciating my parents and teachers.
Once I stopped focusing on my physical condition and started looking at the quality of my thought—and began to love unselfishly—I experienced progress, and within a few days, I was back in school. Not only did all the symptoms of illness completely disappear, but my relationships with my parents and teachers also improved. My entire attitude toward my schoolwork shifted too, as I began thinking of work as a necessity and an opportunity.
Since then, I have never known the capacity to hate someone. When I am faced with someone or a situation that I don’t seem to like, I immediately begin to love. I see the person as the perfect reflection of God and the situation as under God’s care. I also take mental notes on the qualities of God that I see expressed in people and then start recognizing the good.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Material, erring, human thought acts injuriously both upon the body and through it” (p. 206 ). She also writes: “Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (p. 454 ). While at the time of this healing I did not understand how much thought influences body, I now realize the importance of watching our thoughts and leaning on Love’s healing power. Whenever I am faced with a challenge now, I treat the situation from a standpoint of love for others and keep alert for anything that needs healing in my thoughts. What a difference that has made!
—Courtlyn Reekstin, Yorba Linda, California, US