In the early 1970s I was living in London and trying to fill a sense of emptiness with food, but the problem had nothing to do with physical hunger. Back then, I didn’t recognize the hunger for what it was—a spiritual yearning to feel God’s control and presence in my life.
At one dark point during this time, I wandered into a Christian Science Reading Room to ask to use their telephone. Although I had no idea what Christian Science was, or the purpose of a Reading Room, I had felt drawn to this shopfront and was grateful the attendant let me make my phone call. Despite the passage of decades, I still remember his kindness in helping a stranger who showed no interest in what a Reading Room really had to offer beyond its telephone.
A few months later after returning to the United States, I encountered the words Christian Science again in an unexpected way. I had been attending a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous, where participants were encouraged to see that a Higher Power was in charge of their days, instead of relying on human willpower. A search began that led me to visit a variety of religious services in the Boston area. However, none felt like my spiritual home.
During this time, I became increasingly aware of someone I’d met at Overeaters Anonymous who exuded joy, confidence, and an acceptance of others that was both appealing and comforting. We became friends, and finally I asked her: “What are you? What makes you so different from everyone else?” That’s when she told me she studied Christian Science.
Since I was curious to know more about this religion, she introduced me to the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, showed me how she marked her Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, with the citation references from the Christian Science Quarterly, and took me to the local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, she attended.
Although intrigued by what I was learning, I still continued to explore other denominations while sporadically accompanying her and going on my own to that branch church. Then one day my friend invited me to a lecture held at The Mother Church in Boston. As I sat listening to the lecturer, little of what he said registered, until he asked the audience one hypothetical question that altered my life. It went something like this: If a cat is frightened by a dog, and arches his back, would you treat the cat for curvature of the spine?
I immediately grasped that the real issue was the cat’s fear. No material remedy would straighten things out. The metaphor was a first step in helping me better comprehend my own years’ long experience with cycles of overeating and diets. I realized at that moment that all the diets in the world could never cure food obsessions and addictions. Clearly, the problem was not what or how much a person ate, but why the individual felt compelled to overindulge in the first place. The root of the issue had to be addressed, not the symptom—and healing would follow.
On that one premise alone, I embarked on my study of Christian Science, understanding little at first but holding to Mrs. Eddy’s words: “A simple statement of Christian Science, if demonstrated by healing, contains the proof of all here said of Christian Science. If one of the statements in this book is true, every one must be true, for not one departs from the stated system and rule” (Science and Health, p. 547).
I began attending Christian Science services regularly every Wednesday and Sunday, studied the Bible Lesson daily, and read as much as I could about Mrs. Eddy’s life and also read her writings.
Eventually, I changed my academic direction from becoming a registered dietician to pursuing a degree in education, which felt more compatible with my interest in Christian Science. I also joined The Mother Church and a branch church, and took Primary class instruction in Christian Science to better understand the healing practice.
As I became increasingly familiar with the teachings of Christ Jesus, I clung to these verses from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31–33).
Through my study of Christian Science and the Bible, I gradually gained freedom from preoccupation with food and discovered a fulfilling way of life along the way.
I had been seeking a practical religion that was logical and loving, and that would enable me to face whatever challenges came my way. I found that and so much more in Christian Science. I have a deeper understanding of and a deep gratitude for God’s goodness.
Since finding Christian Science, I’ve served in many different capacities at the branch churches I’ve belonged to, including Reader, Sunday School teacher, member of the housekeeping committee (including cleaning the church myself sometimes), and staff member of our local Christian Science Reading Room for some thirty years.
Because of my own story, I want to be ready for whoever walks through that Reading Room door, whether the person desires a better understanding of God, or just needs to use the phone.
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