THE WHEELS OF THE PLANE were just touching down on the runway of a small island in the Caribbean, where I was going to work. As I looked out the window, the thought of "home" came to me very clearly. It was an unexpected thought since I hadn't made any friends yet and had no connections except to the one person who'd hired me. I'd used the word home in reference to my hometown where my family lived and several other cities where I lived for long periods of time, but who knew what lay before me here? However, I was grateful to hear the message and felt it must be from God, that home was always with me as a spiritual idea, complete and welcoming.

I jumped right into the daily activities of being a new teacher, learning a new culture, having a new roommate. There was so much to do, and although there were struggles and a period of adjustment, I came to feel like I was living in paradise.

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But one night around 2:30 a.m., my roommate, who was awake, came to me and said, "Someone's trying to break into the apartment." My first thought was disbelief, but in the next instant we heard a loud noise and realized someone had broken in our front door. I instinctively grabbed a softball bat that was close by and went into the kitchen to see a man much taller than I. He took the bat away from me in seconds and proceeded to knock me down and hit me repeatedly with the side of a large cutlass.

In the meantime, my roommate had grabbed a chair and began to hit this man, attempting to stop the attack. After a moment, he went after her. Our neighbor, who heard our cries, came out of his house and shouted something. The assailant then grabbed my computer and quickly ran away.

The incident happened early on a Sunday morning. Although it was traumatic, through prayer and holding tightly to thoughts of God's presence and tender care, I was able to get a few hours of sleep and go to participate in church. To find complete healing, though, I knew it was important to forgive the man who'd attacked me, by praying to see God's child as inherently honest, trustworthy, upright, and lacking nothing.

Also, I wondered if going out to meet him with a bat had been the best choice. Now I realize that in dangerous situations people do what they have to, given the circumstances. And regretting my choice wouldn't help. Grabbing the bat was a split-second decision that seemed wise at the time. But perhaps I could have appealed first to divine Love, on the spot, for wisdom—as my first "instinct." Where did my true protection come from? I thought. I knew that violence could never be the solution to violence.

I had the resources to handle this fear that unexpected violence could erupt at a moment's notice.

I'd been inspired by testimonies where the writers had been held up or kidnapped, and had seen the danger dissolve when they faced the situation with Christly love. If confronted again, would I be able to do that? I wasn't sure, but I decided to be confident enough spiritually to try to meet any future challenges (here or anywhere) with the understanding that Jesus had when he healed. Mary Baker Eddy wrote on page 476 in Science and Health, "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals." That's what I needed to do. Regardless of any memory of what had happened, my desire was to see God's child, God's perfect man.

While I had numerous cuts, they all healed quickly and completely through prayer. My roommate's cuts healed, too. The physical healing actually came much sooner for me than the emotional healing.

My roommate and I had been sharing spiritual ideas, and this helped. But a few days after the incident, she went on a trip. I felt alone and afraid. As a Christian Scientist, I knew I had the resources to handle this fear that unexpected violence could erupt at a moment's notice, and I prayed to feel God's presence and protection. I was grateful to have, right there when I needed it, a copy of the Sentinel with the cover topic "Safe in an unsafe world." The articles in the magazine were reassuring and helped me realize the allness of God's protection in any situation, in any place.

As the days went by, I prayed. But just as I would feel "on top of everything," something would happen to deter my progress—for example, our car was stolen at one point and recovered the next day—and I would be jumpy about little things. I would go to bed feeling I was "prayed up," but then hear every noise outside the window and feel like someone was out there ready to come in again. Our home now had a new solid door, a locked iron gate, and an alarm system. But I prayed to know that my protection was not coming from those material items, but that true safety is in direct relation to our understanding of God's care.

This jumpiness went on for several months. It reached a point where I hadn't slept for three nights in a row because of my anxiety, and I knew that something had to change. If it didn't, I would have to return to the United States. I loved my work in the Caribbean and felt this was where God wanted me. I felt a bit like Jonah being told to go to Nineveh (only God was telling me to stay somewhere!), although I didn't feel strong enough to overcome the fear.

After not sleeping for three nights, I called a Christian Science practitioner before going to bed and asked for help. She talked to me about God's protection and said that she would pray for me. I felt at peace, went to bed, and for the first time in months fell right to sleep and slept the whole night through. In the morning, I woke up refreshed and grateful for practitioners who can help us when we're struggling. The fear that had made me jumpy during the day was gone. I went to sleep again the next night and once more slept through an entire night. I cannot even describe my joy over this complete healing! It was like feeling weighed down by illness one day and then having the problem absolutely gone the next day.

I called the practitioner back after that second night of peaceful rest, and she shared with me that she'd been praying with this statement from Mary Baker Eddy's writing: "Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. ... There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210). This truly affirmed that my protection from violence did not come from the iron gates, alarm system, or locks, but from God's constant care. I thanked the practitioner for her help and let her know that her prayers had brought an instantaneous healing of anxiety, which I'd been working to overcome for a long time.

Mary Baker Eddy told readers in Unity of Good that "evil and all its forms are inverted good" (p. 53). For me, good prevailed, and I continued living on my own for the rest of that year—in the same apartment, without anxiety, without fear, and with a full expression of love for those around me, rather than apprehension and mistrust.

This healing reminded me of Peter and John at the temple, healing a lame man. That man went off "leaping, and praising God" (see Acts 3:1–8). I believe, to some degree, I know the joy he felt. |css

August 9, 2010

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