Fiction: “Christian Science just denies bad things are happening.”
Fact: The word denial is one that’s often used in psychology, but it’s used very differently in Christian Science. Denial in prayer doesn’t mean ignoring the problem. One way of thinking about the term denial is that it means disagreeing with whatever seems wrong and agreeing with what is true: God’s all-power and His supreme, ever-present goodness. It means turning toward God, Truth, to understand the situation differently—spiritually. And this brings genuine healing. By contrast, “denying bad things are happening” definitely doesn’t bring healing. I know, because of something that happened with my daughter.
Christian Science doesn’t ask us to ignore challenges.
When my daughter was little, she had a full-blown phobia of animals. It seemed irrational, because as far as I knew, she’d never had a scary incident involving animals.
Her dad is not a Christian Scientist, so we initially sought the advice of a psychologist to help overcome our daughter’s fears. But nothing seemed to be working. I prayed because I didn’t want my daughter’s world to get smaller. She’d forego going to a friend’s home if the friend had a dog or cat.
My daughter and I talked about how animals are actually God’s creatures, God’s spiritual ideas, and how these ideas are only good. My daughter agreed. And yet, even something as small as a Chihuahua still seemed to terrify her. Months went by, and still, the fear persisted.
Though I tried not to let it show, it bugged me that my daughter wasn’t “getting it.” She was a bright kid and she’d had lots of other healings—healings I thought of as being more significant.
But as it turned out, I was the one who wasn’t getting it. As I prayed to know how to do what was best for my daughter, I became more honest with myself. That’s when I realized that I was kind of in denial about the problem, because her phobia made me so uncomfortable. Not only did I not want her to be afraid, I didn’t like it if she expressed her fear. People who were afraid were weak—or so I thought—and I didn’t want her to appear weak.
Real healing would mean identifying, addressing, and destroying fear with love, instead of just brushing it aside.
Wow! I could see that this was a mistaken sense of denial, being exposed to be healed once and for all. Instead of denying my daughter had a problem with fear, I saw I needed to deny the belief she could feel separated from God, good, which would be the basis for such a fear. The difference couldn’t be clearer: Instead of ignoring the problem, I needed to tackle it through prayer and spiritual reasoning. Because here’s the thing: Christian Science doesn’t ask us to ignore challenges. In fact, Christian Science does the opposite. It helps us feel God’s good and safe kingdom so clearly that we can see that anything ungodlike really, truly doesn’t exist.
This sentence in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy showed me a new approach for my prayers: “The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love” (p. 367).
Instead of “the doling of arguments,” I saw that I needed to pray for more love. Real healing would mean identifying, addressing, and destroying fear with love, instead of just brushing it aside or trying to talk my daughter out of it. I was grateful for these fresh ideas and knew we could both be freed from fear by turning to God.
I talked with my daughter again. I apologized for my impatience and told her that I’d learned something about fear and how to deal with it—how to heal it. I told her that I wanted to do a better job of helping her, and that whenever she felt afraid, she could come to me and we’d deal with the fear through prayer. Step by step, we prayed to see God’s goodness in the animals we encountered. While the fear wasn’t healed immediately, I was never impatient about it again. And I could see that this time around, we were actually making progress.
Not long after, there was real and complete healing, and now we’ve got four cats to prove it! We both learned that shoving fears—or any issues—aside never makes things better. But more important, we learned that facing problems, seeing their unreality through spiritual reasoning, and allowing them to be washed away by God’s pure, powerful love, does make things better. It heals.