After the storm
The darkening sky outside, threatening a winter storm, matched my sinking mood. It was my sophomore year of college, and I was feeling buffeted on all sides. A senior friend and I had been assigned to room together, but we were given a third roommate who dominated the room, making me want to be somewhere else. Next to the popular kids on campus, I felt inferior and ignored. And I was also homesick.
Now, to top it all off, I had a mountain of homework to do, and I’d come down with what I thought was strep throat. From past experiences, I recognized the symptoms all too well and was worried about missing several weeks of classes. But I felt that if I could just get well by the end of that weekend, then I’d be OK.
I was fortunate to be attending a college for Christian Scientists, and my plan that Friday afternoon was to check myself into the cottage on campus that was staffed 24/7 during the school term by a Christian Science nurse. This was someone who would provide the physical care I needed while also supporting my spiritual approach to healing: prayer. When I checked in, the Christian Science nurse was very loving. I told her about my plan to hopefully get well by the end of the weekend, and she told me that one condition of staying in the cottage was that I call a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer.
I was feeling buffeted on all sides.
I hadn’t worked directly with a practitioner very often, but I thought of someone my dad had frequently called. I dialed, and explained why I was calling: I was away at college, starting to feel sick, and didn’t want to lose class time. I thought she might jump in at that point, maybe share a spiritual idea or two so I would know how to pray. But she didn’t, so I kept going. I explained the homework overload and the trouble with my roommate. Still, the practitioner was quiet.
Finally, I launched into the really scary personal stuff. I was also feeling insecure because others, who had fashionable clothes or were from wealthy families, were giving me mean looks. I felt isolated, unloved, and homesick.
I waited for a response from the practitioner for what seemed like a long time. Then, in the most loving voice I’d ever heard, she said, “Well, you know, dear, it’s all a bunch of garbage.”
Garbage?! I was stunned. But what about my steaming, scary hot mess? All my built-up anxiety and problems?
Then I was mad! How could she say that to me! Unless, I suddenly thought, she was speaking from a spiritual perspective. Unless she was knowing that God, divine Love, and Love’s care for me made all these problems … impossible?
I laughed out loud! While I’d been waiting for the practitioner to say something, she’d been busy praying and listening to God. Instead of being impressed by my personal storm, she had been knowing what was really, spiritually true: that Love’s total supremacy meant I was loved, safe, and valued, and so was everyone else.
Immediately, the fever stopped. The practitioner and I hung up, and within an hour the sore throat and all the other symptoms were gone. I was amazed. I called the practitioner back to thank her and spent the rest of the evening studying Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy along with the Bible, listening to hymns, getting some rest, and being so grateful.
Early the next morning, I left the cottage. The winter storm had passed, and in its place was a beautiful, cold, sunny day. Across the road, I saw a tennis court with a fresh layer of snow.
An inspiration flashed: I should write my name across the tennis court in the snow. I felt a moment of the old insecurity, the “less-than” feeling that had been plaguing me. It whispered, Someone might say, “Who are you to do that?” But then a beautiful thought from God rescued me: It doesn’t matter what people say or think. It will be fun. I felt so loved and free, and walked my name in cursive across the whole court. It was fun, and when I stood back, it looked great.
I felt so loved and free.
From there I headed to my dorm. On the way, I happened to pass a girl I didn’t really know, but who had previously given me indifferent looks. I beamed at her. She stopped and asked, “What happened to you?” I told her about the healing. She was amazed and thanked me for sharing, saying it had helped her. “You’re glowing,” she told me. I had the sudden realization that this—healing—is what people really cared about, not what you wore or if you were popular. I also recognized that the way people looked at me probably had a lot to do with the way I was looking at them, and I resolved to see my classmates in a more loving light.
When I got to my dorm, I saw other students trudging around, heads down, wearing big winter boots and heavy backpacks. I thought with love that they weren’t ignoring me; everyone was just doing the best they could. I realized I could help fill this space with love by asking God to help me be more understanding, rather than taking things personally.
Back in my room, I saw my younger roommate’s things around. For the first time, instead of being annoyed, I realized the purpose to our rooming together: The house mother had put her with my roommate and me so we could help her. She was a freshman, and this was her first winter away from home. I could be more loving, and study somewhere else if needed. The old selfish, me-focused feelings fell away as I realized what mattered was expressing more of the divine Love that had healed and uplifted me.
The winter was still cold, I was still far from home, and that mountain of homework still loomed. But I realized everything was different. The internal storm had passed, and it was like I was seeing everyone, myself included, with new eyes. And for the first time I really knew that I was loved and valued for me—that we all are.