During the summer months of 2008, my abdomen began to bother me and I became unwell. I started to pray for myself right away, and on occasion I asked for treatment from a Christian Science practitioner.
One afternoon while I was driving home from work, the pain I had been feeling became so intense I had to pull over and park on the side of the road. I could barely think.
I called the practitioner from my cellphone and explained the situation. She agreed to pray for me again as I sat in my car and simply tried to keep my thoughts together. About half an hour later I felt well enough to continue driving until I got home. But that was the last day I was able to go to work as a Christian Science nurse at the Christian Science nursing facility where I was employed.
A few days later I became aware that the signs and symptoms I was observing and feeling were the same ones my husband had some years back. He had passed on of an inoperable cancer—an abdominal tumor diagnosed by the medical profession.
As was the case with my husband, I lost a lot of weight. The condition barely allowed me to eat. For two and a half years I had taken care of my husband, and I could see how every one of the symptoms he experienced began to manifest themselves in my body.
When a relative, who had my power of attorney, called me and learned that I was ill, he urged me to have medical care. I had given him the legal right to make decisions for me, should I become incapacitated. And I was incapacitated at that point.
Yet, having proved the power of Christian Science to heal countless times throughout my life, I had full faith in it and wanted to continue to rely on it exclusively. In fact, I saw no other way. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized” (p. 167).
I love this relative very much, but I could see that in order to safeguard my desire to rely on Christian Science for healing, I needed to give someone else power of attorney. I did take this step, but it was a painful one for me and caused an estrangement between us. I am grateful to say that he did eventually find his peace about my decision, and today we have a good relationship.
Early on I had employed two visiting Christian Science nurses to come to my home at different times to help me with things I was now unable to do. They did the laundry, grocery shopping, brought me my meals, helped me get in and out of bed when I could, and also spent time reading to me. They provided such a loving, healing atmosphere in my home while I continued receiving Christian Science treatment.
A dear Christian Science friend in another state also talked with me almost daily by phone, day and night. She read to me, encouraged me, and affirmed with me out loud the spiritual truths that I was working with.
Because I could lie only on my back, I had plenty of time to think and pray, and to read, whenever I could manage it. During that time I read an
address by a Christian Science teacher about spiritual healing in which he referred to cancer as trash. Yes, he referred to it as accumulated trash in thought that we tend to believe we have the right to keep. That made me think a lot.
It reminded me of this statement in Mrs. Eddy’s short autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, which I then looked up: “It is well to know, dear reader, that our material, mortal history is but the record of dreams, not of man’s real existence, and the dream has no place in the Science of being. It is ‘as a tale that is told,’ and ‘as the shadow when it declineth.’ The heavenly intent of earth’s shadows is to chasten the affections, to rebuke human consciousness and turn it gladly from a material, false sense of life and happiness, to spiritual joy and true estimate of being” (p. 21). And on the next page she says, “The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged.”
I understood that I needed to review those “earthly shadows.” In other words, to look honestly at the difficult experiences I had gone through in the past (and there were many of them) and to forgive myself where needed, as well as forgive others. I realized I needed to purify my thought.
This was my work for days, weeks, and months—nine months in total. After five of those months, I moved to a Christian Science nursing facility, as my physical condition had worsened. I spent four months there, being cared for with such love and dedication.
Meanwhile, as I lay there praying, old resentments buried in my thought, came to the surface. For example, I had been raised by an abusive mother, and one day I remembered how my mother would often accuse me of doing things I hadn’t done. I quickly learned that if I insisted I was innocent, my punishment would be severer, so out of self-preservation I would lie to her and agree that I had done the misdeed. Throughout my adult life I often felt a certain disrespect for myself. Suddenly I realized that this disrespect was due to these episodes in my childhood.
Now it was time to forgive—both myself and my mother—and to accept God’s view of both of us as Her precious daughters, always pure and good. As I did this, step by step I started to feel more and more of God’s presence, something I hadn’t been able to feel for some time.
In difficult moments I remembered a solo that I used to sing to my children based on the 43rd chapter of Isaiah: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (verse 2).
During this time my thought was gradually being purified. Slowly I perceived that those earthly shadows of the past had no power or presence in God’s kingdom, and they were not part of me. I continued to forgive. I had to persist until I could see everyone who came into my thought and experience as God had created them.
These were months of tremendous spiritual growth, where I indeed passed through the fire, but it was a purifying fire that renewed not only thought but body. The symptoms of illness began to dissipate. I began having less and less pain, and then long periods of no pain. At one point, I no longer had any.
I decided it was then time to leave the Christian Science nursing facility since I could care for myself. My condition continued to improve, and within a short time my stomach returned to its normal size and appearance.
It has been three years since this complete healing, and I have remained strong and free.
Today I’m grateful to be always busy taking cases as a private Christian Science nurse, as well as responding to calls from people who ask me to pray for them.
One of the greatest blessings of this experience is that I feel I’ve become a better Christian Science nurse by having been a patient. I learned the importance of being loving, patient, and of being dependable and constant—and of showing human compassion. Just having someone hold my hand in the most difficult hours, and reassuring me, meant so much.
And, of course, I most certainly have a stronger trust in God. Whenever I am confronted with new and challenging situations in my work, I have asked God for help, and He has always answered.
My gratitude to God knows no bounds.
St. Petersburg, Florida, US