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Joy replaces dark thoughts

From the November 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal

For many years I struggled with feeling depressed, especially when life seemed particularly difficult. A few years ago, my husband began traveling more often on business trips. He was traveling about one week out of every month, sometimes more. Despite many wonderful things happening in my life, when my husband would leave, I would drop into a lonely and mentally dark place. Sometimes, it was as if I were void of feeling anything. 

At times, I wanted to hurt myself. I did not act on these urges, but when I told my husband about these dark thoughts, he became fearful. Though we both tried to cope with my bouts of depression, we knew that I needed to find a way to healing.

Then one day, while having lunch with my daughter, I confided to her that I just wasn’t as happy without my husband around. My daughter firmly and lovingly told me that this was not good and that I needed to change my thinking. This mentally shook me and helped “wake me up” to the need for me to pray.

A few weeks later, I was elected to serve as First Reader of my Christian Science branch church. To prepare, I studied what Mary Baker Eddy says in the Manual of The Mother Church about Readers’ responsibilities. When I read, “They must keep themselves unspotted from the world … ” (p. 31), I mentally reached out to God and asked, “What does that mean? What do I need to do to be ‘unspotted from the world’?” The answer was immediate: “You need to forgive.” 

I had known for many years that I needed to forgive someone who had molested me when I was a young child. I knew this forgiveness was key to my being healed. I had only recently forgiven myself for not speaking up until decades after the abuse occurred. But forgive the abuser? I felt sure I would one day, but I didn’t see how. Identifying myself as a victim had seemed like such a part of me for so long that I felt the best I could do was keep my heart open to the possibility of forgiveness.

I was sure that God would accomplish whatever needed to happen for this “spot” to be removed before my readership began. I didn’t know what to do or where to start, so I mentally let go of any struggle to forgive and simply trusted that God would tell me or show me what I needed to know.

One night I was reading “Your freedom from sin—proved step by step” by Sarah Hyatt (Christian Science Sentinel, January 2, 2012). In the article, the author writes about enduring “mental, verbal, emotional, and occasional physical abuse” by her father, an alcoholic, when she was a child. 

My first reaction was gratitude for my wonderful dad and all the fatherly qualities he’s exhibited throughout my life—including protectiveness and unconditional, boundless love. He didn’t abuse me in any way. But when I read how the author was able to forgive her father, I felt my heart crack open just a little more to the possibility that I could forgive the man who had abused me.

I turned to another article in that Sentinel issue, “Freed from dark sexual thoughts,” published anonymously. As I began reading it, I was filled with so many feelings opposite to the love I’d gained from the other article. I felt rage, disgust, and even hatred. This article was written by a would-be abuser—someone who had struggled with pedophilic thoughts. I found myself mentally arguing with God and thinking, “I don’t want to read this! Why should I?” And I heard God’s tender response, “Just read it. You must.”

By the end of the article, I was so moved and had tears running down my face. I felt so much love for the writer and found myself wishing I could give him a big hug. Here was someone who had so diligently prayed over many years to be free from evil thinking. He never acted on those thoughts, and eventually found his freedom. I was extremely chagrined and humbled to realize that my initial reaction was exactly the response the writer had feared during his years of struggle.

A couple of weeks later I was sewing a quilt, when suddenly I became still. I felt something was different about me, and I wanted to know what it was. When I’m making a quilt, I consciously think loving thoughts about the recipient, and I figured maybe that had brought this sense of peace and calm. But there was something more—a gentle joy all throughout my being. I kept searching my thoughts and my heart. 

Finally, I remembered the Sentinel articles I’d read and realized I’d actually forgiven the abuser in my heart. I was healed. I had a lightness about me—a true, deep, and unremitting happiness that I hadn’t recognized before. All memory, resentment, and hurt from the abuse fell away from me as if it had never happened. I found myself singing and dancing around the house with pure joy. I don’t remember ever feeling such peace and happiness before.

When my husband returned home, he said that he noticed I was happier. I shared with him how my healing came about. I could hardly wait for the next Wednesday night Christian Science church service so that I could share my testimony with my church family. I was practically bouncing in my seat that Wednesday night and was the first one to speak up and share. Everyone at the service was overflowing with love, and I hugged each of them before I left.

On my way home from the service, it dawned on me that “whatever blesses one blesses all” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 206). Therefore, the man who had abused me had to be blessed from my healing as well. My heart soared even higher with this realization. Before, I had wanted to forgive so I could feel better. While at the same time, I would have been fine if the abuser continued to suffer in guilt. That wasn’t a true concept of forgiveness. A mark of true forgiveness is that it surely blesses both the forgiver and the forgiven.

Now, more than a year later, my husband is traveling more than ever. And while I still love spending time with him, my time without him is peaceful, happy, and productive. I no longer have any temptation to hurt myself. Some days I wake up singing the “Daily Prayer” (Manual, p. 41) to my own special tune, and I am filled with gratitude and wonder that with God all things really are possible (see Matthew 19:26).

More in this issue / November 2013


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