I offer this testimony as encouragement to anyone praying about a long-standing difficulty.
Some years ago, I struggled with immobility and intense pain for periods ranging from several weeks to a couple of months. The first time it occurred, I could not find a comfortable position or walk, sleep, or swim (one of my favorite activities) with any ease, and the pain was severe.
A Christian Science practitioner was praying for me, and I spent many hours day and night praying and listening to tapes of the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, Sentinel Radio, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and the Bible. I knew from experience that prayer in Christian Science is effective, and I was endeavoring to follow this cherished admonition in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany by Mary Baker Eddy: “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them” (p. 210).
One day after a Sunday service at a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, the pain became particularly severe. Family members and a friend who were with me read passages from the Bible and Science and Health and prayed with me. I knew the root of the difficulty was not my body, even though it felt and looked very physical, but was mental. I needed to get an enlarged, deeper, more permanent sense of identity and love and let go of materially based views of individuality, life, and happiness.
I could detect a change in my thought, a sense of release, as I sensed more of the truth about God and our relationship to Him. As I kept up my spiritual study and prayer, the immobility and pain diminished and then disappeared altogether, and I found myself moving freely and joyfully.
However, a while later, the challenge returned, this time more severely and for a longer duration. At one point, I told the practitioner who was praying for me that I was afraid I would never be able to swim again.
The practitioner immediately and vigorously rebuked the suggestion of pain to silence it. At first I was a little taken aback, but the rebuke reminded me that I didn’t need to listen to suggestions that man could be limited or to accept that the problem had any degree of reality—a beginning, a now, or a future. Man, God’s spiritual reflection, is at every moment perfect, whole, and free. Again, I knew that a change needed to take place in thought, and as I kept praying, fear and negative feelings toward myself and others melted away.
A turning point came during a trip to the mountains with my sister, my brother-in-law, and a friend and her young son. I had not been able to sleep for quite a while and at night would lie as still as I could, listening to tapes as I had before or praying with hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal and passages from Science and Health and the Bible, such as the Lord’s Prayer that Christ Jesus gave us and the 23rd Psalm. For several nights my sister read with me until the wee hours.
Soon after returning from the trip, the pain and immobility simply vanished. There was no vestige of the condition, no recuperation period. In the years since, this difficulty has never returned. And I continue to relish my daily swims!
I wondered how the healing had come about, as it seemed there was no one truth that had brought about the healing. I prayed to understand, and it came to me that my thought was being purified. Science and Health urges, “In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,—self-will, self-justification, and self-love,—which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death” (p. 242). I felt I had, with divine Love’s help, been laboring in that direction, and that I had become a little less self-centered. For many years before and after this experience it was as if I could not get enough of the truth, and nearly all I read or yearned to read was spiritual in nature—the Bible and Mrs. Eddy’s writings, as well as articles and testimonies from the Christian Science Sentinel and Journal.
So it seems to me that this healing illustrated this passage in Science and Health: “Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).
It also reminds me of this statement in our textbook: “The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love” (Science and Health, p. 201). I was puzzled that there had been no “aha moments” with this healing, but I had certainly been seeking and growing in my understanding of Truth. I knew I was more solidly grounded in faith and understanding than before, and had further developed qualities such as perseverance and fearlessness, as well as grown in other virtues.
I am grateful that during these challenges I never had to miss a day of work or stay home from church, and I was able to try to be helpful to whoever crossed my path.
What I learned from these experiences has helped me again and again face and overcome other challenges suggesting that we are not one with God, good, and has helped me gain a more sustained sense of divine Love’s presence in my life and in the lives of all.
Barbara O’Brien Wagstaff
Berkeley, California, US
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