A few years ago, I started to feel ill while away on business. On the flight home I felt extremely tired. All I could do was sleep.
During the next few days I felt so weak that at one point I felt I might pass on. Late one evening, I decided to call the Christian Science practitioner who was helping me. During that phone call I shared that I wasn’t ready to die, but thought I might. The prospect that I might pass on really unglued me. I remember having to hang up the phone, compose myself, and then call the practitioner back to continue our conversation.
The crisis passed, but the weakness lingered. I was able to continue to work but I could walk only for a brief distance, stop to rest, and then walk some more. I also had to change my routine at home, where my dog and I normally walked a mile in the morning and another at night. Any kind of normal physical activity was difficult.
This condition persisted for almost two years. Even when the weakness didn’t seem to be yielding, I knew I was yielding, bit by bit, in growth of character during this time.
In her article called “The Way” in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1886, pages 355–359, Mary Baker Eddy describes three stages of growth: self-knowledge, humility, and love. Under self-knowledge, she advised, “ ‘Physician, heal thyself.’ ” Under humility, she noted, “One can never go up, until one has gone down in his own esteem.”
This was a time of being knocked down a few pegs in my self-esteem. Listening for God’s messages, yielding up a sense of my own human strength and life, and looking for a higher source, was a constant prayerful activity.
After about a year and a half I felt like I’d hit absolute rock bottom. I had stopped my business responsibilities to devote more time to prayer. While I missed those responsibilities, the ability to make prayer and healing my primary focus was a real impetus to my spiritual growth. I would say this was probably the major turning point in the healing.
Over the next six months I made steady progress. I increasingly felt closer to God and more spiritually inspired. Almost in proportion to this feeling of greater closeness to God, this greater single-minded devotion to prayer, the weakness faded away, and my normal energy returned. I knew I was experiencing healing.
Further confirmation of my complete healing came when my wife and I were invited by some close friends to travel. The itinerary was incredible, but very active—more active than I’d been for a while. We weren’t running any marathons, but we were up early, on our feet all day, walking sometimes in extreme heat, and continuing to be busy until late at night. Then we started all over the next morning.
This went on for two weeks, and it was great fun! I enjoyed it immensely and had absolutely no difficulty with energy or endurance or strength. Quite a difference from a couple of years back when bringing in the morning newspaper from the front lawn took effort!
Looking back on this experience, I’ve been able to relate in a profound way to Mrs. Eddy’s statement, “Trials are proofs of God’s care” (Science and Health, p. 66). Sometimes it takes a difficult experience to wake us up, to make us listen, to humble us, to force us to yield up a personal sense of character for a more spiritual one. I know I’m stronger. I have a greater sense of peace and calm. I feel less opinionated, less doggedly determined to get my way, less convinced that what I feel is always right. In short, it was a very humbling experience. Not one that left me feeling weakened, just purified. Still, I know I have a long way to go on my spiritual journey.
A question and answer from Miscellaneous Writings has meant a lot to me, both during this experience and after. In many ways I feel it sums up this healing.
“Do you believe in change of heart?”
“We do believe, and understand—which is more—that there must be a change from human affections, desires, and aims, to the divine standard, ‘Be ye therefore perfect;’ also, that there must be a change from the belief that the heart is matter and sustains life, to the understanding that God is our Life, that we exist in Mind, live thereby, and have being. This change of heart would deliver man from heart-disease, and advance Christianity a hundredfold. The human affections need to be changed from self to benevolence and love for God and man; changed to having but one God and loving Him supremely, and helping our brother man. This change of heart is essential to Christianity, and will have its effect physically as well as spiritually, healing disease. Burnt offerings and drugs, God does not require” (pp. 50–51).
Christian Science healing is about so much more than just getting physically well. It’s about exchanging a personal sense of yourself, one that’s humanly limited and measured by intellect and personality and physical structure, for a spiritual selfhood that is the unlimited individual expression of divinity.
As the Bible puts it, it’s putting off the old man and putting on the new man (see Colossians 3:9, 10). This new man is not a human ego in a human body but is the individual living of Life, the loving of Love, the singing of Soul, and the knowing of Mind. It means living closer to God. I’m very grateful for this experience and for the spiritual growth I gained from it.
Houston, Texas, US
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