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Losing–and finding–faith

From the October 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal

This piece was originally published on on July 23, 2012.

I found Christian Science when I was 18 years old, but the journey to finding my faith was a long and emotional process. I grew up with a vague understanding of God; I knew that He was good, that He was always watching, and thought that if I misbehaved too much I wouldn’t get into heaven. But because my family didn’t attend any particular church (aside from holiday services at two different local churches), and because I was not brought up in a Sunday School, my knowledge of God became generalized. So I put God on the back burner, only thinking of Him when I was lonely or fearful. 

Some nights I would stare at the picture of Jesus my mother had hung in my room and tell him about my day, or how I was scared of an unknown thing I thought might be lurking in my closet. I would feel soothed, a comfort typically brought on by a parent, but when the day approached all was forgotten. Still, I believed in God. 

When I was eight, my mother allowed me to have sleepovers at my best friend Amy’s house. A friend since kindergarten, she and I would spend almost every waking hour together. One Sunday morning at her house I was surprised to be woken up early and told that we would be going to Sunday School at her church. As we walked up to the tiny grey building, I saw the words “First Church of Christ, Scientist,” and thought how odd it was to see the word Scientist there. Did they believe only in science? We went into a room where other children our age were sitting, and began to listen to the Sunday School teacher. I remember she spoke with such kindness, and on a level we could understand. But I had a lot of questions, and I kept them bundled up. I thought, My mom will know what Christian Science is.  

Later, when I asked my mom what Amy’s church was, she nodded her head and said matter-of-factly, “They don’t believe in taking medicine, honey.” I frowned. I thought it strange that my best friend would be in such an odd and dangerous religion. Sure, I always dumped my medicine down the drain when my parents weren’t looking, and true I didn’t think my nasal medicine helped my allergies, but everyone took medicine. I was confused. It had seemed so normal at Amy’s church, so comfortable. But my mother’s explanation of Christian Science turned me off to this religion for a long time, and I started to feel farther and farther away from God. 

When I reached my teen years, I began to have strong doubts about God, the afterlife, and religion as a whole. I began to think heaven wasn’t real. I would have thoughts of dying, of never existing anymore, and would wake up in tears. My mother tried to console me, explaining that just because we don’t have physical proof of heaven didn’t mean it wasn’t there. But I focused on the fact that I didn’t have any proof of a heaven or of God, but I had seen so much evidence of disease, death, molecules, and so on. Because I wasn’t 100 percent certain of a heaven or God, I had no choice but to deny them and label them as lies made up to comfort people. 

In high school I attended a Presbyterian church in hopes of understanding, or finding, some sort of sign that God existed. I desperately wanted to believe in God, and I thought that if I joined a church and went every Sunday, then I would surely receive a sign. But as I sat through the sermons, my mind sometimes drifting off, I felt no sign. Still, I pushed further, asking the pastor if I could become a member of the church officially. I thought that by the time I joined the church, I would receive a sign. It’s so silly to think of now, when the signs were all around me. If something bad was happening in my life, I would sit down on the stairs in the hallway, or look out my window at night and talk aloud to God, sometimes asking Him to look after my family, to tell Him about my hardships, or even beg Him for a sign that He existed. One sign I can’t believe I missed: My cat had been missing for a week and one night I begged God to bring her back. I said, “If You’re real, then bring her back.” The next day our neighbor found her in his garage. At the time I thought it was a mere coincidence. 

When I reached my teen years, I began to have strong doubts about God, the afterlife, and religion as a whole.

Not long after that I took back my request to join the Presbyterian church. I still had so many doubts about God and joining the church. When I was not truly a believer, it felt dishonest and wrong, for my pastor and for my family. I sat down with my pastor and explained to him that my heart was not committed to joining. He smiled and told me he understood, wishing me the best. It wasn’t long after our discussion that I gave up on religion and officially declared myself an atheist.  

So there I was, a 17-year-old atheist who constantly had God on her mind. To be frank, I often told people I was an atheist to upset them, because deep down I thought it was unfair that they had such a strong, unfaltering belief in God, when I did not. Coincidentally, the year I turned my back on God was also a very dark and depressing time for me. I surrounded myself with the wrong kind of people, which included my boyfriend at the time. We’d had an on-and-off-again relationship for a year, and finally one day we ended for good. It was not a good end to an already sour relationship, and I felt betrayed, discouraged, and unloved. 

I thought to myself, I wish I had someone who would love me unconditionally, who would always be there, no matter what I did or what I looked like. And after I said this aloud, tears streaming down my face, I suddenly knew who that someone was. God! It had been God all along. I decided then that I wanted to explore our relationship and make up for lost time. The words Christian Science came to mind. 

Suddenly, it all made sense to me, I was a Christian Scientist! Even when I thought the religion strange, even when I thought I was Godless, I would still attend church with Amy sporadically and would feel so happy. I came to Amy’s mother one day after my realization, and sat down with her, explaining that I wanted to go to church with them every Sunday. 

Gradually, as I continued attending Sunday School classes, I discovered that practicing this religion wasn’t about following a rule like “You can’t take medicine,” as my mother had thought. The Church doesn’t have any rules about what you can or can’t do for your health. Practicing Christian Science is about trusting and knowing God so well that He becomes our primary source of health care and well-being. Knowing that God would love me through all my health-care choices, whatever they were, made me more inclined to pray to Him. 

Shortly thereafter, I told my mother the news and worked up to telling the rest of the family, most of whom were very supportive and accepting of my newfound faith. 

As my sophomore year of college began, I decided to apply for a transfer to a college for Christian Scientists. I had visited the school and knew immediately that it was where I was supposed to be in order to further my understanding of Christian Science. Since attending the college, I have felt God’s love and blessings in so many ways. I’ve had many healings, including a healing of plantar warts [see “God made you perfect,” Christian Science Sentinel, July 23 & 30, 2012, p. 26]. I’ve also made deep and influential relationships at school and watched as God met (and continues to meet) my every need. It’s astonishing how different my life has been since affirming my faith in God, which Christian Science has nurtured and strengthened. I know that I will never stumble through the dark again.

Megan was an summer intern at The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel during the summer of 2012. She has recently begun her senior year at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.

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