Several years ago, I discovered a lump under my arm. This instantly brought mental images of various scenarios that were very frightening to me.
Realizing I needed to do more than think a few good thoughts whenever I encountered the condition in the shower, I set aside time each day to pray more consistently for healing. I have experienced many healings through prayer and reliance on God.
My prayer was sometimes a petition, asking God to strengthen my spiritual understanding and my courage. Other times my prayer was an acknowledgment of God as the only power and presence, and of my identity as whole, healthy, and complete, as God’s image and likeness. I’ve learned from my study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, that this likeness has the substance of divine Spirit, not matter.
Nevertheless, my health declined. I began experiencing pain and discomfort throughout the day. I was often so weak and tired I struggled to find the strength or interest to go about my normal activities.
I can now see that for about a year leading up to the physical problem, a gradual change had been taking place in my thinking. Where I had once naturally felt joyful and abundantly cared for, I began more often feeling a sense of loss and sadness.
While the change had not alerted me to the need for help, the deterioration of my physical health was a wake-up call. I called a Christian Science practitioner for Christian Science treatment. She immediately agreed to pray for me and assured me that no matter what the signs and symptoms seemed to suggest, I was the child of God, made in His likeness, and therefore perfect. She told me to throw out whatever diagnosis I had conjured in my thought, because there was no reality to the mortal belief that I could be something other than spiritual and perfect. I was grateful for her steadfast support and treatment through prayer.
For almost a year, I called on the Christian Science practitioner many times when I became frightened or discouraged. Her prayerful encouragement supported my trust in God, and my growth in understanding more about my eternal relation to God.
As a result, many unhealthy thoughts came to the surface to be healed. Prior to my physical challenge, a good friend had been diagnosed with a medical condition that doctors labeled incurable. A few years before that, my mother had passed on, and I was still struggling with feelings of sadness at her passing. I felt that I could not bear losing someone else close to me. Personality conflicts abounded in my life as well—in my church, my family, and my workplace. Adding to my sense of hopelessness were the many national and global conflicts that occupied my thought, including global terrorism, which I couldn’t see any practical way for me to contribute to halting.
Even so, I felt strengthened by my decision to rely wholly on God for healing. Waking each day, I turned to the Bible for inspiration. This passage from Jeremiah brought me great comfort: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (29:11). It reminded me that God’s child can have only “an expected end”—a life filled with peace, and joy, and health, rather than sorrow and sickness.
I became convinced that recovery of my health was directly linked to my need to more consistently feel that God-given peace in which fear, anger, and sadness have no place so I could become less burdened by them and regain a sense of joy. And I needed to love more. I came to realize I had been identifying my friend with her diagnosis of illness, and that truly loving her meant seeing her as God sees her—as whole and complete—not as something less than she had always been. I saw that my friend was, and would always be, the expression of Soul, forever reflecting the qualities of intelligence, humor, and frankness that made every conversation with her so inspiring. As a result, our weekly visits became more joyful.
A gradual change of thought, brought on by prayer, helped me to begin seeing my workplace differently, as well. I knew I could not selectively love some people and dislike others. I could not love my friend, and see her as loving, but identify a co-worker as difficult or unyielding. Christ Jesus directed us to love our neighbor as ourself (see Matthew 22:39), and then he spent his time on earth showing that his neighbor included everyone.
This same change of thought brought healing to my sense of church community and the activities of church. I had been an active member of my branch Church of Christ, Scientist, for many years and had experienced firsthand the benefits of that involvement. Church, and my church family, had consistently supported and uplifted me in times of need.
But in fulfilling my duties as a member, I began feeling a personal sense of responsibility for church. Also, I felt I was just not up to the job—that I was letting others down, and in some way my church was letting me down. Through prayer, though, sensitivity and self-righteousness gave way to a sense of calm, a feeling of “rightness” about the church. It was as if my eyes had been closed, and when I opened them, I saw so many expressions of love and Christian caring in the activities of our congregation. It felt like a homecoming to me, and supported me in my progress toward complete physical healing.
I recognized that as a disciple of Christ, my only purpose—“the whole of man,” Mrs. Eddy writes—is to “love God and keep His commandments” (Science and Health, p. 340). Love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Love my neighbor as myself. Love God and fear not. This brings us closer to God and His kingdom of heaven. When I was tempted to see the same old disruptive behavior in the office, I reversed the thought that God’s reflection, His child, could express anything but cooperation and thoughtfulness. And so, I began to become more aware of acts of kindness and helpfulness. I began to express appreciation for work well done and praise for workplace problems resolved. Soon I found I was going to work with a sense of purpose I had not felt for quite some time.
When I heard news reports of violence, instead of quickly reacting with verbal expressions of horror and sadness, I began to respond with silent affirmations of God’s allness. Instead of supporting cries for harsh punishment and retribution for individuals responsible for acts of terrorism, I prayed that my thought be lifted spiritually to a better and more helpful response.
While there are still plenty of news reports that create disturbing pictures of global conflict, I no longer feel such a deep sense of despair and hopelessness. A heaviness has been lifted from my heart.
As to the physical problem, after more than a year I found that I was no longer checking to see if the lump was gone. The weakness and other physical symptoms abated, and I began to resume my normal activities. For the first time in over a year, I was able to take long walks and enjoy other activities I had been missing. I knew I was healed without needing to check for physical evidence.
One day while in the shower I realized there was no sign of the lump, or any other abnormality.
Each of us can play an active part in peacebuilding and healing, for ourselves and the world. I have found inspiration and a desire to express more compassion and grace—more spiritual activism—from this statement by Phillips Brooks quoted in the epigraph of Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer by Yvonne Caché von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck: “God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers’ lives; but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch.” This is the kind of activism that makes a difference.
I am most grateful for the physical healing I experienced as a result of the spiritual growth mentioned here, and for the spiritual inspiration it has brought me.
Jacksonville, Florida, US