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Conquering “impostor syndrome” in healing

From the August 2021 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The boy was exhibiting symptoms of a neurological disorder when his dad sought out a healing method he had heard could help. But when the treatment failed, the man was heartbroken. He wondered how that could have happened. However, undeterred, the man went looking for the originator of this system of mental treatment. Then, after a brief encounter, the father saw his son healed. What joy!

This will sound familiar to those who know the Bible. It is an account, found in the book of Matthew, of a man who came to Jesus’ disciples seeking healing for his epileptic son. But when they couldn’t help him, the man went directly to Jesus, who consummated the healing (see 17:14–21).

I have often thought of those disciples with compassion, for this must have been a very difficult moment for them. How hard it must have been to see that father, who had counted so much on their help, despair when the boy was no better. Perhaps the disciples experienced what in our time is called “impostor syndrome”—a condition experienced by an individual when they doubt their abilities or accomplishments and have an internalized fear of being a fraud.

Earlier in that same chapter of Matthew, we read about three of Jesus’ disciples witnessing his transfiguration, but not knowing what to think or how to act. Peter blurted out that they could build three places of worship there, but the three disciples heard God basically tell them, “Be quiet now and listen.” Falling on their faces, they undoubtedly felt humbled.

Then, on coming down from the mountain, these disciples returned with Jesus to find that their fellow disciples had failed to heal an epileptic boy. How confidence-sapping it must have been for them to be confronted by this further evidence that they didn’t understand Jesus’ teachings. Yet, fortunately, they didn’t let discouragement stop them; they went to Jesus and asked him what they were doing wrong. Their earnest desire was to get past a sense of self-doubt and find the ability to heal as their Master did.

In our healing work, there may be occasions when we are applying the Science of Christianity in a difficult situation but aren’t seeing the healing results we are looking for. It is easy to feel deficient, discouraged, or like an impostor. We might ask ourselves if we are capable of sufficiently understanding the divine Principle of healing in order to demonstrate it, or if we should just back away and not risk disappointing someone, as the disciples did.

The fear of being a spiritual impostor originates in the carnal mind (a mind-set susceptible of believing there is a power and reality other than God), which is at odds with the divine Mind, God. The carnal mind would claim to marginalize the Christ, the message of Truth and Love, and its healing power. When this mortal, material mentality comes knocking at our mental door, suggesting we are not capable of the strong healing work Jesus directed us to do, we can turn to the Word of God for courage, strength, and guidance, as the disciples did.

Later, in the New Testament book of Acts, when the disciples were now on their own without their Master to guide them, they prayed for boldness. Boldness to be worthy and capable of what Christ Jesus had expected and directed them to do. Their resolve was tested when they were confronted by hostile elders and unbelievers, but the disciples now felt confident in what they knew, and refused to be silenced. We read that they not only spoke the word of God with boldness, but also healed with power and grace because the Holy Spirit was upon them (see Acts, chap. 4).

We are not impostors, but implementers of genuine Christian healing.

As students of the Christ Science, we, too, can pray for boldness, and realize that we, too, are endowed with the power and grace of the Christ, which enables us to heal as our Master said we would. The Holy Spirit is upon us, as it was upon the disciples in the first century, enabling all who love and understand God and Christ Jesus to bear witness to Truth’s healing power.

Some time ago, a friend called me in acute pain, which had begun suddenly in the night and continued through the early morning hours. She asked if I would pray for her. The answer was a quick “Yes.” I turned my attention to God, divine Principle, and knew divine Love had never originated such a condition; therefore, it could not present itself to us as a reality, nor could it endure.

For a second, a flicker of fear tried to come into my thought: “Can you do this, or are you an impostor?” But right on the heels of that red herring, I had a strong message from God which said: “This lie is not trying to make you feel like an impostor—this lie would make the Truth, Christ, an impostor. In fact, it would make God an impostor! This lie would suggest that God is not all-powerful and capable of keeping Her children safe and well. It would suggest that God is not all good and can’t be relied upon for help in anxious moments.”

Emboldened by this message of Truth, I stepped over the speed bump of fear and started to pray as I had learned from my study of Christian Science. First, I strongly denied that anything but good, harmony, health could be going on with this individual, for God, Spirit, made all that exists, and there is nothing to experience but God’s goodness, harmony, and health.

Next, affirmations of truth came to thought—that man (meaning all of us, men, women, and children, in our spiritual identities) was created in God’s image, and is inseparable from God, Life, Spirit. This individual was not prone to a false, mortal-sense report, but was now and always free from material propaganda, and could feel only divine Love’s spiritual-sense message of peace and well-being.

I also read slowly and deliberately that week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, affirming that each statement of truth from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, was in force right now in this situation. Asserting that these spiritual statements of divine reality were powerful enough to remove anything else trying to present itself was reassuring and empowering.

My friend and I continued to pray this way for the next few hours. Then, by afternoon, the condition started to abate. By the end of the day it was gone. My friend felt well and was back into her normal routine. We rejoiced together in this proof of Truth and Love’s healing presence and the fact that we could turn to, and depend upon, Truth’s efficacy, efficiency, and evidence. 

We can be patient and gentle with ourselves as we work through moments of impostor syndrome-like doubt. As we sharpen our boldness, we can prove to ourselves that, as the children of God, we are indeed not impostors, but implementers of genuine Christian healing.

This putting down of material sense testimony and mortal mind doubt is ongoing. We may have to put them down often, maybe every day, but we can. We are not impostors when we practice what Christ Jesus taught, for then we are filled with “genuine faith,” as St. Paul said (I Timothy 1:5, New Living Translation). By our genuine faith we are certain of God’s presence and power, and humanity’s ability to prove the authenticity of this faith and mission as modern-day disciples.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The lives of all reformers attest the authenticity of their mission, and call the world to acknowledge its divine Principle” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 98). We can take up this mantle of spiritual authenticity boldly, and prove its truth.

Hold perpetually this thought,—
that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost
and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate,
with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love,
underlying, overlying, and encompassing
all true being.

—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 496

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