What does Christian Science mean to me? So much. First, it stopped my crying.
In my teens and early 20s, I was generally sad and sometimes felt hopeless. I would often cry for no apparent reason, sometimes for two or three days at a time. Depression, which in hindsight it appears I was struggling with, was not yet seen as an illness, and drugs for it were not yet common. “Snap out of it!” was a common refrain from the people around me. But I couldn’t seem to do that.
I’d grown up attending a Christian Science Sunday School. Feeling in my teens like a general misfit in the world around me, and thinking that my association with Christian Science was a big part of that, I stopped attending. Still, life often felt heavy and hard.
At one point, I found myself arguing with my college roommate, a very close friend. Feeling bad about it, I turned away and put my face to the window. I knew that I could not continue to live, at least not the life I had. It was too hard and there was no point. In that moment, I was ready to change. And change came.
The next week, my roommate welcomed a non-denominational Christian Bible study group into our apartment. I joined in, hoping for prayer that would help me. Questions came up about Christian Science that I could not answer, so I decided to go to a meeting of the Christian Science Organization (CSO) on my campus, just once, to answer the questions and leave Christian Science behind for good.
But at the CSO meeting, I felt a sense of home to a degree I’d never felt before. Fellow students told how they were solving, through study and prayer, the same types of problems I faced.
I kept going to these weekly meetings, studied the weekly Christian Science Bible Lessons, and began attending church. My life started to change. I began to see myself in a different way. I was learning that I was spiritual and had value.
Three events stand out. A couple of months after my first CSO meeting, I was in the campus bookstore and saw a poster that said, “I live for weekends.” Instantly I thought, “What a sad way to live!” In that moment I saw a big change in me. All my life I’d thought, When I get through today, this week, that homework assignment, that exam, and so on, then I will be happy. The problem was, there was always another thing to get through, and happiness was always deferred. Seeing that poster, I could see a better way. Instead of living through my life, I could live my life. I could be happy every day and find good in every event. This was a brand new idea to me.
A second event centered around mid-afternoon emotional dips, when I would feel particularly useless. Sometimes I would nap and, as long as I could remember, I would wake up feeling depressed and hopeless. One afternoon, when I experienced this, I began to read through the Bible Lesson and to think in terms of all things—all matter—as being insubstantial, and of God as being All, and of all that He made as substantial. Less than an hour later, my mood had completely reversed. Deep sadness was gone and I wanted to go outside and skip and sing! I was in awe! Before long, these mood dips stopped altogether.
A third incident illustrates the role of Church in my life and in this healing. I came home from church on a Sunday, and my roommate asked about my boyfriend. I didn’t have one. She repeatedly insisted that I did. She said that I was always happy when I came home from church, and a secret boyfriend was the only reason she could think of! It certainly was true that I was happy. No matter how I felt on a given day, going to church, opening the Bible and Science and Health, or attending a CSO meeting always left me feeling better. I was finding out that I was good, that I had reason to hope and to live, in a way that another person could never give me. I was finding out that God is real and cares for my life. He had given me a church that gave me a sense of belonging and answered my questions in a way that was thoroughly satisfying and endlessly uplifting.
It’s been many years since this healing. Challenges still come, but I no longer have the deep, persistent sadness that I used to live with. I’m truly happy.
Catonsville, Maryland, US
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