Throughout my childhood and into my adult life I suffered terribly from allergies. There were many things in the environment I felt triggered extreme reactions—but probably the most devastating to me was my reaction to cats. As a child I owned a huge ginger cat called Timmy. I loved Timmy, but even to sit near him caused me hours of distress; to touch him meant that I was almost incapacitated.
I was brought up in a Christian Science family and we were used to handling all sorts of situations effectively through prayer. In fact, over the years, I had been healed quickly of many childhood illnesses including measles and whooping cough, as well as appendicitis. My parents prayed with me about this allergic reaction and we also sought the help of a Christian Science practitioner. I learned a lot about God and the truth of spiritual being during this time, but it seemed that I could not let go of the notion that this was somehow a part of my identity. Healing did not occur right away.
As I grew up, I stopped praying about the situation and just learned to manage the condition: I avoided cats, my husband cut down our privet bushes to eliminate their pollen, and I stayed inside in certain weather conditions. When we travelled to Africa, I even wore a face mask. During this time, I still thought of myself as a Christian Scientist, but I did not really live a Christian Science life. I rarely studied and was not at all earnest in putting into practice the truths that I had been taught.
One summer, I went on a short holiday with my son, who at that time was just a tiny baby, and with a girlfriend. On the way home, we stopped off at my parents’ house to spend a day or so with them before continuing home. When I arrived, I found that my mother was minding my sister’s cat for a few days. I loved Poss—he was a real character—but I never went near him, because he was one of those large fluffy cats who moulted excessively. I decided to make the best of it, but when I went in to my bedroom that night, I found Poss asleep on my bed. I put him out and retired to bed trying to hold on to truths that I had clung to over the years. I knew that all God’s creatures are useful and harmless (see Science and Health, p. 514); and that I lived in an “atmosphere of Love” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 144), not of matter. But while I repeated these truths, I listened more to the evidence of my body than to the truths I was saying, and I could not calm my anxiety.
Within ten minutes of going to bed, I could barely breathe. I felt so overwhelmed by the physical symptoms that the only solution I could think of was to leave—to pack up my baby son and my friend and drive the three hours home. It was by now nearly 11 o’clock, and I knew that this was not a kind thing to do. I felt desperate. Thoughts of guilt flooded into mind—thoughts that I had secretly held for a long time. What kind of a person was I that I was afflicted like this? I could not possibly be the beloved child of God, if I was suffering like this. I am certainly not a good Christian Scientist‚ I reasoned, I have witnessed many healings, yet on this condition I feel defeated.
In the midst of all this mental turmoil, I heard a voice in my head—not the usual voice when I am talking to myself. This voice was strong and calm and firm, and it cut across the mental noise I was creating. It said: “I am that I am!” (see Ex. 3:14). This stopped me in my tracks. I had read that sentence in the Bible many times, but the meaning had never come across to me like it did then.
In that moment, I lost all sense that I was an independent being, separate from God, and somehow able to know and experience things that God did not—suffering and guilt. In that moment, I saw so clearly that God was all, and that there was no other being, no other consciousness. There was just God evidenced by man; God the only consciousness. I completely understood that I had no self independent of God. I had no element in my makeup that was not Godlike. I was one with Him. The only “I” is God.
At this point, I was totally oblivious of my physical condition. I was only aware of my oneness with God. Suddenly I knew what Jesus meant when he said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). I knew what he meant when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). In my extremity, I became humble and was ready to listen. When I listened, God gave me the answer I needed. At that moment I felt completely loved, completely protected, watched over—whole. I fell asleep and slept soundly till morning.
Not once since that moment have I suffered from allergies. I was completely healed. I have lived with cats for the last 15 years. I have no ill-effects from environment, seasons, or climate. Better than this, I now have a much stronger sense of who I am. Nowadays when I use the word I, I use it more respectfully—aware of who I refers to. I am careful not to take the Lord’s name in vain and claim for Him (and therefore myself) things that are not wholly good.
This understanding of who I really am has given me strength and courage and humility these last 20 years since, and I am truly grateful for this and the many, many other healings that I have experienced through applying the teachings of Christian Science.
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