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Pain stopped, spiritual lessons learned

From the March 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

I’m grateful for a healing experience I had some years back that not only brought physical freedom, but laid the groundwork for me to learn a valuable spiritual lesson. 

I was playing piano seven nights a week in an upscale restaurant. It was a very stressful job because the bass player and drummer seemed to always be at each other’s throats about one thing or another. But I stayed because I had two daughters to support, and also because music was my great love and chosen career—I felt it was my calling. 

During this time, however, I’d begun to feel pain in my hands, and eventually in my feet, too. My hands were stiff and sore, and even though I could still play the piano, sometimes it was very uncomfortable. I never had the condition diagnosed, but concerned friends told me it might be arthritis. 

One day, I got an offer from a newspaper to work in their features department as an assistant editor. I’d had some previous experience with this kind of work, but I knew that if I accepted the job (which was full-time), I’d have to give up my gig at the restaurant. Even though there had been ongoing challenges, my love for music made me reluctant to let it go. I was used to going to God for guidance, and did so in this case, although I don’t remember exactly how or how much I actually prayed about the situation. But I do remember analyzing it and asking myself questions like, Am I going to be happier in the newspaper job? Am I just being selfish by wanting to play music? and so on. None of this was very helpful, spiritually speaking. But God was guiding me nonetheless, as I soon discovered.

At the time, I was studying jazz piano with a wonderful teacher. He was a spiritual thinker, and I’d given him a copy of Science and Health, which he said he enjoyed reading as he walked along the beach. One day shortly after I’d been offered the newspaper job, I went to my lesson, my thoughts in turmoil. I told my teacher what was going on. And then, at some point during the lesson, I told Charlie what was going on with my work, and the words just tumbled out of my mouth, “Charlie, I just don’t know what to do. What do you think I should do?” And he said, without missing a beat, “Take the newspaper job. Your playing will improve.” 

Even though I didn’t understand exactly how that would work, his remark just cut right through all the mortal self-analysis I’d been doing and really hit home. Later, I saw this spontaneous incident not as a frustrated plea for advice and a human-opinion response but as a moment of spiritual inspiration—an angel message from divine Mind and God’s gentle leading in a way I could accept.

I took the newspaper job. I quit the job at the restaurant, and the problem with my hands and feet vanished within a week. That was the end of it. And I found that my playing did improve, not just because I could move my hands more freely but because I had yielded my human will and my thoughts were freer. 

Some time later, the deeper spiritual lesson of this experience crystallized for me. I began to see a passage by Mary Baker Eddy in a new light: “Watch diligently; never desert the post of spiritual observation and self-examination” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 154). Now, the word spiritual jumped out at me, and I realized that my old way of looking at that quote had left that word out. My concept of self-examination, I realized, had been closer to human psychology than to spiritual reality. Often when I’d prayed in Christian Science about a challenge, I’d think, What am I doing wrong? or What did I do in the past that brought this on? or Why do I act in such-and-such way in some instances and not in others? Instead of dismissing the error and declaring my status as a child of God, I’d root around in human motives—down the path of human psychology and reasoning.

I learned that true psychology is the Science of Spirit (see Science and Health, p. 369), or divine Science. This is the only psychology or Mind Science we need to concern ourselves with. What leads to genuine enlightenment is truth, the truth that man, God’s image, is perfect now. This kind of self-examination sees error as error—be it false character traits, fear, or sickness—and establishes the spiritual facts of our being. I saw that we are always supported and blessed in this work, because God is Truth. Then whatever the challenge, it becomes an opportunity for God’s healing power to be made manifest in us.

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