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Freed from addictions

From the April 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

After graduating from college with a degree in education, I didn’t seek a teaching position or apply what I’d learned. For two years I was jobless because I spent my time hanging out with friends and relatives and going to social functions and drinking. Sometimes I didn’t come home for several days. This lifestyle seemed so satisfying.

Although I had started going to a Christian Science Sunday School in college, when I started drinking I rarely went to classes.

One day, it occurred to me to apply to the local police academy. I was accepted, despite my drinking, and after graduating from training, I joined the police force. But about two years later I started to gamble, and my drinking habit worsened. Sometimes I neglected my police work. Pleasure in matter was paramount to me at that time, and I didn’t place much importance on my duties. 

When an opportunity for a promotion came, I grabbed it and was able to complete the required additional training in a few months. Afterward, I spent most of my time in another city at a gambling house rather than immediately reporting back for duty.

After more than a month of this irresponsible behavior, I learned that I had been dismissed from the force. I was so despondent I thought about committing suicide. There didn’t seem to be any reason to go on with my life. I felt as though I was just waiting for my death. My parents, brother, sister, relatives, and friends and classmates in the academy offered to help me, but I wasn’t interested in anyone’s help. I thought that everything was already gone—my dreams, my career, my whole life. Even so, something prevented me from ending my life. 

I lived in the gambling house for about five years, without a job, and I continued drinking and gambling. One day my sister visited me there and asked if I would like to work abroad. She knew of a good job in another country, and I decided to go. 

A month later I was employed by a wealthy family in that country as a gardener. It was a very conservative society where there is still not much freedom of expression or religion, and I wasn’t able to take any Christian literature with me. 

Soon I realized how much I missed being able to read the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesby Mary Baker Eddy. There were many helpful passages in them that I remembered reading in my Sunday School class and hearing from my father as a child, so I asked a woman from my class to text me passages from the books, which she did regularly. 

After nearly three years abroad, I decided to return home to the Philippines. Even though it was at the height of an economic recession, I was able to quickly find a job. Right away I also began to regularly attend my local branch church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Baguio City, where I had previously gone to Sunday School. I was warmly welcomed back. No one asked me why I had been away for so long, and I could feel the church members’ love for me, and their warm fellowship with one another. It felt as though I belonged to this church family. 

For the first time, I felt the power behind the words in the Bible and Science and Health. As a result of studying these books and hearing from them at weekly church services, I began to feel closer to God, to feel His presence. 

At the time, I wasn’t sure of who I was, and of my real purpose in life, and I learned more about myself and my real identity. I learned that because God created me and I reflect Him, I am not a sinning mortal but God’s beloved, spiritual, innocent, good, and useful child. And I am not separate from God, I am at one with God. God loves me and helps me do what is good and right. 

This awakening to the truth that life is spiritual gave me a deep desire to stop drinking. As far as the gambling problem, although I had stopped gambling, I was still attracted to it. When the Christian Science Board of Directors and others from The Mother Church in Boston (The First Church of Christ, Scientist) came to talk to our branch church, I was touched by their openness and compassion when answering my questions about the qualifications for Church membership. 

After the meeting, I asked someone from the Church if she would pray for me. I told her of my desire to be free of addiction. She prayed for me for several days and encouraged me to keep studying and praying.  

The next few years were a wonderful time of learning and growing in my understanding of the Science Mary Baker Eddy discovered. More and more, its teachings were beginning to feel relevant to my life, and I started to feel their effects. The misconception that I was material and could be attracted to matter and find pleasure in it was corrected by the understanding of my spiritual identity and natural attraction to good. I became less and less absorbed and mesmerized by matter, which I had been seeking after for satisfaction. It was like coming out of the darkness of material sense into the spiritual sense of being, or understanding of life in God. 

I was grateful to be able to serve in my branch church during this period (I am now a member of both my branch and The Mother Church), and I felt led by God to take Primary class instruction in Christian Science in order to further my spiritual understanding, and to learn how to heal. These opportunities impelled me to grow spiritually and contributed to my eventual and complete freedom from the desire to drink and gamble. As a result, my life opened up in unexpected ways. I went back to college for a one-year enrichment program in the United States, and then took a beginning course in Christian Science nursing and worked for a short time as a Christian Science nurse. These experiences helped me gain a better understanding of my purpose in life, which I now know is to express the qualities of God and follow Christ Jesus’ example by healing. He said to his disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16). 

In thinking about this higher purpose to serve God, I am reminded of what Mary Baker Eddy said in a message to a branch church: “As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165). 

Through my many challenging experiences, I have learned that we cannot turn away from God forever and avoid fulfilling our holy purpose. We cannot hide from Him, because God, Spirit, is ever present. Like the prodigal son, who Christ Jesus said had come to his senses and was warmly welcomed home by his father even though he had made a lot of mistakes in life, I was welcomed home by my heavenly Father. 

I will forever be grateful to Christ Jesus for his teachings and example; to Mrs. Eddy for her discovery of the Science of Christ; and, of course, to God, who is Love.

Spencer Binonga
Baguio City, Philippines

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