THE FIRST GLIMMERS of my commitment to the practice of Christian Science, and the healing love that it brings, began in a hospital in another country, thousands of miles from my home in the United States, with the words of a pediatrician: "Your son has a 50–50 chance of living through the night. If he lives, he will in all likelihood be physically and/or mentally handicapped."
My son was just a baby, and those words were like daggers to my heart. In my anguish, my deep mother love for my child turned me like a flower to the sun—back to what I hadn't seriously practiced in years, but knew from my own childhood healings would help my son. The Science of the Christ.
That night I prayed with a depth that I hadn't known before. As I prayed, I could see that my son's life was not in a little physical body—it was found in all that he expressed of God. His goodness, his intelligence, his sense of fun and joy—all had God as their source. And because God, Life, is ever present, those sweet expressions of divinity are always present. They can't die. They can't change. They can't be lost. My son's individual and full expression of those ideals was and is perpetual, immortal, and unique to him.
This was a revelation to me. I could see that my son's life was something that matter and mortality couldn't define or destroy. And that basic but essential truth broke through the dark fear I'd been feeling. I realized I had nothing to fear—God, divine Love, was caring for my son as surely as He was holding the stars in the sky and governing His universe. In this realization, I felt not only God's love for my child, but His love for me, and this gave me unspeakable peace. That night my son's condition turned around. The doctors couldn't explain how this was possible and called it a miracle. My son grew up to be a healthy, intelligent adult, without any handicaps.
The discernment I gained that night of what Life, God, really is and what we are as Life's expression is what set me on a path of spiritual discovery. It led to the practice of Christian Science healing, and caused me to put the full weight of my trust in its healing power. That journey made plain to me a number of truths that have sustained me in the profession of spiritual healing:
The severity of the circumstances demanded my rising to a higher recognition of who God is, of what He does for His creation, of His great love for us all, and His mighty and uncontested power.
All healing in Christian Science is the result of the Christ, or "God with us." The Apostle Paul describes the healing Christ as "the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Cor. 1:24). Nothing gives us spiritual courage as does our awareness that God is present and is the only power, sustaining, guiding, and supplying us with every idea necessary to defeat any adversity that may confront us. It is God's wisdom that gives us the understanding to overcome the suggestions of mortal mind that attempts to array itself against the awesome Truth that is God, good. Emboldened with this understanding, we cannot be afraid.
On that transforming night when I was praying for my son, I so felt my oneness with God that nothing else had reality or truth for me. The severity of the circumstances demanded my rising to a higher recognition of who God is, of what He does for His creation, of His great love for us all, and His mighty and uncontested power. Rather than caving in to a feeling of hopelessness or despair, I let the situation lift me, much as an airplane uses speed and airflow to rise and soar.
This experience was one of deep humility, described by Mary Baker Eddy this way: "Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity. The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 1). This humility is pure selflessness, an honest recognition that God is the dependable source of every ability, talent, and courageous action, and that each one of us has the same inseparable relationship with our divine Parent—with all the power and love this includes.
Christ Jesus exemplified such humility in his pure healing practice of Christian Science. The Bible reports that the devil came to tempt him into believing that Jesus, the man, held the ability to do the mighty works of his ministry, instead of the Christ, or presence of God, that Jesus embodied. Jesus' refutation of this lie of evil spared him the fear and worry about the source of his power, which would have prevented his important work had he not strongly challenged this aggressive suggestion (see Matt. 4:1–11).
Personal sense does not enter into the practice of Christian Science. Mortal mind tries to tempt us into believing we are personally responsible for demonstrating healing power, just as it tried to do with Jesus in the wilderness. In that time of prayer for my child, I saw that I did not have the ability to heal anything. I saw so clearly that the Christ is the healing power, and the demand on each of us is to align ourselves with this vital force for good—and to claim its effects. This frees us from false responsibility and the heaviness of having to "do" something on our own. It enables us to turn away from the erroneous evidence of the material senses right to what we know to be true, through what the Christ is revealing. In my son's case, the effect was immediate.
Just as a practitioner cannot hold a personal sense regarding his or her own healing ability, neither can we see our patients as human personalities in need of healing. The true nature of each man, woman, and child is perfect, and it is our role to uphold that spiritual ideal as harmonious, beautiful, healthy, changeless, and immortal. Then we see that the real patient isn't a person, but a false belief, which a true recognition of the Christ corrects. The Christ, Truth, makes it clear that no disease, condition of matter, or misconception about creation can attach itself to what God, Spirit, has conceived spiritually, and somehow cause it harm. The healer's job is to bear witness to Truth and its manifestation. This sweetly and tenderly eliminates fear in the thought of both the patient and the practitioner.
When we feel Love, we experience Life; when we feel Love, we recognize the authority of divine Principle; when we feel Love, we are armed with the certainty of Truth.
The ability to heal is universally available to everyone. When Jesus faced the temptations suggested to him, he had to handle the beliefs of pride, vanity, and egotism. In doing so, he also handled any belief of competition, or who should be greatest. He saw that God is the only one to be glorified.
Sometimes fear finds an avenue for entrance into the thought of the practitioner through concerns about popularity or competition in regard to the healing practice. Worry about what others will think, interest in popularity, or feelings of envy in regard to another's practice may try to devilishly tempt us into believing in a power apart from God. In such instances, good can feel limited, power may seem personally possessed, and the merely human may appear more relevant than the majesty of divinity. In such instances, the healing practice can devolve into a kind of malpractice of personality that appears to hide or pervert the healing Christ. Only bold self-examination can uncover this thinking and free us from feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. In this place of spiritual integrity, the glory of God's universe is revealed. In this unselfed state of thought, healing naturally takes place.
All healing work begins by removing fear. Mary Baker Eddy said, "Christian scientific practice begins with Christ's keynote of harmony, 'Be not afraid!'" (Science and Health, p. 410). A "keynote" is the foundational principle to the whole of an idea. So it is clear that we must be adept at handling any aggressive belief of fear as a significant part of our healing work.
Fear is a tool of mortal mind. Its motive is to distract the healer from divine Love's saving presence. But the effective healer is wise enough to recognize that fear is not a reality—only a suggestion. One of the requirements of scientific practice is to know divine Love's presence so clearly that fear has no abiding place in our thought. When we feel Love, we experience Life; when we feel Love, we recognize the authority of divine Principle; when we feel Love, we are armed with the certainty of Truth. In this way, as the author of First John puts it, "Perfect love casteth out fear" (4:18).
Animal magnetism—the anti-Christ—tries to convince the healer to concede authority to sin, human opinion, personalities, and institutions of medicine or theology opposed to Christian Science—thereby forfeiting divine Love's help. If we give our consent to these mesmeric influences, we have turned to false gods, allowing fear to grow in our hearts, instead of feeling the reassuring and healing presence of God, Mind. A heart loyal to God is a heart filled with the same reflected love that Christ Jesus brought to his ministry.
Our defense against fear, then, is to cultivate a truer understanding of Love. This is much more than mere human affection. It is a devotion to divine Love and its demands that follows the Master Christian, Christ Jesus. It is a love for God that ultimately recognizes no other attraction and no other affiliation. There is no greater power in the universe that can be wielded.
An honest and true practitioner of spiritual healing, as taught in Christian Science, faithfully abides by its rules and adheres to the Principle that governs creation. Then the healing practice can be conducted with dependable, good results. Love that casts out fear is Principle, God, and the certainty of its law eliminates fear and concern. Love knows no opposing force, brutal hatred, or evil condition. Love knows only what it has created as beautiful and holy. In such spiritual realization, confidence abounds, spiritual dominion reigns, and we find the joy and healing that are ours.
Barbara Pettis is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher who lives in the Boston area.
Interested in more more Journal content?
Subscribe to JSH-Online to access The Christian Science Journal, along with the Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science. Find the current issues, the searchable archive, podcasts, audio for articles, biographies about Mary Baker Eddy, and more.