I didn't grow up practicing Christian Science.
Keep reading to see how I found it--or really, how it found me.
Because of my mom's military career, I moved around a lot and grew up attending United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, or Protestant chapel services on post. At one Methodist church the pastor gave a group of us red leather Bibles after participating in Sunday school classes. As it happened, they presented them to us in front of the congregation on my tenth birthday, and I remember thinking what a wonderful gift that was. I joined the Methodist church my family attended when I was 12 years old and enjoyed singing in the youth choir, despite the fact that I was pretty shy. I loved how close to God I felt singing the beautiful pieces we performed, and I loved the camaraderie with my fellow choir mates.
I first learned about Christian Science a couple years later. My mom returned from a training exercise talking about healings she'd seen a colleague, who was a Christian Scientist, have: one was a quick healing of a respiratory illness, and the other was an overnight healing of a swollen cat scratch on her lip (from her new kitten). She also talked about some of the theology of Christian Science, which all made perfect sense to me--especially the part about Christian miracles not being exceptions to law, but natural demonstrations of God's laws.
Over the next few years, I slowly started to question certain elements of the Christian theology I'd grown up with. It wasn’t a combative skepticism. Rather, quietly, mostly within my own thoughts, I began really searching for an understanding of how God and prayer worked. On a youth group retreat, I remember wondering what happened when we asked an omniscient God for something. I came up with a simplified scenario and presented it to one of the youth counselors: "Let's say I ask God for a bologna sandwich. Since He already knows everything, is there really a point where He decides whether or not I get that sandwich? Or is it like He decides I can have it, goes to His fridge and finds it already made--because He somehow knew He would grant my request--even though He temporarily didn't know what He would decide when I asked Him…?” Her answer was essentially that we can’t understand how God works. But that was exactly what I was being led to do.
Another milestone in my search came during a book club-like activity run by the Protestant student group I belonged to during my first year of college. We were reading and discussing a book that was supposed to address the “hard questions” of Christian theology. For instance, were all non-Christians going to hell? As I thought it over, it didn’t seem right to me that someone would be sentenced to suffer eternally simply because they didn’t know about Christianity. What if someone lived his whole life somewhere remote and had no contact with a single Christian or Bible or anything? But the Bible does tell us that Christ Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). While I can’t remember what the book had to say about it, I do remember a gentle thought coming to me: Maybe when Jesus said that, it meant his way of life—living our lives as Jesus lived his—is how we come to the Father. By being a Christian—even if you don’t have that particular word for it. I shared this thought—still posed as a “maybe”—with the group. Although I know we were all earnestly searching to better understand Christianity, I suppose the idea diverged too far from the theology of this group's denomination, so the sponsor of the group quickly dismissed it. Later I would look back on this incident as my first instance of glimpsing the inspired word of the Bible.
That summer, my mom had a health challenge. It was then that I borrowed her copy of the textbook on Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and began reading with the pure (albeit naïve!) motive to understand how Christian Science healing works and then explain it to her. I discovered right away that I had a lot to learn, but from the very first, I began receiving the insights I'd been thirsting for.
The first chapter, "Prayer," perfectly addressed my earlier question of how to pray to an omniscient God. The second chapter, "Atonement and Eucharist," explained Christian theology in the most logical way I'd ever come across, especially where it concerned Christ Jesus’ purpose and mission. In two chapters, this book had cleared up all the ambiguities of Christianity I’d been puzzling over for years. As I continued to read, I paused often and reasoned through Eddy’s conclusions for myself. I could find nothing to disagree with in what I was reading, so I just kept reading more.
It so happened that I was transferring to a different university that fall. To my absolute joy, I found that there was a Christian Science Organization at my new school! I hadn't known anything but Mary Baker Eddy and Science and Health, so I was thrilled to have a new tool to help me understand Christian Science better. I searched them out at the fall activity fair, attended the first meeting, and discovered that I could also attend Christian Science Sunday School until I turned 20. Since I was the youngest in the group, I was the only one who hadn’t turned 20 yet. I had a whole Sunday School class to myself, kept attending CSO meetings, began attending church on Wednesday nights for the testimony meetings, and that, as they say, was that. I had found a form of Christianity that made sense to me, and I had begun to demonstrate its laws--to see for myself that they are true. (One early demonstration was an instantaneous healing of a very sore throat.) After graduation I took Primary Class instruction, became an active member of my local branch church, and continued to learn more and to demonstrate Christian Science in my everyday life. (You can read more about that on my blog and in my published articles.)
Any time I look back, I feel such a kinship with Mrs. Eddy’s sense that “God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 107). I think He graciously prepares us all; all paths lead to God, Truth.
I came to Christian Science to learn how prayer works and to learn how to heal.
I stick with it because I love feeling close to God, learning more about His divine government, and relying on Him for everything.
And I’m so grateful to be dedicating time and thought to helping others find healing and peace through the application of God's laws of health and goodness.