SPIRITUAL SUPPORT—AT EVERY TURN
By: Ginny Luedeman
July 10, 2006
Just recently, my husband and I were helping my
cherished 93-year-old friend Margaret move into an assisted living
facility. She was unable to sort her personal belongings, so I was
given the charge of going through her things and picking out what she
should keep and what we’d deliver to her family.
Photos of Margaret as a little girl filled old boxes, nestled in with a porcelain doll, a baby spoon, or other priceless relics. I could barely recognize Margaret in those young pictures. Sometimes a look in her eye was familiar—or might it just have been my imagination confirmed by the penciled name on the back of the photo? At any rate, I was struck by all of the changes Margaret has seen over the course of her long life. And this started me thinking about my own experiences.
At times, womanly changes have been especially challenging for me. Monthly periods, pregnancy, menopause, and aging have all required deep prayer in order for me to maintain buoyancy and go about my normal day, meeting the demands of a busy life.
For example, my closets have been full of a range of clothes sizes because my weight has often fluctuated. I’ve been slowly learning to trust that the ideas I get through my spiritual study and in prayer to God are more satisfying than indulging in eating “comfort food.” But this lesson hasn’t come in a flash of light. It’s been a day-by-day process of working to see myself in a more spiritual way, as an eternal expression of God instead of as a changing mortal woman on a path leading toward death.
Christian Science has been like a golden thread of ideas that guide along the way. It has literally held me together when it felt as if things were falling apart. I’ve found Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health, to be full of support for women (as well as men!). It proclaims our right to find freedom from physical demands and changing lives. Mrs. Eddy’s writings explain that each of us is an individual expression of God, who is divine Love.
We each have an unchanging goodness, a spiritual identity that we’re free to discover and enjoy. The Christ, coming to us as a conviction of God’s powerful love, is here to guide and support us in this discovery. As our spiritual identity unfolds in our lives, we let go of limitations and fears. God’s love lifts us from the limits of changing mortality to permanent harmony and freedom.
I especially love this passage and pray with it often: “The recipe for beauty is to have less illusion and more Soul, to retreat from the belief of pain or pleasure in the body into the unchanging calm and glorious freedom of spiritual harmony” (Science and Health, pp. 247-248). Soul is used here as another name for God. Soul’s qualities include joy, patience, creativity. They individualize us without imposing any physical limitations. These spiritual qualities are everywhere, and they find expression in us through what we think and how we act.
Like tuning in to a radio station, we can tune in to Soul’s qualities. Take joy, for example. Everyone has access to all of the joy he or she could ever want because it’s from God—there’s as much joy to tune in to as there are radio waves. And each individual expresses joy in his or her own special way.
Or patience. I once heard a story about a famous artist who was asked where he got all of his patience. He replied that he didn’t have any more than anyone else, but that he just used all of it.
But, you might ask, how do you tune in to Soul when you’re faced with trying changes in life? One way, I find, is to claim for myself that whatever might be lacking is at hand—knowing that Soul is already providing it to me, in that very moment. Our spiritual nature doesn’t fluctuate. And as we grow in our understanding of Soul, we will discover more of its unchanging goodness.
When I first began to experience menopause, I found myself becoming quite distracted by all of the accompanying bodily changes. The frequency and intensity of the hot flashes I was experiencing increased until, finally, I realized that I needed to pray instead of just waiting them out.
Whenever I began to feel thrown off balance, I resolved to hang on to the thought of gratitude that Soul’s goodness was expressed through me. I claimed the right to feel this gratitude right when the body was telling me I wasn’t in control of what I was feeling. I just refused to go along with the idea that I was a helpless victim. I said “no” to the feelings that were oppressive, and accepted my right to calm control as a loved child of God. I affirmed that what God was giving me was only good and that I couldn’t be robbed of my joy and peace. I approached each hot flash as an opportunity to lean on God’s love and to grow in my spiritual trust and gratitude. The incidences lessened in intensity and frequency. But more significant, they ceased to bother me.
Drugs designed to treat mood swings, hot flashes, and so forth, can’t get to the core of the trouble, because they approach the situation from the standpoint that we are material beings. Only as we cherish and embrace the truth of our spiritual identity, can we count on permanent relief from suffering and find lasting strength.
Instead of looking at the body to see how I feel, I now find that it brings peace to ask God how I am, and then listening for and holding to the higher, spiritual ideas that the divine Mind gives me. In this way, change of any kind becomes more and more a wonderful time of finding a deeper strength and joy through a greater reliance on divine Love’s care.
I also find that it helps to know that, through spiritual understanding, the body is my servant and not my master. I would never let a “servant” push me around. Science and Health encourages us to use the “God-given authority” we’ve been given: “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man” (p. 393).
“Knowing that God gives us the right and the ability to control our thoughts and our bodies and lives puts us in the driver’s seat. No matter what changes we seem to go through, our spiritual nature as God’s child never changes. We are always safe in our Father-Mother God’s constant love.
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