WITH the success of organizations designed to help alcoholics, people have discovered the need of similar groups for those who are living with or related to someone suffering from a drinking problem. These groups lovingly give support to individuals who care for and love victims of alcohol abuse and to help them see how to care for themselves better.
I can certainly empathize with the need for both types of organizations. In my own experience, however, I've found both support and healing for victims of abuse and their families through Christian Science. Christ Jesus approved the Mosaic command, found in Leviticus, ``Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." At one time I had begun to wonder how we can love someone who humiliates us and makes unreasonable demands. My husband's heavy drinking seemed out of control. His efforts to quit were sporadic an d unsuccessful. And the effects of his behavior on me and on our marriage were devastating.
Desperate, I turned to God in prayer. The Bible describes man as the son, or child, of God. This man is spiritual, made in the likeness of God--in the likeness of Life, Truth, and Love. Christian Science helps us perceive and love the man of God's creating, which is our genuine identity.
I saw that this was what I needed to do. Instead of accepting the picture of a person out of control, then, I needed to make a concerted effort to see more clearly the expression of the God-given qualities--kindness, gentleness, honesty--that actually characterize His creation. This takes discipline of thought. I began by claiming my identity as the child of God and expressing spiritual qualities more in my own thinking and actions.
Christ Jesus showed the importance of exchanging the false view for the true. His healing was based on his knowledge of man as the child of God. This understanding of man as the image of God nullifies the opposite belief that would make man mortal, flawed, limited. It is the true concept of man that heals. I learned to insist prayerfully on loving myself as the perfect child of God, to establish within my thought the lovable qualities that are from God, and to practice expressing them.
Loving ourselves is sometimes thought of as selfish. Far from it! Instead, knowing ourselves in this manner gives us authority to refuse to accept into our experience anything that is not of God. When we strive to be motivated by God, divine Love, we have less time to indulge in guilt or recriminations. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science assures us, ``The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now." Mary Baker Eddy goes on t o say later in the same paragraph: ``Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way."
Praying to fill my thought with love for God and His creation, I found, helped to eliminate the effects of the erratic mood swings induced by my husband's drinking. I could see that happiness, satisfaction, and joy weren't dependent on people or circumstances but are the outcome of trusting in the care and security I was discovering as I gained a better understanding of God.
Claiming man's true identity as God's child enabled me to find peace in the midst of the turmoil felt when a loved one uses alcohol to excess. Gradually, as I prayed, I found that my growing understanding of God and His relationship to man brought with it more peace and less fear of criticism. The more I claimed of God's love for His entire creation, the easier it became to express love to others. It required constant prayer to be consistent in claiming my spiritual identity, in being firmer in my love f or God and man, in purifying my motives, and in striving to live my own life more spiritually.
As I did this, I was striving to recognize that the only influence in my life was God and to let that divine influence transform my life. God's goodness embraced me and everything I was doing. At first it seemed that nothing had changed except that I was no longer reacting to my loved one's use of alcohol. But one day, after I returned home from a business trip to another state, my husband informed me he had quit drinking. And this time he truly had. Not only was the alcohol use gone, but the personality
traits often associated with alcohol use dropped away. He expressed less fear, was more comfortable with new situations, more adventurous, and more sociable. His lively interest in new places and activities broadened the scope of what we enjoy doing together. This was firm proof to me that our prayers for a clearer spiritual perspective must also bless those around us.
God's child has authority to claim love as his true nature. When we are filled with the love of Love, there is no time, place, or energy left for anything not from God. Fearlessness, comfort, security, and healing are a natural part of our oneness with God.
I delight in the law of God after the inward man.