What kind of story do you like? A mystery? A romance? An ancient fairy tale or modern history? Stories can be both fun and helpful, teaching us small and big lessons. Some stories, however, are not helpful, especially if they teach us fear, hatred, or fascination with disease and suffering.
Movies and TV programs often have story lines built around the drama of disease. On TV these are sometimes referred to as "episodic illnesses," meaning that an episode dramatizes a particular disease, in the attempt to entertain and inform the viewer.
Not long ago a newspaper article reported that dramatic diagnoses and rare maladies sometimes merit starring roles in prime-time television. Producers and writers who portray unusual ailments are often courted by foundations that want to inform the public (The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 1998, Pg. 1).
Perhaps this is all more mesmeric than it is entertaining. Caring is one thing, but just being preoccupied by others' difficulties, whether on television or in real life, can't heal them. Illness, whether personal or episodic, need not be either frightening or attractive. Why? Because illness has no relevance to our spiritual nature, to our true identity as God's beloved expression. This wholly spiritual identity is untouched by sickness and even death.
Praying to understand God's goodness, power, and law improves our lives. The attraction to diseases and their consequences can be stopped. It's possible to turn from dismal scenes, sounds, and pictures to God, who is all good. By loving good more than evil, and seeking to be good constantly, you will find God's goodness in your life. Thought is externalized in experience. "Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite. This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 407).
A few years ago I went to a movie that began very nicely, but ended with one of the key characters dying of a prominent disease. I found myself crying by the end of the movie. "What a tragedy," I'd think to myself, over and over. For the next few days I was engrossed by this tragic, fictional story. I found myself trying to reason through why such an awful thing would happen to someone. And then I'd catch myself and remember that it was a movie. This wasn't someone I actually knew! But I remember wondering if I would ever be able to forget this movie and its sorrow, and if so, how.
After a few days, I began praying about this. I sought to learn how to destroy the disturbing images within my thought. I made a conscientious decision to refuse to allow this scene to take over my thinking. This decision wasn't based on ignorance or willpower. Rather, it was based on the spiritual fact that God is omnipotent and good. I knew that God is not the cause of evil - either on the silver screen or in everyday life. I knew God is always present and always available. And I mentally held to His presence and power. With that, a recognition of His goodness began to flood my consciousness, and I became peaceful. The more I prayed and listened for God's messages, the better I felt. The scene stopped recurring, and I haven't been haunted by it since.
More important still, turning to God in prayer can help us if we or our loved ones are experiencing illness. Throughout history, people have been healed through prayer alone. The Holy Bible is full of accounts of the spiritual healing of disease. Today there are many people who can testify firsthand to the healing power of God, as taught by Christ Jesus and recorded in the Science of Christianity.
Whether we're riveted on a fictional or "real-life" story, we can pray. We can hold our thought to God's goodness and power. We can love the one true story, which tells of our perfection as His creation. This is a story of unlimited love and healing.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist: www.tfccs.com