BOSTON — When I was in high school, it was never easy to explain to my friends what my parents did. You see, they prayed for people. That was their full- time job.
When I would tell my friends that, they'd say: " 'Someone who can make sick people better through prayer alone?' You must be kidding!"
Even in my own Sunday School, there were some concerned glances when I cautiously admitted that both my parents did this for a living!
"Both of them! Do you ever have fun at your place?"
In fact, our home was filled with spontaneity and joy. But there was another side to this that I didn't fully appreciate until later. Having two parents who had so much trust in God gave me a double ration of support, stability, radiant health.
It always amazed me that, at any time of the day or night, my parents not only helped other people but unstintingly gave me, my brothers, and my sister all the love and attention we needed, as well as tending to the bumps and bruises - and the less visible discomforts - of growing up.
Every morning before breakfast, Dad read aloud to us from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook. He'd pray with us, to prepare us for the assignments we faced that day.
Our parents emphasized that the power to heal wasn't theirs personally, but came from an omnipotent God who loved us so much that He had a perfect plan for us - to "bear the family likeness" as His sons and daughters. And with this came the promise that "to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good" (Rom. 8:28; "The New Testament in Modern English," by J. B. Phillips).
We soon became aware that God's plan included the healings that took place almost daily in and around our home. Mum and Dad didn't talk much about them. But we saw many happen with our own eyes. Sensing our genuine curiosity, they'd explain that what brought these healings was not blind faith. It was active, specific treatment that consisted of understanding the truth of spiritual being. That was what destroyed fears and corrected false belief. When this happened, healing of sickness, emotional problems, or whatever was wrong took place.
Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," explains, "In divine Science, the supposed laws of matter yield to the law of Mind" (pg. 484). And, in another book, "Few there be who know what a power mind is to heal when imbued with the spiritual truth that lifts man above the demands of matter" ("The People's Idea of God," pg. 12).
One night when I was about 12, a raging toothache kept me awake for an hour or more. My father came to my bedside and prayed with me in words that I could easily understand.
"Let's get our thinking right about this," he said. And he proceeded to explain that "right thinking" was prayer. It was like switching on a radio that is always tuned perfectly to the right station. If we do it with humility and with complete reliance on "the law of Mind" - God's law - the connection is made instantly, and the signal is clear.
Right thinking, he explained, also means refusing to admit that discord of any kind is final. More than mere intellectual perception, right thinking involves such conviction, such consecration of one's thoughts and acts to the spiritual, that it becomes the faith to which Jesus referred when he said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt. 17:20).
Within half an hour the pain was gone. I've never again had any problem from that tooth. That experience impelled me to learn that Bible passage by heart. Later, I took it into dozens of challenging situations, including several related to raising my own children.
Mum and Dad showed us that compassion, purity of thought, integrity, gentleness, and faithfulness are requisite in anyone who wants to bind up the hurts of this world.
Everyone, expressing "the family likeness," is capable of this.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society