The harrowing story of two POWs, Chief Warrant Officers Ronald D. Young Jr. and David S. Williams, aired on "60 Minutes" recently. As POWs in Iraq, they had spent 22 days in uncertainty and fear that they would not live to see their families again. The stories behind the innocent faces of these two young men, full of sincerity and gratitude, moved me.
The men have recurring nightmares. The experience in Iraq still haunts them. They feel imprisoned by the memory of their captivity. They were abused, and even though the physical abuse has ceased, mental abuse continues in their nightmares. I firmly believe that they have the right to be completely free.
As a child, I also was a victim of various forms of abuse. For years I was afraid of men because of some sexual advances my dad had made toward me. The shock and fear in my young life were intense, and although it ceased when my dad left, I carried the aftereffects into adulthood.
The fear and feelings of betrayal influenced my relationships and caused me to make choices in an attempt to compensate for the suffering rather than out of a love of life. That is no way to live.
At a low point, I was introduced to an amazing book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. It revealed to me my spiritual, undamaged nature. Understanding this freed me from the suffering and the aftereffects of abuse. I found this passage particularly helpful: "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth" (pg. 14).
As I studied this book, I gained a new sense of dominion. I gradually realized that the abuse had never touched my true, spiritual nature. I learned that my identity is not confined to a material body and that my spiritual nature or the qualities I express are aligned to and come from God, good. So I could no more be abused than God, who is my source, could be abused. I felt free from fear, and with this freer thought of myself, my relationships normalized.
The POWs also turned to God in their captivity. One said that he had spent 12 hours on his knees praying to God. They prayed for deliverance from both physical captivity and from fear.
Now back on US soil, they give God credit for bringing them through this ordeal. I love to think, however, that God will not bring them halfway. God, who is Love itself, will lead them all the way to mental as well as physical freedom.
POWs often say that captivity was like a bad dream. This view may stem from the fact that there is a spirit in each of us that is above and beyond physical existence, always free from abuse or captivity. This spirit is rooted in our inseparable relationship to our one Father-Mother God.
Faith leads us to pray, and prayer connects us with spiritual freedom. Prayer enables us to understand that our spiritual natures are never captured or abused. This understanding brings dominion, and in our dominion is a freedom to love, to think our own thoughts, to forgive, and to let go of whatever is not from God.
It is God's will that we know how much we are loved. In that knowing, the memories of a dream, no matter how real it seemed, must fade into nothing, and the joy of God's love and our safety as His children will shine in our lives. Our days and our nights will reflect the freedom and peace we so love and long for.
The Lord will command
his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night
his song shall be with me,
and my prayer
unto the God of my life.