A letter to the editor in Newsweek caught my attention. A psychologist who has worked with heart patients for 10 years pointed out that "the physical reactions that take place when anger rears its ugly head are clearly documented" (June 30). What we think really does matter.
That brings to mind one of the ways I've learned that lesson: through physical healing. I've found it important to turn away from negative thoughts of fear, irritation, discomfort, or disability and instead hear God's reassuring message that I am His image and likeness - whole, peaceful, painless, free. The result has been better health.
Holding to these God-like thoughts has brought healings of many kinds - injured ribs, flu, respiratory difficulty, internal injuries from a bicycle accident, sprained ankle, and more.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science wrote: "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 261).
Through her own struggles and search for better health, Mrs. Eddy discovered some groundbreaking concepts - that thought governs the body, not partially but wholly, and that all cause and effect is mental, not physical.
She wrote: "Ye who can discern the face of the sky, - the sign material, - how much more should ye discern the sign mental, and compass the destruction of sin and sickness by overcoming the thoughts which produce them, and by understanding the spiritual idea which corrects and destroys them" (page 233).
One day I banged my toe full force into a fan. The pain was awful. I immediately turned to God in prayer. I heard the reassuring message that said I was always in God's care and His love for me couldn't be interrupted by anything. I quickly calmed down, the intense pain subsided, and I continued my work.
The next day a friend and I were in a store. The salesperson said how bad my toe looked and asked if it was broken. On the way home my friend told me, "Your toe is probably broken."
Up until this point, although I was walking with some discomfort, I hadn't been in much pain. But things changed pretty quickly.
That night my toe began to throb. At first I tried to talk myself out of the pain by convincing myself that this really wasn't a big deal - after all it's just a hurt toe; the pain will go away. But the pain wasn't going away.
I began to pray more earnestly. I knew that I needed to be holding my thought to what is good and true rather than going along with negative human opinions. So I asked God to show me the truth about me as His child.
My answer was to reject the belief that any part of my selfhood as God's image could be broken because I was actually spiritual, whole, intact. That spiritual fact also informed me that I couldn't be damaged or hurt. This was in direct contrast to the way my toe looked and felt.
I began to feel calmer and more peaceful. In a short time the pain faded away. The next night the pain came back again, but this time I felt even more convinced that my true nature as God's child was perfect, painless, and free. The pain vanished, and it didn't return.
What happened to me is described by Mrs. Eddy: "A change in human belief changes all the physical symptoms, and determines a case for better or for worse. When one's false belief is corrected, Truth sends a report of health over the body" (page 194).
A week later a woman asked me to pray for her because she had dropped something on her foot and she was in pain and having difficulty walking. I shared with her the idea that had healed me - that she couldn't be broken or damaged because she was God's whole, spiritual idea. She told me later that she was healed instantly.
What we think, what we accept as true about ourselves, does have an effect on our health. But no matter how dark or negative our thoughts may be at a particular time, we can turn away from them and listen to God for His thoughts telling us we are His child, His likeness. And that we are free.