One of the first things I learned in school in the US was the "Pledge of Allegiance." But I didn't want to just recite it. I wanted to know what it meant. What on earth was "allegiance" anyway?
When I looked it up in the dictionary, I found out that "allegiance" means loyalty or devotion, being deeply committed to something.
As I thought about allegiance, I realized that my loyalty wasn't just to a flag, or even to what that flag symbolizes (my country). There was an even more important allegiance I wanted to think about and to grow in.
In the Christian Science Sunday School I'd been learning about how good God is and how much He loves each of us. That made me want to be loyal to Him.
And then there was this, the first of the Ten Commandments, which you can find in the book of Exodus in the Bible. It says: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). To me, having only one God meant listening only to God, obeying only God, and remembering that if something wasn't like God – good, perfect, loving, pure – it couldn't be a part of me as God's creation.
The First Commandment is like God asking for our allegiance. And after seeing all the good things that happened when I devoted myself to God, I wanted to give God the allegiance He asked for. I did this by trying to listen to God more and more each day – and then by following His messages.
Fast forward to many years later when I had an experience that taught me just how powerful allegiance is. Sure, I'd seen examples of this all along. Maybe you have, too. Like when you're focused on being loving the way God made you to love, you hear a message from God telling you how to be a good friend or sister or brother. Or when you get a good idea for a story your teacher assigned you to write because you've been listening to God.
But what about those times when allegiance isn't so easy? What about when someone is mean and it's hard to be kind in return? Or when you feel that your loyalty to God is being tested because circumstances seem scary?
That's what happened to me. I wanted to focus on God and trust Him, but my head was really hurting, and it kept hurting for several days. I felt that I couldn't even hear Him because the pain was so loud.
Finally, I called a friend and asked her to help me pray. And what did she remind me of? My loyalty to God. She said I could be loyal to divine Love because Love was caring for me right that second.
I also remembered this direction from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. It says: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought" (p. 495).
Clinging steadfastly was a good way to be loyal to God, so that's where I began.
Every time a thought argued that I was in pain or afraid, I actually answered back. I said I wasn't interested because I was only listening to God. And then I would. I would say, "OK, God, I know You're telling me the truth and that's why I have no desire to hear anything else."
And you know what? God was telling me the truth. Pretty soon, those messages were coming loud and clear. Wonderful messages, that really did capture and keep my attention. I was being loyal without even trying!
I don't know how long it took, but it wasn't very long before the headache was completely gone. I was healed.
I also learned something new about allegiance. Why can we be loyal to God? Because God, divine Love, is loyal to us – was loyal first, and is loyal always.