All through elementary school, John was a poor student. He had trouble paying attention and focusing on what the teachers were saying. In math class he felt that the concepts flew by so fast he couldn't grasp them. His reading was particularly bad. Kids laughed when he mispronounced words while reading aloud. Most of the time he dreaded going to school.
His parents were always there for him. They never doubted his abilities or gave up on him. They helped him with his homework and hired a tutor when it looked as if he might be set back a grade. Elementary school was a struggle, but grade by grade, he finished. Yet he never felt he was as good as the other kids.
In junior high, things began to change. One Sunday, his Sunday School teacher gave each student a small spiral notebook. She'd written headings at the top of some of the pages, such as Strength, Peace, Wisdom, Intelligence, and so on. Under each heading there were a few numeric references from the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy – not the actual quotations, but just the book, chapter, and verse, or page number and line number.
She made sure that each student knew how to look them up so they could read the passages in the books. She made it fun, like a treasure hunt. She encouraged them to keep this notebook with them and expand it with other headings and citations. But their first assignment was to look up all the citations she'd put in.
John loved doing that. It was like deciphering a code to find the particular passage in the book that the numbers referred to. What made him happiest, though, was thinking about the amazing ideas he found. Each idea from the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy brought him more peace, joy, and insight. And he felt God's love and support. He was feeling the presence of the Christ lifting him up; he was grasping a little bit of what Jesus knew about God's presence within each of us – that His intelligence, wholeness, strength, and purpose are qualities we each have, as the flawless children of our Father-Mother.
John's reading skills improved dramatically. One day he read, without mistakes, the opening narration of a play the class was doing. And everyone applauded.
He found encouragement and confidence from the references in his notebook. He kept a pocket dictionary nearby to look up new words. This added to his sense of discovery. It was like unlocking a treasure chest of the most meaningful, helpful ideas he'd ever seen, like this one: "Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them. Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent. We are all capable of more than we do. The influence or action of Soul confers a freedom, which explains the phenomena of improvisation and the fervor of untutored lips" (Science and Health, p. 89).
Unlike other summers when he was glad he didn't have to study, the strongest memories of that time involved reading through Science and Health on his back porch. And there was a benefit to that study.
His grades improved, and he also felt happier. Sometimes the wonderful ideas he was discovering conflicted with the material, biological view of things taught in school. But the spiritual facts he was learning in Christian Science, unlike anything else, contained a sense of realness, reliability, clarity, and truth.
John went on to high school and made good grades. Later, he entered one of the Big Ten colleges he'd hoped to attend. He graduated from college and began a successful business with a friend from college. That little notebook stayed with him. He added to it often.
The Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy continue to be John's teacher, healer, and friend. He'll never forget how they helped him through all those years. What he learned gave him the confidence to approach any class, homework assignment, or activity knowing that divine intelligence – the full awareness of all that is or can be – is our true intelligence. He looks back on those years as proof that God as divine Mind is our true mind, and we can claim it and use it every day.