What can we do when we’re worried about another’s mental health?
Over many years, through a study of Christian Science, I’ve seen how an understanding of God can have a healing impact in all kinds of situations. In particular, I have been inspired in my prayers regarding mental health by two of seven synonyms for God given special emphasis in the textbook of Christian Science healing, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” These synonyms are Mind and Love.
Certainly the Bible couldn’t be clearer that God is Love (see I John 4:8). And the Bible also illustrates the fact that God is Mind, the source of all intelligence; and that the divine Mind is ever present, constantly imparting wisdom and intelligence to all. Referring to God, one individual in the Bible is quoted as saying, “wisdom and might are his: … He revealeth the deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:20, 22).
The Bible also reveals that man – each one of us – is, in truth, Mind’s, God’s, image. Through prayer we can acknowledge our unbreakable spiritual relation to God. And as we do so, we realize we are, in truth, the very expression of the divine Mind’s being. In this way, we find ourselves able to think clearly, logically, and lovingly.
Prayerfully knowing these truths for ourselves and others has been proved powerful to heal mental disturbance, as indicated in an example from the life of Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote Science and Health. At the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Eddy was one of the most famous people in the United States. She had many admirers, but she also found herself the focus of intense hatred.
A shoe salesman from Connecticut is said to have felt an unprovoked hatred for Mrs. Eddy that amounted to insanity. One day he visited Concord, N.H., where Mrs. Eddy lived, and went to her home to try to see the woman he despised so much. He went to the gate of her home and waited. Eventually she came out for her daily carriage ride, and, as she passed him, she bowed and smiled sweetly at him. However, her demeanor was rooted in much more than politeness or human goodness; it came from her deeply spiritual concept of God and His children, divine Mind and its ideas.
The shoe salesman later recounted that, when Mrs. Eddy greeted him, “he felt a flood of divine love such as he never dreamt existed on this earth. It quite unnerved him, and before he realized what he was doing, he crumpled up and wept like a child” (Yvonne Caché von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck, “Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer,” Amplified Edition, p. 370). He had been so completely freed of the obsessive hatred he had felt that he actually bought a copy of Science and Health and started studying Christian Science.
What had Mrs. Eddy discerned in this man when she looked at him? In following the example of Christ Jesus, she always endeavored to see those around her in the light of man’s true, spiritual being and nature. She describes this Christianly scientific approach to healing in this passage: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health, pp. 476-477).
Whenever the picture of illness presents itself, including mental illness, we can remember that all God’s children are made in the likeness of God. In the allness – the onlyness – of this divine Mind and divine Love, there is no room for anything except clarity, honesty, love. Regardless of how things seem, this is how God knows each one of us – as the very reflection of His infinite wisdom and cogency. There are no exceptions to this truth. To remember this, and to bear witness to the true child of God’s creating, is still a model for being agents of healing in this 21st century.