When I was 19 years old I had a child. Since I was unmarried, my pregnancy was a source of great shame and secrecy in my family, so I moved away from home until after the baby was born.
When I first saw my son after giving birth, I loved him more deeply than I knew possible. It was excruciating to give him up to his adoptive parents and sign papers stipulating that I would never be allowed contact with him. I knew I had made the best decision for his well-being, but I felt a hopeless sense of separation, shame, and guilt.
Years later, still filled with this sadness, discussions with a co-worker, who was a Christian Scientist, led to my deep interest in learning more about my relation to God. I learned from Christian Science of God’s unconditional love for all His children. I was so grateful for the understanding that God, divine Love itself, actually loves me and had never condemned me or seen me as anything less than His spiritual and good child.
As a result, I began to forgive myself and overcome daily worry about my son. As my understanding of God’s infinite love grew, I was able to trust that God, the divine Parent of each of us, was tenderly loving and caring for him; that he could never be separated from divine Love’s tenderness or joy.
Still, I struggled with wanting to know my son. On his 18th birthday, I hit a new low when I realized that I had missed the important milestones in his life.
Yet deep down, I knew the answer for my despair was to gain a more selfless sense of love. I began a renewed effort to love my son unconditionally. I remembered the experience of Christ Jesus in the garden called Gethsemane, where his followers slept, failing to keep watch while he prayed (see Matthew 26:36-46). Ultimately Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers. Yet he continued to love, even his enemies. I also thought deeply about a spiritual definition of “Gethsemane” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy: “Patient woe; the human yielding to the divine; love meeting no response, but still remaining love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 586).
In the years following, I realized the greatest gift I could give my son was simply to love him. I knew we would both be blessed by this. This realization freed me from angst, worry, and the need to feel loved in return. For the first time in decades I began to feel a real sense of joy in day-to-day life. I could think of my son without sadness.
A couple of years later, a letter that I had hoped would come for 27 years appeared in my mail from the adoption agency. My son had initiated a search for me.
When I called the caseworker, she read a letter my son had written, telling me about his wonderful family, his life experiences, and the things he loved. He’d had a full, happy life and always been deeply loved. He closed by thanking me for the gift of life I’d given him.
As I listened to my son’s words, I experienced a total healing. All the shame, guilt, and grief disappeared, and I felt the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced.
During the next few months we exchanged a flurry of letters and e-mails. Then came his first trip to see me. My son’s first words to me were “thank you.” These were milestones I could treasure forever!
I also corresponded with his mom and dad, who were gracious and loving. In fact, they had always explained to him that I had loved him deeply.
Later, my son and his family flew me to the city where they live, where his family and friends welcomed me. Many of them had contributed photos from my son’s childhood for an album they presented to me. The collection of photos, covering his infancy through his graduation from college, was priceless. I felt I truly understood the words from one of my favorite hymns in the “Christian Science Hymnal”: “He [the Christ] comes to give thee joy for desolation, / Beauty for ashes of the vanished years” (Rosa M. Turner, No. 412). Everything I thought I had missed about my son’s childhood had been restored to me because the love his parents had for him was boundless and selfless enough to include me in its embrace. I realized that my efforts to love my son unconditionally had been returned to me a hundredfold.
Ultimately we became so close that I lost almost any sense of ever having been separated from my son. And this is the spiritual reality after all: We are never separated from those we love because God is Love, and we’re united forever with one another in this Love.
Adapted from an article in the February 2008 issue of The Christian Science Journal.