A new view, a new life
“Work was my life,” writes today’s contributor, until he suffered a stroke and was certified as totally and permanently disabled. Then he experienced a change in perspective – a spiritual sense of identity – that transformed his life, bringing healing and joy.
Work was my life. For years I believed that if I worked really hard, I’d have all the things I could ever want. My work was very stressful, and I often worked long hours for weeks on end without taking a break. But it seemed to have paid off. After working my way to the top of my industry, I had the makings of a perfect life.
Then one night, I was rushed to the emergency room having had a massive stroke. Following a month in the hospital, I returned home in a wheelchair. I couldn’t comprehend even the simplest written words and was completely dependent on others for my basic daily care. I was eventually certified as totally and permanently disabled and sank into a deep depression.
One afternoon, something on the bookshelf above the television caught my attention. It was a book that had been given to me some 25 years before that had remained on the shelf, unopened and forgotten. The book was “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, and it begins, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii). When those words were read to me, I felt a sudden and overwhelming sense of hope. Though I didn’t know it then, my recovery had begun with this simple statement and its promise.
Several days later I opened up the book and my eyes fell on this passage: “The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history” (pp. 470-471).
I suddenly realized that not only was I reading for the first time in two years, but I understood the spiritual significance of that statement. I glimpsed that in the divine order of the universe, all of God’s children, and that included me, forever reflect God. So unless the nature of God had changed, I couldn’t have changed either. It dawned on me that maybe what I was seeing in a disabled body wasn’t the truth about what was really going on, wasn’t what God saw or knew.
Science and Health and the Bible became my constant companions, and I began to feel peaceful, hopeful. I’d spent several years trying desperately to change the image – the body – that I was seeing. Now I saw that it was my focus that needed changing. What I’d begun to realize was that when you look through the lens of a camera and see a distorted image, you don’t try to change the image. You simply change your focus. Getting a clearer idea of spiritual man, created in God’s image and likeness, we see and experience complete freedom.
Later that afternoon, I lifted my left arm for the first time since the stroke. It was clear to me that this was a result of the change in my perspective.
Over the next several months, the inspiration I was gaining from these two books began to transform my way of thinking. The depression I had felt for so long turned into joy. I felt safe in the arms of my Father-Mother, God, divine Love.
Even greater freedom came one morning as I read in Science and Health, “The illusion of material sense, not divine law, has bound you, entangled your free limbs, crippled your capacities, enfeebled your body, and defaced the tablet of your being” (p. 227). I began to weep with joy. The phrase “illusion of material sense” rang in my thought. I realized I’d been believing something about myself that was not true about God’s child. My divine right was liberty! I got up from my chair, unaided, and took my first steps alone.
From that point on, I lived with this idea every moment of every day, applying the spiritual facts I was learning to every challenge I encountered. Understanding God’s nature and my relation to God transformed, and continues to transform, my life. Today, I am completely healed and free of all effects from the stroke.
Adapted from a testimony published in the April 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal.