In high school, I was an accomplished competitive swimmer, a pompom girl, and a good student. From the outside it appeared I had it all: success and popularity, and I seemed comfortable in my own skin. But nothing was further from the truth. I felt insecure and unsure of myself, as though I didn’t belong.
Throughout my childhood I had attended a Christian Science Sunday School. I loved reading Bible stories and learning about how much God loved me. But over time I felt singled out by my classmates in school because of my religious beliefs, such as relying on prayer for healing instead of traditional Western medicine. It seemed as if I never quite fit in. Not wanting to feel so different, I decided to follow the crowd and start drinking. I wanted to be liked.
My decision to drink seemed like part of a natural progression into adulthood as I went off to college. I stopped going to Sunday School. College life for me consisted of studying, working, and partying. During my time in college, I was a good employee and a good student, but my social life was fueled by alcohol and drugs. I put myself in dangerous situations while drunk, and it was not uncommon for me to black out.
Throughout my 20s and into my 30s, things were very difficult. I was admitted to and completed a 30-day treatment program. I attempted suicide. I was committed to numerous psychiatric holds due to dangerous behavior while drunk. For a time my son was cared for by my loving parents. My young family and I enjoyed long bouts of my sobriety during this time, but when some challenge in life came up, I was pulled back in by the false promise of relief through alcohol or drugs. Chaos and destruction ruled over my days, and during all of this, I always had a desire to stop drinking.
My complete healing of alcohol and drug use was the result of a gradual spiritual awakening into the reality of who I really am, the Cher who God had loved, does love, and is continually loving. It was after my final psychiatric hold that I really woke up. I would describe it as a surrendering to God that left me desiring to be healed above all else. I knew God loved me, and I knew I had a choice in how I lived my life. I started to once again pray to the God I had gotten to know in Sunday School, and I would eventually come to understand that He had never stopped knowing me as His spiritual, flawless, pure, loved child.
I prayed to know God more deeply and more completely. I reacquainted myself with the synonyms for God in the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy. This book includes a Glossary, which defines “God” as “the great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence” (p. 587).
As I grew spiritually, which was a natural movement of thought Spiritward, a much longer list of names for God started to become familiar to me – names that I could rely on: protector, comforter, Shepherd, healer, source of all good, the great Physician.
In the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, we learn that God is all good – only good. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31). This chapter also explains that God made us in His own image, which means we reflect God, including all of God’s qualities. For example, since God is Love and Truth, as God’s likeness we are loving and truthful. As I grew in my understanding of these spiritual facts, I was beginning to see that my real identity was spiritual and complete and perfect, made in God’s likeness.
God was becoming nearer and dearer in my thoughts, and my life choices started to show that. I was learning to trust God, my Father-Mother, in all of my affairs. “Not my will, but thine, be done” was a constant prayer, as I completely surrendered to divine Love. As a result of this, the substance abuse as well as a reliance on medications for mental health issues – and those underlying issues themselves – just naturally fell away; my healing was complete. “Love is the liberator,” as Science and Health states (p. 225).
My freedom from addiction to both alcohol and drugs has been permanent for well over a decade.
Jesus’ healing works speak to the fact that all of us are governed by God, Love, and are spiritual and eternal. Each of us can prove this reality for ourselves and others.
Adapted from a testimony published in the July 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal.