When painful memories are faced and healed

Acknowledging God as everyone’s common Parent offers a powerful starting point in healing racial strife and its effects – as a woman experienced when prayer lifted mental baggage that had been swept under the rug for decades following a situation she’d faced in high school.

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When I was a high school student, our class took a field trip off campus. Students who had cars agreed to have others carpool with them. After driving for a few minutes, the student driver of the car I was in slammed on his brakes to avoid colliding with another vehicle. He simultaneously screamed a warning at the other driver, and then, to my surprise, out of his mouth came the “N-word,” uttered with contempt.

The other classmates I was with, who were white, glanced at me, the only Black student in the car, in embarrassment. The rest of the car trip was filled with awkward silence. Once back at school, I tried as best I could to erase the dismay from my thoughts, and from then on I distanced myself from those particular students.

Now an adult who has been a practicing student of Christian Science for many years, I asked myself whether I was satisfied leaving that high school experience the way it ended. No, I thought. Instead, I saw that now was the perfect time and opportunity to apply the truths of Christian Science to this situation and to free myself from the picture of hatred I had witnessed.

My prayers began by affirming in earnest that God, Spirit, is the one heavenly Father-Mother of us all. God is Love, as the Bible declares, and a loving God could not and did not create His spiritual offspring to live in enmity with each other. I persistently affirmed that every child that God created is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), made in His spiritual image. Our spiritual nature is therefore free from any form of evil.

These truths lifted my thought above the notion that life is essentially a mortal experience, where both good and evil exist. It is impossible for infinite God, good, to produce evil. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Good cannot result in evil. As God Himself is good and is Spirit, goodness and spirituality must be immortal. Their opposites, evil and matter, are mortal error, and error has no creator. If goodness and spirituality are real, evil and materiality are unreal and cannot be the outcome of an infinite God, good” (p. 277).

This radical perspective that Spirit, infinite good, is the origin and source of all existence is what I had found appealing and transformative when I was introduced to Christian Science. So as I prayed, I mentally insisted that these foundational truths were powerful and unchanging. This left no room for strife and hatred to take root or leave an indelible impression.

Knowing deeply that everyone’s spiritual nature is as loving and lovable as their divine source brought me peace. This Christly truth also brought genuine forgiveness of my former classmates. I was especially grateful to feel free and healed of consternation that had been swept under the proverbial rug for decades.

This experience, along with my study of the Bible and Science and Health, shows me that when one is criticized or condemned, the most effective response is to prayerfully appeal to the power of ever-present divine Love to heal and save.

This does not mean overlooking wrongs. But it does mean that in addition to speaking up when we see instances of prejudice, we can go further by getting beyond the false concept of man and woman as prone to evil behaviors and affirming our true, spiritual identity as the offspring of divine Love. Science and Health describes everyone’s spiritual heritage this way: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry” (p. 63).

All of us, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the same infinite, divine source of heavenly good. Consistently seeing one another in this spiritual light – and letting spiritual truth inform how we think, act, and respond to others’ actions – is one way we can actively contribute to healing racial strife.

Adapted from an article published in the Nov. 23, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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