Testimony

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When I was in elementary school I noticed that there was something different
about me but I did not know what is was. By the time I got into high school
I was popular and was voted senior class vice president. My parents were divorced
and my dad was not friendly to me. He made it obvious to me that I was different
from my two brothers. I detected a negative aspect to this behavior but I
had no idea how deep rooted the problem was until the day before I graduated.

During a church service (I was raised in a fundamentalist church), honoring
our parents I sat down next to my mom. Upon my dad seeing this, he, his wife
and my grandma all stood up (noticeable to my classmates) and walked out,
driving 250 miles back to our hometown as I was in a boarding school. He did
not stay to see me graduate nor pay the bill, even though I had worked four
years, 6 hours a day, and two summers to pay for over half of the tuition.
I never got my diploma.

I felt so bad about myself I found I could not work and stay in college
so I went and got my GED and found myself working in a restaurant. I began
to date a girl I liked but soon discovered that I felt pressure about romantic
situations. One day while I was driving home a realization came over me that
I was gay. I began to cry in the car as I knew this was what the problem had
been all along. When I got home I immediately told my mom, as I had always
been taught to be honest and true to myself and others. But to my shock she
back handed me across the face and threw my clothes out on the front lawn.
I had to find a new place to live. I was 18.

At this point I felt I had to work twice as hard as my brothers to be respected.
I became the youngest manager of a 4-star restaurant (written up in a magazine).
I was fired from a different restaurant when the owners found out I was gay
— the only job I have ever been fired from. During the next few years I traveled
to New York and found a job at a famous hotel. Everything seemed to move too
fast for me so I came back and settled in another large city, but still felt
uncomfortable until I came back to the city I grew up in. While there were
no guidelines as to what a gay person should do, as society never bothered
to address this issue in a positive way, I always felt I needed the security
of a partner. Unless that were true, I was not interested in romance. I knew
too that most religions condemned me to hell. This was wrong to me as I would
never have chosen to be gay — who would choose to be persecuted, made fun
of, and be society's scourge? Who would choose not to have their dream of
having children and a wife not be fulfilled?

I decided to go back to college part time and to work part time. After a
short time at this new company, I went into the owner's office to put some
paperwork on his desk. As I looked down I saw a book entitled Science
and Health with Key to the Scriptures
. I picked up the book and began
to read. I remember leaning against the wall and slowly sliding down to the
floor, tears streaming down my face — I could not believe what I was reading.
It was like I had known this all before. I felt like I had come home! This
marked the beginning of my journey as a student of Christian Science. My relationship
with both my mom and dad was strained to say the least. Everything my mom
said to me hit me wrong and vice versa, and my dad and I had not spoken in
over 8 years.

A Relationship Healed

My first opportunity to apply Christian Science to a situation occurred after
hearing some disturbing news at my sister's birthday party. For several years
I had been loaning a relative money, paying for airfare and hotels while he
visited an attorney about a injury he suffered on the job. At the party I
overheard two people talking about how this relative had been awarded a large
sum of money and was out buying Arabian horses with his new girlfriend. I
was so overcome with anger that I simply left the party not wanting anyone
to see me.

As I was driving home I realized that I had never felt so full of despair,
anger and hurt. It made me look at myself and I thought, "What good is
being upset and crying going to do?" Then I thought, "Why don't
you pray about this as you are taught in Christian Science?" I began
by acknowledging God as both my parent and this relative's parent. I then
realized that God is Love and that we were both created by Love to love each
other, and we could not, nor would we do anything to hurt each other. Not
only that, I felt the conviction that we could not do anything but to help
each other. I became so joyous that I began to sing.

When I got home the phone was ringing as I walked in the door. It was this
relative (who did not attend the party) calling me to invite me to dinner.
I had not heard from him for over 6 months. I was so startled by this that
I called my mom to ask if anyone had called this relative. She said no, that
she did not know that I was upset or that I even had left the party. I went
to dinner and was able to ask for a check I needed to pay my taxes, which
he gave me.

Back Trouble Healed

Shortly after this demonstration, another opportunity presented itself —
my back went out. I had been having difficulty with my back ever since I fell
off a horse when I was young. I thought that I could lie in bed and not move
and I would be better. But I realized something serious had happened. This
had been diagnosed as a herniated or dislocated disk. I could not move without
severe pain. My boss called to check on me and said that I must do something.
He asked if I had thought about calling a Christian Science Practitioner.
I said no, as I had never considered calling someone to pray for me during
a health crises. I did call a Journal-listed practitioner who agreed
to pray for me. I was encouraged by her strength and positive nature.

One difficult day I read an article about animal magnetism, which I knew
very little about, and realized that the claim of pain, or even a material
sense was false and that I could claim my dominion over them by identifying
myself as a complete spiritual idea. I tried to understand this the best I
could and started to reject every thought that was not good or affirmed that
I was injured and in pain, and even the pain itself. I suddenly realized that
I could not be separated from God and that the only place separation could
occur was in my thought, separating good thoughts from the bad, based on the
principles of Christian Science. After about 20 minutes of what seemed like
intensive thinking I felt a great stir in my body and an overwhelming sense
of love. I heard, as though someone was speaking to me, "You have always
been loved."

I sat up and thought I should call the practitioner and tell her to get to
work because something was happening. But when I looked around my room and
realized how untidy it had become I thought, "Well I'd better do what
I need to do before I tell the practitioner what to do." But then I said,
"Surely God is not asking me to clean my room." And the response
was, "What is stopping you?" So I slowly got out of bed and began
to clean my room.

I went on to clean the whole house and then I felt like going for a bike
ride. It wasn't until I came back up the driveway and hopped off the bike
that I realized I was healed. The next day I went to work and I got comments
like you look like you are glowing. As the day went on I asked my boss, "Isn't
anyone going to comment on the physical freedom I am expressing?" And
he said, "Well, we are grateful for that too!" I was chagrined because
I realized that I had just proved the unreality of a physical condition and
the reality of my spiritual condition, and that's what he was referring to.

Family Renewal

One morning we had a cold snap and a layer of ice covered everything. I was
running late for work and was sliding over the ice in my shoes across the
driveway when I heard an awful sound similar to a baby crying. I looked down
the apartment complex driveway and saw a big Gray cat lying on its side. As
I skated over to the cat I saw it had been run over — I could see the tire
mark across its rear portion. Its mouth was open and it was panting. Tears
filled my eyes as I squatted down beside it. I kept saying to myself, "I
don't know what to do." Then I thought, "Yes you do, you can pray."

As I turned to God I found myself saying Psalms 23. When I got to "maketh
me to lie down in green pastures," I felt a wonderful sense of peace
and wholeness. I caught a glimpse of the true identity of this creature at
this moment and realized as a spiritual idea it could not be crushed. The
cat suddenly looked up, got up and walked across the driveway, up over a curb,
around the corner, down the sidewalk, and behind a fence. I never thought
about the cat again as I felt sure it was OK. About three months later I looked
out my gate and saw this big Gray cat staring up the stairs right into my
eyes. I thought how odd, and then, suddenly, I remembered it was the Gray
cat that had been run over.

As a new student of Christian Science I met an elderly lady who was a second
generation Scientist. She and I became friends. She would ask me questions
about my mom and I would be honest and tell her things were difficult. She
always spoke to me with great respect and made me delicious treats. She would
talk with me about God's loving care as Mother and Father of us all. She would
tell me about healings that she had experienced and would give me Christian
Science periodicals. And on special occasions she gave me beautiful leather
bound books such as the Bible, Science and Health, and Prose
Works
. She included a list of texts that were especially meaningful to
her.

It was during this time that my relationship improved with both parents to
such a degree that forgiveness was natural, and a normal relationship was
established with both parents. Before my dad passed on he told me how proud
he was to have me as his son, and my mom (a real estate agent) helped me purchase
my own home. I worked with a practitioner to help me understand that home
is a mental place or spiritual concept that God creates for us, and it is
whole and complete. Prompted by my mom, I made an offer on a home I could
not afford at the asking price for half the price, and it was accepted. I
still own this home today. My elderly friend and I stayed close for many years
until she passed on.

A New Opportunity

Eventually I started my own interior design company. I was hired by a retired
couple to build a guest house for them. I told them that I would assist with
the design and concepts but that I was not qualified to contract as I was
not a general contractor. They insisted and said it was a matter of trust,
and gave me a check for quite a large sum. I created an escrow account, designed
the project, hired a contractor, and began the project.

The foundation, framing, roofing, brick work went fine, and then the contractor
began to take shortcuts on the trim work and deck. I asked him to redo a lot
of the work but he often became angry and would threaten me. I was very fearful.
I called a practitioner and asked for prayerful support. She reminded me that
this was God's project and that nothing could stop progress nor hinder success.
I could hear the words but I still could not overcome the fear. Soon the contractor
began to make personal threats such as waving a 2×4 in my face like he was
going to hit me with it. I could hardly sleep. I even called the police but
they said they could do nothing unless he actually hit me. I knew I had to
take some steps to protect myself and the client. I was led to go to an attorney
and he gave me step-by-step instructions on what to do. I prepared a list
of things that needed to be repaired and gave the contractor 14 business days
to complete the repairs. He refused, so I fired him after the 14 days.

The next thing I knew I was being sued for nonpayment. I stayed in a mental
lurch for about two days but soon realized I had to move forward and complete
the project, and I still had plenty of money in the account. I went to the
city inspector and asked him to create a list of any violations against this
contractor. To my surprise, he said that he had already refused to award the
contractor a certificate of occupancy (required by the contract) because of
other very serious violations I was not even aware of. I found an older gentleman
carpenter and his son and gave them the job. The project was finished on time
and came out beautifully. The clients were very pleased, and the law suit
was dropped.

A few months later I went to my old boss and began to tell him the story,
seeking pity as I still could not overcome the fear. After a few minutes he
said, "Do you realize what a grand demonstration this is? The project
turned out perfect, you had plenty of money to complete the work based on
how you structured the contract. You discovered flaws that you were not aware
of, and they were corrected. You were never hurt. The inspector gave you a
list of violations that caused the lawsuit to be dropped. Sounds to me like
a demonstration." I started to smile and remembered a quote from Science
and Health
: "Fear never stopped being and its action." (pg.
151:18)

Several years later I was working for a software company and negotiated a
Strategic Alliance Marketing contract that the Press announced was worth 17
million dollars. I was praying and working to know that I had the ability
to reflect God's qualities. The day the contract was signed, the president
of our company asked me to drop off the contract at his house. I was a little
late when I arrived at his house because I was coming from another city. When
I gave him the signed contract he held out his hand, shook mine and said,
"Thank you for your strength and wisdom." As I turned to walk to
my car I thought, "Strength and wisdom — where did that come from?"
I then heard, as though someone was speaking to me, "Would you not say
that strength and wisdom were qualities of God?" I felt like I was walking
on air. I realized that here another individual had witnessed qualities of
God through me even though I was not aware of it. I also closed a sale with
another customer and it was the first 6-figure sale for a software license
in the company's history. I was working with the facts that every problem
or need has a solution which has already been provided — that God's will
is good, and if I release my preconceived ideas and let Him control my destiny,
I simply could not fail.

Love Unfolds

As my understanding of Christian Science improves I see qualities of God
expressed through all people. This bothered me at first because I would think,
here I am doing all the work and I see these expressions come through people
who never pray or study the Bible. This thought was healed as I began to see
that everything that happens to me or I am witness to is based on my spiritual
understanding of the truth that God is All-in-all. So if my understanding
is improving, then naturally my experience and others' experience will improve.
It's not that I am creating these truths but rather discovering that they
already exist — similar to turning on a light in a room so everyone can see.
Likewise I can see better when someone does this for me. So when I see another
person, I now know that they are completely spiritual, which means perfect
or perfectly good. If error in any form seems to control them, me or the situation,
it is a false belief — not the person, me or the situation. I now work daily
to see God expressed everywhere and not to ever overlook or limit who, what,
or where these qualities are expressed. This has helped me forgive others
and myself very quickly. I have developed the thought that all are entitled
to redemption and I must allow this growth for myself and others. This is
a struggle sometimes but I know the results will be good if I can demonstrate
this truth.

Because of my background of being raised in a fundamentalist church I have
had to deal with my own hatred of myself for being gay. I did not know how
to reconcile these feelings with my new understanding of Love as found in
Christian Science. But I wanted to be open-minded enough that I did not cling
to a false human situation or condition if it was not good for me. I got to
the point that I asked God to remove from me any error, including being gay.

Then I met a man with whom I became close friends, and this friendship developed
into a 10-year relationship — we were boyfriends. I learned how to love and
respect my partner and my partner expressed the utmost care and respect for
me. Our relationship grew over time and developed into a wonderful friendship.
Even today we are very close. I have concluded whether or not being gay is
right or wrong, it is a stage of growth that I must accept and demonstrate
the best I can. When I talked with a friend and long-time student of Christian
Science about the problem of being gay, his response was, "Be the best
gay you can be."

Supply Demonstrated

Recently I found myself unemployed. I had allowed myself to spiral down into
a depression thinking that the IT (information technology) industry was in
recession and that I would have to move, or at least be retrained. Even though
I studied my Bible lesson every day, I did not seem to make progress. One
night I woke up in a panic because I was not sure how I was going to pay my
bills. As I laid in bed that night I realized I needed the courage to confront
the problem. I felt this urge so strong that I sat up and said out loud, "This
is not what C.S. is teaching me." I felt the need to pray and ask for
understanding to break the mesmerism. Right away I heard, "You have to
make a choice." I could see as if it were two scripts for a play being
held up, one being the mortal mind version and the other being the Divine
Mind version. I understood that if I accepted the mortal mind version of life
I was going to get mortal mind results and I could not change or improve that.
However, I also understood that if I accepted the Divine Mind version of life
I was going to get Divine Mind results. It seemed so logical to me. Here was
my choice, and to me, here was the beauty of Christian Science.

Mrs. Eddy, the founder of Christian Science discovered not only the definition
of error but also the remedy. Christian Science teaches how to recognize and
deny the claim or reality of error (mortal mind's illusion), and how to claim
Divine Mind as the only reality. I used to wonder why the Scientific
Statement of Being (Science and Health, pg. 468:8) started out with
a denial of error instead of an affirmation that God is All. I realized that
the claim of intelligent matter is a denial of God's allness, so of course
it would have to be refuted to make room for truth.

That night I turned whole heartedly to God to accept Divine Mind's reality
as the only reality. It took a lot of humility to let go of my limited but
cherished understanding of reality. As soon as I did this I felt the need
to ask myself some questions. The first one was, "Now What is
C.S. teaching you?" I answered, "C.S. is teaching me that God is
Spirit and Spirit is infinite. God created me and I am completely spiritual.
Therefore everything that I have and everything that I am is infinite, including
my supply." The next question that came was, "What is your supply?"
"My supply is spiritual." "What does your spiritual supply
consist of?" "My supply consists of spiritual ideas." I then
thought about the vast number of stars in the universe and how impossible
it would be to count them all, and how many more ideas there are than stars.
I realized that every idea has its proper place and use, and that I would
know exactly what to do with each one. I felt a wonderful sense of calm and
confidence come over me and I knew everything was going to be all right.

The next morning I got up and updated my resume, and then went to my mom's
house, as I was scheduled to have dinner with her. While I was there I asked
if she still had the Sunday paper (this was Monday) — she did. Now if you
were in the IT industry you would be tempted to laugh because its almost unheard
of to find a job like this in the Want Ads. But that day there it was — a
software company advertising for a position I was perfectly qualified for,
and I faxed my resume the next day. Even though I did not hear back for the
rest of the week, I kept myself busy. Every time I was tempted to think that
I was unproductive and not useful I would go find something to do around the
house. I also worked with the Golden Text of the Christian Science Quarterly
Bible Lesson that week which happened to be "God's goodness endureth
continually."

I knew it was important to affirm that I was never disconnected from God.
God sustains me constantly. I love to think that God is thinking me right
now and that's why I exist. If God is thinking me, God is sustaining me —
every moment. And sure enough, Monday, the president of the software company
called me, complimented me on my resume, and invited me for an interview.
After 2 hours I was hired on the spot. I was offered a salary higher then
my previous position, and after three days on the job I was offered a two-year
full-time employee contract, which I signed (first one in my career). Today
my job has proved to be very satisfying. It's like a script that was written
just for me.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to become a student of Christian
Science. I feel honored and privileged to know this wonderful, practical,
truth. I look forward to my continued growth as I learn to "study to
shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15)

Stephen Criswell,
Texas