Testimony

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The day that I discovered Emergence International, was, as I announced
at the conference, the very same day that I came out to another member of my
family just a couple of months ago. That's why I thought it was so appropriate
in my case that the sign directing us to the meeting room was misspelled
"Emergency" International. In my case, it most definitely was an emergency that
brought me to your wonderful web site.

Prior to that day, the only person who knew that I was gay was my
identical twin brother who is straight and he has known for only a few years
despite the fact that we have always lived together. What I failed to add when I
spoke at the conference was that this also came very close to being my LAST
day. Let me explain . . .

This was right on the heels of the deaths of my two beloved parents and
several other traumas. When I woke up that morning, I was so despondent over
my situation that my thoughts turned seriously to self destruction. All I
could see was blackness and many more years of the same debilitating depression
that I had already suffered from for years. All I could think about was
relief, no matter how I achieved it, and suicide truly did seem like an
attractive option.

I had not been an active student of Christian Science at this point
for more than 25 years. I left the church entirely of my own volition in large
part because of the guilt I felt over being gay and the doubts I honestly had
about whether a gay person (sexually active or not) could expect to be able
to apply Christian Science effectively. These were the Stone Ages of the
mid-1970's characterized by a lack of awareness of gay issues generally and of
gay people in particular. To make matters worse, I did not know any other gay
person to whom I could turn for information. This was long before the
existence of the Internet, of course, and of support groups like PFLAG. The
practitioners with whom I spoke at the time were not at all helpful, I'm afraid,
simply because this was an issue that they had never even thought about. Their
discomfort over having to do so with me was quite noticeable.

From that day forward, I turned my back not only on Christian Science
but on God, considering myself an agnostic, if not an atheist. For 27 years I
wandered aimlessly in the desert, not riotously like the Prodigal Son,
fortunately, but I can certainly relate to his sense of estrangement and low self
worth. Things finally came to a head last August when my precious older sister
came over to my home to help me battle the depression that had become so
severe that I was nearly bedridden. She knew that I was not receptive to
Christian Science, but she still saw my extreme need and was desperate to help meet
it in whatever loving way that she could. She is a longtime student of
Science and one of the most dedicated metaphysicians I have ever known. I
absolutely treasure her friendship. Until that day, however, I had never given her a
chance to be of spiritual aid to me because I knew that to do so would require
divulging my secret to her.

I knew how unfair it was to make her keep looking helplessly on,
though, without giving her the opportunity to deal with the underlying
complaint — without being given this important (but missing) piece of the puzzle, so to
speak. Once I finally did so, she couldn't have been more loving and
supportive. In fact, her comments were so insightful and so full of unconditional love
that I suspected she had been rehearsing this conversation for years ahead of
time. (She claimed otherwise when I teased her about it later.)

Still, I was expecting the same sort of instant relief that many gay
people report upon their initial coming out, JUST by coming out, and that
didn't happen in my case. It did feel better to have my dear sister "in the loop"
at long last — as well as other family members with whom I spoke over the
course of the following week, all of whom were equally supportive — but the belief
that I still lived somewhere beyond God's reach persisted and I still had
many sleepless, anguished nights after this. I also harbored terrible
resentment over the many anti-gay comments that I had spent my life having to listen
to in acquiescent silence.

As I mentioned in my remarks at the conference, I discovered EI the
same day that I came out to my sister and the immediate and comforting reply of the EI representative
was like manna out of heaven. While I was still quite despondent, I was
beginning to have faith, at least, that help was available and this thought
sustained me over the weeks that followed.

What helped me most, however, was something that my sister finally said
to me just ten days before the conference. She told me that I was wallowing
in self pity and that I would never put this hurt behind me so long as I kept
rehashing the details of it. Hurtful comments made by my own father many
years earlier (because he must have suspected that I might be gay) cut
especially deep and had never quite healed over. But isn't self pity wonderful, I
thought to myself. Why, it's as satisfying as scratching an itch! And doesn't
Christian Science take all of the fun out of feeling sorry for yourself!

She was absolutely right, of course. I had been throwing the world's
biggest pity party and I had to admit that it was high time to make all of those
loud, obnoxious guests go home! That's when the words of Mrs. Eddy's
beautiful hymn came to me so loud and clear . . . "It matters not what be thy
lot,/So Love doth guide;/For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,/Whate'er betide."
It simply didn't matter what the painful details of my "lot" were. They were
completely unimportant. In fact, my obsessive focus on them was all that
stood in the way of my ability to see myself as God's pure idea. My so-called lot
in life had no power to separate me from God because, in truth, I had never
stopped being His perfect representative. If there is only one Man, then
there can be no enmity between them, and certainly no self-hatred if Man is the
very expression of Love.

Mrs. Eddy says something else in the same hymn that applied to my
situation, and to that of all gay people who are themselves homophobic or who feel
the sting of society's enmity towards us. She wrote, "Love looseth thee, and
lifteth me, Ayont hate's thrall . . ." I certainly did need to believe that
hatred had no power over me — my own self hatred or anyone else's.

But I said to my sister at church one Sunday shortly before the
conference, "I can't wait to go on my trip to attend the EI conference in Phoenix, then everything will be
all right." And she snapped back with a rebuke whose corrective authority was worthy
of an Old Testament prophet, "Everything is all right NOW, Wes. You don't have
to WAIT to be the perfect child of God. You are already healed!"

Later that same day I was deep in thought about a bookkeeping problem I
was dealing with — I am in charge of the books at the company that my brother
and I own — when all of a sudden, I was aware of the fact that for the first
time in memory I did NOT feel depressed. I had managed to experience momentary
relief from it in the past thanks to various diversions and fun activities
(certainly not while doing anything as onerous as bookeeping is for me), but
this was different. I felt the clouds parting for good. And this has proven to
be the case. It is "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," not
a mere distraction from unhappiness as in times past.

Not only that, but a terrible pain in my right shoulder that had
bothered me for months was also totally gone. Previously, the condition had been so
severe that I lacked the full use of my arm and it had resisted all attempts
to treat it with medications, massage and heat packs. To this day, I have
not had a single low moment — not one — and my shoulder remains completely normal
and pain free. (Fellow bookkeepers will also appreciate the fact that the
remainder of my efforts to complete that very large tax return project went as
smoothly as I've ever experienced!)

This will sound silly, I know, but I take inspiration wherever I can
find it . . . and believe it or not, one of the thoughts that I found most
helpful of all during this demonstration was something that the film critic Roger
Ebert said in his review of the third of the original Star Wars movies,
Return of the Jedi. I found it so amusing that I never forgot it though its
spiritual import only occurred to me recently. He was commenting on the scene where
the good guys are being chased by the bad guys through the forest of Endor
while riding those fast moving hovercraft resembling snowmobiles — I don't
remember what they were called in the movie, if anything. But it was a very
exciting scene, with good guys narrowly missing the trees and the bad guys plowing
into them with terrible, fiery results. Roger Ebert looked at that scene and
asked facetiously, "Why didn't they just fly ABOVE the trees?"

Yes! That's it, I exclaimed when I thought of this again shortly before
my healing . . . Why don't we just fly ABOVE the trees? Why try to navigate a
dangerous course through the details of a problem (those pesky, big old
trees) when we could just fly above them? I can't tell you how much comfort I
derived from that great idea! It applies to every situation we're in. "It
matters NOT what be thy lot . . . " The devil hides in the details (remember that
old saying?) and the details DON'T MATTER. The solution in every case is the
same.

I loved the paper by Mrs. Eddy that the keynote speaker shared with us at
the conference — it was the statement that MBE submitted to the Library of
Congress in 1886 explaining Christian Science — and I found this paragraph most
helpful of all. She wrote:

"There is no condition in substance, for substance is God. A condition
is not a tangible something which has been created in the body by a belief of
evil or an ignorant attitude. The definition given in the College Normal
Class is this: A condition is that conception of Truth which is limited and
temporal. It is not something which the limited conception has created, but the
limited conception itself. It has no place anywhere but in the realm of chaos
and confusion, the place of opinions and conclusions, based on a false
premise. That there is a condition, is all the condition there is."

EXACTLY! Far be it from me to paraphrase Mrs. Eddy, but isn't she
telling us there to fly above the trees? So long as we flog away at the details (at
ground level, so to speak), we are doomed to failure. My own healings from
depression, suicidal thoughts, and physical pain, not to mention a good deal
of internalized homophobia and feelings of unworthiness, occurred simply as a
result of elevating my thought . . . flying ABOVE the trees no matter WHAT
the trees looked like, not by focusing on them individually. "It matters not .
.. ." Mrs. Eddy says. And the foregoing is proof of this.

With love from your grateful new friend,
Wes Heath