No need to be embarrassed – EVAN MEHLENBACHER CSB

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No Need To Be Embarrassed

From the blog of   CSB

 

If one has practiced Christian Science successfully for years, even decades, and then finds him or herself under extreme circumstances that causes him or her to seek temporary help from the medical community, should they feel embarrassed or like they’re spiritual failures?

Absolutely not!

There is nothing wrong with seeking medical assistance if that is the wisest thing to do under the circumstances one faces.  Everyone has major spiritual lessons to learn in their demonstration of Truth, and the going is not always easy.

Ideally, every problem goes away with prayer, but in the everyday reality of human decision-making, and wondering what to do to save life and preserve the greater good when faced with immense struggle, occasionally, students of Christian Science have found themselves seeking temporary medical assistance. This is not a dark sin. It’s not a black mark on one’s record. It’s just a temporary measure. That’s all. When one’s motive is to work out problems spiritually, the temporary measures will pass and be left behind. The larger spiritual lessons will be learned in due time and with right effect.

If a student of Science has not steeped himself in pride and self-righteousness about his practice of Christian Science healing, there will be no “knocking him down from the pedestal,” type of experience.  He will not allow himself to be put up there to begin with! Humility about our practice is a healthy quality. And it keeps us out of much trouble.

But it’s important to honor all the success Science has produced over the years and give credit where credit is due.

A long time student of Christian Science who sought some temporary medical assistance during a seemingly life and death struggle was disturbed about how to reply to his physician who asked, “Why haven’t you been to a doctor for 40 years?” I told my friend that he could tell the doctor with confidence that he hadn’t been to a doctor for 40 years because his health needs have been successfully met through his practice of Christian Science. And that he was very grateful for all the help he had received over the years.

I explained to him that there was no need to feel apologetic or timid about sharing his faith. Prayer yields huge benefits. No justification for reliance upon a method of healing that blesses is needed.  No cover-up is required. Statements of truth are nothing to be embarrassed about. It is what it is. And one can speak of faith with confidence, cheer and expectancy of good.

So, when one’s motive is to keep growing spiritually, whatever happens in the temporary scene will be subdued and replaced by an inevitable reckoning with spiritual truth, no matter what temporary measures were taken. Truth is always the healer and the most reliable medicine and aid available to mankind.

The lessons of Truth are learned by everyone, eventually, but if temporary events get a little messy or live not up to one’s spiritual expectations, fear not, keep the faith, do the best you know, and with persistent and patient prayer, God will still get you to the best place in thought, deed and experience you could ever possibly be.

 

 26 COMMENTS:

Béatrice said…
Thank you so very, very much for this post! It is so loving and helps to go on and not stay stuck in guilt! Thank you, Evan!
3:14 AM
Claire said…
Thank you so very much for this … I found myself in a life and death situation many years ago and temporary means seemed necessary, but ultimately it was the consecrated and loving support of a faithful CS practitioner which blessed me and others in that hospital ward – I’ve never felt guilty about it – just very grateful for the love and support at the time from fellow Church members and the lessons learned – thanks again for your wonderful blog , Evan – your topics are so timely !
5:09 AM
Anonymous said…
I wish this could be read by every Christian Scientist on the globe. Pointing out that humility is the quality we need in making decisions about our health care is profound. Are we self righteous and superior about sticking to the truth in a difficult situation. I know I have been at times. This is such an honest blog, Evan. I’m deeply grateful for your loving guilt free approach. It IS true that the problem has to be worked out spiritually eventually, but sometimes taking a temporary step seems wisest under the circumstances. And there is no shame in doing that. Deeply grateful for this article today…
5:48 AM
Shelley in Devon said…
I agree with Anonymous above, and could weep with relief that it has finally been put ‘out there’. Very grateful Evan that you felt guided to write this blog. It will make such an enormous different to so many of us long time Christian Scientists. Thank you, thank you.
7:44 AM
Dame Judith said…
I find myself prefacing my comment with the way my grandmother always did, “I’m so grateful” 🙂 for your thoughtful words. I’ve been just a student, one who’s on & off, over 72 years now. This issue has always left me in a quandry, both to myself and when challenged by others, although (at some level) I “knew” seeking assistance from the medical community was not “forbidden” nor something to be ashamed of doing. I follow your blog but rarely comment. Be assured,I’m so grateful for it!
7:45 AM
Anonymous said…
I have had instances within the past 16 years where medical intervention appeared necessary (two C-Sections delivering my children, and surgery for our dog as a result of a dog attack). Following the initial surgeries, no medication was necessary (prayer was going on, though)and healing was very quick. Doctors were simply amazed how smooth the recovery was!
8:31 AM
Kathy said…
I agree with what you say, and on the other hand, I’m not comfortable with an open discussion of the topic. It was medical intervention in my life that turned my mother and me to Christian Science when I was a child. As an adult, I had medical help with childbirth, and I had surgery in a life-threatening situation. But I have never found this turning to the medical to be all that helpful in that I have endured scoldings and even scoffing from medical professionals. On the other hand, fear of the medical is no reason to be a Christian Scientist. Our purpose is so much deeper.We need to be careful that materia medica does not gain a toehold in our thought. We can’t successfully mix Christian Science with material medical means. And it doesn’t give me comfort in my present struggle to think that maybe I should just give it up and go to a doctor.
9:23 AM
Anonymous said…
Does God really care if we go to a Doctor? No, He loves us whatever our choices are. And our choices are personal and specific and individual. Open discussion is precisely what is needed. We needn’t be afraid of materia medica. Christian Scientists need to be able to feel they can trust their earnest prayers if those prayers lead to medical intervention, not to feel they have failed. Understanding is a progressive thing, and a two year old wouldn’t be made to feel bad that they couldn’t do calculus, so if our understanding has not yet reached certain heights, then we need to be gentle and loving with ourselves, as God is.
10:05 AM
Evan Mehlenbacher said…
Hi Kathy,I hear your concerns! But this blog was not meant to be a justification for seeking out medical help. It’s sole purpose is to address the feelings of guilt students of CS have often had when seeking medical help when they felt they had no choice–to preserve the greater good. And that happens on occasion.All problems are eventually solved spiritually. The medical route is a temporary detour, but the laws of Love will eventually get the traveler right back on track with Truth and enabling him or her to make his full demonstration as Jesus promised.”Suffer it to be so now,” is a safety relief valve at times for some. And that’s okay.I think the important point is to eliminate all judgments of our neighbor’s actions. Each person works out their salvation with God, and if all of us were free of any kind of worry or concern about what our neighbor thought about our choices, it would probably help many find their spiritual help quicker in the first place. An interesting outcome to consider!Hope that helps some.Thanks for commenting.
10:59 AM
Anonymous said…
I especially thank Kathy for her remark.
11:03 AM
Anonymous said…
I’m a life-long Christian Scientist and have never felt there would be a time when medical means would even be a consideration. However, recent human circumstances changed that when I appeared unable to eat normally. My loving family saw the severity of the human need and with my agreement took me to a hospital.
At the hospital I have continued my prayers as taught in Christian Science and working with a practicioner.
I am grateful for the loving care at yhe hospital and while I would have preferred to not have needed medical support, I have learned a strong respect for those involved in the medical professsion,
I’m home now and am looking forward to complete and rapid recovery.
11:45 AM
Sue said…
Dear EvanI am very grateful for this loving blog on something which causes such conflict and guilt.Mrs Eddy expected us to radically rely on the spiritual method and I have always felt I lost any ground I hade made by going in the other direction. Real dilemma. I am so glad that there is a much more loving and caring approach to those under medical care these days but not every practitioner will continue to help and as a CS in hospital it can be the loneliest and most alien of places – the very place you need to have that loving presence beside you. Seems that there is such a discrepancy in how people deal with this. It varies with teachers as to how one is taught and is a real minefield of confusion. But I am very grateful for your practical and loving thought on it all. We need more of that. Thank you
2:28 PM
Anonymous said…
A family member of mine was scorned and ridiculed (in my presence)by his major-hospital doctors when he listed CS as his religion on his hospital admittance form. I hope I never have to go into a hospital, but if I do, I’m not going to tell them I’m CS, I don’t think it is wise.This family member was quickly killed by the cocktail of drugs they administered, plus a hospital-acquired infection that he apparently picked up in the emergency room.Going to med care is no guarantee your life will be saved.Anyone who reads Fruitage chapter in Science and Health, plus a good quantity of testimonies from the bound volumes of the Journal and Sentinel, sees plenty of healings that are far beyond the skills of “modern medicine”.
2:36 PM
Kathleen said…
Evan, thank you for such a compassionate view. Whether to seek medical relief or not remains an individual decision, one not dictated by the Church. While we each strive to prove health scientifically, we each have our own needs and work at our own pace.I have shared one paragraph, accompanied by a link to this article, on christianscience.com where the discussion community is addressing this issue.Thank you.
3:10 PM
Anonymous said…
I found the blog and all the comments very helpful. It gave me a “new view” about the fear related to what if they ask me why I haven’t gotten medical attention sooner. I loved cutting through that fear. Be honest in reply and don’t be afraid of honesty is my take away. And the comment that God doesn’t stop loving you because you seek medial treatment was a firm reminder of God’s ever present Love. Thank you all for a sense of peace I’m feeling this morning
6:00 AM
dhMorris said…
My Mom was a very dedicated Christian Scientist and a time came when she needed surgery for appendicitis. The Penicillin she received almost killed her, while the Christian Science treatment from a practitioner saved her life. She went on later to be a Christian Science nurse for many years. My father, not a practicing CS, received the benefit of it many times. When in the hospital immobilized with arthritis after a tour in Vietnam, he asked the CS Service Minister to come see him. He walked out of the hospital in a couple of days. Even in a hospital, Truth and Love are at work.
8:30 PM
Anonymous said…
I am so grateful for this blog, Evan, and for all responder’s comments. I have been struggling with a physical problem that only seems to be hanging on and sometimes worsening. It is not life-threatening, but it is adversely affecting my husband’s and my quality of life and makes it much more difficult to do well at work. I am no longer able to drive because of it. I have been told (many times, by many people) that a “simple” office surgery could solve the problem, but I fear that going that direction will set me back in my spiritual growth and make me feel that I am dishonoring God. But surely it cannot be right to be a burden to loved ones. Evan, your article brings such comfort. It tells me that God will always love and care for me, no matter what, and that if I am guided by Love, whichever decision I make can only bring good. Thank you,
9:05 PM
Anonymous said…
I feel in my heart that if a longtime, committed CSt chooses med care in a non-life-threatening situation, they really should have the decency and emotional integrity to feel embarassed about it.
11:01 PM
joyce said…
Bravo Evan. This is so timely and needed.
I am a CS practitioner and it has been my experience that the guilt that some have felt as a result of seeking temporary medical help on occasion has driven numerous people away from CS. They have called me in tears feeling they have let God down. This just isn’t right.
So grateful you had the courage and insight to speak out on your blog about this. Worth a longer piece for the CS periodicals in my opinion
5:03 AM
Shelley In UK said…
To anon ‘I feel in my heart’Why wish anyone embarassment?
6:27 AM
Anonymous said…
To Shelley in UKI have seen too many Csts lately running to the med for the least little excuses. MBE speaks of us as having “enlisted” (as in an army) and I believe we are expected to express some courage and commitment. Not just give up as soon as the going gets challenging.
11:23 AM
Anonymous said…
Minding our own business is probably the safest bet as Christian Scientists. The last thing we need is feeling that someone is judging us because we have taken a medical step. Why is that your concern? Evan is not advocating taking a medical route, he’s merely offering the balm of forgiveness and support to the dear ones who feel they needed to take that step for whatever PERSONAL reasons presided. Mrs. Eddy’s statement that we must learn to first heal the broken hearted brings focus to this discussion. I can assure you that any consecrated Christian Scientist who has taken medical steps has done so prayerfully and carefully. Why on top of that detour do they need to feel guilty and brokenhearted because somehow they have let down God? We have only let down someone who is standing in moral superiority and judging us. We’ve never let down God who is there for us as we make our way through the human scene.
6:12 AM
Anonymous said…
To the above commentor: The word “personal” implies “me, myself and I” which is not what CS is all about.CS is about Truth, not just about giving us all the most comfortable personal human lives.Your comment is plenty judgmental and self-righteous exercise in “moral superiority” itself.As I said in my first comment, I am not speaking of those in emergency life-threatening situations, or to those in unbearable pain. In such situations, one does what what one has to do. I am sympathetic to this.I’m speaking of those who use pretty flimsy excuses concerning pretty minor ailments. Where patient persistence with CS, possibly tolerating some discomfort (and possibly longsufferring past some criticism from family and friends) for a while if necessary, might lead to a more excellent sort of healing.Mortal mind would love nothing more than to persuade every single one of us who is called to be a CSt, to give up and run scared to material sorts of care.
3:39 PM
Anonymous said…
Can God feel embarrassment? No.
If He can’t, as His image and likeness, neither can we.
4:55 PM
Anonymous said…
If CS practitioners fall to the level of only being ministers consoling patients while they go for medical care, then we may as well just give up on our CS church and join other mainstream Protestant churches, because there will be no difference.A recent CS Sentinel included 3 testimonies that so much mixed CS and med care that an objective reader really couldn’t tell which method had done the healing work.If we happily participate in allowing CS to be watered down to “nothing”, then we really aren’t meeting our duty to God, to our Leader and to mankind, are we?Doctors have a saying that “everybody gets 40 good years”. So the fellow mentioned in Evan’s comments may as well keep his silence, because most doctors aren’t likely to be at all impressed anyway with the fact that he went 40 years without med care. In fact they will likely still think him foolish for not coming in during those years for preventive med care.When I took my family member, at his request, to a hospital, upon learning that he was a member of the CS church, the doctor said “well that was perhaps OK when you were younger, but it’s not OK now”. And the way he said it certainly didn’t indicate anything more than at best just a social smoothing of the situation, no respect at all.So if a Cst chooses to go to a hospital, they’d better be prepared to hear this sort of thing.
1:34 PM

No need to be embarrassed