― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Over the years, however, my dad never really forgot what he had learned about God’s love in that Sunday School. His teacher, Mrs. Caspari, drove one point home indelibly: There will never be any situation, no matter how bad, where God—and Christian Science—can’t help you. And heal you.
Thirty-some years later, on the brink of suicide over his addictions and the news that he had just a few weeks to live, my dad suddenly remembered that Sunday School teacher’s words. He immediately drove several hundred miles back to Louisville, and looked up Mrs. Caspari. She was now a Christian Science practitioner.
“Addiction healed, lives redeemed”
From the February 24, 2003 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
Maybe you’ve heard the saying: ‘You have to love yourself before you can love others.’ I’m convinced that if I had been encouraged to love myself more, it would have made matters much worse. Christian Science taught me that the first priority is to seek God’s presence, His guidance and His love.
That changed everything for me. I still remember the day I knew there was a God who unconditionally and dearly loved me. I felt included and embraced, and at the same time empowered and strengthened. The darkness began to dissipate.
Phil Davis, C.S.B.
I volunteered as a crisis intervention and suicide prevention counselor for LGBT youth. The concern is that a lot of youth and even adults were taught God’s Love is conditional or contains a laundry list of rules. As Phil Davis mentions, with God the love that is showered on His children is UNCONDITIONAL; we are DEARLY LOVED. So don’t let tradition in church, politics, or cultural bias make you believe anything less. These false qualifiers would try to block or put conditions on God’s love, thus separating Love from Love’s reflection. The result is that we are literally losing these dear ones because they have lost their hope. Never take away someone’s hope as it may be all they have. And as the Chair of the Dept. of Psychiatry, three hospital system, once told me: “We don’t have a pill for Hope.”
Thus we need to bring those who feel so unwelcome or unworthy and sit with them in the front row of church. Who did Jesus sit with? He even went a step further and loved them unconditionally.
My advice to parents with gay children – Love your children unconditionally. Family rejection + religious rejection can lead to self-rejection, depression, addiction, and even suicide.
Grief results in people self-medicating. Pain + Pleasure = Addiction. If they feel included, loved by God, embraced, empowered, and strengthened it will save them. Look how this turned Phil Davis’s life around. This is even more important if people are experiencing a seeming lack of love from their human father and mother.
Rob Scott, President – Emergence International
Strong, loving, and communicating families provide one buffer against an ill-advised experimentation with drugs.
The Temptation of Addiction
Virginia Harris, C.S.B.
There is a lot of discussion these days in the news, health magazines, and tv reality shows about the consequences of addiction, such as substance and alcohol abuse, smoking, or eating disorders. Even with all the accounts of pain and suffering, the warnings are not enough to prevent many good people from succumbing. The temptation for many individuals – to taste, to want more, to give in – can be overwhelming.
What is the root of this temptation and how can it be overcome? There are countless studies and programs dedicated to finding answers and providing relief, and many are helping. As a spiritual healer, I have seen a spiritually-based approach be wholly effective in stopping the addiction and restoring the individual to health.
The foundation of this approach is a discovery by Mary Baker Eddy that she applied to sick patients with countless healing results, proving its veracity. In her book, Science and Health, she describes the basis as ‘the scientific statement of being’ and it is the key to health and happiness: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.”
Therefore, there is nothing in matter to energize and satisfy life, there is nothing to love in matter that brings joy and happiness, there is nothing in matter that can control the soul of life.
If you (or a loved one) are struggling with the effects of temptation – believing there is life, satisfaction, happiness or control in matter – don’t see yourself as a susceptible, vulnerable or helpless mortal. Instead, identify yourself as a spiritual being, wholly living the qualities of a beautiful, strong and pure soul who is incapable of being contaminated by temptation. Anything of matter, therefore, cannot control your fate – because the abundant grace of the divine Spirit always guides, guards, and blesses your very soul. This soul is the essence of your one and only life, the spiritual life, and it has dominion over your physical experience.
Temptation is sneaky…here are three ways it can try to attack your spirituality and influence you:
Diversion – it diverts your attention from desiring to understand more about who God is and how you are one with God, having the ability to express the moral and spiritual qualities of humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, temperance, selflessness; temptation says there is happiness and satisfaction from matter-taste.
Division – it divides and separates from love of family, friends and even worthy endeavors of a satisfying career and any meaningful contributions; ultimately you are tempted to believe in a separation from the peace and love of God, and that makes you feel isolated and alone.
Deterioration – it breaks down everything of value, relationships, life-purpose, expectation of good, hope and faith, physical health; the temptation to believe there is life and intelligence in matter will destroy everything in your experience until you eliminate the temptation to believe it!
There is a very familiar parable in the Bible about the Prodigal Son. The story is so rich with life-lessons that scholars often refer to it as ‘The Pearl of Parables.’ Briefly, the number two son of a wealthy landowner demands the entire amount of his inheritance immediately so that he can leave the homestead and enjoy the pleasures of the big city. Since this inheritance shouldn’t be his until his father has died, the son is saying, in effect, ‘You are dead to me and there is no more relationship or family of importance to me.’
The father gives him the inheritance and lets him go. Off he goes to pursue ‘riotous living’ – the illusive ‘pleasures’ of matter. That is until there is, inevitably, no more money. What follows is a famine in the country, so there is also no food, no help, and almost no life. The son is destitute and starving, rock-bottom. But right there in the depths of despair, the son ‘comes to himself’ – he wakes up and remembers where home is, the place of abundant love and care, where there is no judgment, no punishment, no trial. There is only a ring, a robe, and a feast…a divine ‘welcome home!’
The temptation to be diverted and dazzled by matter, to be divided from the love of family and Father-Mother Love, and almost to be destroyed by pursuing unsatisfying pleasures was removed, and the son was restored to his original self.
Anyone can be the Prodigal and be restored through the recognition of one’s original self, the soul that overcomes the temptation to believe there is life and intelligence in matter. And anyone can be the Prodigal’s father who showers him with grace – loving only the original son and knowing that ultimately this is the soul with dominion over matter.
A much-loved Christian hymn, Abide with Me, describes the inevitable victory. It is a prayer affirming the power of ever-present God in life and trials, in shadow and sunlight:
“What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?… I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”
My next post will share a healing of addiction and restoration to complete health.