By Juli Vice
From The Christian Science Journal – September 15, 2014
Several years ago, when our family moved to a different state, we started hearing a common theme around town: that allergies were really bad in the area, and that people would suffer from allergic reactions even if they hadn’t had problems living elsewhere. It was such a widely held belief that I knew I had to challenge that line of thinking. I’ve learned, through my study of Christian Science, not to accept the concept of a creation that is material and flawed, and I began praying to know that no one is susceptible to beliefs based on a false concept of reality.
As I prayed, I thought a lot about the concept of allergic reaction. To me that word implies that we have some say over how things affect us. In other words, when some thing or some thought or circumstance comes across our path, we choose how we deal with it. We can choose to react, or we can turn our thought to the unchanging spiritual facts about God’s creation. We can choose to accept the idea that God, Spirit, created all and called it good (see Genesis 1:31) and, therefore, that our spiritual environment is good, harmonious, and completely harmless.
The material concept of life argues that we must live in submission to matter. For example, if common public thought is convinced that certain plants cause negative reactions, we suffer accordingly. In Christian Science, though, we learn to challenge material beliefs instead of accepting them. The process of examining our thought and turning it around is prayer. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (p. 269). So when something appears as an allergic reaction, we can find healing by taking the objects of sense—a material body separate from God that must suffer in a potentially harmful environment—and exchanging that material sense of things for the ideas of Soul: our real identity expressing the harmony of Spirit, and the spiritual universe, which is completely good. Prayer brings the sweet reminder that this is the only universe created by God.
We should expect to rejoice in the beauty of what nature represents.
Elsewhere in Science and Health Mrs. Eddy adds: “What an abuse of natural beauty to say that a rose, the smile of God, can produce suffering! The joy of its presence, its beauty and fragrance, should uplift the thought, and dissuade any sense of fear or fever. It is profane to fancy that the perfume of clover and the breath of new-mown hay can cause glandular inflammation, sneezing, and nasal pangs” (p. 175).
These ideas really helped me when it seemed that I was suffering from severe reactions to poison ivy. I started to feel that I was particularly susceptible to this problem and joked that it seemed as if all I had to do was look at a poison ivy plant and I’d get a rash! I definitely needed to get a better concept of myself and my environment. At one point the rashes appeared to be getting aggravated around the same time that I had become agitated about something going on in my branch Church of Christ, Scientist. This aggravation alerted me to the fact that my thought had become inflamed by what I was seeing and hearing, and that I was reacting to false beliefs about my fellow church members. Once I realized that these thoughts were just false beliefs about others—and not part of my own thinking—there was nothing left to react to! Very soon after, the rashes disappeared. I had realized that I had been allowing myself to react to false beliefs about God’s creation, and that I didn’t need to be influenced into believing in an evil creation of any kind. Since that time I haven’t had any reactions to poison ivy or to any allergens at all. These ideas have also helped me correct a false concept of myself as someone who can be reactive, knowing that because the one Mind is all-active, there cannot be a separate mind in opposition to that Mind.
We should expect to rejoice in the beauty of what nature represents: spiritual qualities such as grace, strength, and love. When we feel tempted by the belief that we are destined to suffer from allergies or from any discordant situation, we can challenge those thoughts with the truth that God’s allness includes only good, fills all space, and governs every aspect of our being. There can be no reaction to the action of God, omnipotent Mind, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Mrs. Eddy echoes this thought when she writes: “The universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them” (Science and Health, p. 295).
When we recognize that God’s creation is the only reality, we can be confident that no matter how widely held a material belief is, it’s still only a belief—not a fact. Holding only to the first account of creation, in which “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31), we can also be confident that we live in that realm of perfect harmony!