Do Christian Scientist moms take their kids to the doctor when they're sick? To find out, we went straight to the source.
Heidi Thompson: I was raised as a Christian Scientist. My grandparents were active in the religion, as were my parents -- so it's really a big part of who I am. I introduced my husband to Christian Science about 10 years ago, and it really resonated with him. Probably the biggest misconception about my religion is that we don't take our kids to the doctor when they're sick. We do use prayer as our first reaction to illness, but if we don't see improvement, we will seek medical attention.
Luckily, with my kids, we have rarely had to do that. Usually, prayer works the first time. But my kids do have a pediatrician and go for their well visits. It's not like they've never been to a doctor.
Prayer is our first defense. One night, I was nursing my son and he had a fever. I was concerned. I immediately started doing prayerful work on the issue. I reached for a periodical that features stories of people who've been healed by turning to prayer. I opened it to a story about a woman who had a fever. She was hot and bothered by the people she was traveling with, and was feeling a lot of anger inside. Once she worked through that anger and thought about each person one by one -- focusing on how God had created them -- her fever broke.
I was all angry and flustered earlier that evening. I knew that my thoughts and emotions could affect my infant. Not in a mystical way -- but as a parent, your attitudes, fears, and strengths can influence your children. This is especially true with babies, so it's important to keep your thoughts aligned.
This is the core of Christian Science. All of God's creation is made perfect. The onus is on us to realize that perfection. It's up to us to align our thoughts to what we know to be true about ourselves and others. We must tap into that truth.
That night, I worked through my hurt and angry feelings from earlier that evening one by one. By the time the baby woke up, the fever was gone.
We believe there is a law of harmony that governs us. It's up to you to get your thoughts in the right place, and remarkable things can happen.
Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. She was quite a maverick. She founded the Christian Science Monitor. She did many things that were unheard of for a woman to do back then.
Christian Science gets lumped in with all kinds of things. It gets confused with Scientology a lot in the media. Or faith healing. Some people accuse us of being a cult -- but we don't worship Mary Baker Eddy. There's a lot of confusion out there when it comes to my religion. But faith is very hard to talk about. When people bring it up in cocktail conversation, it's hard to explain what your faith is about in a casual environment.
Mary Baker Eddy didn't even want Christian Science to be a religion. She saw it as a way of looking at Christianity and how Jesus was thinking. She thought her philosophy could just impact the Christian churches around her. But when people started tweaking it and taking her authenticity out of it, she decided to carve it out as something new. And that's how Christian Science was born.
Christian Science is a very positive religion, and it makes a big difference to our family. We are always supposed to be working toward a better and truer view of mankind. That helps enormously when raising children. When things are going wrong, we turn it back on them. If they're being bullied by a kid on the playground, for instance, we'll say: "You know what's true about that bully in school. It's up to you to assert that. Take some time to pray to get some sense of peace about knowing this."
It's beautiful to see kids understand and tell us later what they did to express love to a bully. I love the lesson that's teaching them. It's something that can work for them forever.
I really like the idea that there is this limitless potential -- it's up to us to tap into it. I am always constantly telling my kids that they have all the intelligence and strength they need. It is theirs if they just tap into it.
Like all parents, I get irritated or annoyed with my children sometimes. But at the end of the evening, when I have a minute to think back on something that happened in the day, I do a quiet meditation about it. What does God know about this child? Does God think this child is greedy or impolite, or does he just know him as pure and loving? What God knows about this child is all that's true about this child. I'll make a list of all of those wonderful qualities God knows my child possesses -- goodness, purity, truth, and love, for instance -- and then list things that he has done that are indicative of those qualities. It recalibrates my thinking. Then without fail, the next morning, they act accordingly. They can feel I changed my perspective. The power of gratitude ... taking that time to realign your thoughts ... can work miracles in your life, especially as a parent.
The focus of my religion is seeing things differently. It's almost not even religious in a way. The crux of Christian Science is love. Love one another, and tremendous things can happen by seeing things differently.
For more about Christian Science, visit spirituality.com.