Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Found My Innocence at the 'Y' ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Found My Innocence at the 'Y' ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

The membership office at the YMCA was crowded the day I joined. While I was filling out paperwork, a woman said: "We all must be feeling guilty. That's why so many of us are joining now!"

I didn't think too much about her comment. I just felt that since I have a job that involves lots of sitting, I needed more activity in my day. The "Y" seemed like a good place that offered lots of options. What I didn't realize at the time was how this woman's comments would come back to me later.

Before I joined the Y, I listened for God's guidance, as I'm used to doing in many areas of my life. I find that I make better decisions when I lean on divine direction rather than on my own, even for the simplest decisions. And I did get clear guidance that this was a good thing to do. So I was a little puzzled when after a few weeks of loving my time at the Y, I felt assaulted by thoughts of self-hatred and guilt.

It happened one day after I finished my workout. Suddenly I was besieged by self-condemnation, guilt, regret, over the times I had been willful and disobedient about eating. Even though I had been rejoicing in my newfound dominion over undisciplined eating, I still felt guilty over past mistakes. Finally, it got so bad that I just gave in to the accusation and admitted that I hated myself for the mistakes I had made.

Hating yourself for any reason is a very dark place to be, and I knew I didn't want to stay there very long. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science wrote: "It were better to be exposed to every plague on earth than to endure the cumulative effects of a guilty conscience" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 405).

So I prayed to God to be rescued. It took a lot of mental wrestling even to be willing to hear Him, because the arguments of guilt were so strong. But I finally did get quiet and became willing to turn away from that hateful, accusatory voice. God's message to me was simple: "I don't hate you. I love you." At first I thought, "How could this be possible in light of my past mistakes?" I fought the message because all the self-condemnation seemed so justifiable. But the message of love was so compelling that I couldn't help but consider what God was trying to tell me. …

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