It started with a Web search

by
April 24th, 2010

Why did I always feel like something was missing? I am have been married for 17 years, have three incredible children, a dear husband who I adore and live a very full life. I have good friends, a nice home, enjoy my volunteer work and my job why the tiny nagging feeling? Why did I feel like I just wasn’t “complete”? Well in June of 2009, the light switch not only turned on, I think I blew a fuse and blacked out the whole grid!

For 36 years I had considered myself a Christian. I was raised a Christian Scientist, attended church, taught Sunday School, even served on the board of our branch church. For some reason though, I never had that “peace” other friends had. Honestly, only time I felt a true connection to God was when we attended church at the military chapel. Looking back, I realize all the “road signs” that God had given me over the years. People I met, books I read, situations I found myself or my family in, dear friends who would pray with me and for me, always little pieces to the larger picture of a true relationship with God, through Jesus. My two best friends in high school, Mark Lee (Baptist) and Jason Asselstine (now a Lutheran pastor) never pushed or made me feel like being a Christian Scientist wasn’t the right path. Mark and I have kept in touch over the years and he’s been a constant support for discussion and answers to questions.

I have seen people who were considered “strong” Christian Scientists pass away or have major physical challenges to deal with for seemingly no reason. No one talks to each other or supports each other via women’s groups or bible studies for example, in the CS church, so there is never any fellowship or connection to others who might offer insight to something you may be dealing with. I used to feel afraid about taking my children to a pediatrician or a trip to the ER with a broken bone, etc. Would the doctors think I was a bad mother, would the people at church think I was a bad Christian Scientist if they knew? That didn’t seem right to me. I have watched my own grandmother suffer from a physical ailment that no one in our family talks about. The whole idea of not acknowledging something and then it’s not real doesn’t jive for me and I don’t think it ever did. I am still surprised that the most un-Christian like behavior I have experienced from people has been from Christian Scientists. That didn’t feel right and continued to add to my sense of something missing.

Please don’t misunderstand, I have many friends who are Christian Scientists who are very dear, loving sweet people who I hope are always a part of my life. I’m not writing this to harm them or point fingers. I have had amazing healings as have my children and my husband, but CS hasn’t cornered the market on healing through prayer. I’m not trying to be unkind, I’m just trying to explain my own life-changing experience.

I was working at a college for Christian Scientists and one day in March 2009, I was asked to attend a workshop on writing for the web. I didn’t understand why I needed to go as I did no writing for our website, but went as asked. During the workshop, the instructor asked us to type in “Christian Science” in the search box, to show that the college name would not pull up and that would show how far down the list we were for website hits.

In my doing this activity, a website came up called The Christian Way. The first line caught my eye: “We are former Christian Scientists — former followers of Mary Baker Eddy, her religion Christian Science, and its “textbook” Science and Health. We have all found a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is based upon the Bible and not upon its spiritual interpretation as presented in Science and Health. “. Needless to say, the room started to spin for me. I quickly copied the link and emailed it to myself to review further when I got home. I looked at the website briefly that evening but “life” continued and didn’t give it another thought…..until our dear friend, Sarah Meier came to visit us over Easter. Yes, that’s not a typo, there is another Sarah Meier  We have been friends with her family since 1997 and she has never questioned my being CS, until that weekend. We talked about Jesus and baptism and God, etc. and she really got me thinking as I wasn’t comfortable with my answers to her questions and how CS thought about them.

Well, with three children and work, etc. I didn’t get a chance to look at the website further after Sarah left and it sat in my inbox until another good friend, Kristina Kerchief came to visit us in early June. She was talking about her pastor and how great he had been after her grandmother passed away. It caught my attention because she had been raised Catholic. So I asked her if she was no longer Catholic and she said, oh no, I am now going to this incredible church and I love our pastor and have really found a relationship with Jesus and it’s awesome! So, I took about three hours and really dug into the Christian Way website and basically felt like someone had just pulled a rug out from under me. I’m so grateful that Kris was there when I found this truth because it would have been much harder to have no one to talk to about things I had questions about.

I couldn’t stop reading the testimonies of fellow CS folks who had started out to prove that Mrs. Eddy and CS was the “true” religion only to find out that it was way off the mark. What a surprise that was! But in a sense, it really wasn’t a surprise, because it explained the emptiness I felt in church and overall. Kris got me a book called Velvet Elvis and between reading that and the information on the site, I was just overwhelmed. Wow, talk about a burning bush! I emailed John Andrews, one of the people on the Christian Way website and he called me the next day.

I didn’t realize it, but John had very historical ties to CS and left the religion himself when he was about my age and was just a wonderful person for me to talk to. The tricky part was talking to my husband. He joined the CS church the year after we were married but never really “clicked” with CS. He was baptized Lutheran, but never went to church so church period was something he wasn’t accustomed to. I remember going to dinner with him and just hitting him with all the information I had read about and how excited I was to have found this missing piece and what an incredible gift to figure it out at 36 and not 66! I think the “deer in the headlights” look on his face should have been the first clue I was talking too fast.

The final piece of my complete 360 turn was my friend Susan Boniwell. We became friends through my hiring her to clean my house twice a month. She then started to clean our CS church. While she never said anything about religion, one day I stopped by her home to drop off a few cleaning supplies she needed for the church and told her about the website I had found. She immediately got teary eyed and said that she and her daughter Becky had been praying for our family, because they knew that we were CS and while they would never have tried to talk us out of being CS, they felt it was missing important pieces from the Bible and they loved our family, so they were concerned about our walk with God. We talked for an hour about what I had read and my questions and things I was thinking about and she prayed for us. It was then that I knew what I had to do; our family had to leave Christian Science because it was not the path which God has biblically laid out for our salvation and relationship with Him.

Sean and I talked for quite a bit about what I had found and been reading and while he doesn’t have the confidence in a relationship with Jesus Christ that I do, I know he understands and is finding his own walk with God. I know that God will continue to speak to Sean’s heart and guide him in the path when he’s ready for that awesome relationship. We visited a few local churches and one Sunday decided to visit the church of our daughter’s best friend. Pastor Tom Cater was the pastor at Community Christian Church in Alton, IL and after our first Sunday visit, I called Tom and went to talk to him that following Wednesday. I had such a weight on my heart, I felt like I couldn’t breathe because I knew I needed to quit my job at the college and leave our church, etc. But it wasn’t a bad, heavy feeling, it was such a sense of relief and excitement! This was in September of 2009 and Tom prayed with me and listed to me and was so gracious and loving and really urged me to continue to pray about what was the next step for me and for our family.

I kept in touch with John via email and continued to be encouraged by postings on The Christian Way and Ananias.org . I kept reading and bought the book “More Than a Carpenter”. I urge anyone who even has the smallest question or doubt in their thoughts about Jesus and a relationship with God, to read this book! It will change your life. It lays out so simply for you what a relationship with God means and proves without a doubt that Jesus was and is real.

I have spent so many years feeling guilty about bad choices I made as a mother, wife and daughter. I have questioned my own relationship with God numerous times and feared for my children as it was obvious they didn’t have the type of unconditional relationship with Him either. How could I send our daughter to college in two years if she doesn’t know with full faith who is really in control of her life and her decisions? How can I expect my sons to be faithful, honorable men, if they don’t understand why God asks us to make certain decisions? I would read about the men and women of the Bible, but never fully grasp that I could have that faith too. God loved Moses and Ruth as much as He loves me, so surely He won’t let my family go hungry or without a home, etc. so why was I always worried? Concerned about how to get our paychecks to stretch longer? Worried that the mistakes I made when our children were little would cause them trouble later? Guilty that I’d put our boys in daycare so I could go back to work, but never had to put our daughter in daycare? Such a heavy load I was carrying and I was doing it by myself, so the burden was starting to be scary and almost unbearable.

I kept reading and praying and talking more with Pastor Cater. I also talked to my friend (and boss), Cheryl Brooks about things I was reading in the Bible. She answered questions I had and was a good sounding board for the things I was reading and had questions about. Our family started to attend church at Community Christian as well as Sunday School and felt embraced by the folks there. Sean and I both talked to Tom with questions or thoughts we had. In November, I gave notice to my job at the college, that I would be leaving in the middle of December. I had no other job lined up and we depended on my income to be able to pay for groceries, etc. The incredible thing was I knew I didn’t have to worry. The children of Israel were cared for in the desert, surely God would provide for my family. I also withdrew my membership from the Christian Science church we had been attending. Two days later, Cheryl called and asked if I would consider working part-time as she could really use my help. Pretty cool!

Then, on Sunday, December 20th, when Tom finished preaching and he opened the service up to a time for accepting Christ, I couldn’t get to the front of church fast enough. I was overwhelmed with the gift of Christ and His sacrifices for us and how we didn’t need to worry, we just needed to trust in Him and the plans that He has for us and our lives. Fear didn’t need to be a factor any longer. Guilt, envy, concern, pride, everything I had been carrying around with me for the past 36 years just melted away with a simple act of accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The neat thing was that my mom was there and while she is a Christian Scientist and I had to push past her to reach Tom, I felt no fear or trepidation about the decision because I knew it was the right one to make.

I took time the next day to call my dad. He and my mom divorced when I was 8. For some reason we’ve always had somewhat of a strained relationship. I still don’t know why and it honestly doesn’t matter. I knew a relationship with him was important to me and so I just picked up the phone and told him I was being baptized and that I wanted him to know and I hoped that we could figure out how to get our relationship back on track. I didn’t know what had happened and I apologized for anything I had done either intentionally or otherwise to strain our relationship. I can think of times where I could have handled situations with him better, but I was carrying my own hurt about things and didn’t know how to talk to him. I now have a much better relationship with him and more importantly, my children are beginning to build their own relationships with him as well.

I also called my younger sister. We hadn’t spoken on the phone for probably a year. We’d emailed occasionally, caught each other on IM, but hadn’t really talked. We talked for almost three hours! I told her about being baptized and that I hoped she could forgive me for anything I had done to harm our relationship and that I wanted to work on our relationship if she did and if she was okay with how things were, then that was fine and I could accept that. We got some major things discussed and I was finally able to let go of my guilt about not doing enough to protect her and my brother during my parent’s divorce and the years to follow. I felt like I had lost 50 pounds when I hung up the phone with her. Two days later a beautiful silver and gold cross arrived in the mail from my sister in support of my decision. I pray for her daily to find the peace that I have and know that someday, Jesus will reach her.

On December 23rd, I was baptized and when I came out of the water, I was overwhelmed with my new “lease” on life. I still have things I need to work on, but I don’t have to carry around guilt when I make a mistake with my children or my husband, etc. To be able to cast all my cares at the foot of the cross and know that I don’t need to worry about my life or my children is such a gift! I thought such a change would be difficult for me, but it was by far the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I take great joy in reading the Bible now and often feel like I’m reading it for the first time. Without the Science and Health interpretation to “cloud” things and make them go along with the religion, things are so clear. God laid out very simply for us how we should treat each other and that we shouldn’t be afraid and the trust we need to have for Him and the plans He has for our lives. It is a joy to see my children starting to learn about the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ and that relationship is the only true way to God. Without acknowledging and accepting this relationship, you will never have a true relationship with God, because there is no way to ever be good enough for that gift.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross made it possible for us to bridge the impassable chasm between us and God. Without the blood of the lamb, we cannot have this relationship. Simply being good and kind and loving isn’t enough. We have to trust and acknowledge and be obedient to this relationship with Jesus. Just like the children of Israel who put lamb’s blood on their doors to protect their children, we have to be willing to accept this gift of blood and sacrifice that Jesus paid on our behalf. Without Christ, we are nothing and have nothing. When the judgment comes, we have to be ready and willing to stand by our decisions or our indecision.

I am so grateful to the many folks who have been on this journey with me. I continue to pray for my children to have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior. We are still searching for a church that will help our children grow and be a good fellowship for Sean and I. I know that God has a place for us. I continue to pray and love my friends who don’t have a relationship and for those who think they do, but it’s not biblically based. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future in the palm of His hand.

The author can be reached at ssmzemeyer@yahoo.com

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