If I filled every page of this book, I might be able to describe the emotions I felt after hearing the words, “You have cancer.” Another hundred volumes might hold the feelings I experienced in hearing, “You also have multiple sclerosis.” There is no way to describe what spinal taps, steroid treatments, and 49 pills a day does to the body or how severe anemia and clinical depression affect the mind. I could tell the story of all that went wrong, but what a tiresome story to tell!
Instead, let me share this story. One cold day in 2000, while lying in bed, bored with my only “job”—that of watching the ceiling fan rotate—I reluctantly turned my head to watch raindrops drench the earth outside my window. If there is anything one does not need when facing one’s mortality while clinically depressed, it’s a rainy day.
For more than a year, I had been repeating the age-old mantra, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Then, in a defining moment of clarity, while staring out the window at the rain, I realized how certain I was about what I did not want. I did not want cancer, multiple sclerosis, exhaustion, depression, or rain!
Arduously making my way to the bathroom, I tripped over and spilled my mother’s cosmetic case (which, for some reason, I had inherited after her death from cancer only weeks following my own cancer diagnosis). Picking up the contents, I laboriously raised my head and stared into the vanity mirror.
From this mirrored perspective, I noticed the position of everything in the room—all was the reverse of what I perceived it to be. As I looked into my gaunt face and painful expression, I realized this, too, was the reverse of everything I wanted. Retrieving my mom’s eyeliner pencil from the floor, I inexplicably wrote on the mirror the opposite of what I was seeing: “As a child of the Most High, it is natural for me to enjoy health and well-being.”
Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore stated a similar affirmation, which ultimately healed her from tuberculosis. At the time, however, I did not know Unity or Myrtle’s healing story. I didn’t even consider what I wrote to be an affirmation. Instead, I had unceremoniously come to the realization that my current reality was not why I was here or how I wanted to live my remaining days on this planet.
In that simple declaration of Truth, written in eyeliner across the mirror, I awakened to the understanding that my present experience was a response to the weary old story I had been telling myself. In giving my focused attention to illness, I told its story over and over again—to everyone within range of my voice, to myself, and ultimately, to every cell in my body. The source of my exhaustion was now glaringly apparent. I began to grasp that a narrative as harmful as this was of no benefit to my well-being.
I had believed a myth—that my illness was greater than the whole of my Being.
I now realized this was not a story worth continuing. My illnesses were “incurable” only because I believed them to be. My body’s ability to heal came from knowing it was possible to heal and giving it permission to do so. In that moment of awakening, I understood that my energy was flowing where my attention was going.
I released the angry judgments and stopped struggling against disease. These were forms of self-punishment that only further weakened me. There is simply no reason to fight our way to what we want, for it is in the struggle that suffering occurs.
I had prayed diligently for a cure for cancer and multiple sclerosis only to see that illness needs no cure. In its very state of being, it is complete, with no need for remedy. By gently releasing all resistant thoughts, I stopped working against the disease and began to align with my innate wholeness.
Eventually, I did discover Unity and learned of Myrtle Fillmore’s healing affirmations. During this past decade, I have been honored to serve as chaplain and minister of music at Unity Church of Christianity in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After 25 years of ministry, I retired a year ago from weekly parish work and am now in private practice as a transformational coach and speaker.
I am certain most former congregants and many friends would say, “I never heard you speak about your illness.” To this I would respond, “Good! Then I have continued to tell only the story of Truth.”
I rarely refer to my journey as a healing journey. For me it was an awakening. It was not the instantaneous end of my illness; rather, it was the end of my seeking to be healed. Instead, I simply allowed my birthright of well-being to take its rightful place.
Since staring into the mirror on that rainy day 13 years ago, writing the story of Truth across the face of the dying man looking back at me, I have been blessed to awaken each day to the Presence of the Holy and the Wholeness of Life!