This is the part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.
A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme.
I struggled in school to make friends. I always felt like I knew more than everyone else because I knew Christian Science, so I was a snob to anyone who didn’t know it. I also switched schools so often that I was always the new kid. My family put me in a private school for eighth grade. One of the boys in my class, J.V., was a Quaker. Interestingly, J.V.’s dad was raised as a Christian Scientist and converted to the Quaker faith. (We will see him again later in my story.)
In middle school and high school, there are courses to learn about human reproduction and health. Health includes things like the layout of internal organs, and germs and who knows what else. Christian Scientists are often exempted from these classes. It’s up to each family individually if the kids are exempted or not. I chose to be exempted. I was a rebellious kid who liked being superior and different, so I asked my parents if I could please be exempted. Other students would ask me, “why don’t you have to stay and learn?” And I would proudly say, “because I don’t believe in it.” The teachers would tell me to leave the classroom when they got to those topics. Sometimes, I would have to remind them, and excuse myself from the class. I often went to the library and just did research to write papers on other topics. At some point in school, it was so common for me to be dismissed from class, that the teacher just had me drop the class and take another physical education class instead. I think most of my Sunday School classmates took the health classes at their high schools, and I couldn’t understand why they wanted to do that. They told me they didn’t want to stick out as oddball or weird, and I felt like they had caved to modern society’s beliefs, and I felt sorry for them. Now, I am an adult, and I go to doctors, and I don’t know so many basic things, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
One time, when I was a young teenager at the Christian Science camp, I got a deep cut on my foot from jumping off high rocks and wearing the wrong shoes. For two or three days, I begged my counselors to drive me to the Christian Science nurse on campus to look at my foot and tend to it. They laughed at me and told me I was whining too much. Being a “good Christian Scientist,” I never looked at my foot to see what damage had been done to it. I walked in flip flops all over rocky ground for several miles each day. Finally, the director looked at my foot, and was horrified. He yelled at the counselors and promptly took me to see the on campus nurse. My foot probably needed stitches. I should have been “put under” while my foot was cleaned out, then stitched up. But, I think I was given a tennis ball to squeeze in my fist, and she picked all sorts of little rocks out of my ticklish but in-pain foot, then she cleverly put a sanitary napkin in my shoe to walk around on until my foot healed. (The nurse was horrified at the condition of my foot, and was clearly furious that the counselors had refused to bring me to her sooner; it had caused the rocks to get deeply embedded in my foot, since I had been walking on them.) That was the extent of my care, and I was incredibly grateful to her for it. Over time, my foot got better.
I had another foot injury in high school, too. My dad and I were pushing a mattress down the hall from one bedroom to another bedroom in our house. Suddenly, my dad sped up, and I went running after the mattress, trying to keep up, and I jammed my foot completely into the door jamb. I never had it looked at medically, but I am positive I dislocated one or two of my middle toes. It got discolored and it was incredibly painful to walk on. I laid on the couch for several days, unable to walk, though I could crawl to the bathroom. Our school had a fieldtrip to a local military academy, and I really wanted to go. (I was in the high school version of ROTC.)
I figured at that point, I had been on the couch for several days, and it was about time I “demonstrated my healing.” My foot was no better, but I was starting to get mad at my foot. All kindness to myself and my injury was completely gone, so I tied on really tight ROTC shoes, and hobbled all over the academy for the field trip. I am glad I got to go on the field trip. Being a Christian Scientist, I had to act like nothing was wrong. I was in severe pain, trying very hard not to drag my foot along with me. I was definitely the slowest walker in the group, but somehow, no one seemed to notice. I think tying that shoe on my foot and making it extra tight, combined with all the walking — eventually got my toe to go back to its proper place. My toe was probably “fine” a few days later, and of course I chalked it up as “a healing.”