Chrystal’s Story: Finding The Way to the Quaker Path

Chrystal's Story header image

This is 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. 


My second chance at life — time to move.

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And: Finding My Way to the Quaker Path (Part 1)

Early in the spring of 2014, it became clear that our house no longer worked for us, and that we needed to move. My dad’s Parkinson’s had advanced so much that he could no longer come into our small house. The house was laid out in such a way that there were too many stairs. And our main level bathroom was way too small and could only hold 1 person at a time, so no one could be in there, helping my dad, which he needed at that point. Also, the 2 flights of stairs were tearing up my husband’s knees and my knees. (We took care of my dad several weekends per year, to give his wife a break from the constant care. It was my idea, and I was glad she took us up on the offer.)

The front and back yards at this house were non-existent, and my kids had to play in the parking lot which had a surprisingly constant flow of cars. There were other issues too, but all of it added up to “we don’t belong here anymore.” So we started house shopping. We did finally move to the town where my parents lived. Now I was closer to my dad, and I could help take care of him 5 days a week at his house. Our new home was laid out in such a way that family members could carry my dad to the main level of the house, and then he wouldn’t have to do any more stairs, and the bathroom was nice and roomy. We had my dad over one time only. He died a few months after we moved here. We do still love our house. It’s perfect for us. I am glad we got to have him over the one time.

We moved here in late spring, 2014. At this point in my church search, I had visited a few churches between leaving the Christian Science branch church, and hadn’t found a sense of harmony at any of them. I still felt like a rebellious person bucking everyone around me. Other churches weren’t working for me yet. I attended 1 that my husband had expressed interest in, but then he didn’t want to go, and they ignored Christians, belittling their thoughts. I wasn’t yet ready to give up Christianity, so it felt painful to attend that church. I attended another church which I had been taught “that’s an off-shoot of Christian Science.” And there were lots of similarities. The biggest and most important difference, though, was that the members clearly went to doctors and didn’t begrudge anyone needing or seeking medical care. I had a misunderstanding at that church with a member over whether or not I could teach The Bible to children (even though it was a Christian church whose minister talked about Jesus and Bible stories every week to the congregation), and I left without looking back.

I had, the previous week, bought a little journal with a tree on it at the church gift shop. And I turned to this paper journal as my “new church.” Any insight I had, I would write in the journal. I loved that little journal, and I felt like I could exist in this “in between” state of not having a church. I could write whatever felt inspiring to me. Now, I have many journals. Some are day to day recordings. Some are “I need to get this anger out of my body, so I will write it here and it won’t hurt anyone.” Some are just thoughts and ideas, and some are book ideas or article ideas I want to write. But this journal was special. I only wrote my best, most spiritual ideas in this journal.

All of a sudden, one day in August, after we had moved to our new town, I woke up to a bright sunny morning and realized, out of nowhere, “there is a Quaker church in the town where we live now!” (I have since learned it’s called “Meeting House” instead of “Church.”) Oh, I was so excited. I found their service times on their website, and showed up on the following Sunday.

I walked in the door, sat down, and had a wonderful experience sitting in Silence with these people. Afterward, everyone at this particular Meeting stands up and says their name and shares a joy or a sorrow (mostly, they are joys being shared). This was specifically started to benefit the one person in the congregation who is blind, as she wants to know who all is there. It is such a loving gesture. One woman stood up and talked about her bee ministry. She was biking all over her neighborhood and having wonderful talks with her neighbors about not using neonicotinoids. These are common pesticides that are killing off the bees in our country in alarming rates. I immediately knew that this was my new church. I knew I was home. I have attended regularly ever since, and asked for a Clearness Committee to help me get clear on joining.

I went through the Clearness Committee process and joined the church about a year after I started attending.

One thing I have loved about the Quaker Meeting is sitting in Silence. I thought I had done that during Wednesday evening testimony meetings at the Christian Science church, but the Quaker experience of Silence is nothing like the Christian Science Wednesday evening testimony meeting “silence.” At the Christian Science church, there is a yearning from members to fill the silence with testimonies. The silence drags on so long at those meetings, or a member will stand up and ramble for 15-20 minutes, which feels like such a drag. Often, the testimonies are about praying about a cold that went away, or a set of lost keys or a lost book that got found. (I once gave a testimony that I had lost a particular Bible and I had yelled at God then found it within 45 seconds.) There are other testimonies too, where someone shares ideas they just gleaned from reading a Bible story or a passage in “Science and Health.” I remember someone once giving a “testimony” about being freed from the desire to buy bandaids. She referenced the quote: “accidents are unknown to god,” from Science and Health.

“Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God’s unerring direction and thus bring out harmony.”  – Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 424

One time, I gave a “testimony” about a concussion I had after a severe fall on ice in a parking lot, and how I had forgotten so much, I couldn’t even remember my own phone number to tell the practitioner how to call me back. The Reader that Wednesday cut me off and said, “how about if you get to the spiritual truths you prayed, and don’t tell any more symptoms.” She was pretty rude. I had been trying to lay the groundwork for the serious problem I had, and then share the prayer of the practitioner, since I was in no state to pray myself. But I closed the testimony with the same old, same old, “the practitioner prayed, and then I took a nap, and I woke up, and I was fine, and I want to thank The Desk for the Readings.” (If matter isn’t real, why do we thank an inanimate object for reading to us?) (Note to any Christian Scientists who are reading this: that Reader behind the desk did a lot of work to bring those readings to the congregation. Don’t thank a desk. Thank a human being for working hard and trying to do good!)

Sitting in the silence at Christian Science services feels like torture to me. I was always trying to figure out some dramatic testimony to give, to fill the silence. Sitting in Silence at the Quaker Meeting feels wonderful. One of the first things I spoke about “out of The Silence” was, “I was sort of begging God for a break in my life, things are too busy. I need a pause button! And I realized: this Meeting, right here, is my pause button.”

I always leave Quaker Meeting feeling like I have had a mental rest. This feeling lasts for several days for me, and is starting to permeate my life. I was feeling rather hectic a few days ago in the morning, so I quietly sat down on my bed, and just sat “in The Silence.” It’s sort of like meditating. Maybe some people meditate, and maybe others do not. I think it’s an individual’s choice how they spend the Silence at Quaker Meeting. The goal is not to fill the space. The goal is to sit and hold the light, and if you are called to speak, then speak only the right amount of words, using not too many, and not too few. Use just the right amount, then sit down. Then, it’s important for this thought to be given time for those who are there to absorb this message. So there should never be a “popcorn effect” of people jumping up and talking one right after another. It is good to have time for Messages to be placed into our consciousness before the next Message is given. I love the time in between messages, because it lets me really listen and think about it before the next one comes.

Historically, Quaker Meetings are Christian. However, nowadays, people can believe whatever they want to believe. Everyone is honored and appreciated on a whole level I never experienced at the Christian Science church. When I first walked in the door, the whole experience was so foreign to me. I wasn’t being judged or chastised for anything. It felt like a foreign language. It was an alien culture to me. I knew it must be a good thing, but I couldn’t understand it, so I stayed to see if I could figure it out over time. (I have been attending 2 years now, and every time I show up, the members are so supportive.

I am so used to being criticized, that this support often brings tears to my eyes. THIS is what love is supposed to feel like. Not the unceasing judgement I grew up with. The concept of judgement is completely foreign to the members of my Quaker Meeting, as far as I can tell. They don’t have the concept. They only have love in their hearts. It’s a phenomenal gift to be in this atmosphere.

Thanksgiving Testimonies

 


The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’

The following are testimonies from the Ex-Christian Scientists Facebook group, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!

We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts.


“Thank you for your wonderful post (readings) tonight. Many years ago I had a great insight that everything I learned growing up in Christian Science was complete BS and am very grateful to have learned that MBE was psychotic and a narcissist. No matter what happens I know I will be protected from watching my children suffer in pain from an ailment that can easily be treated with medication. When my daughter was kicked from a horse in 6th grade and broke both of her wrists I was able to quickly get her to the pediatrician who immediately began working on her. She had a beautiful healing and didn’t suffer from listening to Larry Groce tapes or a practitioner telling us both we needed to correct our thinking. Who knows what the outcome may have been if we didn’t know about this wonderful world of medical attention. This ability to get my children the medical attention they needed while growing up is the greatest gift that being a non-Christian Scientist has brought me. I am forever grateful!” – S.


“I am so grateful to be part of this healing thanksgiving service. I am grateful for so many insights I have gained since leaving Christian Science, but the most treasured one relates to the healing of a belief of fear of pain. All my life I feared pain. I was protected from experiencing pain for the most part, sometimes with the help of the work of dedicated practitioners, but the FEAR of pain sometime in the future never left me. Now that I have left Christian Science, I no longer fear pain. I know I can rely on modern medicine whenever I need to, and I am most grateful for the freedom this has brought to my life.” – J. 


I am very grateful for the unfoldment that came to me one night while perusing the Internet. I was really curious about the ‘pro and con’ of Christian Science and related websites, but mainly the ‘con’. One in particular was by the American Atheists. This is where I learned about Mary ‘Faker’ Eddy and her shady background with her ‘discovery’ of Christian Science. It talked about how she borrowed a copy of Quimby’s works, removing his references and inserting her own, then claiming his work to be her work (plagiarism!!!). From this point on, l felt deceived and betrayed, that as a child being raised in this religion by my wonderful single parent Christian Scientist mother, as well as my aunts and uncles up to this point in my adult life, I am through with this cult! 

On an amusing side, to continue with this article, I want to share a paragraph with you here. It’s about the Church Manual (c), Article IX, Section 2. Sudden Decease. 

If a member of the Mother Church shall decease suddenly, without previous injury or illness, and the cause thereof be unknown, an autopsy shall be made by qualified experts. When it is possible the body of a female shall be prepared for burial by one of her own sex.” 

To continue through the American Atheist(c) article, 

One cannot help but wonder just what constitutes ‘sudden decease’ if there be no such thing as death. Since supposedly there is no such thing as ‘injury or illness’, it would follow that all Christian Scientists lack physical bodies, we are left to wonder just what it is that will be autopsied. With regard to the autopsy being performed by ‘qualified experts,’ we wonder if this was a concession by Mrs. Eddy to the world of real doctors – people who can tell the difference between livers, spleens and strangulated hernias. Precisely who these ‘qualified experts’ might be, we may never know. Even so, whenever the nonexistent body of a pretending-to-be dead female is to be prepared for burial – despite the impossibility of death and thus need for burial – said female non-dead non-body should be viewed only by a not-pretending-to-be-dead female pretending to be embodied.” 

After reading this, I couldn’t stop laughing. Before the night was through, I learned about two books (of many) critical of Christian Science. Those being Dr. Linda Kramer’s “The Religion That Kills – Christian Science: Abuse, Neglect, and Mind Control”. Now titled “Perfect Peril”. I bought both and read them cover to cover More than once. It is my opinion that both women set the record straight about Christian Science. I am very grateful to ‘know the truth’ about this bad religion.

I omitted mentioning the second book – foolish me! It’s Caroline Fraser’s God’s Perfect Child – of course!” – G


“I am grateful to have found this site. To have a place where I have discovered that a religion I left four decades ago is , and always has been , never the less, poisoning my entire life. I am grateful for the hideous flashbacks and nightmares I had here initially because it is better to remember. Cannot deal with, cannot purge , what you don’t remember. I am grateful to Elizabeth for listening to my story before I was brave enough to share it with anyone else. I am grateful to Willa Cather for writing those articles while people who knew what a narcissistic, sociopathic, lunatic MBE was from first hand association were still alive, and telling the world about it. Had CS people read it from then on maybe this atrocity of a cult would have never developed to the point it did, and none of us would have had to grow up in it. I am grateful that CS churches and reading rooms are closing, and this abomination of a cult is shrinking…may it collapse completely and its buildings turn to dust. Most of all I am grateful to finally know others who get this, and allow me to be crazy, and go through phases, and speak openly about things I would never speak of anywhere else, and work through things…and to realize for the first time that my childhood really happened, and that the same things happened to other children, and that we somehow survived, and that none of us are alone in this anymore.” – L


 I am grateful for ibuprofen and the pill, so that I no longer lose 1-2 days of work/school/life 4 or 5 times a year due to miserable cramps, nausea, and vertigo. Through their introduction to my life, I was able to liberate myself from simpering matrons telling me not to believe the Eve myth.” – J.


“I’m grateful for psychology, psychiatry, Prozac, Ativan, and the fact that I had my daughter in the hospital because if I’d had her at home, she probably would have died. Oh, and wine with Thanksgiving dinner.” – A.


“Thank you for the readings on the subject of Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for today. Throughout my early life, I was challenged by a false belief: the belief that my thoughts could affect the world around me. I was raised in the Christian Science church, which taught me that the world that we experience is determined largely by our beliefs. For this reason, I was told, I must consciously believe, at all times, that the world is perfect, and I must deny any acknowledgment of the imperfections of the world.

Of course, it was all an illusion, but like many illusions, it had a very real power to hurt me. I developed a habit of denying and repressing my thoughts. I was afraid, all the time, that an incorrect thought would slip through and cause misfortune to me or to the people around me.
I would like to express my gratitude for having seen through this illusion. I know now that I don’t need to be afraid. I know now that my thoughts have zero power to affect the world, unless I choose to act on them.
Knowing the truth has freed me from this false belief. With this freedom has come a tremendous sense of relief. I am free from self-denial and repression, free to see myself as I truly am, and to see the world around me as it truly is: imperfect, and beautiful in its imperfection.” – P.

“I am so thankful for the ex Christian Science movement. Knowing the truth about science based medicine has helped me overcome many physical and emotional issues. Radical reliance on drugs and surgeries has helped me live a healthy, happy existence. I was born imperfect. Scientific research and doctors have helped correct this.

As an ex Christian Scientist, I have shed the fear of my true identity: a mortal and finite woman, capable of many things including the expression of sorrow and loss.

The biggest blessing I have received as an ex-Christian Scientist is leaving behind the secrecy within which Christian Scientists choose to exist. The time for critical, rational thinkers has come. I thank my inquisitive mind for directing me to greater truth, realistic life and my human capacity to love and be loved. My essential spirit and the expression of my soul are reflected in the true principle of human physiology. I am most grateful for the common sense  that directed me and lead me away from Christian Science.” –W


“I would like to express my gratitude for my release from the mental prison of Christian Science that I locked myself away in for the first 41 years of my life. I’m grateful to freely acknowledge when I get sick, or feel pain. I am grateful for medications that heal infections, reduce inflammation, or ease pain. I’m simply grateful to acknowledge the reality of this world around us, both the good and the bad parts of it.” -J


“I want to express my gratitude for learning the real truth about both Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy when I did. I only wished I had learned about them years sooner. Needless to say, i was aghast and shocked at the truth. However, I am holding my head high and smiling, because my Christian Science past is well behind me. I still think of my beloved Christian Scientist Mother, whom I miss so much, but she is in her rightful place where God delivered her many years ago, and I know she is very happy. I am also eternally grateful for that. Lastly, I pray for all Christian Scientists, that they may have the wisdom to leave this cursed cult, to see it more for what it isn’t (NOT a healing religion, NOT a religion to raise their children in and NOT a religion to try to understand). This is my testimony.” -G


I’d like to express my gratitude for waking up with my coffee and the news like a normal person instead of reading some boring-ass books with strange little metal arms that stick out.

Going to the doctor because I want to take care of myself and not being scared to do it.

Feeling joy.

Feeling sadness.

Listening to other people’s stories,problems,and whatever else they want to share without the crazy Christian Science filter.

Reading normal books.

Watching Little Women: LA, instead of falling asleep at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting.

Lazing around on a Sunday morning instead of falling asleep at a Sunday service.

Having sex or drinking a glass of wine with zero guilt.

Empathy.

Living and loving reality, the good and the bad.

And last but not least, feeling free.

In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to my sister,for being brave enough to be the first to call bullshit and for helping me find my way out.  -M.


It is interesting to me that my entire life I craved true female friendships. (I had one now & again for a year, here and there, but we moved so often that I was never able to hold on to any!)

I prayed and prayed in Christian Science. Begging God to help me. Checked my motives – my motives were to love and be loved. Express love. And nothing came. For 40+ years. No true best friends who wanted to talk with me. Friends I could support when they were down. Friends I could rejoice with when they were up. I wanted friends who would support me when I was down and rejoice when I was up!

I had a few Christian Science female friends who would show up when I was happy and take my happiness like nourishment. Then chastise me when I could no longer give them pure happiness.

Over the years I decided that all the anguish I felt from the various experiences in the Christian Science faith was valid. And I should touch my toe to the water outside. I learned about Mother Nature and hugged a whole lot of trees and started to feel better! I learned I can talk to trees and gain comfort from their bark. I have learned to appreciate birds of all things, and flowers and the beauty everywhere! I learned to trust this Force. The beautiful energy surrounding Nature.

A friend of mine emailed me and asked me if I would ever like to talk about what it is like to leave Christian Science. I didn’t know what that meant, but I decided to try it anyway! And then another friend of mine and I had talked a lot when a family member of hers was struggling and in a hospital getting help. And I decided to introduce these two people to each other, to see if something like helpful communication and support could work. Lo and behold, all three of us have more in common thanks to our Krazy Sauce upbringing than I could have ever imagined!

Who knew that in order for me to get real female friendships I had to leave Christian Science?

I am so grateful for leaving Christian Science. I now have friendships. And these two friendships led me to connect with a few other acquaintances and lost friendships on the Ex Christian Science forum. And now I have met so many people and suddenly my life is full of abundant supportive compassionate friendships! The validation they gave me on one day alone was one of my most healing moments of my whole life. I sat under a brightly colored fall tree on a park bench just basking in the feeling of unconditional validation.

Thank you to the ExcCS admins for your helpful guidings and memes and thoughts. I am grateful for Ex Christian Science. –J.


I am very thankful that you run this website for Ex-Christian Scientists. In Germany, I  might be at the other end of the world, but  it makes me aware that I am not alone in my longterm experience on leaving Christian Science.

In fact, it is about 15 years ago that I resigned my Motherchurch membership – and some more few years that I started to discover a better life besides Christian Scinece.

This year I am paticularly “SO THANKFUL!!! ” that  I do not feel any guilt any more when I go to see  a doctor.

Getting older, I had a slight breathing problem on certain occassions. A year ago, I went to a dactor nearby to see on it. He sent me to several specialists. It turned out as a heart defect which could be some years old, now. According to the stae of the defect, I got a good diagnose, have now frequent checks on it using modern technology and get good advices how to adapt my daily life and still keep activities on a good level.  Okay, it is not yet totally healed. But it is not neglected any more and well treted.

Some times I had to think how it might have been handled in Christian Science, as far as I got to know similar cases as a former Chgristian Science nurse. I might have tried to pray on it on my own, called a Christian Science practioner or teacher. I might nhave not known about the hidden dangerous circumstances , might have done too heavy activities, might have had serious break downs that are not proper treated – and so even might have passed away within this year.

I think you might understand that I am really thankful this year that I had turned away from Christian Science. -I. 


I am grateful for the tough times that forced me to question, and ultimately to leave, Christian Science.

The president of Principia College held a reception for us graduating seniors, and I remember him saying that many of us would do well, and some of us would undoubtedly “fall flat on your face.” Well, I was one who fell flat on my face. I hit a series of dead ends after college. My marriage (to a Christian Scientist) unraveled. I lost two jobs, couldn’t find another, felt like I just didn’t fit anywhere. It was emotionally a tough time, and I had a growing realization that the fairy-tale mentality of Christian Science was holding me back from achieving maturity. It was a long process, but with a growing willingness to trust my instincts I made progress.

As I look back on those painful years of adjustment I realize that I was fortunate. Life has worked out far better than I had any right to expect. If I had stayed in Christian Science I am sure I would have continued to fail in many ways: relationships, family, career, health. I am grateful for the tough times that forced me away from the fantasy thinking that is Christian Science. –B. 


Thank you everyone for your contributions. 

Why God didn’t heal her vision problems?

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

A long time ago, a friend who was trying to convince me that leaving Christian Science was just animal magnetism told me about her ‘healing’ of an eye infection which had been exacerbated by contact lenses. She had terrible symptoms and finally went to an eye doctor who prescribed antibiotic eye drops. She used the drops, but prayed really hard too. Three weeks later she saw a different doctor who said her infection was gone. A Christian Science healing, she said!

I asked why God didn’t heal her vision problems, too? She said she was still working that part out. Years later, after leaving Christian Science, she went to an eye doctor who asked her, “Did you ever have an eye infection? I’m seeing lots of scar tissue in there.” In my experience, all so-called ‘healings’ are of this nature.

The church touts its ‘verified’ testimonies, but the verification process includes EITHER “I saw the healing,” or “I didn’t witness it but I know you are a good Christian Scientist.” That’s not verification. That’s what I call ‘none of us want to see anything other than a success,’ especially when you consider that no one in the church ever tells stories of Christian Science failing to work.

Please Bring Your Testimony to its Healing Conclusion

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about Church and Sunday School. 



Do you remember at Wednesday evening testimony meetings when people would ramble on, how the first reader would lean into the microphone and say, ‘please bring your testimony to its healing conclusion.’

– Hilary