Dad was proud of his collection of duck decoys.
But little did he know that he himself would be deceived by them, when my prankster of a brother-in-law decided to play a practical joke on him.
When we were all visiting my parents, my brother-in-law got up extra early to place the decoys at the edge of a pond bordering their home. Dad, sipping his first coffee of the day and surveying the view, spotted ducks in the pond. Forgetting his eye-glasses, he grabbed some bread and hurried out to welcome the new arrivals, hoping they’d select his yard to nest.
He was diligent as he tried to woo the decoys to make their home on his land. Finally, though, my brother-in-law had to go out and let him know that all the quacking and breadcrumbs in the world would not matter a bit to those decoys!
I think of that when I consider the more important issue of caring for our health. Are we focusing on the duck or the decoy? We’re so used to assessing our health according to the state of our minds and our bodies, but is that actually distracting us from a deeper, spiritual understanding of our health?
I know of a woman, Elizabeth, who after struggling with a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder for 12 years, found healing and discovered the disease was actually just that, a decoy. She writes, “After a year or so on medication, I became dissatisfied with the side effects and began exploring alternative treatments. In each case, relief was temporary.”
Finally, she decided to pray and engaged a Christian Science practitioner to help her.
Elizabeth continues: “There were days when the challenge of the disease seemed insurmountable, but I was gradually learning what Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, meant when she wrote that we must “watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus:. . .” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) When I felt like I was getting out of balance or anxious, the Bible verse, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee’ restored me.
During quiet times at work, I would ask God what to think about. I kept a pad of paper at hand to write down things for which I was grateful. This discipline taught me that the whole of Christian life is worshipping God—thinking of Him, acknowledging His presence, asking Him for guidance, praising His goodness. Surely keeping our thoughts “stayed” on God is the forever joy of life.
Then for the first time, she saw the bipolar diagnosis differently. She saw that God didn’t make it and that it didn’t belong to her individuality as a child of God. In her prayers, it became clear to her that such a diagnosis was not truly a part of her or anyone.
“I knew I was safe. Fear was replaced with the feeling of being well, really truly well,” she concludes.
It is so interesting and hopeful to find that Elizabeth’s experience is not an isolated incident. Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D. recently reported, “An exhaustive analysis of more than 1500 reputable medical studies indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health.”
One might conclude that a more spiritual sense of oneself keeps us from accepting a decoy of disease!