A Visit with Mary C. Crowley

“A person really believes something when he acts as though it were so.”   –Seneca

I have been excited to share with you articles about a new science that is finding that a strong faith and an optimistic attitude can not only change the direction of our lives and the outcome of disease, but even the way our genes function. Such positive results, however, did not have to wait until epigenetic science made headlines. I recently had the pleasure of reading the personal story of Mary C. Crowley in her book You Can Too. Mary is a wonderful example of a woman who was able to live every day of her life to the fullest.

Mary was born in 1915. Her mother died eighteen months later. Until she was 6 ½ years old, she lived with her loving grandparents who taught her to depend on the Lord for everything and told her that Jesus was her friend and would always help her and make good things happen for her.

At age 6 1/2, she was sent to live with her father and a very cruel stepmother. During the next seven years, her life was very hard. At age 13 she was returned to her loving grandparents, but they had moved from their farm and she never felt at home in high school. Too soon she married a nice man who was ill prepared to support a family during the depression. She realized that if she wanted to provide a happy home for her two children, it would be totally up to her. As she struggled to educate herself and to support her children, she gave the pieces of her broken heart to God. He mended them.  As she prayed to have every trace of bitterness removed from her heart, she learned to delight in the Lord and to rid her life of anxiety.

The story of her rise in business in the era when women had little confidence they could succeed in selling products or to advance in the corporate world was fascinating. She started selling more than all the other sales people from her first day on the job by offering a penny off on three spools of thread with every purchase. Eventually she started her own business, Home Interiors, which grew into such a successful corporation she became a generous philanthropist and was able to bless many individuals and causes. That story makes the book well worth your reading, but what I want to share with you is how beautifully her positive attitude fits in with what research is learning today.

When she had cancer and had to take cobalt treatments, she wore a bright pink dress and a polka-dot scarf to the treatment center. There, instead of focusing on herself, she reached out to other women who were in the same predicament. She calmed their fears and gave them hope for recovery. She wrote, “Somehow, even though I was to be nauseated after that cobalt treatment as usual, I felt better that day for having helped that woman. As for myself, I always knew that I was going to get well. Even when the doctor had diagnosed my ‘fatigue’ as a malignancy, even after I underwent radium implants and cobalt treatments, I knew I was going to get well.

“The Bible verse I claimed was: Being confident of this very thing, that He which had begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6). Had not God begun a wonderful, mighty work in Home Interiors and Gifts only a year before? Wasn’t I really needed to bring dreams to fruition? God would heal this illness. . .  I won’t say that I wasn’t concerned. My family and friends were plenty scared. But when I prayed to be cured, I never expected not to get well. Often I found myself praying, “Lord, give me patience. Let me be Christian and a good patient and not be depressed. Let me be somebody You’ll be proud of through this experience . . . .

“I wanted to be positive and optimistic throughout my illness. I always dressed up and tried to look my most cheerful when I went for cobalt. . .  A platform of prayer supported me. I could literally feel the Home Interiors people, my Sunday-school class members, church friends and many, many others praying for me. Not all of them told me of their prayers. But I could feel some great power that I knew was not myself comforting me and removing my anxiety. I can only attribute this feeling to their prayers.”

She concluded with “God does take care of us but He expects us to believe in His goodness and promises, and act accordingly.”

Years later she became a speaker at seminars sharing how to make your dreams come true in spite of difficulties: “Begin with the dream. . .     See yourself as an achiever, a queen. Reject the fact that you’re handicapped in any way. Imagine yourself as a co-worker of God.” She went on to say, “There is magic in belief, but 90 percent of all people utilize this magic the wrong way by believing in the bad things that can happen—instead of imagining and expecting great things to happen.”

The slogan that Mary kept on her desk was, “Attempt something so great that it is bound to fail unless God is in it.”  She looked on difficulties as “tunnels to new opportunity” and encouraged people to commit everything to Jesus and expect great things to happen.

She described her remarkable ability to rise above her difficulties, and accomplish more than most women of her day could even have imagined, simply as surrendering and “abiding in Him. I am strengthened as a person—all my powers are heightened; a plus is added to everything—a divine plus that heightens my abilities—O the joy of knowing that though I slip—God does not fall—and little is much when God is in it!”

All quotes have been taken from the book You Can Too by Mary C. Crowley, ISBN: 0-8007-5028-4

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