To defend is the natural tendency to guard and fortify. Naturally, we take steps to defend ourselves against the things we think will threaten, attack, and weaken us.
This is quite different from being “defensive,” which is often associated with suspicious and distrustful behavior. To me, the battle cry of defensiveness is the costly attack-defend/attack-defend paradigm that presupposes there must be vengeance, victims and losers, fear and distrust in an unsafe, insecure, and volatile world.
I’ve found that pondering the practical human need to defend, in contrast with a divinely inspired state of “defenselessness,” is empowering, liberating, and healing. It allows the strength of the Christ-truth to replace underlying fear, anger, and weakness with our holiest of purposes—to be God’s blessed peacemakers.
While many people think of defenselessness as a kind of vulnerability that invites defeat, defenselessness—in the sense of not being reactive or ready to fight back with self-justification or resentment—secures our safety, invulnerability, and peace, and is the key to healing. The very foundation of this kind of defenselessness is humility: “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30), and the recognition that through God all things are possible (see Mark 10:27). Humility is the source of our safety because its foundation is in God, divine Principle, and rests in the loving, omnipotent power of the Almighty. Jesus proved this when he refused to defend himself before Pontius Pilate’s inquiries (see John 19:10, 11).
In Psalms we read: “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. … Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (18:32, 35). Rest assured defenselessness, based on the all-power of God, does not leave us helpless, unprotected, unguarded, weak, or vulnerable to attack. On the contrary, it recognizes the true, spiritual nature of man while affirming the quietness of spiritual power, the strength of stillness, the security of our completeness, the supremacy and greatness of God.
When I was a trained sharpshooter and expert marksman in the military, I never let my guard down; I maintained my true purpose as the expression of divine Life, Truth, and Love. My job was not to react in fear or anger, but to quell retaliation and attack by filling my thought with God’s strength, invulnerability, truth, and love. This brought a peacemaking point of view to even the unlikeliest of situations. Physical weapons may seem to offer the most stable and surest sense of protection, but my military training taught me one important lesson: Even the most technologically advanced weaponry cannot disarm and destroy hate, fear, ignorance, and bigotry.
God is Love. God’s love for His creation is permanent and protective and cannot diminish or be abandoned. And when we affirm that “Love is reflected in love” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 17)—enveloping us all as instruments of His peace—we realize that protection and safety are secure.
It all boils down to the power of good thoughts. Therein lies our strength and our sure defense. Mary Baker Eddy reassures us that “good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210).
Tom Taffel lives in San Francisco, California.