Watch your thinking, find progress and healing
The tennis ball was coming at me faster, higher, and with more spin than I was accustomed to, and my return shots were going over the base line wide to the left and right. “Watch the ball, watch the ball. You’re not watching the ball!” my good friend yelled from the other side of the net as we practiced hitting backhands and forehands. I was sure I was watching the ball, but thirty minutes later, I discovered that he had been right. That little detail of watching the ball a split second longer made a big difference. It was a simple observation from a better player, and I was now hitting cleaner and more consistently.
Later, my friend’s words took on much greater significance and led me to question myself: How am I “watching the ball”—keeping my attention on God, divine Love, Truth, Mind—in my daily life? Could it be that, like my tennis game, my day-to-day spiritual thinking needs some fine-tuning?
These were legitimate questions, as I had recently found that my prayers concerning local, national, and international events were not alleviating my fears or fostering Christian sentiments. This was unusual for me because prayer normally brought me peace of mind. But without realizing it, I had been compensating for my failure to find comfort in prayer by grabbing hold of select news items that could validate my viewpoint and bolster my sense of security. This method would inevitably crumble into irritation, impatience, and despair when, for example, my web search engine came across news articles contrary to my opinions. Increasingly, I began to see the “deflection” of God’s creation (see Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 502)—a view of the world as divided into good guys and bad guys, and billions of different little minds—some good, some evil—controlling men, women, children, and governments.
I resolved to turn to God in prayer more, to be more loving, and to be more patient with my fellow man.
The consequences of basing our actions on an increasingly distorted bias didn’t really become apparent to me until one day while driving home, I was alarmed at the self-righteous anger I expressed toward other drivers on the highway. These words from Science and Health describe my predicament: “The exercise of will brings on a hypnotic state, detrimental to health and integrity of thought. This must therefore be watched and guarded against. Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. Ignorance of the error to be eradicated oftentimes subjects you to its abuse” (p. 446).
At this same time, my wife, who was not aware of my struggles, started bringing to my attention more and more news items from The Christian Science Monitor Daily online edition. I was already a fan of the Monitor Weekly print edition delivered to our home, so it didn’t take much prompting for me to look at the suggested articles she enthusiastically shared. On the Monitor’s home page, I saw this: “Perspective matters. Reducing news to hard lines and side-taking leaves a lot of the story untold. Progress comes from challenging what we hear and considering different views.” I took this as a gentle rebuke and a wake-up call to more fully support the Monitor’s mission “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353). I resolved to turn to God in prayer more, to be more loving, and to be more patient with my fellow man. This verse from a hymn kept coming to mind whenever I needed inspiration:
O come and find, the Spirit saith,
The Truth that maketh all men free.
The world is sad with dreams of death.
Lo, I am Life, come unto Me.
(Elizabeth C. Adams, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 188, © CSBD)
A month earlier, at lunch after a doubles match, I had gotten into a strong disagreement with one of my tennis buddies concerning rival political leaders in an upcoming provincial election in Canada. The argument had become a sad and distasteful battle of wills. However, the next time we met, I decided to take the Monitor’s lead, to “rethink the news” and to “bless all mankind.” So I listened to my friend’s viewpoints on politics with the politeness, kindness, and patience that I’d found through prayer—so much so, in fact, that another friend listening to us thought I had switched sides! In the end, we ceased gluing our eyes to our own mental “opinion pages” and arguing. Instead, we engaged in an open, transparent dialogue that helped us to see through our political differences and get to the heart of the various issues that were concerning both of us.
Keeping our “eye on the ball” in Christian Science is really about understanding and holding to God as the divine Principle governing the true being of everyone.
I believe that on that day, when we found common ground to listen and support each other, we were moving forward in supporting our community, our province, our country, and our world. For me, it was also a victory over self-righteousness. This experience was followed by other experiences over the next several months that called upon my resolve to trust God, the one, omnipotent Mind of everyone, to guide me to productive responses.
This passage in Science and Health describes my attitude and approach over the past couple of years: “Discussing his campaign, General Grant said: ‘I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.’ Science says: All is Mind and Mind’s idea. You must fight it out on this line. Matter can afford you no aid” (p. 492).
Keeping our “eye on the ball” in Christian Science is really about understanding and holding to God as the divine Principle governing the true being of everyone. When we do this faithfully, we find balance and peaceful solutions to challenges, big or small, on or off the tennis court.