What you think does matter
A number of years ago, I was walking in the woods with my sister and sister-in-law. We loved to talk over our lives with each other. At one point my sister said something to the effect that our thoughts are not important—implying that it is only our actions that matter. Her comment surprised me because I’ve found that what we think is, in fact, of paramount importance.
Practicing the rules of Christian healing that Christ Jesus practiced and Mary Baker Eddy explained and practiced as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, we learn that seeing (or thinking of) ourselves and others correctly heals all manner of discord and disease. This correct thinking is seeing ourselves and others as children of God, Spirit—as the spiritual image and likeness of our Maker.
To do this requires consistent monitoring of our thoughts. In her signature work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy explains: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears” (p. 392).
Jesus identified individuals as God’s perfect spiritual creation, and as a result, their apparent problems were solved. For example, a man blind from birth gained his sight. A woman with a long-standing “issue of blood” was healed. A palsied man brought down to Jesus on a pallet through a roof walked home. Lepers were healed. Five thousand hungry people were fed, with food left over, when there were only a couple of fish and five loaves on hand. Lazarus was raised from the dead, even after being four days in a grave.
When disturbing thoughts appear, we can shut them out and replace them with spiritual facts.
Christ Jesus did not accept what the physical senses asserted. He naturally stood porter at the door of his thought, dismissed material evidence, and accepted God’s view instead. He knew that God never, even for a moment, stops caring and providing for His children, whom He created in His own spiritual image and likeness. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
Today, as we monitor our thinking and seek the Father’s will, which is always good, we too can help heal individuals and even the world. When disturbing or ugly thoughts appear, we can shut them out and replace them with spiritual facts. Science and Health explains, “Selfishness and sensualism are educated in mortal mind by the thoughts ever recurring to one’s self, by conversation about the body, and by the expectation of perpetual pleasure or pain from it;…
“Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (pp. 260, 261).
Disturbing, troubled, or sensual thoughts are not from God. They are material, mortal, and thus, fundamentally false. By rejecting them and replacing them with what is true, we render their seeming power impotent.
Here’s one example from my experience. About five years ago, I went to a dentist for routine cleaning. The dentist told me I had a tooth that, if left untreated, would fairly soon land me in an emergency room in dire straits. During the next few weeks, fearful thoughts of tooth trouble came to mind.
I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me about this concern. He asked me to study everything that Mary Baker Eddy had written about substance. A tooth, he said, being very hard, seems to be substantial. But man (including each of us) is actually spiritual, not material at all. In Hebrews we read: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.… Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (11:1, 3). Every aspect of our being, then, is not really made of matter, but is instead spiritual, since each of us is made in the image of God, infinite Spirit, the only real substance.
Every time we choose spiritual truth over false mental suggestions, we contribute to healing.
There are many references to substance in Mrs. Eddy’s writings. One that I found particularly helpful is where she writes: “Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance …. The spiritual universe, including individual man, is a compound idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit” (Science and Health, p. 468). Every time I had a thought suggesting danger with the tooth, I rejected it and remembered that true substance is God, and that I, through and through, reflect the divine substance of Spirit, incapable of discord or decay. As a result, there has been no trouble with that tooth. What we think and hold in thought really does matter.
Negative thoughts about ourselves, others, or the world—thoughts that are untrue about God and His creation—can be rejected, because they would attempt to besmirch God and the very good creation He made. These thoughts are what Mrs. Eddy calls “aggressive mental suggestion” (Church Manual, p. 42). When we are clear about the nature of God, they can be recognized as suggestions, not spiritual facts, and immediately dismissed.
Spiritual facts are based on God and His perfect, spiritual universe, including man, and are maintained in their perfection by God every moment. Every time we choose spiritual truth over false mental suggestions, we contribute to healing, not just for ourselves but for all mankind. Paul exhorts in Philippians, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (4:8).
Another area where we can apply “watching what we think” is the political arena. Turmoil in our body politic has been evident for the last several years—as it has been in nations so many times throughout human history. What if we rejected every negative thought about those with political views opposed to ours? What if we honored everyone as the precious and perfect children whom God made? In short, what if we loved our “enemies” as Jesus said we must do? Wouldn’t that help to diminish negative traits and actions?
We can even and especially “stand porter” in thought regarding beliefs about the recent global pandemic. When we hold to the truth that God is infinite Spirit, infinite Love, and is always upholding His creation, we see evidence of this in our experience, and it is felt by others as well. Each time we stand porter at the door of our thinking, admitting only ideas from God, we are practicing the Christianity of Christ Jesus, and the laws of God are brought to bear on apparent discord. We are recognizing and demonstrating the kingdom of God that Jesus taught us is always at hand. We are trusting and respecting the good news of the gospel and letting in the healing truth that dispels darkness.
What we hold in thought matters immensely. If we, with firm resolve, give credence only to Godlike thoughts, we are recognizing the ever-presence of infinite God, good. And we bring an increasing measure of harmony to our lives, to our neighbors’ lives, and to all mankind.