A baseball player's lesson in body perception
If there is one thing I’m learning, it’s that it’s not our ability to achieve, our strength or wisdom that we have to fix, because God has already given each of us these inherent qualities as His children. God made each of us spiritual, not material. We are beautiful, complete, whole, and pure from the beginning.
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The thing that often needs to be changed, though, is our perception, our perception of perfection’s true meaning. I’d like to share a story of when my perception needed to shift.
My freshman year of college, I joined the varsity baseball team. By the time winter came around and we were getting ready for the start of the season, I felt a personal pressure about my weight. If I was heavier and more muscular, I thought, I’d be able to perform better on the field. At the time, I was just over 130 pounds and that seemed subpar for my standards.
So in order to put on extra weight, I started hitting the gym to put on more muscle and I also ate more at each meal. I would eat full meals and top them off with two or three glasses of milk. A couple of times, I overfilled myself to the point that I ended up losing what I’d eaten within five minutes. I certainly was not expressing balance, moderation, or honoring God, divine Principle.
It became clear to me that I needed to take a different approach. So I decided to pray about my perception of perfection. I started to challenge mental arguments that told me I was incomplete, and that I was responsible for applying some remedy (in this case increasing my appetite) to be a better player, essentially to make myself perfect. Looking back, I think about how misguided and empty my view of perfection was.
The lesson I learned about my perfection as God's child was one that I brought with me to the baseball field every day.
I found that I needed to start with an understanding that God blesses me with everything I need. If I didn’t have something, then I probably didn’t need it. This understanding also allowed me to let go of the faith that I’d been putting in a matter-based method of solving problems. In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy shares this with readers, “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ ” (p. 444). If God supplies all right ideas, nourishes all right expressions, energizes all right motives, and strengthens our every need, why was I trying to “fix” myself?
At some point, I no longer believed that strength came from my body, but instead I realized my life could be all about expressing the strength of God, Spirit. Science and Health says: “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.
“Be firm in your understanding that the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God’s government” (p. 393). As we rise in the strength of Spirit, we don’t have to fear letting go of our agenda in order to express God’s qualities in sports, or in any walk of life. We’ve already been made whole, and if there’s a task that God has given us to fulfill, He has also supplied everything that we need to complete that task, including the strength we need to do it. Mrs. Eddy writes, “We have strength in proportion to our apprehension of the truth, and our strength is not lessened by giving utterance to truth” (Science and Health, p. 80). Applying our understanding of spiritual truths, whether in sports or day-to-day, cannot be stopped, limited, or include suffering. I found this to be true as I prepared for the baseball season. My perception continued to shift.
As time went on, I did gain some muscle—but not through forcing myself to eat larger portions or spending excessive time at the gym. All of that ended. Instead, the lesson that I learned about my perfection as God’s child was one that I brought with me to the baseball field every day as I watched our team express freedom from limits. Although, for my freshman year, I didn’t see much playing time during games, I had a lot of praying time.
I was able to contribute to the team again during my sophomore year, stepped away to study abroad my junior year, and am back now for my senior season. I’m continuing to watch beauty and order develop in all parts of my life. Each time I enter the gym, take the field, or simply sit down to eat a meal, I’ve found it’s important to glorify God through a recognition of spiritual perfection. God has already made each of us whole and complete. We don’t have to fix God’s work. We’re really just changing our perception to be in focus with who we truly are.