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Triumph over self-will in sports

From the May 28, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Through my study of Christian Science, both my performance and my attitude when participating in sports have changed. I fence and play tennis—both very competitive sports that I love. When I started fencing, I was often challenged with the thought of just wanting to win. Impatience and self-will became my enemies, and I would measure my talent by how many victories I had on the fencing strip—which left me feeling frustrated at times, when that number was low!

My coach encouraged me to be more patient. As I enjoy speed and action, the idea of being patient in any sport didn’t resonate with me. But this attitude didn’t get me anywhere, and I realized I had to rethink my whole game strategy. As a Christian Scientist, I asked myself how well I was demonstrating what I was learning from my study of the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. I knew that calling oneself a Christian Scientist isn’t enough; it is living the truth and bringing a Christly approach to every aspect of our lives, including sports, that proves we really are what we say we are: wholly spiritual identities created in God’s image and likeness.

My new strategy became spiritual discipline. I put self-will aside and focused on expressing humility, gratitude, and—last, but not least—patience! I affirmed that I move in the allness of Spirit, God, and that as the expression of divine Mind, I can see what I need to see and react when I need to. Knowing what God is has helped me tremendously in understanding what constitutes my true identity and in realizing what I reflect as His likeness.

At first, it was very challenging to contain myself, but the result was marvelous. Persistence and consistency brought progress, and at last, I found myself really enjoying what I was doing on a deeper level. Expressing grace and patience had triumphed over willfulness and impatience. It was so rewarding—as it is in any aspect of life when we express persistence and achieve a goal. I thought, I am finally becoming a Christian Science fencer! 

Christian Science is a gift that keeps giving every single day.

I carried the same attitude over to tennis as well. When I started playing tennis, I loved to slam the ball, and enjoyed putting all my energy and effort into hitting it. But when it landed on some far-off playground time after time, it wasn’t so fun anymore. As I worked to spiritualize my thinking, every time I hit the ball I strove to express humility, gratitude, balance, and kindness—no self-will. I wouldn’t allow myself to criticize, or to express any negative feelings. If I wasn’t completely happy with my performance, I knew it just meant I needed to express more of the Godlike qualities mentioned above.

The result was that everything changed. My coach asked if I had secretly been practicing, but I knew my improvement was a result of the change in my thought.

Recently, I participated in a fencing tournament, and my first thought was that since all the fencers, including me, are expressions of divine Mind, I’m not really competing against them—unless I believe I’m competing against divine Mind! I realized that, in a sense, I’m actually looking to see how well I can overcome anxiety and impatience within myself. It wasn’t about human victory—where I would be ranked on a list. It was purely about spiritual victory and how well I could express divine Mind. That made all the difference. 

I used to say to myself at the beginning of every competition game or bout, “I’m winning and you (my opponent) are losing,” assuring myself of the inevitability of victory. But as I worked to be more Christian, I started to think, “May the one who deserves it most, win”—the one who best expresses precision, patience, skill, and game strategy. If that person is not me, I will rejoice in my opponent’s victory and share in their joy. For many years now, I have been able to feel true happiness for my opponent and never a sense of envy. Multiple times my opponents have felt unwell at a tournament or even hurt themselves during a bout, and every time I’ve had the opportunity to help—to pray about the situation and help them feel confident and energized again—it has always been met with a healing result.

The study of Christian Science has blessed me not only in the area of sports, but in every aspect of my life—in my relationships, in my work, and especially in finding a more permanent and lasting sense of health and harmony. Christian Science is a gift that keeps giving every single day. Understanding that God is the source of all true life, supply, joy, strength, and health has brought nothing but peace and fruition into my life. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practised” (p. 174). It is this divine Truth about God and man that, when practiced, heals any sense of discord and brings spiritual growth.

I’m so grateful to Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Through Christian Science I have all the tools I need to understand my true spiritual identity and what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, good—which is so beautifully and logically explained in Science and Health.

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