A thief and a victim, or two children of God?
“Gary, my purse was stolen, but I just want my ID, photos, and credit cards back—the thief can have the money!” That was the gist of a call I received from a fellow church member.
“Do you really want to limit your demonstration of God’s goodness?” I asked. My friend—let’s call her Betty—didn’t know what I meant. I explained that outlining how this experience was going to work out by expecting only partial good was also expecting partial bad. And wasn’t that limiting God’s power to correct and harmonize the situation in full? It’s like accepting bread crumbs when we can expect and have the full loaf.
Are we going to let an untoward event tempt us into feeling victimized?
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states, “When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress” (p. 426 ). So to progress in full, our expectation must also be in full, not partial.
Betty went on to describe how the young thief had bumped her in the grocery store and had run away with her purse. Understandably, she was upset, fearful, and in despair. But she was willing to reason spiritually in hopes of regaining her peace.
“Betty,” I asked, “how would you identify that young man?”
“As a thief.”
“Then what does that make you?”
“Hmm … a victim, I guess.”
“Do you really want to be a victim?”
“No. But how do I stop feeling like one?”
“By correctly identifying the young man and yourself.”
It’s at a moment like this that we have a choice to make—a choice that will determine the effectiveness of our prayer, whatever the challenge may be. Are we going to let an untoward event tempt us into feeling victimized? Or are we going to look beyond what the material senses tell us and affirm instead what we know to be spiritually true about both individuals?
Science and Health states: “The false evidence of material sense contrasts strikingly with the testimony of Spirit. Material sense lifts its voice with the arrogance of reality and says:
“I am wholly dishonest, and no man knoweth it. I can cheat, lie, commit adultery, rob, murder, and I elude detection by smooth-tongued villainy.…
“Spirit, bearing opposite testimony, saith:
“I am Spirit. Man, whose senses are spiritual, is my likeness. He reflects the infinite understanding, for I am Infinity. The beauty of holiness, the perfection of being, imperishable glory,—all are Mine, for I am God” (pp. 252–253 ).
The passage goes on to encourage readers to see through the lies the material senses present and to overcome our belief in them. Betty and I discussed God’s allness and goodness, and man’s heritage of honesty and love. The false evidence that man has committed a crime—taken something that doesn’t belong to him—is corrected through forgiveness and the expectation of only good, including repentance and reform. Betty quickly understood that in the process of holding the correct view of that man, both he and she could be redeemed and blessed.
We then reasoned more spiritually about what she thought had been stolen. Could Betty’s spiritual identity be stolen? Could the removal of the photos remove the love felt for those individuals? And, instead of thinking of money as substance, couldn’t we realize that, as the reflection of divine Mind, the only real substance, we included abundance?
The divine Mind is constantly imparting what is good, pure, and true about each individual.
And if all of this was true for Betty, wasn’t it true for the young man as well? Would God’s man take from someone what he already has? No! Nor could anyone lose what he or she eternally includes. We agreed to pray together further with these metaphysical truths.
Early the next morning I received a call from Betty reporting that she had heard a loud noise coming from the mail slot in her door. She immediately looked out the window and saw the same young man walking rapidly away. And there, by the mail slot, was her purse, restored in whole—ID, photos, credit cards, and even the money.
Together we rejoiced in this beautiful healing of both the young man and her.
So what exactly took place? Wasn’t it the correct identification of man that awakened both the thief and the victim to see that they were neither? The Bible states it this way: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1 ).
God is always preserving man’s spiritual identity, and we can look to this truth to correct any false picture suggesting otherwise. The understanding that man is governed only by God, good, removes the imposition another’s actions might seem to place on us. We see the wrong action as simply a dream of mortal mind, and not representing someone’s actual identity.
The divine Mind is constantly imparting what is good, pure, and true about each individual. As we acknowledge this spiritual fact, we see a child of God in place of a thief, and another child of God in place of a victim.
So with any adverse event involving another person, will we be accepting the material picture of two unfortunate mortals, or acknowledging the spiritual reality of two children of God? It’s definitely a choice we’re making, so let’s choose wisely!