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Stick with what’s true about you

From the September 25, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

One time, a friend shared a picture on social media. It was a silhouette of something. It was a flower, or an insect. Or maybe a dragon? I couldn’t tell, but that was the idea—it was hard to figure out until you knew the “trick.”

I finally gave up and searched through the comments others had posted underneath the picture, hoping for a hint. What I found was this: “Look at the light part, and you’ll see it right away.” Ignoring the silhouette this time, I looked instead at the surrounding, seemingly blank area, and immediately a person’s face emerged. As another comment said, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.” I found that to be very true.

This small experience illustrated a grand lesson. It can be tempting, when we’re working toward a Christian Science healing, to think, “There must be something wrong in my thinking if I’m not having a healing, but I can’t seem to find it.” 

While healing does involve a change of thought, this line of thinking can lead to wondering what happens if we never find what’s “wrong.” To devote our mental energy to searching for a wrong thought is to focus our attention more on the error of mortal belief than on Spirit, God, the source of all reality. This also leads to the belief that it is the human mind that has supreme power and is responsible for uncovering and destroying the erroneous thought.

Instead of going on a hunt for an illusive wrong thought, it’s more productive to look at what is right, and let this be our starting point—just as looking at the light part of the picture revealed the image I was looking for. 

Of course, there isn’t a “trick” to seeing what’s right. It’s the result of acknowledging God as our only creator—and our true nature as God’s perfect, spiritual reflection. What would need correcting in thought is anything that limits this understanding of our spiritual perfection.

We can begin by acknowledging what is right—what is good and true.

The healing power of this approach is illustrated in a Bible story in the book of John (see 9:1–7). When Christ Jesus passed by a man blind from his birth, his disciples asked if it was the man or his parents who had committed the sin that had brought this impairment. Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” The blindness wasn’t because of something wrong anyone had done, but it was an opportunity to see what was right—to see the works of God made manifest in this man’s life. Jesus did, then, heal the man of his blindness.

In the picture my friend had shared, the true image was always there. I had just been looking in the wrong place. With the healing of the blind man, we might say that Jesus turned his disciples’ search around. He pointed them away from looking for some cause of the error, and toward bringing to light man’s permanently established perfection.

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476–477). 

I love the idea that Jesus didn’t have to do anything to make man perfect. This ever-existent spiritual perfection was already apparent to him, and his clear understanding of man made in the likeness of God brought healing to light for others.

In our prayers, we can begin by acknowledging what is right—what is good and true about ourselves as God’s reflection. As we turn thought more closely to divine Mind, if there is something that needs correcting in our thinking, it will naturally be brought to the surface and healed.

When I was in high school, I began experiencing extreme nervousness prior to certain social events. I was generally very confident and outgoing and had a nice group of friends. But often, before going out, I would feel sick to my stomach and fear that I might actually become ill in front of people.

I attended a Christian Science Sunday School regularly and really wanted to handle this difficulty through prayer. But I thought of myself as a “good kid” and didn’t feel there was anything detrimentally wrong in my thinking that needed adjusting before I could be healed. I didn’t quite know what to do. 

At first, my prayer was more of a psyching myself up—repeating some ideas that I’d learned in Sunday School and sort of willing myself to try to hold to these thoughts. And it did help me relax and enjoy the social activity. But the very next time I prepared to go out, those feelings of nervousness would come back, often very aggressively.

When I was a child, my parents had sometimes called a Christian Science practitioner for Christian Science treatment through prayer if I wasn’t feeling well or had an injury. The result had been healing, but as a high schooler, I wanted to do this for myself. So, while even taking this step of calling a practitioner made me nervous and explaining the problem felt embarrassing, my deep desire for healing guided me forward.

The practitioner I called was understanding, nonjudgmental, and loving. While I don’t remember exactly what she said to me, I have always held on to a poem she shared:

Let the circle of my love
Be so pure, so deep, so wide,
That in its joyous, radiant reach
Nothing shall be left outside.

From smallest treasures, dearly loved,
To worlds which in their orbits rest,
No longer person, place, and thing,
I know all now as Mind expressed.

No fear, no lack, no aching dread,
Remains to chill my soaring hope;
Truth has revealed the compound man,
Including all within Love’s scope.
(Elizabeth Glass Barlow, “ Boundless ,” October 4, 1952, Sentinel)

This idea of boundless and all-encompassing love filled my thought. For the next several days, I worked to broaden “the circle of my love” in my thinking and to see myself and others not as “person, place, and thing,” but as unlimited ideas of “Mind expressed.” I began to find a sense of release from looking for what I needed to fix, as I acknowledged more of my activity and place in “Love’s scope.”

Shortly after I started working with the practitioner, I was to attend an awards banquet at school. Although I knew I’d been making progress, the thought of eating dinner with a couple hundred people and then being on a stage in front of them seemed a bit daunting. However, as I got ready that evening, I earnestly prayed. I didn’t get wrapped up in memorized words; I didn’t psych myself up. Instead I yielded to divine Love.

I distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror before leaving my room, and suddenly one very clear idea flooded my thought: “I am Love’s reflection.” It’s hard to put into words, but at that moment I wasn’t even aware of my physical reflection. Instead I “saw” love as my true reflection. I began to understand that as the reflection of divine Love, I had one purpose and activity: to love—to express divine Love and to see Love being expressed.

I left for the banquet with more confidence than I’d felt in a long time. This was a definite turning point. My parents even said that they saw a change in me that evening. At the banquet, I truly strove to cherish everyone I saw and each opportunity that I had to express love. The entire evening was relaxed and joyful. After that evening, the bouts of extreme nervousness subsided considerably and were soon completely gone.

Did I have to hunt for something wrong in my thinking in order to have a healing? No. Did changing my way of thinking lead to healing? Yes. Instead of thinking of myself as helplessly subject to a problem beyond my control, looking to my origin, divine Love, revealed to me the very reflection of Love that I am—and that everyone is.

Mrs. Eddy writes: “The substance, Life, intelligence, Truth, and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected by His creation; and when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere” (Science and Health, p. 516).

Just as the image in the picture my friend shared emerged so clearly when I looked in the right place, our true existence as the reflection of Love very naturally shines forth as we look to God as the only source of our being. Once we see it, we can’t unsee it.

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