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Losing a 'closed mind'

From the October 28, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

“A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose.” 

“Huh,” I thought. “Losing your mind is never recommended!” 

I contemplated the message of that bumper sticker as I drove through town. As I thought more about it, I interpreted it to mean that being close-minded shuts us off from a lot of opportunities and new insights. 

In my spiritual study, I’ve learned that losing a “closed mind” is equated with letting go of a mortal sense of mind in order to experience the real Mind that is God. Toggling between a human sense of mind and God as Mind doesn’t work so well.

What expands us beyond the place of listening to mortal mind and restores us to the place of one Mind? I find that it’s prayer. Prayer turns my thought from me—my body, my problem, and my uncertainty, to God, who is established, secure, and unfailing good. Sure, the surrender of a mortal mind in favor of deeper listening to God is good, but sometimes we are reluctant to do so because we are accustomed to thinking and even praying intellectually—with “brain” instead of “heart.” We need to pray with a pure love and spiritual sense of trust in God.

These new ways of thinking, that prayer and one’s spiritual study engender, can be initially uncomfortable, as an early student of Christian Science Jennie E. Sawyer said in her reminiscences of her lessons with Mary Baker Eddy: “I felt I could not discontinue or cease learning more, as I was not well enough established in the new way to treat or pray in Christian Science, and my former way of praying I could not go back to. She [Mary Baker Eddy] noticed my unrest and asked before the class disbanded, ‘Mrs. Sawyer, do you ever stir yeast when it is rising?’ I answered, ‘No, but what has that to do with this?’ She answered, ‘God’s hand is leading you, and I would not do more just now’ ” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition Volume II, pp. 15–16).

I remember a time when I felt feeble and limited in my understanding of Truth. But I was learning that I couldn’t go back to an old way of thinking and praying; I had to let the “yeast,” or leaven of Truth, do its work. In fact, I needed to get out of the way and let God be my Mind! This was in college, and I’d been through a breakup with a boyfriend. I was feeling sad and disoriented. Going to my regular classes and carrying on as normal was hard. I didn’t know how to play the breakup game and didn’t feel it was in my nature to be cold toward someone, but clearly it was time to move on. 

Though prayer had been a lifeline in the past, I was so shaken by the breakup that I felt like I didn’t know how to pray. I tried reading the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson and writing out an inspiring thought for the day, but even that didn’t help. I prayed for myself but still felt sad. 

Finally one day I had a breakthrough. I remember walking to class that morning. As I walked I tried to remember what inspiration had stood out to me during my morning prayers and study. I couldn’t think of anything. 

Then a brand new inspired thought came to mind and I shoved it away, thinking, “No, I can’t follow that inspiration—that’s not the ‘thought of the day.’ ” Then another inspired thought came, and again I ignored it. You could say I was being “closed-minded.” If I just let Truth come in, would that make my prayer confused or scattered? But then I realized how silly that line of reasoning was.

At that point, I saw that I didn’t own my prayers. All my prayers and thoughts must come from God. I reflect Him. I’d been mistakenly thinking of Truth a bit like a formula, a way to heal myself instead of letting God, divine Truth, lift my thought naturally. The beauty of Truth is that it isn’t prescriptive—it really changes us. Love is much bigger than human emotions, and Truth is much bigger than intellect or carefully chosen words.

God gives us new inspiration moment by moment and day by day. I needed to appreciate, acknowledge, and let Truth nourish me. I realized that it doesn’t so much matter what page or verse inspiration comes from, what matters is that I am listening perpetually to God. I knew that I could trust God. This new approach to prayer made me more humble. 

Love is much bigger than human emotions, and Truth is much bigger than intellect or carefully chosen words.

Adam H. Dickey, another student of Mary Baker Eddy’s, wrote in his article “God’s Law of Adjustment”: “A too determined sense of carrying out a preconceived plan is more likely to be the enthronement of erring human will” (The Christian Science Journal, January 1916). Human will, even with the “holiest” intentions, is still human will. 

It didn’t happen overnight, but it was with much prayer and feeling close to God that things were resolved with that relationship. My ex-boyfriend and I both moved forward with our studies, work, and new relationships. I know that it was this moment-by-moment listening to God, not determined self-reliance, that sustained me the most. 

It’s easy to want to operate with a mortal mind, to want to know how things will work out in life, but that’s not the point. The place of spiritual receptivity can be found in Jesus’ Beatitudes, among them, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” And, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you” (Matthew 5:3, 4, The Message). And “losing what’s most dear” is often not the relationship, job, or possession, but the rigid approach to worshipping God on our terms. 

This idea of not being close-minded fostered a sense of reliance on God as Mind that paved the way to meeting my husband. My husband likes to joke that, when he learned I was a Christian Scientist, he had major reservations and thought it was a crazy religion. It took him a month before he was back in touch with me. He’d realized: “Maybe, she’s not the crazy one! I am being closed-minded and should really be open to these new ideas.”

May you, too, find the promise and safety of an expanded sense of prayer. God as the one Mind is sustaining you, allowing you to lose a close-mindedness and assuring you that He gives you your every thought.

Ginger Mack Emden is a Christian Science practitioner in Madison, Wisconsin.

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