Q: I’m an athlete and a Christian Scientist. How can I think about athletics from a Christian Science perspective when sports and physical activity seem so material?
A: Thinking spiritually about athletics. What does that mean? It’s going beyond physical actions, championships, and statistics. It means exploring a much bigger picture—to participate in sports while staying aware of the presence of God and what God is doing in us and for us.
I realize that’s really looking at athletics differently. So let me explain how I got there.
I was an athlete, and on the field is where I really learned to resolve things into thoughts.
Right after I was introduced to the Bible, I read about the way Jesus saw a perfect individual right where everyone else was certain they were seeing a blind person. To my surprise, Jesus’ view brought healing. It made me realize that what I perceived to be the world around me was definitely a very limited view of what actually exists.
Feeling intuitively that there was more, I wondered how to connect with it. This idea from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures helped me out: “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 269).
I started practicing doing exactly that—resolving things into thoughts. For instance, if I heard someone singing and playing the guitar, instead of just thinking of the activity as a person flexing muscles and creating sound waves, I’d become aware of the tangible ideas of Soul (Soul is a wonderful way of referring to God) in the singing and playing—qualities such as joy, rhythm, and beauty.
Once I began to recognize and look for how the world is actually spiritual, my life started changing. I was an athlete, and on the field is where I really learned to resolve things into thoughts. Just as singing, writing, painting, and inventing are so much more than merely physical activities, sports are way more than muscles executing physical acts.
The basis for spiritualizing my view of sports came first through embracing more of the fact that God, being Spirit, creates only spiritually. Right now, and always, we are God’s spiritual offspring. One facet of having a spiritual origin and nature is that we are transparencies for Soul’s qualities—qualities such as power and confidence. It’s so good to know how God’s power gives us power.
On the playing field, it became clear to me that what appears as the power of muscles is nothing compared to the power of expressing God. On page 199 of Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy refers to muscles as thought-forces. It’s not brute will-power that is behind exercising such a thought-force. It’s humility!
Approaching athletics spiritually allowed me to feel more and more freedom.
Consciously and consistently, to humbly acknowledge divine Soul’s action and power expressed in us is very effective prayer. Looking back at it all, what I love most about this approach to athletics is the fact that I kept feeling more and more freedom. I still had to work really hard; but I often felt a relaxed confidence no matter what was happening around me. For instance, when I was out on the baseball field, if a ball was hit to me, I would enjoy calmly tracking the ball as it approached, seeing this as an expression of perception, which is a divine quality. Next, in throwing the ball, I might behold the act as an opportunity to express the quality of accuracy. Joyfully, I would also watch other players on my team, as well as my opponents, doing the same things and acknowledge they had the same source: God. This helped me improve both as an athlete and as a Christian healer.
To express God, resolving physical acts into mental ones—ones that show forth God’s powerful, spiritual nature—is something each of us can do. The truth is that God expresses Himself in every single one of us! And that means you.