It wasn't easy growing up as the youngest of three children. My mother was constantly introducing me as the baby of the family. Even as a college student - and beyond - I was the baby.
Why was this so disparaging? The childish concept of me, which I accepted to some degree, kept me looking and feeling younger than my peers. Attending my ''baby'' status, too, were immaturity, insecurity, inexperience, ineptness.
Freedom from these false concepts came through the teachings of the Bible, and of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. n1 These two precious volumes reveal that man is the offspring of God - utterly ageless! They point to the unseen spiritual truth that our actual selfhood is the incorporeal likeness of divine Spirit, timeless and eternal.
The Bible tells us, ''Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'' n2
Doesn't this convey a marvelous sense of God's eternal presence and our immortality as His children? Perhaps the key to understanding these ideas is communing with God as Christ Jesus did - being conscious of our spiritual unity with Him.
If we're focusing on corporeality, we're not aware of Spirit and Spirit's timelessness. But through prayer we can actually feel, perceive, God's presence and our oneness with Him.
The Christian Science textbook proclaims the agelessness of God's man. It states: ''Man in Science is neither young nor old. He has neither birth nor death.'' n3
Science and Health, p. 244.
To the material senses man appears to be born, to be identified by the passage of a certain number of years, and then to die. But we learn through cultivated spiritual sense that the physical senses are deceptive. Our eyes and ears can't reveal the harmony of our spiritual identity. Only spiritual understanding, developed in prayer, can verify that man is incorporeal and therefore timeless.
How did these truths affect my life? Profoundly. As a young adult, I ventured into a new profession where years of experience were highly desirable. I realized then how essential it was to discover and demonstrate my own agelessness. I pondered the passages quoted above, as well as others from the Bible and Science and Health. There were also hours of prayer, times of humble listening for divine revelation to teach me more about my real being.
At some point it dawned on me that God had no knowledge of my being so many years old, since age is a mortal measurement and Deity is immortal, measureless. What a relief this was!
The next step was to know myself as God actually knew me. I made a conscious effort to give up the belief of being a certain age. Along with this came the necessary corollary: I had to stop identifying others as being a certain age, too. What a challenge and a discipline this was!
I discovered with dismay how habitually we categorize people by age. It takes a real effort to forsake the mortal measure and genuinely see others as God's eternal offspring - neither old nor young, but ageless.
To the degree that I claimed my own and others' agelessness, some interesting things began to happen. First, I began to show more poise, confidence, maturity, and competence. There was greater joy and freedom in dealing with others. Most gratifying of all, in my work I was able to be of service to a wide variety of people, from children to ''senior citizens.'' In short, others began to recognize abilities in me that came not with experience but with a maturing spiritual understanding.
What did not happen is interesting too. I was not impelled to think or act in a manner that was inappropriate for me. No one ever had to say, ''Act your age.'' The spiritual development that took place was natural and normal.
We can accept, instead of the limitations that years would impose, the bliss and bounty of eternity. Let's rejoice that man is the child of Spirit - ageless. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God has given to us eternal life. I John 5:11