Value your individuality

ARE we tempted sometimes to undercut the good work of another? Do we find ourselves harshly criticizing a successful colleague? The first book of the Bible tells of the conflict between Cain and his brother Abel.1 Both men brought a gift to the Lord. Genesis records that Abel's offering -- the firstborn of his flock -- was more pleasing to God than Cain's -- the produce of the ground. Angered by this, Cain ended up murdering his brother.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points to the crux of the problem: ``Jealous of his brother's gift, Cain seeks Abel's life, instead of making his own gift a higher tribute to the Most High.'' 2

We may not be entertaining murderous thoughts, but what about jealousy? Do we hate to see others succeed? Are we resentful, feeling left out?

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We should be alert to arrest these destructive thoughts and to replace them with honest striving -- efforts to improve the fruit of our own labors. God has made each one of us to express His nature. Each of us is precious to divine Love. Each is needed for the full manifestation of God's glory.

If we find ourselves feeling inadequate or unappreciated, we may need a clearer sense of our actual selfhood, which is complete as God's spiritual likeness. Our creator has given us His own wondrous nature to reflect in our own individual way. Joy, humor, creativity, courage, patience, persistence, wisdom, and intelligence are some of the God-derived qualities that, when expressed, enable us to feel our completeness.

It's essential to discern and appreciate our distinctness, our precious identity in God's sight. Doing so requires looking beyond the obvious -- beyond what our eyes and ears tell us.

Through prayer, silent communion with our heavenly Father, we can awake to our spiritual wholeness. We can discover, through humble, faith-filled prayer, that we are God's children, made in His image, as the Bible declares in its very first chapter. Discovering our Godlikeness, we're more willing to develop our talents. We find, quite naturally, new opportunities for expressing ourselves. And we welcome challenges, for they strengthen and refine our understanding of the good we've alread y been given.

Striving to perfect our God-derived talents helps us appreciate what others are doing in this regard. We're less apt to be jealous of the success of others. Instead, we find we're encouraged and inspired by their achievements.

The Bible asks: ``Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?''3 The answer, of course, is a heaven-sent yes. From the spiritual standpoint, we see that all individuals have one divine Father-Mother. So we can rejoice in another's progress, knowing that the source of his or her talents is also the source of ours. Each child of God has distinct identity; yet each one is empowered by the same divine Spirit.

The excellence expressed by another doesn't overshadow our being. Each glimmer of perfection helps light our way, showing that we too can express our individuality in ever grander ways.

The next time we're tempted to criticize the good of another, let's stop in our tracks. Let's strive, through prayer, to replace any resentment or jealousy with genuine appreciation. Then, instead of hindering our fellow being, we'll be upholding him. And we'll discover that God upholds us all. 1 See Genesis, chap. 4. 2 Science and Health, p. 541. 3 Malachi 2:10.

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