Don't label

IT was my first month of student teaching, and I had been assigned a group of fourteen eleventh graders whose grades had never been higher than a D. The school had labeled them as incapable of any higher achievement and, consequently, asked very little of them. ``Aw, it's OK,'' a pupil said. ``You don't have to try so hard. We can't do it anyway. Everyone knows we're too dumb.''

``Everyone except me,'' I responded, ``and I'm not going to believe that for a minute!''

The day my student suggested I accept the label, I intuitively resisted. But it was only later that I realized that more than human caring was essential.

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As a student of Christian Science, I understood God to be the source of all intelligence, to be the one infinite Mind, which is reflected by all its children individually. I also knew that God, Mind, as the source of all goodness, gives to all in equal, unlimited measure; that God's great love for His offspring is just and complete, not fleeting or inadequate.

I knew my energetic enthusiasm was not going to be the answer. What was needed was a clear spiritual understanding that God's man, His image and likeness, is never limited, never in bondage to any belief, any label that would enslave him. It really didn't matter that the label put on the students was what we might call a ``learning disability.'' What mattered was that God, our Father-Mother, doesn't label or limit.

Christ Jesus didn't accept the debilitating labels attached to individuals. Instead of agreeing with the labels of leprosy, palsy, epilepsy, he healed the individuals suffering from these troubles. When a multitude of listeners were hungry after a day of the Master's teaching, Jesus did not accept as final his disciples' assessment that they were far short of the supplies needed to feed everyone. Instead, ``he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.''1 Not only was the multitude fed, but twelve baskets of fragments remained. Jesus refuted the notion of lack. The understanding that God is the infinite supplier of good opens the way for us to prove the illegitimacy of lack.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states: ``Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, `Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.'''2

This impartial, universal Love, this divine and ever-present God, this infinite, ever-creative Mind is, for every one of us, an immediate presence. ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble''3 -- not just later but right now, here. He is well able to heal us of fear, a sense of inadequacy, disease.

I knew that my class could be responsive to the generous spirit of the Christ, the spirit of Truth, which doesn't label anyone as inadequate or hopeless. And I knew that I could expect alertness and intelligence. This wasn't merely wishful thinking but a realization of the students' God-given right to express the completeness of unlimited Mind as the children of God.

It was a good class. At the end of the term, even the teacher who was overseeing my work was incredulous at the results. Three of my students received grades that promoted them out of the level they had been relegated to for years into one more challenging.

Christian healing, based on an understanding of God's impartial provision of good and man's reflection of the divine nature, enables us to peel off limiting labels and to move forward.

1Luke 9:16. 2Science and Health, p. 13. 3Psalms 46:1.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24

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