RECENTLY, some relatives came to visit us. We live in a large metropolitan area, and they commented on the wide variety of clothes styles they saw in the city. In fact, they were even a bit startled by some of the things they saw! Our conversation brought to mind the following observation made in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ``At present mortals progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous. They are slaves to fashion, pride, and sense.... We ought to weary of the fleeting and false and to cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood.''
What we wear is not highly important in the grand scheme of things. In fact, fashions in clothing are only a small aspect of humanity's tendency to embrace whatever is in vogue at the moment. But they can illustrate some of the ways we allow ourselves to become ``slaves to fashion, pride, and sense.'' And what is influencing our thoughts and actions is important, very important. We all need to ask ourselves what influence lies behind our attitudes and decisions, even our small decisions concerning what to wear.
Influences of fashion, pride, and sense do have an impact on people in various ways. For example, fashion claims that we should wear attention-getting (perhaps even ``sexy'') clothes in order to be considered attractive. Pride can cause us to want to be considered attractive. And physical sense suggests that sexual attractiveness is desirable.
If we are swayed by these suggestions, we may find ourselves dressing -- and, more important, behaving -- in ways that aren't in keeping with ``our highest selfhood.'' And this may lead to other problems, including loss of self-esteem.
Christian Science reaffirms the Bible's message that we are all, in truth, created by God as His idea, His image, pure and spiritual, forever free and whole. Our true nature is perfectly good and joyful in God's spiritual likeness -- and this joy isn't controlled or limited by physicality or sexuality.
It is in discovering and expressing this true selfhood as God's likeness -- not in trying to live up to illusive fashion standards -- that we find real and lasting satisfaction. As the Psalmist affirms, ``I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.'' True fulfillment and joy come from waking up to and expressing our innate Godlike qualities, which include purity and beauty.
Shifting our allegiance and attention from fashion, pride, and sense to God, Spirit, good, doesn't mean we have to be dowdy or boring or unpopular. What it does mean is that we don't have to rely on clothes or sex appeal in order to be attractive and likable. Actually, endeavoring to behave (and dress) in accord with our genuine purity and true beauty makes us more beautiful and interesting and appealing, because all real beauty and attraction have their source in God, pure Spirit.
Social pressures can be very intense and aggressive. But we can stay alert to what's influencing us and make sure we're not being ``slaves'' to negative, self-centered, or sensual thoughts. Most important, we can know who we truly are as God's expression and strive to live in accord with ``our highest selfhood.'' Then we'll have the deep satisfaction that comes from obeying God and living in His likeness.