GRADUALLY I've been learning, through the study of Christian Science, that we don't need to accept destructive emotions--anxiety, fear, hatred--as inevitable. Instead, as we learn the falsity of these material concepts and learn more of spiritual concepts and their accompanying freedom, we'll find our experience improving. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The only fact concerning any material concept is, that it i s neither scientific nor eternal, but subject to change and dissolution.
Material concepts do not emanate from God, Spirit. Only spiritual concepts emanate from God, and what He creates is indissoluble. As we understand this more clearly, material concepts begin to give way to spiritual reality. Man, made in God's image, embodies only spiritual concepts, which he reflects from his Father-Mother God. Because God made only good, man expresses only good.
Such a recognition of man's spiritual nature isn't simply a verbal exercise. It requires conscientious prayer combined with a deep, sincere desire to follow God's leadings. Striving to follow God and express His goodness changes our experience by spiritualizing our thought. Consciously and prayerfully loving when we're tempted to hate--forgiving instead of seeking revenge, for example--frees our life from discord. Doing this consistently isn't necessarily easy, but it can be accomplished. And the rewards
are more than worth the effort! We may have to make an effort to express more patience and compassion, but recognizing that man's nature--our genuine identity--is wholly spiritual and already includes these qualities, enables us to do this. And the same is true for all the spiritual qualities we need. Striving to be more Godlike redeems our life. And this spiritual regeneration becomes a steppingstone to building our experience on Spirit, God.
Christ Jesus taught his disciples what we call the Lord's Prayer. I love this prayer, perhaps especially the passage that promises God's help in delivering us from temptation: ``And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Praying to be kept from the temptations of material concepts such as anger, hatred, revenge, embraces God as manas our--protection.
I found out how important it is to do this when I wasn't feeling well recently. The difficulty was so obvious to others that one friend who never asks about my health promised to call the next day to see how I was. Well, that made me get busy and pray more deeply! I began to see that the sorrowful, pitying thoughts I'd been thinking and feeling were unnecessary--that they could change. I realized that I needed to stop thinking about how bad I felt and to begin seeing my true nature as God's child.
But I needed to do more than just think nice thoughts. I needed to follow through and act more Godlike. My life had to express the spiritual concepts I was embracing. I spent the next few days actively cultivating more of the patience, compassion, care, and love for others that I had been feeling were in short supply. Soon these qualities were easier for me to express. To a degree regeneration and redemption had brought about needed spiritual renewal. And I was healed of the illness, as well.
Whatever our circumstances, replacing material beliefs with spiritual facts awakens us to man's innate goodness emanating from God. This goodness establishes our life and thought on a strong, spiritual basis.