Gender and Potential

(Written especially for young people)

`THE boys in my class say that girls aren't good at sports,'' said my daughter. She's only in the first grade but is already coming up against some of the notions that, if accepted, would limit her potential to enjoy sports and do well athletically.

Men's sports receive a lot of media attention, and players get high salaries. It would be easy to think men's sports are more important than women's sports. What's valuable in a good performance, though, is different from what society values. The number of people watching, the amount of money the participants are being paid, or the number of newspaper and magazine articles written about an event do not measure the spiritual ability God gives, or how an athlete uses those abilities in his or her performance. True ability has nothing to do with being male or female. God gives it to all His children.

I am a man, and what Christian Science has taught me about the true source of ability has completely changed the way I view and participate in sports and how I measure the value of athletic performances. This change has come through learning more of God. God is infinite good. The attributes of God--intelligence, grace, power, accuracy, selflessness, and so on--are, obviously, good too. What's important to realize is that these spiritual qualities are attributed only to God. And there is never any other source for them but God. Yes, they are available to us, but only in one way-- through our reflection of Him. People--either men or women--cannot cause them or create them. They are God's and yet are ours too. But only through our expression of them. Christ Jesus pointed out, ``The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works'' (John 14:10).

Does it matter whether a man or a woman is expressing God-given spiritual qualities? Of course not. All expressions of God are equally important because graceful, accurate, unselfish performances point to God's presence and love for each of us.

``God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 258). Her use of the word man here includes all of His children--both male and female. Since God boundlessly expresses in man the kind of good qualities we've been talking about, there is no reason men and women can't express them equally. As God's expression, spiritual man is capable of infinitely more than what the world would want us to believe.

What about size and physical strength? A person's desire to express God better each moment is much more important than his or her height or weight or muscle mass. I played on my university's baseball team. Although I was the smallest person on the team, the understanding that true power doesn't come from muscles, but is expressed in man by God, gave me all the power necessary to play well--well enough, in fact, to be selected for the all-state team.

It takes real discipline of thought to learn for ourselves that we have tremendous potential. But when we realize that it is spiritual potential, we are free to claim it constantly. As a result, our practicing, performing, and competing improve. We break free from limitation and demonstrate for ourselves that we truly are the expression of God. Gender has nothing to do with our real potential because, as God's expression, our potential is truly infinite.

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