I was working with a musician in a musical production. Not long before, her teenage daughter had committed suicide. I wished that I could comfort or in some way help this mother, who had experienced such a terrible tragedy.
Instead, I was receiving from her aggressive language, irritation, and uncooperative behavior. This caused me much sadness. Once, I had to point out something she had done wrong. She met this with an outburst of temper, and stormed out. I went home determined to pray until I received an answer. I had to see who she really was.
What do I mean? First, a little story. A noted actor, who was a slave to smoking, was walking along the street one day in Concord, New Hampshire, with a big cigar in his mouth. A woman passed by. "She looked at him - he threw away the cigar and never had the least desire to smoke after that." He explained this healing of addiction by saying that the woman "saw the real man" (see Yvonne von Fettweis and Robert Warneck, "Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Healer," Pgs. 275-276).
That woman, Mary Baker Eddy, was a renowned healer who presented a remarkable idea in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" - that "man" is a wholly spiritual being, created in the image and likeness of God, divine Spirit. This describes the only real identity of each of us. It describes the basis for prayer according to Christian Science, which Mrs. Eddy discovered.
We appear to be mortal and made of flesh and bones. We appear to exist outside of, and separate from, our Maker. But the belief that identity is mortal has always been illusory - something mistakenly assumed to be true.
St. Paul the Apostle referred to this false notion of existence when he said to "put off the old man with his deeds." We must destroy the false view of ourselves as mortal and material, and get to know ourselves as immortal and spiritual. This means, also in Paul's words, that we "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him [of God] that created him" (Col. 3:9, 10). As we begin to do this, we see sin and sickness lessen in our lives. Why? Because they come with the belief that we originate in matter and can suffer from harmful material conditions. Sin and sickness must disappear with the disappearance of that belief.
The Science of Christianity heals mentally. Science and Health shows how to make Christ Jesus' words, and his ability to heal through God's power, practical in our own lives. It explains: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (Pgs. 476-477).
Jesus saw the world spiritually. He saw it as God's creation, in all its perfection and glory. He did not look for, or believe in, evidence that God creates imperfectly. He revealed that, as God's perfect idea, man could not be sick or sinful. Jesus did not make sick mortals into healthy mortals; rather, he looked beyond mortality to discern the perfect, spiritual reflection of God, who could never be sick in the first place.
When we stop accepting materiality as fundamental, and separate it from our spiritual status as children of God, we'll progressively solve problems of all kinds in our lives.
That's what I thought about as I prayed to see my colleague in her true light. I denied that tragic circumstances had ever touched her identity as a child of God. She had never been separated from God's love. A picture of the sun and its rays came to thought. Just as each ray is essential to the sun's radiation of light, energy, and warmth, so was she an essential part of God's perfect creation. It would be incomplete without her. God needed her to express Him. I started listing her lovely, Godlike qualities, and felt ashamed that I had not recognized them before. I had been seeing a tragic figure; now I was seeing her as a talented, perfect child of God.
This correct view of her healed the situation. When I returned to rehearsal, she welcomed me warmly. We worked well together and never had differences again. And I did find ways to help and comfort her, including the most important one - seeing her true identity.