One of the greatest possible pleasures is seeing someone's life improving.
I have a friend who discovered God's power in her life. It has brought rapid progress for her, and it has caused significant changes for the better in her experience. Helping her move recently, I told her how touched I was by her courage and strength. She was surprised that I would think of her that way.
"I don't think of myself as having courage. It's more that there seems to be just one idea for me - to go forward - and I have to follow it," she said.
To me that was a very useful definition of courage: recognizing an idea that represents progress for you, and committing to it.
So often, the timidity that blocks our lives involves a refusal to admit that there is a good idea at hand and that we can pursue it. Instead, we think of courage as risk taking, and feel unsure there will be any benefit to it.
Rarely in the adventure of life do we know beforehand what will come of our efforts. But through the clarity of God's guidance, we can learn to trust that it is His good intention that we be loved and cared for, and that our lives move forward.
There is a Science to Christianity that brings a unique perspective to the discussion of human progress. It affirms that progress is the inevitable result of the fact that our being has an infinite source: God. We are each designed to understand the fullness of our spiritual nature, that is, our identity as children of God. New perspectives, expanded opportunities, greater compassion, and service to others are all the natural result of how we have been made, as God's very image and likeness.
It is as unnatural for us to stagnate (or be content) in limited, ignorant views of ourselves as it would be to put on shoes that were two sizes too small; we may be able to get them on, but we'll never be able to walk very far in them! On the other hand, knowing that the infinite God is the source of our very being is as natural (and as much a relief!) as taking off a pair of shoes that are too tight.
What protects us from getting stuck in restricted lives? The messages God gives us. God intends for us to know the infinite opportunity for good that we have. He has established in our very consciousness a law. A law of good. Comprehending it wakes us up, even when we've settled into thought-patterns that are too small, or even downright destructive.
This powerful message is the truth Christ Jesus embodied so fully. It is also available to you and me, hourly. It shows the spiritual origin of being. It gives a vigorous, mental wake-up call - as vigorous as when Jesus literally commanded destructive "spirits" (thought-forces) to come out of people who had been bound by all forms of sickness (for an example, see Mark 9:25).
The powerful thoughts we get from God give us authority over the darkness, depression, and fear that bind us up mentally and physically.
Good news: this power doesn't come sporadically, only in times of desperation. It rests on a science, and has a pull greater than gravity! This newspaper's founder wrote: "This Science is a law of divine Mind [God], a persuasive animus, an unerring impetus, an ever-present help. Its presence is felt, for it acts and acts wisely, always unfolding the highway of hope, faith, understanding" (Mary Baker Eddy, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 3).
Admitting the evidence of good in our lives - even small evidences - is an essential part of recognizing the freedom to make forward progress. The nature of the human mind is so hypnotic that it keeps us rehearsing, over and over again (like a bad song you can't get out of your head), the reasons for misery and self-pity. Even when we feel we have every legitimate reason to complain, there's healing power in the thought that we have been, are, loved by God! And that love is what we can trust to meet our needs.
Part of the progress in our lives inevitably includes thinking beyond ourselves. It offers the joy of stretching thought, to see how we can love other people more and serve them. Best of all, real courage to move ahead isn't something God asks you to do alone. He's with you all along the way.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society