Humility and the source of our ability
A Christian Science perspective: On overcoming writer’s block and stagnation in our work.
Recently I was struggling to get started on a writing assignment. Very little was coming to thought, and when something did, it would quickly fizzle out as unworkable. Then one night, as the dearth of inspiration continued, I realized very clearly that I was leaving God out of this activity. I was trying to cook up something from the generally accepted standpoint that each of us has a limited, personal mind and self-created abilities. I saw that I needed to humbly yield to the actual source of all true ability – the one God, who the Bible implies is unlimited intelligence. Right then, I dropped the effort to generate something personally, and silently asked God, divine Mind, to give me the idea I needed. Inspiration quickly came to thought, caring for the situation in just the right way.
It certainly seems as though each of us operates as a private mentality with personal abilities separate from our creator. And it can feel as though it’s strictly up to us to sink or swim. We do have our part to play, of course. Hard work is important to success in any worthy endeavor. Yet experience shows that the actual source of strength, intelligence – ability in any constructive direction – is God.
For many years it didn’t feel that way to me, even though I accepted this truth in theory. But over time I’ve come to see more clearly that God really is the originator of all good, and that we aren’t, in the truest sense, finite, fleshly creatures on our own; we’re actually God’s very expression, His spiritual image.
It’s not always easy glimpsing this truth and putting it into practice. But a growing humility, a willingness to let go of the deceptive sense that everything starts with man rather than with God, is an encouraging sign of progress. The Bible says, “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalms 100:3). And these words of Christ Jesus are deeply thought-provoking: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: ... I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:19, 30).
The Master’s career as a spiritual healer and teacher was incomparable. Yet he said he could do nothing of himself. He must have understood, to an extent that no one else ever has, that man – a generic term that includes each one of us – can’t be or do anything without God. A materialistic view of life exalts the belief in personal abilities and an ego apart from God, the one divine Ego. But at some point that false sense needs to give way to a humble acknowledgment that God is the only source of right ideas and genuine ability. This doesn’t deflate our sense of individuality; it doesn’t diminish our feeling of worth. It actually heightens them by showing that we're dependent, not on a matter-based personality, which is variable and fleeting, but on our ever-dependable creator – infinite Spirit.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says, “Experience shows that humility is the first step in Christian Science, wherein all is controlled, not by man or laws material, but by wisdom, Truth, and Love” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 354). The words “Truth” and “Love” here are synonymous Bible-derived terms for God.
An increasing perception of God as the source of our abilities and of all good is a blessing to us and those around us. Any degree of yielding to the divine Ego can also help to support a more general recognition of God as the creator, God as the governor. So can our silent prayers in this direction, acknowledging the actual, beneficent control and supreme power of God in every aspect of experience.
Humility opens the way to progress because it puts God more at the center of thought and life, allowing His goodwill and unlimited ability to be more readily expressed.