How often do we pattern our thoughts and actions after what we think others expect of us? Perhaps we walk into a social situation or business meeting where others expect us to be critical. Before long, we find that we are fitting that mold.
Friends, business associates, and family members often come to identify us with particular traits, some of which are fine, others of which are limiting. How frequently do we adopt their views of us, even the negative ones, and conform our lives according to those views?
We are not, in truth, dependent on, nor the product of, others' expectations of us. We can learn to hold our own, to be ourselves, by looking to God and letting more of our true, God-created individuality surface. ''My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him,''n1 the Psalmist sang.
n1 Psalms 62:5.
Our individuality is not really made up of mortal traits but of qualities of God, because, as His offspring, we reflect His nature. We are actually immortal, wholly good, loving, innocent. And we express these qualities in our own unique way. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says of man's individuality: ''The spiritual man's consciousness and individuality are reflections of God. They are the emanations of Him who is Life, Truth, and Love.''n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 336.
The information gathered from the physical senses, saying we have been born into a certain family and have inherited certain family traits, or that we have been educated in a certain way, can't give us any clues as to who we really are. But this search can be satisfied through prayer, through identifying ourselves spiritually, acknowledging God as the source of our being.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus taught us where to look for a correct sense of ourselves. ''Take no thought for your life,'' he said, ''what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.''n3
n3 Matthew 6:25, 33
Jesus turned thought away from material selfhood toward our true being found in God. It is identification with a mortal, material selfhood that would keep us from recognizing our unity with God and would make us lose sight of our actual, spiritual nature.
We don't have to fear that we'll lose our individuality by not identifying ourselves as physical personalities. Rather, we'll gain a glimpse of our better self, our genuine and only self. It was this better self that Paul referred to as ''the new man.'' ''Lie not one to another,'' he wrote, ''seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.''n4
n4 Colossians 3:9, 10
As we express more of the divine nature, more of our true nature, the new man will progressively come into view, replacing our old view of man - old ways of thinking, familiar habits and prejudices. Knowing that our individuality is renewed each moment by God, we won't fall into rigid patterns of behavior or conform to others' views of us.
What is true of our individuality - its wholeness - is also true of our health. Because God is maintaining the perpetual newness and perfection of His creation, we are not, in truth, vulnerable to the world's expectations of old age and declining health. And we can begin, step by step, to bring out that fact in our lives.
As we recognize the true nature of eternal individuality, and perceive that every facet of it has its source in God, we'll find we are able to hold our own against the tide of materiality. DAILY BIBLE VERSE This people have I informed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. Isaiah 43:21