Individuality versus mimicry

A friend of mine is quite talented as a mimic. James Stewart, Cary Grant, Jack Benny, are among the people he likes to imitate. Impersonating others plays a minor role in his life now. But there was a time - particularly during his college years - when it was difficult to determine who he really was. Apparently he felt it was more satisfying being anyone other than himself. Since then, he has retained respect for his talent. But most important, he's appreciating his own individuality more and more because he has a better understanding of its actual nature and source. He's also seeing more than ever before the beauty of everyone's genuine individuality, which expresses the divine nature in all of its variety and purity.

Though most of us probably aren't impressionists in the sense that my friend is, still we may imitate others - and often without realizing it. Have we, for example, mimicked the thoughts of certain trend-setters whose views are widely known? Have we adopted the opinions or even the mannerisms of someone we consider prestigious or someone we admire?

Clearly, it's important to consider the source of our thoughts and beliefs. We don't simply want to mimic others' thoughts and then let those thoughts impel our actions, even define our individuality. While we can learn from the positive examples of others, an understanding of our own truly wonderful individuality is indispensable to our salvation.

The feeling of love, of completeness, of satisfaction, of significance, that we desire can be found through our relationship to God. It's found through the realization that each of us is significant and in fact vital to God. We're not, in reality, mortals with a degree of importance, competing with other mortals, perhaps finding our individuality through mimicking other mortals. And we won't find our significance through the belief that we are. But we do discern our genuine importance and begin to recognize the inherent beauty of our individuality as we acknowledge our inseparability from God as His immortal offspring; as we begin to feel, through prayer, that He is our creator, our Father and Mother, our very Mind, the infinite source of all we can be or want to be.

Christ Jesus' words ''The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do'' n1 point to the sole basis of our individuality. What we truly are, what makes us wonderful and indispensable, is the outcome of our sonship with God. The nature of this sonship, illustrated so completely by Jesus, expresses the nature of God. Because God is Love, as the Bible tells us, our true selfhood is loving. To the degree that we understand this and live it, we're being our true selves, and the distinctive hues of our spiritual individuality will shine through, blessing us and those we come in contact with. Because God is Spirit, as Jesus taught, we find our individuality as we put off a physical, sensual view of life and express the purity inherent in our nature as Spirit's offspring. Because God is Truth, as the Scriptures imply, we find our individuality as we're honest with ourselves and others.

n1 John 5:19.

Our true nature is infinitely more than a pleasing or a not so pleasing personality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says firmly: ''Personality is not the individuality of man. A wicked man may have an attractive personality.'' And several lines earlier she writes: ''Man's spiritual individuality is never wrong. It is the likeness of man's Maker.'' n2

n2 Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, p. 491.

God has already fashioned each of us as the individual manifestation of His being, expressing the beauty, strength, harmony, and intelligence of the divine nature. Our work is to discern and demonstrate more of who we really are through prayer and Christlike living. We don't, then, have to mimic others; we don't have to recreate ourselves in the likeness of someone else, hoping to become more colorful or likeable. Rather, we can perceive and live in harmony with our spiritual and only selfhood. As we do, our lives will be enriched, made more colorful and satisfying than a personal, physical sense of identity can ever conceive. DAILY BIBLE VERSE What is man, that thou art mindful of him? . . . Thou hast . . . crowned him with glory and honour. Psalms 8:4,5

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