Individuality - what a wonderful blessing! A sense of distinctness and self-completeness brings a feeling of purpose that's highly satisfying. What seems to be working against this whole idea is the tendency to put everyone into categories of age, gender, race, nationality, educational background, level of achievement, and so forth. To think of ourselves mainly in such terms is to lose sight of our actual potential and distinctness. Even more threatening to individuality is the prospect of genetic manipulation, such as cloning.

Christ Jesus provided the perfect solution for individuality crises, turning us to man's actual, spiritual origin. He knew that his selfhood - and everyone's true identity - was the offspring of God. God is the Father and Mother of man and gives each of us an eternal, spiritual selfhood that's distinct. Speaking of the value of each one of us to God, Jesus said, ''The very hairs of your head are all numbered.'' n1

n1 Matthew 10:30.

I remember suffering needlessly as a very insecure teen-ager because I didn't feel confident about my individuality. Wanting to look like a friend I admired on the school swimming team, I tried unnaturally to hold my shoulders in the way his were naturally shaped. For weeks I was in pain until I realized how ridiculous this was.

Then, as a result of my understanding of Christian Science, I began to see that God, the very Soul of man, gives individuality and uniqueness to each of His offspring. I quickly saw that by cherishing the Christ, the true, spiritual idea of God, I would find my genuine, God-created selfhood, satisfied and complete. I saw that no one could take from me my God-given individuality and that I could be thoroughly happy with it. I felt very good about myself for a change and began to act more naturally. You can't imagine what a relief it was, mentally and physically, to carry myself normally again!

Since God, divine Soul, is the creator and maintainer of man, no one can really lose his identity. This spiritual selfhood includes beauty, usefulness, intelligence - all the infinite and varied attributes of God. Temporal, destructible matter doesn't provide any true selfhood. It doesn't identify man. To put trust in shifting, unstable material belief would be frustrating to anyone who really wants a secure basis for individuality.

Why do we all have an individual selfhood? Because our creator, God, is infinite, and His nature can be expressed in an infinite number of ways. Every single one of God's children, then, expresses the divine individuality in his own distinct manner. And no one can take from us our unique selfhood.

Once I found this idea helpful in a way I didn't expect. While praying about which of several job offers to take, I realized that my place in God's kingdom was already established and secure. As God's offspring I could not be displaced, replaced, misplaced, or lost in the shuffle. And I was needed by God to express Him wherever I was. That's a job no one could take from me and that was specifically mine to perform. Almost immediately a job opportunity came which required me to use nearly all the training and talents I had developed up to then, and to use them in a way which was interesting and rewarding. Not only that, the organization created a new position which I filled while I was there. When I left a few years later, the position was eliminated. It seemed as if it had been created just for me.

As we learn that man is infinite Soul's individual expression, we will gain a more secure sense about our selfhood. We'll realize that no one can take our individuality from us, because it's God-created. God loves each one of us in particular as well as all of us collectively. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Man has perpetual individuality; and God's laws, and their intelligent and harmonious action, constitute his individuality in the Science of Soul.'' n2

n2 No and Yes, p. 11.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

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