I HEARD a talk some time ago in which the speaker asked us to visualize ourselves sitting in front of a cozy fire, stroking a cat that was curled up at our feet purring contentedly. The very picture of harmony. But then we were to picture getting up and inadvertently stepping on the cat. Suddenly the harmony is shattered, and the picture is all fangs and hissing. A perfect example of hidden potential, the speaker said.
And it set me to thinking. How often was I calm and serene on the outside, appearing gracious and ladylike, but right beneath the surface I was capable of ``hissing'' at the slightest provocation? Not that I actually said much at such times. But I would often be mentally furious nonetheless.
I realized that something must be done. It wasn't enough just to keep quiet on the surface. I had to destroy--wipe out, not merely control by willpower--that negative potential underneath.
As a Christian Scientist I knew in my heart that when we humbly pray to recognize hidden seeds of discord in our thinking and to supplant them with the grace and love that are inherent in God's children, we bring harmony to our lives. But I had been ignoring this basic truth.
So I searched the Bible for guidance, and found it in Paul's loving counsel to the Corinthians: ``Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly . . . for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.'' And he says further, ``Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: . . .casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalte th itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.'' 1
Every thought! Here was my answer. I started immediately to watch my thinking more carefully, earnestly striving, from the very depths of my being, to give graciously to others. I had learned in my study of Christian Science that man--my real self--is the image and likeness of God, and I knew that this image is not by nature irritable and short-tempered. So I did indeed have ``all sufficiency'' of love, patience, and understanding, and I could refuse to allow discordant tendencies to exa lt themselves ``against the knowledge of God.''
Consistently, day after day, I tested every thought to make sure it was Christly, worthy of my true being. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, has this to say about the power of Christliness: ``Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs. Christ illustrates that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth.'' 2
I knew that in reality I was God's indestructible man, and that my harmony, my grace, my capacity to love, were likewise indestructible, not subject to discord of any kind.
How spiritually invigorating it was to realize that as I let the Christ-spirit of love and purity fill my consciousness, I was ``blending'' with God, expressing dominion over every thought and action.
At first there were many opportunities each day to bring renegade thoughts into obedience to Christ. Old tendencies toward irritability were more firmly entrenched in my character than I had realized. But as I persistently watched my thinking, it became easier and easier to stifle irritation before it started, and to replace it with gratitude to God for His tender care. As His loved child, I could surely do no less than cherish the spiritual reality of all His children, and before too lon g I found it natural to include this cherishing in every aspect of my life.
So what's my potential these days--and your's and everyone's? In the truest sense, our only potential is the ability to express the divine nature. God's image can't do less than express God's being and enjoy the harmony inherent in this relationship. We can increasingly prove this as we humbly work to bring every thought into obedience to Christ. It certainly keeps us busy, this joyful task, and it's the most rewarding work there is! 1 II Corinthians 9:7, 8; 10:3, 5. 2 Sci- ence and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 316.