RECENTLY I was amused by the dialogue in a television program in which one character was making fun of another's efforts to ``find himself.'' It reminded me of my college years when from time to time I would hear that someone had gone off to ``find himself.'' I was pretty smug at the time because I was convinced I knew exactly where to find myself. Today, I'm thankful to say, I'm wiser and more compassionate. Yes, I'm still amused by that clich. But I have to take the need it expresses seriously. For one thing, in the years after college, there were times when I felt a need to get clear about who I was -- to find myself, so to speak. And today I'm seeing that it's not enough simply to have a superficial sense of peace. It's vital that we come to know ourselves spiritually, to have a growing sense of our God-bestowed individuality and worth.
Where do we find our genuine individuality? In a better understanding of God and our relationship to Him. Christ Jesus' words ``our Father'' in the Lord's Prayer point to this fact. They show that we're truly offspring of God, not material personalities separate from God. As a New Testament writer said so eloquently, ``The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.''1
We can't find out who we really are, then, by looking from a materialistic standpoint. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Material personality is not realism; it is not the reflection or likeness of Spirit, the perfect God.''2
We find ourselves in the truest sense as we begin to look beyond the complex, contradictory elements of personal makeup to our eternal, spiritual selfhood. This identity is God's image, as the Bible teaches; it expresses the fullness of the divine nature.
But how can we come to know who we really are? How can we get past the feeling that we're the product of hereditary and environmental influences beyond our control? Maybe we first need to acknowledge that God is our true creator and that as His offspring we've inherited only good. To open our thought to a higher sense of identity as the outcome of God, totally dependent on Him, is to take a vital step in seeing who we really are and in experiencing the satisfaction that God alone can give. In answer to the question ``What is man?'' Mrs. Eddy speaks of him as ``that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.''3
Through communion with God, with the one divine Mind, we begin to feel His love and to discern the wholeness and distinctness of our spiritual individuality in His likeness. We're better able to distinguish between our own true thoughts, coming from Him, and detrimental influences that would confuse us and obscure who we really are. Because prayer brings us into harmony with our creator, we see more clearly our value as His expression, our own unique reflection of His nature with its intelligence, wisdom, purity, love, strength, joy.
To learn more about God is to learn more about our true selves, to know intuitively that our spiritual selfhood is always satisfied and safe. Even if we feel we know exactly who we are, there are higher, more spiritual views of our identity to be gained, views that confer even fuller joy and progress.
1Romans 8:16. 2Science and Health, p. 337. 3Ibid., p. 475.