WILLING to laugh at someone's jokes or funny antics? Or are there times when you only grudgingly chuckle after your friends "work on you'' for a while? Maybe we even feel we shouldn't be laughing with all the serious problems in the world. Yet one of the wonderful things about children is their willingness to laugh. Say or do something funny, and they're quick to respond. This ready willingness to be happy and, even more than that, the willingness to leave behind the past and move forward with good, contributes to healing. Joy acknowledges the ultimate power of good and glimpses the powerlessness, even nothingness, of evil. It demonstrates man's real nature as the spiritual image of God, who has no reason not to be joyous and free.
Perhaps this was part of what Christ Jesus loved in children. He saw childlike qualities as essential to joy and salvation. He told his disciples in Matthew's Gospel, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.''
I remember an occasion when I experienced the healing power of an open, childlike acceptance of good and of man's well-being. I had become quite ill. A friend stayed with me one night. She comforted me and at my request read to me from the Bible. But I was feeling so unwell I couldn't concentrate very long on the encouraging things she was reading.
At that point my friend noticed a book for very young children on a table. She began to read it to me. Well, I found this story so funny that I began to laugh. As I did, I couldn't help remembering that we are all really children of God. Suddenly, I felt like God's child, always tenderly cared for by Him. I knew God hadn't created sickness, so I didn't have to suffer from it. I could instead be conscious of the joy and goodness God did make. We read that little book more than once, and very soon I realized I was well.
As I look back now, I see that I had to be willing to stop thinking of myself as sick. A sick, unhappy person doesn't laugh. But God's man, who is spiritual and perfect, made in His image, reflects health, holiness, and joy.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells about the Science of divine law, which underlies genuine Christian healing. At one point it says: "The effects of Christian Science are not so much seen as felt. It is the 'still, small voice' of Truth uttering itself. We are either turning away from this utterance, or we are listening to it and going up higher. Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, 209&gt;this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.''
When we're inflexible, we deprive ourselves of progress and new joys, and even stand in the way of healing. That's because we're denying God's presence, His goodness and power. We need to be willing to give up old, limited, self-destructive states of mind. This means giving up the false beliefs that say man is imperfect, sick, unloved, sinful, dying. These are not facts of being; they are deceptions of the physical senses. The Bible reveals that man is in reality not a sinful mortal, but is wholly good, spiritual, perfect, the exact image of God, Spirit.
As we're willing to let go of false beliefs and the sorrows and sickness they cause, and as we're ready to accept and love the spiritual facts of man's perfection in God's image, we'll increasingly be and feel good, and we'll find good reason to smile.