How Do You See Yourself?
SOMETIMES we've become so accustomed to thinking of ourselves in a certain way that we think of it as a fact of our being, unchangeable and permanent. But what about those characteristics that we don't like about ourselves? Are they inextricably part of our identity?The Bible tells us that man is made in God's image and that everything about him is very good. Because this is so, undesirable character traits cannot be part of the man of God's creating, which is our genuine, spiritual individuality. Understanding this enables us to claim and express the spiritual qualities that really do define our identity. This was brought home to me when I needed to change something I'd always thought of as just the way I was. All of my life I'd cried easily. I wasn't necessarily proud of that image of myself, but I had grown used to it and had come to accept it as part of my personality. However, as my career progressed, my job required me to be able to speak about deeply felt issues with a strength that would help to bring solutions to problems, not more tears. I began yearning for freedom from the emotionalism that my crying was a symptom of. Finally one day, I was faced with a situation that challenged me to heal this weakness once and for all. I had been asked to give a job-related presentation, but in this case it would be in an atmosphere charged with emotion. I reached out to God with all my heart to gain dominion over the emotionalism that plagued me. I prayed for an assurance of my God-given capacity to fulfill the assignment. Suddenly there welled up within me a deep sense of calm and peace. I could see that man, the reflection, is strong because God, the source, is omnipotent. I no longer identified myself with that trait of teariness. Indeed, I realized that it had never really been part of my identity. I knew that the presentation would go well, and it did. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul urges, "Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper, refers to Paul's words in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "By putting 'off the old man with his deeds,' mortals 'put on immortality.' And she continues: "We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief. We must reverse our feeble flutterings--our efforts to find life and truth in matter--and rise above the testimony of the material senses, above t he mortal to the immortal idea of God. These clearer, higher views inspire the Godlike man to reach the absolute centre and circumference of his being. Christ Jesus exemplified the immortal idea of God so clearly through his resurrection and ascension that he became the Way-shower for us. He fully identified himself as God's beloved Son--perfect, spiritual, and altogether good. And he expected his followers to identify themselves spiritually, as well. We can begin in small ways to follow the example Christ Jesus has given us. We may well feel increasing discomfort with traits of character that never bothered us much before. But how grateful we can be to know that we can "put off these old, outworn traits to express the "new man we really are.