THERE'S really no joy like being the boss of your own self. In Genesis, the very first chapter of the Bible, we're told that God gave man dominion over the whole earth. That's us, and it means that we're not only in charge of the animals and plants, but we're also our own boss. Being perfectly self- controlled-- self-disciplined, it's also called--isn't the same as the clenched-teeth self-will people sometimes use when, for instance, they go on a crash diet before daring to don a swimsuit. We're talking about a spiritual quality, something we learn to express better by turning to God in prayer for help.
God made man in His image. To be God's likeness, we must express His qualities. We naturally embody, then, such beautiful attributes as moderation, symmetry, patience, happiness, mercy, and forgiveness. We do this as spontaneously as our image in the mirror reflects us. That's quite different from selfishly trying to get ``what we want when we want it!'' Such behavior leaves God, the source of all good, out of the picture. And it gets us into trouble!
When I began studying Christian Science, I drank and smoked--and I couldn't stop. Discovering that I was addicted to these dangerous drugs was very scary. Then a friend recommended that I ask a Christian Science practitioner to help me. Practitioners give their full time to spiritual healing. And they pray for people--like me-- who ask for their help. I already had a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church. I began a serious study of this book right after I called the practitioner and asked her to pray for me. Am I ever glad I did! After that first call I've never wanted a drink or a cigarette. That was--is--something to be joyous about, isn't it?
But I fell for the belief that if you stop smoking you'll get fat. I couldn't help noticing that my clothes were getting tight. Prayer had healed me of two destructive habits, but now I realized I had to face a third. I had not been expressing moderation and control in my eating, and I knew that gluttony wasn't right. But I was learning that we don't heal sin by doing something to the body. Science and Health, referring to God as divine Mind, explains, ``What renders both sin and sickness difficult of cure is, that the human mind is the sinner, disinclined to self-correction, and believing that the body can be sick independently of mortal mind and that the divine Mind has no jurisdiction over the body'' (p. 218).
The body can't eat too much all by itself. It's the human mind that needs healing, and it's God, divine Mind, who comes to our rescue when we humbly pray to Him. God never made a glutton. And He didn't make me a glutton! As we grow in our understanding of our true selfhood, ugly traits of character begin to fade. But it's not always easy! We may even yield to temptation and, for instance, eat a whole bag of potato chips. But in the long run, we're much happier when we prove who's the boss by having just a few chips. Try it and see!
We can never imagine Christ Jesus eating too much, can we? And Jesus assured us that obedience to God brings joy. John's Gospel tells us that he said, ``These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full'' (15:11). When we express the lovely qualities of Soul, of God, our self-image improves, and our bodies follow suit with symmetry and shapeliness. That's because we're using our spiritual self-discipline to listen to God!