THE message was on the chalkboard before our math teacher came in. Some kids were laughing; some were frowning. It gave one of the girls' name and said she ''will prove she's a woman tonight.'' Maybe you've heard-or experienced-that kind of cruel teasing. It's really more of a threat, isn't it? ''Prove you aren't afraid of your parents; go out with me anyway.'' ''Prove you're a man; father a child.'' ''Prove you love me; sleep with me.''
I've found out, sometimes the hard way, that it isn't myself I have to prove. You and I aren't some new car that has to be tested on the road, or a new movie that might not make it so it needs a preview. You and I are God's spiritual creations. Each one of us is already good, lovable, loved-because that is how God creates us.
But what if you're just not sure about that? And what if people keep pressuring you to ''prove'' something by doing things you know are wrong? That's where it helps to know of someone who's been there. You may not think of Christ Jesus that way. But plenty of times he was challenged to ''Prove it.'' In Matthew's Gospel the Bible describes what it was like as a tempter asked Jesus questions. Two questions began with the words ''If thou be the Son of God . . .'' (4:3, 6).
Now, Jesus knew who he was. At twelve years of age, he had said he needed to be about his ''Father's business'' (see Luke 2:49). And he meant God's work. So why say, ''If you are the Son of God, do this or that''? The Bible says the question came from the devil. That's a way of saying that they weren't Jesus' questions about himself. They were an argument that there was some power that could make him-or us-feel that man is not the loved creation of God, that God doesn't give us all we need, that God isn't always with us.
This test would have destroyed Jesus by having him try to prove himself in the wrong way. It was a bogus test because it argued the only way to prove you're good is to do evil and believe in evil. That makes no sense. In fact, Jesus saw that this was a test he didn't have to take-because he knew evil was not power!
You might be saying, ''I'm not Jesus.'' But Jesus came to teach us that we are all the sons and daughters of God. And he did prove in his life and works that we are God's expression-the way God shows His goodness, strength, love. You might even say that we are God's proof that He is. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, points out in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed. He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature. Spiritual man is the idea or image of God, an idea which cannot be lost nor separated from its divine Principle'' (p. 303). How does this help if we feel pressured to ''prove ourselves''?
I found out when I was away from home at a small weekend workshop with people I didn't know. One of the men began to pressure me to have sex with him. He told me if I didn't sleep with him, I should sleep with somebody there. It was as though I had to prove I was part of the group. I told him no thanks. But I kept ending up on the same workshop teams with him, so he had plenty of opportunity to bother me and make fun of me in front of the others. I felt lonely and afraid.
What needed proving was that God is Love. To find that proof meant I needed to be quiet and listen for what divine Love was saying to me. I don't remember the exact thoughts that came to me to take away the fear, but I do remember feeling the strength of God's love for me-and for everybody there.
Then in the middle of one of the workshop sessions, another fellow on the team volunteered to be my partner. We started working together, and the person who had hassled me backed off. I had some really interesting talks with the new friend I had made, and no one gave me any more pressure to ''prove'' I was part of the group.
The feeling of being loved or valuable is not something you get by proving yourself to somebody else. Love and worth are something you have-and everybody has-because God, divine Principle, creates only loving ideas, strong ideas, intelligent ideas. And God is proving that to you and in you.