Not long ago my husband and I joined other parents of middle schoolers at an academic awards assembly. We were an appreciative audience, clapping for each student and craning our necks for the best views of our own children.
Parents feel understandable pride in their children's accomplishments. When they have encouraged and supported them in schoolwork and extracurricular activities, they are logically happy to see successful efforts honored.
As the program progressed, I began to think more deeply about honors. The thought came that the soundest basis of honor is in one's own honoring of God. The Bible shows that His creation is perfect and spiritual. Psalms says God has already crowned every one of us "with glory and honour" (8:5). I thought about how all students everywhere really have the most prestigious award possible-that of being children of one Father-Mother, God. There is no earthly honor that can come close to the realization of this status.
Thinking about honors from such a spiritual basis involves understanding our true worth. It fosters humility and discourages egotism. It promotes a desire to see good accomplishment as available to all.
Some parents are very ambitious for their children. They want them to have the best and to excel. Actually, God intends for all of us to express goodness and excellence. God is the source of all good, and good is what He has already provided for us. Awakening to realize that this is a demonstrable fact of existence, we find increasing success and greater achievements evident in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we care. This is the approach of prayer, which purifies human desires, focusing our motives not on self-aggrandizement but on showing forth God's perfection. We thereby protect ourselves from envying others, as well as from being envied.
The Christian Science textbook, written by Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of "the glorious fact of creation, that both man and woman proceed from God and are His eternal children, belonging to no lesser parent" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 529). Parents may become engrossed in how accomplished a child is, especially if that child excels in many areas, and feel very important themselves. I found it helpful to recognize throughout that awards assembly, and after it, that all those children are truly the offspring of God. I realized I had just as much reason to be excited about every child's successes as about those of our daughter.
Something else that occurred to me is how important it is that I not live "through" my children. Living vicariously can be an occupational hazard-for a homemaker like myself, or for anyone else. Each child has his, her, own God-given individuality to discover. And I have my own. Furthering the accomplishments and successes of my children could never keep me from using my own talents fully. The children are not living their lives instead of my living my life; we're all expressing the glory of one perfect God, individually, together. Another book by Mrs. Eddy says, "Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 70). Each individual. Part of my "niche" right now is to support, transport, feed, clothe, encourage, and pray for my children. But that's not to the exclusion of my own needs, and I don't live vicariously through others in order to find my own fulfillment.
Many wonderful young people who are striving very conscientiously to express the talents God gives them are not receiving recognition. They must not be discouraged! The good one stands for and accomplishes is not always acknowledged. Christ Jesus, whom Science and Health refers to as "the best man that ever trod this planet" (p. 364), received scorn instead of honor. But Jesus achieved honors from God that are eternal, by showing forth in his life and works the perfection and immortality we each have. Second Peter says Jesus "received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (1:17).
God is well pleased with each one of us. Acknowledging this is the way to solid achievement and to feeling the honor God is always bestowing on us.