Confidence With Math
A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people
I used to have a terrible time with mathematics. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't seem to understand it. My teachers used to get impatient with me because they thought I wasn't trying hard enough. But I was! It was very discouraging.
Then in college I found out about Christian Science, which helps solve any problem you have. I began to understand that God loves everyone, including me. I also learned that the power of God removes anything from our lives that might be limiting us - including a fear of math or any other subject.
This made me look at myself differently. Instead of being stuck in the pattern of thinking that since I had once been bad at math I always would be, I began realizing I could expect progress with God's help. It was a revolutionary concept. And it gave new meaning to something I was familiar with that Christ Jesus said: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
Up until then, I had believed that perfection was something I had to struggle for but wouldn't achieve anytime soon. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which is the Christian Science textbook, written by Mary Baker Eddy, presents a very different view of what perfection really is. It says that you and I, in the way God made us, are not struggling to get to perfection; we are already perfect now, because God is perfect Spirit and He created us spiritual. And this isn't abstract - just something nice to think about but not very practical. To be perfect is to be complete and without any limitations, including fear that threatens to hold us back from success and happiness in our lives.
The reason we don't always see perfection is that we don't always understand and trust that we really are spiritual and totally loved by God. But Science and Health helped show me what our true nature actually is. This statement from the book explains what is true about all men, women, and children: "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas ..." (Pg. 475).
Well, I didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that math, with all its order, precision, and intelligence, has got to be a "right idea." And since I included "all right ideas," then an ability to do math without fear had to be part of the perfection that was always mine.
I was really helped by the thought that God is Love. At times when I was taking exams, for instance, I would turn to God in prayer and ask Him to guide me in my work. I found that this prayer made me less afraid, and I was able to solve the problems on the tests better.
God is also Principle. This means that He is the source of all true law - the order and structure of the universe. I found this helpful because it meant that my growing ability to do math and algebra wasn't just a matter of luck, but the outcome of understanding God's law. As I became more aware of God being with me in all aspects of my life, and trusted in His goodness, my confidence increased.
This reasoning is helpful to everyone, not just to people struggling with math or grammar. It promises that each of us can express any and all right ideas - intelligent, useful, and wise concepts - no matter how limited or confused we may feel just now.
And it works! Without any special tutoring, I found my ability to do mathematical calculations continuing to improve. Even better, I was beginning to enjoy math. Then I was elected treasurer for an organization I belonged to, which seemed like a sign that I really was making progress.
One day, while I was sitting in a rather boring meeting, I realized that I was adding up numbers written on a board in the room - just doing this math problem for the fun of it. Boy, was that a change!
But one of the best things happened one day at the post office. The clerk turned to an adding machine to figure out how much I would have to pay. Before she could even finish, I said to her, "It'll be $7.20." A second later, the adding machine confirmed my calculation. She just looked at me, smiled, and said, "Thanks." And I turned my thought to God for a moment and said, silently, "Thank You."