A friend once had me evaluate a house under construction. After looking it over, I said I wouldn't touch the place with a 10-foot pole.
It was obvious that the builder had not understood structural principles. Posts supporting the floor were not upright. Walls placed at odd angles left the ends of rafters hanging unsupported in midair. Space was wasted by poor arrangement.
Various deals remind me of that hodgepodge house - the buyer is defrauded, sometimes tragically. But probably the worst purchase people can make involves the acquisition of a misunderstanding, a concept of themselves as something other than the image of God. The Bible says, "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding" (Prov. 23:23).
Incorrect views of who we are, held in thought, can show up in our lives as problems with health and happiness. Put another way, the quality of our thinking directly affects us. Basing our lives on the assumption that we're flawed and imperfect - vulnerable to disturbance - is a lot like having shaky floor supports under the house.
We are God's "likeness" (see Gen. 1:26). And God is good. Through this fact, we can learn how to find a life of health, happiness, and usefulness.
Throughout history, the conviction that we are mortal, helplessly subject to sin and sickness and accidents, has been predominant, resulting in varying stages of hopelessness. Here, the Science of spiritual healing offers rules for real change. You might say that even if the rafters of our past seem to hang out in midair, there's a way to fashion new, more upright lives.
How is this done? Through giving up what amount to erroneous beliefs, and at the same time taking possession of the spiritual view of ourselves. It's as we see ourselves as being made up of God's qualities - truth, love, health, purity, which are the building blocks of God's creation - that we establish our understanding of identity on a reliable foundation.
A rotten timber under a house is something you'd want to remove. But you wouldn't just remove it. You'd also replace it with a sound one. Just so, a rotten thought - say, for example, a fearful one - needs to be removed. Then our attention needs to be given to a thought from God, such as the fact that His love is ever present, unfailingly protecting and caring for us.
That is how we rebuild the hodgepodge house - the poorly built conception that we are other than God's good sons and daughters.
An example: I once accidentally touched a hot burner. Immediately I saw that I could either accept that I am spiritual -God's perfect, indestructible creation - or buy the misconception that I'm material, a vulnerable being apart from God, subject to pain and accident. Just bearing the pain and having a burn run its course were to me a poor footing for my life.
I chose instead to build on the sure foundation, by praying - by declaring the spiritual truth about the situation. Quickly, I started to declare a statement of spiritual truth that begins: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind [God] and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 468).
That statement helped me realize that I'm made by God. That He has not constructed me of matter, but in His likeness. Therefore I can't be harmed. I have God's unfailing protection when I understand the law that He has created me perfect. The realization that this was true took away my fear of having been harmed. It restored my peace.
When I finished considering these ideas, the pain was gone. I continued with the work I had been doing. That evening I played the piano with no discomfort. The very next day, the skin was normal.
No one needs to touch the concept of a less-than-perfect life with a 10-foot pole. In the face of anything fearful, painful, disturbing, we have the option to build on the solid foundation of spiritual truth.
You can read in-depth articles on Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.