The gift we give each other
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
For those of us who have yet to develop a talent for Christmas shopping early, there is assurance that our love will find tangible expression regardless of how many presents actually get wrapped and under the tree. The key for me is admitting my gratitude for my loved ones' place in my life, and a recognition of my place in their lives.
Perhaps the first part seems obvious - that we wouldn't even be thinking of buying a gift unless we really appreciated the beauty of our loved one. But in the mishmash of human relationships, we need to keep rescuing our concept of others from the realm of human obligation and acknowledge what we learn from other people and recognize how we are benefited by knowing them.
The second part - admitting that I'm a blessing to my loved ones - is new for me. I am realizing that the primary gift I give to others is the gift of myself. This recognition is the result of many years of overcoming a sense of worthlessness. The causes for the self-belittling seem insignificant in light of the understanding Christian Science has given me that I exist to make God obvious. This echoes the biblical proclamation that we are made in the image and likeness of God; that when people get to know us, they are actually encountering the reality of God's goodness.
This understanding of self-worth shouldn't be taken for granted. It requires the discipline of committing to our own goodness - of recognizing our best thoughts and being willing to let go of our worst. This is what it means to take the example of Christ Jesus seriously. The way he lived as a child of God - the humility, joy, compassion, and confidence in God's healing power - promises that we can increasingly walk step-by-step with God as he did, facing the decisions of life, based on the loving presence of Father-Mother God.
Jesus' life fulfilled the Old Testament promise of the Messiah, yet he didn't think of himself as spiritually superior to others. When he prayed for his disciples and successive generations of believers, he affirmed, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). This invites us to consider the reality of our own Christly nature, that the integrity that Jesus lived is actually native to us as well. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Ye are the light of the world." Our desire to be and do good is evidence of the spirituality that God made in us from the beginning.
This is the basis of being a blessing to others. Periods of quiet reflection are for the purpose of noticing the good ideas, unselfish efforts, and genuine desire to understand what's going on in the world. This newspaper is committed to supporting some of the best thinking going on in civilization, and we as readers are part of that.
A big part of discovering my self-worth was the recognition that my thoughts are my friends. If my thoughts don't feel like friends, then they are not my thoughts, and I can turn from them as quickly as I would drop a hot handle of a pan on the stove. The right view of ourselves is that we are Godlike, spiritually reflecting all the qualities of God's Mind, Soul, and Spirit. Intelligence, freedom, and innocence are inherent in us as God's children, and we have the authority of Christ to turn from the ignorance, bondage, and dirt that would convince us otherwise. It's a great relief to know ourselves this way. We can welcome others into our lives because we are confident we have something to give.
Holiday times bring into focus how connected we are with others and how much time we're taking to enjoy our own thoughts. When over-involved with holiday parties and preparation we may yearn for the stillness of communing with God. If we have a lot of time alone, we may yearn to spend more time with friends and family. With a spiritual sense of self-worth, we can find the balance and normality of time alone and time with others.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her textbook on Christian Science, "... Christ illustrates the coincidence, or spiritual agreement, between God and man in His image" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pgs. 332-333). To agree with God as the creator of the whole universe is to agree with our place in His creation. The love we associate with the season is the security of knowing that we fit in creation and are free to honor how others fit too. It is the promise of a happy Christmas.