While I was teaching Sunday School, one of my young students proudly said, “I can spell my mom’s name.” She proceeded to write, “M-O-M!” Without hesitation, she continued, “And I can spell my dad’s name: D-A-D!”
This innocent mix-up set me thinking about names and identity in spiritual terms.
There are many shared titles – mom, dad, sister, brother, daughter, son, grandma, grandpa, and more. Those titles aren’t listed on our legal IDs, but we know them as a part of our identity. It’s often these shared experiences as a mom, dad, sister, brother, and so on, that unite us.
In spiritual terms, each one of us is a child of God. As children of God we have a common, divine Parent who is the source and provider of unity and compassion among our brothers and sisters.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, explains identity in this way: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 477).
This “living Principle” is dynamic and inclusive, never dull or limited. And what God knows about each one of us is also dynamic and inclusive of our spiritual potential, never dull or limited.
When I was young my father died. A few years later, our family of three grew. My mom remarried, and my new dad adopted my sister and me. This united our family. Then, when my youngest sister was born, she was simply my sister, an immediate part of the family.
Understanding family in terms of qualities and spiritual identity, not merely blood relations, has helped me throughout my life to find a sense of home wherever I am and to act with compassion.
As problems come up in the news or conflict arises in our personal lives, it’s easy to say that they’re just products of political, ideological, cultural – you name it – differences! But what if our title as child of God were the most prominent in how we identified ourselves and others? What if it were the most precious name and cause we had to defend?
When I’m faced with conflict, I often pray with these words from a loved hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal”:
Let all that now divides us
Remove and pass away,
Like shadows of the morning
Before the blaze of day.
Let all that now unites us
More sweet and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
(Jane Borthwick, No. 196)
We are each part of the same divine family. This spiritual identity outweighs whatever opinions, fear, or impasse tries to hold us back. We can make decisions and think thoughts big enough to include everyone in this family.