A case of mistaken identity

A Christian Science perspective: Why overreacting isn’t part of who we are.

I was prone to overreact. If I thought I had the right idea, I felt compelled to press my point of view on others by using forceful words. Often my strong reactions would alienate others. I felt bad when this happened, but that didn’t stop me. I considered my behavior an inherent part of my identity. I mistakenly thought the way I acted was the only way to bring about a positive solution to a situation or outcome. But it was a stressful way of living.

Eventually, I grew weary of the stress. Feeling burdened and tired, I reached out to God in prayer. One way to pray is to listen quietly for divine guidance. When I did this, as I was taught to do in Christian Science, I became aware that the problem was my self-centered sense of identity. The ideas in two verses from the Bible helped me get back on track: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10) and “God is Love” (I John 4:16). And in her book, “Science and Health with key to the Scriptures,” a book based on the Bible that explains the Science of Christianity, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “There is no power apart from God” (p. 228). It occurred to me that I wouldn’t feel so burdened if I depended on God, divine Love, rather than relying on the force of my personality.

The life of Christ Jesus provides a perfect example of the good we can do when we turn from self and humbly trust God. Jesus healed blindness and raised the dead, yet he said: “The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19, New International Reader’s Version). Here, Jesus refers to God as his Father, but he thought of God as everyone’s Father.

Speaking to the multitude, Jesus said, “[C]all no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9), indicating each individual’s direct connection to God. Mrs. Eddy unpacks this idea further when she says, “Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God” (p. 250). Like Jesus, we can trust that at all times our loving Father is empowering all that is good in ourselves and others.

These ideas changed the way I thought about myself. I realized a self-centered sense of identity was a mistaken identity. Since God is the only power and creator, all true identity must proceed from God, who is Love, and therefore must reflect His nature. This new understanding of the reality of my identity removed my false sense of responsibility. Knowing that God is the active power upholding all goodness caused me to consider the ideas of others more carefully. If I thought I had a better idea, I was able to present the idea in a gentle, loving way and trust that if it was God’s idea, others would see the value of it, too. Awake to my real identity as one of God’s children, I now have more peace in my life, and, best of all, I am closer to my fellow man.

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