I often visit with and read to people no longer in the workforce or raising a family, sometimes unable, at the moment, to get out and about. There are times when I’ve felt greatly benefited by their example. I’ve been enriched by their engagement with ideas, by their appreciation of others, and especially by their spiritual vision. They’ve helped me to see more clearly that each one of us, whatever his or her circumstance, has a significant, valued individuality and therefore an important role to play.
What makes each of us distinct may seem to be the result of heredity or our upbringing, a mix of good and not-so-good elements in a finite personality. But a spiritual view of the Bible’s teachings reveals something different – that identity and individuality are actually the outcome of God. “It is he that hath made us,” the Psalmist said referring to God, “and not we ourselves” (Psalms 100:3). God is forever expressing Himself in His image, man, in infinitely varied, entirely good ways. True individuality, then, comes from and is maintained by God, by Spirit, and doesn’t include anything unlike His nature.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says, “Man is the expression of God’s being” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 470). That includes everyone. And a wonderful aspect of this truth is that no two people express God’s being in exactly the same way. Therefore no one is required to fill another’s niche, and it would be impossible to do so. “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity,” Mrs. Eddy writes (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 70).
Because each of us has a niche, each has a distinct and vital part to play. It may be through a particular job or profession, or it may take some other form. But for each individual, a highly significant dimension to fulfilling our role is through the quality of thought we bring to everyday life. Because God is the source of true individuality, it could be said that each one’s most fundamental activity is to live more and more in line with who he or she really, spiritually is – the image of God, Spirit. That involves expressing such Godlike qualities as wisdom, love, purity, creativity, humility, graciousness, integrity, and good humor. It’s seen also in a growing faithfulness to Him, expressed in our willingness to trust Him to care for our needs, and in prayer that affirms, with spiritual conviction, His supremacy as the one true harmonizing power in our own lives and around the globe. This illustrates the spiritual mindedness that the Bible says “is life and peace” (Romans 8:6), and which can help bring life and peace to others.
Jesus showed that prayer has a very definite, healing effect in human lives. In opening our thought to the understanding of God’s supremacy, prayer at the same time diminishes the false impression that evil and materiality have the upper hand; that the good that people think and do, including prayer, is puny in comparison. Despite its apparent pervasiveness, materiality is what’s puny in the face of spirituality, as the Bible illustrates in so many ways. To be spiritually minded is to put God, Spirit, first. It’s to embody the qualities of God in our thoughts and lives and to let prayer take the lead each day, listening in communion with Him for His guidance and acknowledging the truth of His perfect government of His creation. What powerful meaning this brings to the concept of filling our own niche – in the most impressive or humblest of settings!
Lives that are aligned with divine goodness, and with the power of Spirit through daily communion with God, help to shine the light of the healing Christ in human thought for everyone’s benefit. Such work is always needed, and can be seen at the heart of filling each one’s unique role.