The other evening, just at dusk, my husband and I were eating dinner. As I looked out the window at the last glow of orange on the horizon, a deer walked peacefully through our yard. Unbidden, some lyrics of an old cowboy song came to thought and I began to sing, “Home, home on the range,/ Where the deer and the antelope play,/ Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,/ And the skies are not cloudy all day.” I turned to my husband and asked, “Why do you think that out on the range seldom was heard a discouraging word?”
Picking up on my train of thought, he pondered and said, “Well, perhaps out on the range, with the big sky and open prairies, they had a big picture of things.”
“So do you think discouragement is always a matter of not seeing the big picture?” I asked.
“Yes, I think so,” he said matter-of-factly.
Now, our conversation was about how a wider human perspective can help us to be more tolerant and patient with ourselves and others. But I don’t think a bigger picture of a human situation is a sure way to eliminate discouragement. So I began to consider a higher, more spiritual view, a view that isn’t restricted by our limited human perspectives or constrained by material circumstances, but an infinite view – one that is gained through the lens of Spirit, which is another name for God. I thought of a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, that encourages us to cultivate a better understanding of Truth and Love, which are also names for God indicated in the Bible – and thus gain a view of the infinite, the true picture of being. She states: “Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged. Mortals must gravitate Godward, their affections and aims grow spiritual, – they must near the broader interpretations of being, and gain some proper sense of the infinite, – in order that sin and mortality may be put off” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 265).
I began to examine situations in my life where I had been tempted to be discouraged, and then had consistently found healing and resolution through prayer to understand more fully the completeness, immensity, majesty and allness of God. In each of these cases, I had turned to God, infinite Mind, to gain a perspective that saw everything from the standpoint of spiritual completeness. Mrs. Eddy states it this way in what she calls “the scientific statement of being,” which includes this phrase: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (Science and Health, p. 468).
I began to realize more clearly that challenges were more distressing when I focused only on the snarl of the problem. In gaining even a modest understanding of the spiritual reality, the limitations I experienced had repeatedly given place to a harmonious and healthy outcome that was full of dominion and peace. When I turned from my finite set of circumstances and prayed to perceive the infinite harmony of divine Mind, God, I not only found answers to my problems, but had an expanded, spiritual way of viewing life. I understood that God is all-inclusive, and He is wholly good, embracing His entire creation in goodness. That God is all good, and is eternal Life, is a teaching that Christ Jesus espoused. I knew in my practice of Christian Science that I could follow Jesus’ teachings even today to find healing in my own life.
Take for instance an experience I had a couple of years ago when I began to feel tightness in my chest that made it difficult to move comfortably or sleep peacefully. When I prayed to understand that God is all Life and eternal good – I found no reason to fear. I felt progressively better as I prayed over a period of two days, but suddenly, on the third day, the pain came with a vengeance. I was tempted to be discouraged and even afraid, but I reached out again to God for renewed assurance – and, unexpectedly, I started laughing. I had suddenly glimpsed the contradiction in my prayer. I had been trying to see the infinitude of God while I was seeing myself as a personal, finite being, separate from God, instead of as God’s unlimited expression, or image. This would involve reducing the infinite nature of God into something that could be fully seen through a small, limited lens – which would be impossible! Once I saw that I was included in God’s allness, I suddenly found myself accepting the infinite view – a wide sense of God as Life – the one and only, all-encompassing, all-harmonious Life. I felt a total release. I said right out loud, “Why God, you are my life. You are responsible for it and You cannot fail to hold me in Your perfect being.” At that instant the pain stopped and did not return.
By turning to this expansive, spiritual view of Life, of God as All-in-all, we begin to fathom the infinite. Through humble prayer and our understanding of our relationship to God, we can resort to the law of infinite goodness to dispel the inherent discouragement of finiteness. It will reveal that no threat, large or small, can overpower Life.