These days, it seems as if we’re constantly inundated with images and videos that would attempt to inform or influence how we think and act. We see heroic acts, athletic endeavors, daring stunts, motivational speeches, and also illegal acts, sexual acts, aggressive acts – on the news, on social media, in movies.
This saturation of images and information raises the question, What models of thought and action are we striving to emulate in our own lives? It’s a choice that is ours to make at every moment, and that determines how we see the world around us and what we experience.
In the midst of the countless (and often conflicting) examples of thinking and acting that are out there, I’ve found helpful guidance in Christ Jesus’ example and the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science and the Monitor.
Everywhere he went, Jesus brought healing and harmony to those who were receptive to what he taught. He saw everyone as the spiritual, perfect creation of God, made in His likeness. This understanding of true, spiritual reality was the “model” Jesus kept at the forefront of his thought, and, as a result, he expressed the utmost love and compassion, had the deepest conviction of God’s goodness, and saw the supremacy of that goodness proved throughout his ministry. Even his sharp rebukes were out of love, in the attempt to correct and save others from their wrong thinking and living.
Knowing as Jesus did that God is good, it follows that God’s creation is made the same way. The Psalmist counseled, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalms 37:37). We, too, can let the spiritual truth of God and man fill our consciousness, and experience the blessings that come from that. In Mrs. Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” we read: “Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite. This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness” (p. 407).
Recently I was sitting at an airport gate, waiting for my flight to begin boarding, when I heard another passenger speaking loudly and belligerently to a gate agent and some other individuals who were trying to bring calm to the situation. Admittedly, I was hoping that this person would be on the flight leaving from an adjacent gate, and not ours.
As it turned out, this woman was not only on my flight, but also seated in my row. When she began making unreasonable demands of the flight attendant, I was tempted to make a pointedly nice remark to the attendant, to passive-aggressively indicate to my row mate how inappropriately I felt she was acting.
But I realized that in thinking that way, I was modeling my response after the snarky behavior I was witnessing. I certainly wasn’t letting the “perfect model” of God’s creating inform my thought about this woman. I held my tongue and shifted my approach, choosing not to let her behavior dictate how I defined her. I knew that this woman was made in the image of God, divine Love, as we all are. As men and women of God’s creating, we all naturally express love, patience, and care. Understanding our real nature minimizes ugliness of any kind until it ceases to appear in the human experience.
As I stopped focusing on the insolence and instead let this spiritual understanding fill my thought, I couldn’t help feeling more loving toward this individual, and my own irritation and desire to react with annoyance left. After a couple of minutes, the woman looked over my way, and it came to me to just smile and say “hello.” To my surprise, she smiled back. For the rest of the flight, there was no more unpleasantness.
“Science and Health” teaches, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (p. 248). Each of us can aim, little by little and day by day, to keep in thought that “perfect model” – God as Love, and all of us as His spiritual, loving creation. As we do, we’ll experience the blessings of seeing good, loving qualities demonstrated in our lives and in the world around us.