As human beings, every day we are aware of uncertainty, risks, and overall exposure that can make us feel vulnerable – susceptible to being wounded or hurt; open to moral attack, criticism, and temptation. A common response to such circumstances is, “That’s just life” or “Life happens!” And popular opinion says that the best way to deal with life is to “dare greatly” – meaning, one must have the necessary human courage or boldness to overcome any challenge or circumstance.
The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, was certainly familiar with life’s challenges. From an early age she was frequently ill. Later as a young woman, she became widowed, and her child was taken from her. Through these and many other trials, she searched the Scriptures for a higher meaning and understanding to get answers. Finally, after a serious accident, inspiration from a Bible passage healed her and led to her discovery of the Christ Science, the Science of Life, based on the teachings of Christ Jesus. Not that things then got easier – the truths she was learning and teaching aroused opposition, which took the form of ridicule, discrimination, estrangement from family members, even being forced to change homes frequently for several years.
But her work in overcoming challenges was much more than the kind of “daring greatly” that is just rolling up one’s sleeves with human willpower. It involved understanding that God, divine Spirit, is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient – all power, all presence, and all knowing. Through the understanding of the power of Spirit, she was able to find healing and overcome severe challenges. And she was able to heal others as well. She dedicated her life to helping humanity through her writings and her Church. She would eventually write, “As many as do receive a knowledge of God through Science, will have power to reflect His power, in proof of man’s ‘dominion over all the earth’ ” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 183). And don’t we all want to have dominion over earthly challenges that come our way?
Her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” is a book that I read and study daily, along with the Bible, to assist me in overcoming life’s challenges. Through these tools, I go beyond just learning to cope. I see that “daring greatly” isn’t a human boldness, but a divine imperative that we have complete dominion and can express it. This is why I find Mrs. Eddy’s discovery of divine Science to be so helpful. Her teachings and her life example help me to see that we don’t rely on human intellect or strength to power through; we rely first and foremost on the intelligence and strength of the only actual power. That power is God, infinite good, who is Life itself, and whose will for me (and everyone), as His child, is only harmony, grace, and peace.
Mrs. Eddy explains why it is not our nature to be helpless or at the mercy of life’s circumstances; it is because we are held in Life, God, as His reflection. This truth is found in the Bible: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth ... So God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26, 27). Understanding God to be Spirit, this means man, created in the image and likeness of God, is spiritual and therefore cannot be a mortal, slugging it out on his or her own. This is the wonderful redeeming truth about each of us: As God’s spiritual reflection, created in His image, we each reflect Life, God – infinite good!
For instance, some of the qualities of Life are goodness, dominion, health, abundance, love, unselfishness, peace, and joy; and by reflection these qualities are mine to express. They define my God-given nature. As I turn to Him and fill my thoughts with the fact that God, good, is the only real power, I feel and prove more of the allness of God and His healing power. It is this understanding of God, Life, that allows me to overcome confidently life’s challenges.
Leaning on God, we are able to go forward with both wisdom and courage, because as God’s reflection we have God-given dominion.