Commentary A Christian Science Perspective

Seeking and finding true worth

A Christian Science perspective: On discovering the true substance of our desires.

  • Heidi K. Van Patten

When our children were young, I loved being a stay-at-home mom, and I’d gladly given up my teaching job so I could be home with them. However, there were two aspects of that job that I missed: the extra income and the academic work.

As I had done many times in the past, I decided to turn to God. I knew that prayer could heal this feeling of lack. And as my trust in God grew, I ultimately discovered that it wasn’t really a sum of money or a certain type of activity that I truly needed, but rather a deeper sense of my worth as God’s loved child.

With this realization, my desires were transformed and elevated. I was expectant of true satisfaction, and I knew that whatever form that might take in my life, it would be a blessing to me, my family, and others. While I didn’t have any idea how my desire for income and activity might come together, I began to feel confident that they would unfold as naturally and beautifully as the petals of a flower. And soon they did.

As a teacher, one of my favorite activities had been creating project assignments for my students that incorporated the arts, language arts, and social studies. I also loved to write. After several days of earnest prayer, it occurred to me that perhaps some of my project ideas could be useful to other teachers, so I began writing them out in a book format. The academic work I had missed was now a big part of my daily activity.

I submitted my manuscript for publication, and soon it was accepted! The publishing company then hired me to write and edit other materials. I enjoyed several years of very satisfying employment with this company before I decided to move on to other work.

To me, this experience was a clear proof that when we trustingly allow our human desires to be lifted higher, we are letting go of doubt and fear, and allowing God to guide us rightly.

I cherish the biblical record of Christ Jesus and his disciples. From the book of Acts, we know that Jesus’ disciples continued the healing ministry he had established and taught them, even after he was gone from them. One of my favorite accounts of this continued ministry is of Peter and John entering into a temple to pray, and being stopped by a lame man asking for alms, which could include any kind of handout, such as money, food, or clothing (see Acts 3:1-8). Peter responds, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Immediately the man’s feet and ankle bones were strengthened. He is able to walk – for the first time in his life.

A synonym for the word alms is charity. And charity is another word for love. Could it be, then, that what the man truly needed was love – a deeper sense of his worth as a child of God? The Christly love that Peter and John expressed toward him that day must have included seeing him the way Jesus had taught them to understand others – as whole and valued creations of God. This spiritual understanding was powerful to not only enable the man to heal physically, but also spiritually, as he gained freedom from the limitations that, until then, he had probably just accepted as part of his life.

Although our prayers might begin with merely a desire for things such as money, other material goods, or even a certain kind of activity, as we continue to pray, the true substance of what those desires represent is revealed. When we calmly trust God and allow our desires to be lifted higher, our deeper spiritual need – and our practical human needs – will be met.

Adapted from an article in the April 24, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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