A recent Monitor article presented a heartwarming case study of the dedication of Indiana’s educational system to closing the achievement gap between racial and economic groups (“High-schoolers graduate in record numbers, but are they ready for what’s next?” CSMonitor.com). With a curriculum focused on college and career readiness, the district has not only set high expectations for all students but is focused on helping them live their full potential.
For me, the meticulous care taken to support student progress brings to thought the image of a mother bird brooding protectively over her young, tenderly guiding their efforts so that they can learn to fend for themselves – an image also used in the Bible to depict God’s nurturing love (see, for instance, Deuteronomy 32:11).
Christian Science identifies God as both Father and Mother, tenderly caring for His, Her, spiritual offspring – which is what we all are. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332). Since God is infinite, ever-present Love and man is God’s expression, it is natural for each of us to express qualities such as kindness, compassion, and unselfish care for others.
So when school leaders work diligently to enable students to thrive, it is evidence of the Mother-love of God being graciously expressed. But regardless of what our day-to-day endeavors are, each of us has the opportunity to express our innate spiritual qualities to help improve the lives of others. Christ Jesus exemplified this standard of love throughout his career in healing and improving lives. He commanded his followers to love their neighbor as themselves. What a privilege it is to strive to obey that.
As the image, or reflection, of divine Love, everyone is capable of doing this. This is living to one’s full potential as God’s intelligent, worthy child. I found this to be true when I worked as a school principal. For instance, at one point there was a student who was experiencing “school phobia,” an extreme fear of going to school. Her report cards showed strong academic abilities, but when her parents brought her to school, she refused to get out of the car.
Her mother visited the neighborhood Christian Science Reading Room, a bookstore and quiet place for prayer, to explore spiritual truths that could help her daughter. She also engaged a Christian Science practitioner (a professional who helps others find healing through prayer) to pray about the situation.
As I prepared for school each day, I prayed to better understand that God did not create this condition, and therefore it was no part of anyone’s true identity and could be corrected. I knew that if I gained a clearer sense that God’s children cannot be limited from reaching their full potential, it would support this student’s ability to overcome her fear. I trusted that divine Love governs its creation intelligently and harmoniously.
Within a few days, the child started attending class, even though she was initially reluctant to make friends. Her teachers patiently helped her to adjust, and soon she began to respond to the love being expressed. By the end of the academic year, she exuded such confidence that she was chosen to sing a major part in a musical at school.
Caring for our fellow man is being Godlike. The vitality of God’s love inspires our efforts to help others. It illumines the pathway to success at school, work, and beyond.