Thoughts worth thinking

Today’s column explores how increasing our understanding of God even a small amount can lead to healing.

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Have you ever thought of making a pie chart of the different kinds of thoughts you are thinking as you move through the day?

I recently did that as a fun little exercise, and by the end of the week it had revealed pretty clearly what I am interested in, and even what I love.

Initially, this exercise was just for the sake of observation and amusement. I wasn’t trying to change anything. I just wanted to be more aware of the different directions to which I was devoting my thinking. Since we literally think thousands of thoughts a day, as you can imagine, not all of the thoughts I was tracking were wonderful. But I made sure to acknowledge the good ones, too.

And I discovered something interesting: The nature of my thinking made a big difference in my experience. The correlation I discerned was that a spiritual thought – for instance, I spent time considering God’s nature as infinite love and goodness – actually led to more clarity and harmony in my day.

In order to make the mental shift toward this line of thinking, it wasn’t as though I needed to stop thinking or force my thoughts in a certain way. I just humbly opened my heart a little more to God’s presence, to the inspiration that I understand is always coming to each of us from the divine Mind.

That’s not to say God is responsible for all the thoughts we entertain. There’s a line in the Bible that says: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1). I think of the word “spirits” here as relating to different types of thinking and concepts, so this encouraged me to “try,” or examine, thoughts as they crossed my mental threshold. I realized that if they made me feel loved by God and closer to God, then they were divine – from God.

Along those lines, I’ve learned that it doesn’t do much good to dwell on fear, lack, or resentment. It’s not that we need to, or should try to, willfully force such thoughts out of our thinking or beat ourselves up over having them, but we can know that these are not thoughts that come to us from the infinite Mind. By opening our hearts to God’s nature and understanding our own nature as God’s expression, these unwelcome thoughts increasingly lose their hold.

Christ Jesus showed that we can all yield to the divine Mind in this way. He encouraged people to increase their faith and understanding, even if only by a tiny amount (see Luke 17:6), and he demonstrated the wonderful healings that can result. This still applies today.

A friend of mine once was told by an optometrist that she had something wrong with her eyes. She felt as though this prediction completely darkened her future, and indeed, her vision became worse and worse over a few months.

Then she began praying about it. That is, she started to open her thought to the idea that as God’s daughter, she was spiritual and whole. And as she explained it to me, she felt that “God was there telling me of my perfection … even though I felt far from perfect.”

That’s how God knows us. Not as material beings infused into imperfect matter, but as entirely perfect and spiritual. And as we yield to what the divine Mind knows, we realize that we can never be separated from God.

My friend shed tears of gratitude as she saw more clearly how the truth of God’s perfection was expressed in her, and over the next few weeks she continued to let this message of God’s goodness fill her thinking.

Within several months of the diagnosis, she’d had an inspiring and permanent healing, and even now she still takes time each day to pray to gain more understanding of her God-given spiritual wholeness. Had she tracked her “before” and “after” thoughts on a pie chart, I’m sure the change would have been impressive!

“To have one God and avail yourself of the power of Spirit,” it says in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, “you must love God supremely” (p. 167). Even a slight but heartfelt increase in our desire to know God, and to acknowledge the spiritual perfection that God is constantly expressing in us, can open our lives up to big blessings.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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