Recently I’ve been reading about the growing problem of “deepfakes,” which are very realistic fake video and audio recordings produced using artificial intelligence. This and other ways our identity seems to be vulnerable to misrepresentation have prompted me to think about different times in my life where I’ve had the opportunity to learn about a very different sense of identity, one that is inviolable.
I’m referring to our identity as a child of God, and learning more about it has helped me in concrete ways. It has brought about a better sense of purpose and place, healings of illnesses and relationships, and resolutions to business problems.
There’s a story in the Bible that has always inspired and encouraged me in this direction. The Jewish people had been taken captive by the Babylonians some decades before. But a man named Nehemiah, servant to a king of Babylon, received the king’s permission to lead a team to reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem, the sacred city of the Jews (and now also of Christians and Muslims).
The traditional enemies of the Hebrew people at that time didn’t want Jerusalem to be rebuilt and began a slew of rumor campaigns to destabilize the effort and destroy Nehemiah’s reputation. They also attempted to draw Nehemiah away in order to capture him, and to infiltrate the city with spies to undermine and hinder the work.
However, Nehemiah’s prayerful discernment of their intents and methods prevented their success. His inspiration galvanized the builders, whom he encouraged to pray. Nehemiah never wavered in his understanding that “the God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build” (Nehemiah 2:20). So the wall was completed and Nehemiah’s integrity remained unsullied.
The greatest example of someone who overcame persecution and attacks on his integrity was Christ Jesus. He came to show us all how God, Spirit, created us in His own image and likeness, forever intact, pure, upright, and harmonious. Even when vilified and ridiculed on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He knew that the truth of who he was as God’s Son could never be besmirched or tampered with.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Jesus’ example of overcoming the most extreme forms of hatred and unjust condemnation imaginable is that it helps us feel empowered when we face much more modest indignities in our everyday lives. For instance, I vividly recall the lesson I learned when a supervisor claimed I had not been fulfilling my professional duties. As this person continued talking, accusing me of many things that I knew to be untrue, I had to fight feelings of injustice and betrayal.
As I have consistently found helpful when in a challenging position, I prayed. But my prayer wasn’t a plea that I be vindicated and my supervisor proved wrong. My prayer was a silent, sincere desire to know that God knew what was true about me, that my integrity was intact. This was based on what the divine Science of Christ reveals as the true nature of each of us: made in the image of God, spiritual and pure.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1, New Revised Standard Version). God, the divine Mind, knows each of us as His creation. Our integrity and identity can never be lost.
As I quietly considered these healing ideas, I suddenly discerned that my supervisor was feeling a tremendous amount of pressure related to work. I felt a sense of compassion. I realized that I needed to recognize that not only was my own integrity as God’s child intact, but my boss’s was too. The true, spiritual nature of each of us (or anyone else, for that matter) can’t be manipulated or undermined by stress, anger, revenge, disappointment, or injustice.
Within a short time, the accusations stopped. Nothing more was said questioning my integrity. And there was never another situation like that for the rest of the time I worked in that position.
Even if our words or actions have been mischaracterized or manipulated, the truth is that what we really are can never be tampered with or taken from us. Recognizing that our integrity as the children of God is whole and intact enables us to experience this more and more fully in our experience.