Last year, on my first day serving at a summer camp for children, I was coming back from a hike with a group of counselors when I injured my ankle and fell, somersaulting down the dirt road.
I knew I had a choice to make. I could feel sorry for myself and worry what others would think. Or, I could take a stand for what I’d learned in Christian Science about everyone’s real nature as a reflection of God.
I’ve always loved the idea that because God is Spirit (see John 4:24), and we are God’s offspring, our true identity must be spiritual. Therefore this identity is not a material body made up of parts that are subject to stress, strain, and breakdown, but rather the embodiment of eternal spiritual qualities that make up the wholeness of our being. This is explained in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, which states, “Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas” (p. 123).
This helped me to stop thinking of my body as a collection of material “things” that might or might not be working, and to begin thinking of the spiritual qualities I always embody as my true substance. For example, I saw that feet express a sense of foundation. God’s man, which includes each of us, is rooted and grounded in divine Principle. With this spiritual reality as our foundation, we are planted firmly on solid ground that empowers us to stand upright and whole.
Following this line of thinking, I thought of ankles as expressing flexibility and adaptability. When we are walking or running and come to a rock or a divot, our ankle flexes and allows us to stay upright. Metaphorically, when we encounter rocky or uneven terrain in life, we can trust the power and presence of God to help us deal with the changes and yet remain poised and steady on our course. Our divinely maintained integrity and wholeness can’t be disrupted. This means we have the ability to make the needed adjustments in perspective or approach to handle whatever comes our way.
Praying with these ideas helped me realize that I could have complete confidence in God’s care. I could not be hurt while doing good, because God created me and all of us as His, Her, perfect spiritual idea. That spiritual perfection never includes anything outside of goodness. And I felt without a doubt or fear that I could do all I needed to without penalty or pain.
This proved to be true. I was able to walk back to my cabin, which was up a significant hill and about a quarter-mile away. I also fulfilled all my duties that week, and when the opportunity came up a couple of weeks later to play soccer with a group of kids, I was fully able to participate.
When we lift the way we think about ourselves to a spiritual basis rather than a limiting, material one, then we more readily recognize the divine laws operating in our lives. And we find that better health and healing of the body naturally follow.