Finding a joy that can’t be masked

In a world where face coverings have become ubiquitous, it can sometimes feel as if we’re losing part of our identity. But no mask can keep us from expressing our God-given joy and individuality. 

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Our local government, like so many others, issued a directive requiring the wearing of face masks in most situations due to the coronavirus pandemic. I appreciated the caring intention behind the rule and wanted to be law-abiding, but I also feared that an ability to let one’s individual light shine was being taken away – that people’s unique identities were being replaced by faceless, soulless drones.

I struggled for quite a while with this situation. I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. And on top of it all, I developed uncomfortable, persistent jaw tension.

So I wholeheartedly prayed to God. I knew from experience that when we’re looking for healing or a sense of peace, striving to see out from God’s vantage point rather than from a limited, mortal view is extremely helpful.

I thought of how, in the Bible, a man named Joseph found a way to let his light shine even from the depths of prison. Eventually he ruled over the land.

And how Jesus gave his enemies his body, but that didn’t give away his eternal, spiritual individuality. Even his crucifixion and burial in a tomb didn’t stop him from demonstrating, through his resurrection, everlasting Life.

In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy states, “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 477). The true identity of all of us is not material, but spiritual – the reflection of divine Spirit, God. Science and Health explains, “This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man’s absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace” (p. 265).

I realized that no mask could ever take my ability to express qualities of divine Life, Truth, Soul, Spirit, Mind, as they come from God. God is the one true Mind, the source of our ability to think and act productively. God is infinite Soul, impelling our ability to express our true nature in individual, unique ways. And since God is eternal, and we are His loved and flawless spiritual image, or expression, these qualities are inherent in our being. They can never be taken from us.

Catching this glimpse of my spiritual, untouchable individuality lifted much of my frustration about the mask requirements, but I still didn’t feel totally settled about the situation.

Then I thought of a section in the “Manual of The Mother Church” by Mary Baker Eddy called “God’s Requirement.” This passage, which people of all backgrounds can relate to, states, “God requires wisdom, economy, and brotherly love to characterize all the proceedings of the members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist” (p. 77).

As I pondered the idea of “God’s requirement” including “brotherly love,” an idea came to me. It was a unique way to express my God-given joy and individuality freely, while being law-abiding and loving to others around me by wearing a mask. The idea was to have an image of my smiling face printed on a mask.

I felt elated and free! I felt so deeply divine Love, God, being reflected through loving thoughts and actions. The angst and jaw tension disappeared.

So even if we’re wearing a mask, we can know that our individuality and uniqueness come from God, and nothing and no one can stop us from expressing joy and brotherly love. They are eternally visible! As Jesus promises, “No one will take away your joy” (John 16:22, New International Version).

I still look forward to the day when masks will not be part of everyday life. But even before then, I’ll be living my inner joy, warmth, and peace – and you can too!

Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the global pandemic. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.

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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.”

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