Be the sculptor of your own life

To shape our lives divinely, we need to start with forming perfect models in thought.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Did you know you’re an artist? For the purpose of this article, consider yourself a sculptor, working on a statue of your life! The shape it takes is determined by the ideals and models you hold in your thought. To form the statue accurately, you need to see yourself as you truly are, and the best way of doing that is to see yourself as God sees you – made in God’s image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27).

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, challenges readers of her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” to consider whether their lives are being shaped by this pure, spiritual sense of themselves or by another model of thought. She says: “We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it?...

“To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (Science and Health, p. 248).

Christ Jesus always had this perfect model in his thought. He knew God made all that was made, and that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Looking beyond mere material appearances, Jesus recognized that reality is characterized by goodness, spiritual perfection, and harmony, all of which are reflected by the men and women of God’s creating. And Jesus healed on this basis.

This perfect model is ours to claim and image forth. Yet aren’t we often tempted to buy into imperfect concepts of ourselves – concepts that suggest we can be sick, vulnerable to contagion, lacking, and insecure? In the Bible, the allegorical account of Adam and Eve describes this model as “the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). A talking snake (of all things!) manipulates Eve into thinking there’s a better model for herself and Adam by gaining in such material knowledge.

Today we know better than to believe in talking snakes, but are we alert to other types or modes of influences or manipulation? Communing with God in daily prayer, staying mentally alert, and holding to the true model of God and of our true spiritual nature as God’s creation enable us to better recognize false influences seeking our acceptance and promotion.

At one time I felt very intimidated and fearful of the model I was asked to consider. In support of a family member, I agreed we’d participate in a weeklong program designed to improve self-esteem through self-evaluation and analysis. Essentially we were being asked to view ourselves as flawed material personalities, instead of keeping thought focused on the true understanding of what we are as God’s spiritual expression.

While the goal was to help attendees improve themselves by thinking deeply about their motives and actions, some of the group dynamics and techniques were quite intimidating. One facilitator in particular was daily “in my face,” convinced I should be discovering some hidden, negative characteristic that I was unaware of. I’m certainly open to prayer and spiritual growth uncovering characteristics that need transforming, but assuming there must be something wrong, and digging in the human mind to find it, is the opposite starting point to “[forming] perfect models in thought and [looking] at them continually.”

Before each workshop I prayed earnestly to know myself as undefiled and Godlike, and to see each participant and leader with the same spiritual clarity. I thought of this statement in Science and Health: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals” (pp. 476-477). The passage goes on to say that this correct view of man heals. That was my clue – I needed to see as Jesus saw! So, when facing manipulation or intimidation, or even praise, I held strongly to my and others’ God-given identity as spiritual, Godlike, and pure.

On the final day of the program, this facilitator came to me thanking me for my participation, saying, “I can see that you’re very spiritually minded.” Well, that was gratifying beyond words! I thanked God immediately.

When we reject a flawed model of ourselves or others as material and imperfect, we can stay focused on the perfect model created by God. Focusing on the true model may require discipline, as any sculptor or artist will confirm, but the reward of this conscientious carving is “grand and noble lives.” Lives filled with meaning. Lives that bless and heal others!

Some more great ideas! To read or listen to an article in The Christian Science Journal on overcoming fear titled “Healing – because there is no fear in the allness of Love,” please click through to www.JSH-Online.com. There is no paywall for this content.

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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.