When we need to improve

Sometimes self-improvement can seem a daunting goal. But considering our nature as children of God is an empowering starting point for character growth and progress.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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When I was in grade school, I brought home a report card with a very low mark for sportsmanship. I didn’t like that (and, I might add, neither did my parents), so I decided I needed to stop being a sore loser. I never got a low mark in sportsmanship again.

As small as that example was, I still remember it so clearly because that improvement not only made me happier, but it made things more pleasant for others, too.

Some calls for improvement may seem harder to reach than others. However, we can learn to see progress as natural for everyone, whether it is a needed character correction or even a change from sickness to health.

In that regard, it’s been helpful to me over the years to look to the spiritual model of existence that Christian Science puts forth. It starts with a perfect, good God, whose creation (which includes each of us) is wholly spiritual, perfect, and good. Cultivating and loving this idea as the rudimental spiritual reality has been a helpful basis for not only living my life, but also elevating it.

Here’s an analogy. When I was in art school, I drew many hours from a live model. It soon became evident to me that drawing repeatedly from a model as a reference point helped to perfect my technical and creative skills. Taking it a step further, living our lives from a correct model can refine our lives.

Christian Science, based on the authority of the Bible, makes plain the nature of the correct model we are to look to in order to revamp and revise – yes, and heal – needed areas in our lives. For example, in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote: “In Science, all being is eternal, spiritual, perfect, harmonious in every action. Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite. This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness” (p. 407).

I have found this idea of mentally maintaining a “perfect model” – the spiritual reality of God’s goodness expressed throughout creation – very illuminating on many occasions in my life. Many years ago, when I began my study of Christian Science, my tendency was to compare myself to others in terms of popularity, appearance, and abilities. Most of the time I never felt I measured up.

These demoralizing comparisons provoked jealousy in me that instantly buried charitableness. At other times, I looked for opportunities to feel superior, which was the other end of the same unhelpful mindset. But deep down I sincerely wanted to do better, and Christian Science was monumental in helping me realize that looking to other people to define my life and happiness was a futile model to follow.

As I increasingly looked to God, divine Love, as the source of all goodness – bestowing it impartially and without measure – I began to have a different experience. More and more I began to see the spiritual logic of God as our divine Parent, who liberally gives to all of His precious, cared-for children spiritual qualities such as intelligence, harmony, and peace.

With this before my thought, it was so much easier to see that we are created to love and enjoy these qualities in ourselves and others. Just like musical notes that are distinct but operate under one principle of harmony in music, each one of us is a distinct and unique expression of God’s infinite goodness.

Under this line of spiritual reasoning, jealousy began to lose whatever pull it had on me. It became more normal for me to honor others’ abilities and qualities, even those I felt I lacked.

The Christ – the light of divine Love, God, that purifies and regenerates – was expressed limitlessly by Jesus in his healing and bettering of lives. He proved the power of Christ to turn thought away from limiting, material concepts to the truth of spiritual existence that results in healing and reformation. He showed us we could do the same.

We may not always go bounding to those areas of our life that need some work. But the path to being and doing better will feel more inviting when we open our thoughts to God’s outpouring of goodness for us and everyone. Then improvement is certain.

Some more great ideas! To hear a podcast discussion about the effect of feeling God’s love, please click through to the latest edition of Sentinel Watch on www.JSH-Online.com titled “Feel and know God’s love.” There is no paywall for this podcast.

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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.