If we’re feeling limited by how we – or others – are defining ourselves, considering how God made us puts us on the path to healing and progress.

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During my master’s program in philanthropy, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of incarcerated men who were organizing a walk-a-thon on the prison yard to raise money for a nonprofit organization. Surprisingly to me, those who are incarcerated frequently participate in charitable endeavors. We discussed the meaning of philanthropy and different ways it can be expressed. I asked them, “You know what you are, right?” Dead silence. “You are philanthropists.” They had been philanthropists before I met them – they just didn’t know it. And they were so happy to be redefined in the moment.

How many times do we let circumstances define who we are? We might be labeled sick, lonely, unloved, poor, misunderstood, depressed. Some of those incarcerated men had been labeled low-life, thug, and worse. But my study of Christian Science has helped me see that no matter how heavy a negative label may feel, we have Bible-based authority to reject those limitations.

Jesus showed us our true nature, that we are made in God’s image, as stated at the beginning of the Bible. This was evidenced in Jesus’ encounter with a man who hadn’t walked for 38 years (see John 5:2-9). Right then and there, Jesus healed the man, who immediately got up and walked. But he didn’t tell the man he would make him whole by “fixing” his legs. Rather, behind this healing was the spiritual fact that God, from the very beginning, has created each of us whole, spiritual, intact.

As we realize to some degree this truth – that God has made us not flawed, but spiritual and pure – we experience it in greater degrees, too. This doesn’t get us out of redeeming our wrongs, but it puts us on a path to healing of character as well as physical problems.

Each of us has the ability to put aside even long-standing labels and accept a more inspired view of ourselves and others. This leads to transformation and healing that stem from the realization that we are spiritual, whole, and worthy – just the way God made us.

Adapted from the May 6, 2021, Christian Science Daily Lift 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.