Back to school with freedom

Each of us can find the healing and freedom that come from seeing ourselves and others through a spiritual lens – as a middle schooler and his family experienced firsthand at the beginning of a school year. 

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As students and teachers head back to school where I live, I’ve been reflecting on some of my own school-related experiences as a parent and former teacher. What I’ve found especially helpful over the years is to focus on the freedom that a spiritual education brings when we’re faced with issues. For instance, I’ve been grateful for the teachings of Christian Science, which are rooted in love for God and for one’s neighbor, based on the example of Christ Jesus.

The founder of this news organization and the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, put great value on education. And she extended that value beyond academic learning, stating in “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” “All education should contribute to moral and physical strength and freedom” (p. 240).

As a teacher and healer, Jesus showed the practical value of such education throughout his career, bringing both moral and physical freedom to countless people. Despite having no formal schooling, Jesus often found himself in the position of interpreting the law and reading from the Scriptures to an audience of scholars. He explained that his purpose was not to destroy the law or the prophets’ teachings, but to fulfill them (see Matthew 5:17).

Jesus’ ministry was infused with his spiritual understanding of God as good, and of everyone as God’s cared-for, pure, spiritual offspring. And he taught that we, too, can experience the freedom that results from such understanding, even in a degree.

I am grateful for the quality education and care our three now-grown children received both in school and in the Christian Science Sunday school. They were encouraged to be thinkers – to articulate their ideas clearly, to respect a variety of viewpoints, and to analyze all sides of an issue before forming opinions. And in Sunday School they learned the value of considering issues through a spiritual lens, rather than just accepting the surface-level view.

For instance, when our preteen son was about to start middle school, he came to me rather downcast. As much as he was looking forward to his new school and seeing his friends again, he was worried about unsightly warts he had on his hands. Despite the warm weather, he wanted to wear very long sleeves to school to cover up his hands and avoid comments or questions from his peers.

Of course I wanted our son to feel free to be himself at school. I also knew that prayer is effective based on my own experience, including a healing of an unsightly wart on my hand when I was a new teacher. I shared this with my son, and since he too had experienced the results of focused Christian Science prayer before, he asked if we could pray about this together.

We discussed some ideas he’d learned in Sunday school: that God made him, and since God is good, the substance of his being must also be all good. This goodness, being God-given, can never be marred in any way. We talked about how, rather than focusing on his hands, he could focus on expressing goodness and just being himself. God is also Mind, the divine intelligence that communicates to each of us the ideas we need. So he could turn to God for inspiration about his inherent purity and goodness, as well as the words to say to his friends and classmates.

This verse from Psalms summarizes our prayers: “Your hands have made me and established me; Give me understanding and a teachable heart, that I may learn Your commandments” (119:73, Amplified Bible).

Our son liked this approach of seeing himself the way God made him and listening to Mind for answers instead of focusing on covering up his hands or how others would view him. After all, the biblical command to love your neighbor begins with loving yourself first (see Matthew 22:39)!

We continued praying, and when school started, my son seemed less self-conscious. He even chose to wear short sleeves. And it wasn’t long before he was completely healed. The skin on his hands was completely smooth. Even his friends commented on the quick turnaround.

Whether or not we’re involved in a back-to-school process this year, each of us can experience the freedom that comes from learning more about God and understanding our true, spiritual nature. This spiritual education applies to any challenge.

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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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