The truth about self-justification

Recognizing our nature as God’s children empowers us to promote loving communication, long-lasting relationships, and healing – as a woman suffering from recurring anxiety and difficult relationships experienced.

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When I was in college, it felt as though some of my relationships could be improved. Also, conversations with family members often didn’t feel as happy or productive as they could be. Thinking it would help, I tried to defend myself by explaining some personal struggles I’d faced. In retrospect, I can see that this came across as blaming others, which actually seemed to be perpetuating the disturbance. But at the time, I wondered why I kept hitting a wall in my communications with family and friends.

One day I was reading “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy, and the term “self-justification” hit me like a ton of bricks. In one instance, Science and Health says, “In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, – self-will, self-justification, and self-love, – which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death” (p. 242).

I was shocked. Why is self-justification wrong? Don’t we need to defend or explain ourselves from time to time?

In praying about this, I came to realize that trying to defend a wrong or selfish action – even in something as minor as being late for a meeting – is actually accepting that something unlike God, good, can exist and have an identity. It serves self, not God – the only true Ego – and denies our true identity as God’s reflection or image, as the Bible says we are.

As we instead see ourselves in prayer as the flawless creation of divine Love, we realize that there is no need to attempt to justify error (that which is not caused or created by God). The fear of being an erring human being separated from God – or losing face – falls away, and we are more loving because of it.

Beginning when I was young, certain words or actions that recalled painful memories would trigger extreme anxiety in me – what today might be called a panic attack. And without realizing it, I sometimes took my suffering out on people close to me. The self-justification made others feel wrong, blamed, or helpless to remedy the situation.

But through this new understanding of the false basis of self-justification, I came to see that instead of rationalizing and excusing this action, I could pray to gain a better understanding of what I truly am as God’s expression.

It takes humility and prayer to realize that the real issue we face is always the need to better understand our relation to God, not what others do or say. Nor can we be negatively affected by anyone else if we understand and accept that God governs us. Realizing that there’s no excuse for not speaking with absolute love, I prayed to know how God, Love, sees us. Love doesn’t know anything unlike goodness.

This shift in my thinking not only improved my relationships greatly but also led to a full and complete healing of the crippling anxiety and panic. It has been several years since this healing. Who knew that removing self-justification from my thought would have such a huge impact?

Recognizing that we are God’s loved, spiritual children, created in God’s likeness, we more consistently speak with honesty, meekness, grace, and selflessness.

Divine Love dissolves any pattern or habit of error and shows us our true nature. It’s natural for us as God’s children to communicate with others as lovingly as God communicates with us. Letting go of self-justification – a false representation of our identity – opens the way for healing and promotes loving communication and long-lasting, healthy relationships.

Adapted from an article published in the Aug. 9, 2021, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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