Figuring out who we are

What really defines us? Looking beyond our physical attributes or circumstances and considering our nature as God’s children offers healing, empowering answers.

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People today are certainly trying to figure out who they are. We see evidence of this in many forms. For some, this might mean deciding to redo their social media page because the earlier version doesn’t feel right anymore. For others, it may lead to job changes – in April 2021 alone, four million Americans quit their jobs, looking to do something else with their lives. Discussions of identity as it relates to gender have become prevalent. Then there’s the question college students face about what to study or do with their lives. And those are just a few examples.

So, how can we feel settled about who we are and move forward securely?

The question has existed from ancient times. And I’ve found that the Bible offers insights and answers.

Take the story of Job, for example. It tells of a good guy, content with his life, but then some calamities happen. So he starts a conversation about what his life is really about. He’s talking with himself, his friends, and God. A guiding principle for his life seems unclear.

However, God sets him up really well when he finds the right response. As the New King James Version puts it: “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

There’s a remarkable idea here. Instead of focusing on physical attributes or circumstances, we can begin with understanding more of what God, divine Spirit, brings forth in everyone. God, the infinite Mind, is the very source of life, strength, and goodness, which are expressed in all of us as God’s children.

Recognizing this, we are secure. As we prayerfully let more of God’s activity into our thoughts and lives, we find more of what we’re really about – our fundamental nature as God’s spiritual offspring, or reflection. Who we are, our real identity, isn’t a personality that the world encourages us to take on. It’s not confined to a particular physicality with a short lifespan during which to get attention from others, attain a specific job title, or be classified in a certain way. Our true, spiritual purpose is hard to convey on social media. But we all have a good and special God-given identity.

Knowing this is so helpful in dealing with life and making decisions. It’s hard to go along untouched by a troubled world. To counter the pull of dissatisfaction, confusion, or frustration, we can instead zero in on seeing more of the solid good God has for us to express – qualities such as intelligence, love, and purpose. The key is looking for more of what we are in God, the very basis of our identity and life.

“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explains, “The divine Mind is the Soul of man, and gives man dominion over all things” (p. 307). The prayerful search for how to more fully express God in our daily lives results in more evidence in our lives that our unity with God is what truly defines us. It empowers us to make decisions and moves that position us well and lead to good things for others, too. We’re playing a part in helping the world go in a good direction.

What we really are is the qualities of good, of love, of strength, of intelligence that God expresses through us. And as we devote ourselves to seeing such qualities in ourselves and others, nurturing them and sharing them, other elements in our experience settle into place. We’re more alert to God’s activity in us instead of caught up in circles of questions about ourselves. And we experience the peace and joy of doing something productive for everyone: bringing something of God to our jobs and relationships.

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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.”

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