What really defines us

At times, an illness or injury may seem inextricably linked to our very identity. Recognizing that as God’s children we are so much more than a physical body frees us from defining ourselves by problems and opens the door to healing.

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When we’ve been facing a physical or mental challenge, we may feel as if the ailment has become our identity. But this is not who we are.

Increasingly, public thought is recognizing that any illness we may face does not define us. “I am not my disease,” Patrick McNamara, Ph.D, posted at one time. He continued, “...perhaps one of the best things we can do for one another [is] to remind one another that we are not reducible to a disease....”

We do not need to accept that any disease or problem defines us. But this is more than just disassociating a material problem from a material view of ourselves. Instead, it’s letting our thought be consistently oriented to fully accepting that we are so much more than what a physical body – a sick body or even a healthy one – presents. It’s starting from a completely different basis – that we are actually wholly spiritual, complete children of God, here and now.

Based on the Bible, Christian Science teaches that man (the true, spiritual identity of each of us) is made in the image and likeness of God, Spirit. God is completely good; God did not create sickness and doesn’t send it. Therefore, each of us is in reality the manifestation of all the qualities of God, including health, strength, agility, and purity. This expression of divine qualities defines us.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, came to this conclusion after deeply studying the Bible, searching for the truth about God and man, and seeing how this understanding of God and His creation heals. She wrote in her main work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise” (p. 472).

The fact that each of us is created as God’s spiritual offspring is the understanding that Jesus confirmed over and over in his healing ministry. When he and his disciples saw a man who was blind from birth, the disciples tried to figure out whose fault it was. They appeared willing to accept that this condition, this “disguise,” defined the man. But Jesus stated, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” This understanding cleared away the belief in the reality of an illness and the man’s sight was restored (see John 9:1-7).

Jesus demonstrated the Christ – the healing truth that each of us is actually God’s expression or reflection. The eternal Christ, Truth, strips off every disguise – such as sin, fear, discouragement, lack, mental illness, or physical disease – by showing that these evils were never God-created or God-sanctioned. This divine action, transforming thought, reveals the spiritual man of God’s creating – holy, perfect, well, and invulnerable.

During part of my early high school years, I awoke ill each morning. It was quite an ordeal to dress and go to the bus stop. I never spoke about this to my parents because it didn’t seem serious, just very annoying. In this instance, I also felt I wanted to learn to demonstrate the healing power of prayer for myself. I had a long bus ride every morning and spent that time praying – confirming in thought that no illness or fear could hide the perfect selfhood I had as God’s child. This time of spiritual discovery included silently singing hymns to myself and feeling God’s love.

By the time I arrived at school each day, I was well. This continued until the Christly understanding of God and my true identity completely stripped off the disguise of illness. Not only was I completely healed, but I also felt so much closer to God.

This type of healing is available for all of us. As we understand our relation to the Divine as God’s beloved children, we awaken to God’s, divine Love’s, unceasing care, our inseparability from that Love, and the truth of our being. God continuously expresses perfection in His spiritual creation.

As we live from that basis, illness, fear, loneliness, disappointment, and so on don’t appear to be the defining measure of our lives. Instead, we see more clearly, and increasingly evidence, our true selfhood as God’s child – happy, well, loved, loving, and at peace.

Adapted from an editorial published in the Oct. 25, 2021, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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