Has this ever happened to you? When I’ve yearned to know that I have value and that my ideas matter, and have looked to other people for affirmation, I’ve often been disappointed. The recognition, appreciation, and respect I hoped for wasn’t given to me.
But through spiritual study and practice, I’ve been learning that we are not products of what others think of us, nor do we want to be. We have an awesome, wonderful, whole, and complete individuality with God in Spirit. Nothing is lacking – we have all we could possibly need!
Several years ago, a friend and I began talking about controversial issues in the news. It was quickly apparent that we had opposing views. My friend was zealous in his opinions, and it seemed to me that he even relished putting down viewpoints like mine. I felt utterly dismissed – and reacted defensively. I came away from our conversations feeling deflated and worthless.
I was stumped. Should I fight back in the same way? Try another technique? Tell him how I felt? Avoid conversations? Human reasoning wasn’t giving me answers. But I knew from experience that God, divine intelligence, could show me the way. So I prayed.
The Bible-based teachings of Christian Science include foundational truths that undergirded my prayers: God, Spirit, is the creator of all, and is wholly good. All of us are children of Spirit, formed in God’s own image and likeness, which means we are completely spiritual and good. We each have an individual, inseparable, and undiminished relation to God, in which God upholds and loves us impartially and universally.
Ignorance of our true, spiritual status may lead us to believe we’re fallible or lacking – or can be victims of other people’s fallibility. But by gaining even a glimpse of the fundamental spiritual selfhood that includes intelligence, compassion, and goodness, we can bring more of this immutable identity into day-to-day experience.
As I prayed specifically with these ideas, I began to put them into practice in various conversations. When talking with friends and family who had differing views, instead of single-mindedly trying to defend my positions, I focused on listening with respect and the intent of learning. Knowing that we each have a direct relation to God, I trusted divine intelligence to guide each of us, thoughtfully and respectfully.
These conversations have been enlightening! And a bonus to better listening? My own perspective on issues has expanded.
Letting go of expectations – even the expectation of being listened to or appreciated – was another big lesson. The Psalmist wrote, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalms 62:5, New King James Version). Even if someone else doesn’t express interest in our ideas or appreciation for our efforts, God knows and appreciates us as His spiritual offspring.
By valuing myself as an expression of the divine nature, and striving to reflect that nature in my thoughts and actions, I was confident that the qualities I had to offer would find receptive hearts when it could benefit others. (And this is true for everyone, too!)
Lastly, I stopped seeing myself as a target of disrespect. No matter how self-righteous, judgmental, and insistent someone else appears, that cannot affect our value in God’s eyes. I would cherish our fullness in God, and smile upon everyone with an understanding that they have everything they need in God, too.
So what happened with the friend I mentioned earlier? Several months later in conversation, he became very outspoken about something in the news. Empowered by prayer, I didn’t react – I listened patiently. And I also listened to God, divine Spirit, to help me see and appreciate the true, delightful, God-created individuality of my friend. A wave of compassion swept over me. Suddenly, something sympathetic and humorous popped out of my mouth. Quickly, our conversation became calmer and, to me, more constructive.
This was a turning point – a tangible experience in expressing my spiritual individuality under difficult circumstances, and in the healing value of acknowledging the worth of others, too.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Deity was satisfied with His work. How could He be otherwise, since the spiritual creation was the outgrowth, the emanation, of His infinite self-containment and immortal wisdom?” (p. 519).
Our ability to be everything God designed us to be needs no human confirmation. We are seen, valued, and loved by God – always! That is enough.
New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.