Subduing shortcomings

We all have things we’d like to improve about how we think and act. As children of God, good, we’re more than up to the task.

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Many of us are familiar with job performance evaluations. They usually start with your strong points and then (ugh) the things you need to work on. In other words, shortcomings.

Whether at work or just in life in general, seeing where we need to do better doesn’t have to be a heavy blanket of shame and frustration. After all, we all need to do better in certain areas. The important point is discovering how to do it and then following through.

Over a number of decades, learning to pray more effectively through the teachings of Christian Science has given me more confidence to deal with what appear to be my shortcomings. Christian Science – which embraces the spiritual inspiration of the entire Bible, and especially the teachings of Jesus – brings out that God, Spirit, is all good. So God’s creation could only be good, too. Each of us, as God’s spiritual offspring, is included in this good creation.

God’s children don’t include weaknesses, defects, or flaws. The carnal mind, which is the counterfeit of the thinking and acting that comes from God, involves finite, material concepts. The Christian Standard Bible speaks of the distinction between the divine Mind and its mortal counterfeit in no uncertain terms: “The mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so” (Romans 8:6, 7).

Christian Science builds on the biblical truth that we are the children of God, and hence endowed every moment with beautiful spiritual attributes such as kindness, joy, purity, and harmony. This enables us to see that any habitual weak tendency or proclivity, any so-called inherited temperament that would seem to make us “come up short,” can be silenced as having no valid authority or power to govern our lives.

Quite a ways back, I felt controlled by a continual fear that I might miss out on something – that good might be somewhere else and not always with me. Sometimes this led to poor choices and a sense of deficiency. But as I prayed to understand that God-bestowed satisfaction and completeness are part of our true, spiritual nature – here and now – those feelings eventually dropped away, the natural result of spiritual growth.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, had deep compassion for others. She never hesitated to help another struggling with some weakness. She proved over and over the power of God’s love to heal and transform lives.

In her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’” (p. 324).

An example in the Bible that illuminates this is when Jesus’ disciple Peter denied knowing Jesus just before he was crucified. When Jesus had told Peter that would happen, Peter professed he would never do such a thing. But, indeed, Peter did deny three times having anything to do with Jesus.

When Peter realized what he had done, he wept bitterly. He had given in to fear of being imprisoned or put to death because of his connection to Jesus. But this isn’t the end of the story at all. Some of Peter’s great spiritual strengths were his ability to lead, his persistence, and his inspired understanding of the basis of Jesus’ teaching and healing. These did not disappear during his denial, but were rather obscured in the moment of his fear.

Ultimately, Peter was able to go forward with more courage to heal and to help others discern the Christ – the permanent truth about God’s goodness and unending love for His creation.

Perhaps facing our own shortcomings might not seem as poignant or as life-changing as Peter overcoming his. But through humble prayer we, too, can rise above fear, regrets, bitterness, or whatever else would keep us from living our God-given capacity for good, and prove that shortcomings aren’t an indelible part of us.

Christian Standard Bible®, copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.

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