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Find victory over discouragement and self-condemnation

From the October 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Most everyone has had to handle discouragement at some point. Even Moses, wise and faithful to God as he was, got discouraged when the children of Israel were tired of the wilderness. He said, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me” (Numbers 11:14). Elijah was discouraged when Jezebel vowed to take his life. He “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (I Kings 19:4). Their thoughts got caught up in discouragement so much that they asked to die. They forgot that the people were not their burdens to carry. 

Omnipotent God takes care of any burden. God had already delivered Moses and the Hebrews from Egypt, and God was providing for them in the wilderness. Elijah, through God’s power, had overcome the prophets of Baal. And in the seemingly hopeless situations mentioned at the start of this article, God also provided a way forward for Moses and Elijah. Moses was given help from others that eased his burden. Elijah was fed by God’s angels in the wilderness and learned about the “still small voice” of God. So we know that discouragement can be conquered. 

And yet, when discouragement comes to us regarding something we are trying to accomplish, another feeling often accompanies it to complicate our efforts—self-condemnation—and we conclude that not only are we depressed, but we are the cause of it! And fear creeps in.

So what is our responsibility? The responsibility we have is to examine our thoughts and stay close to God, divine Love. We need to keep firmly in our consciousness the inseparability we have with our Father-Mother God, and that power is eternally with God. Christ Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). 

Because we have no power on our own, we have no ability to cause anything—no power to be a cause. God is the only cause. We need to care for the correctness of our own thoughts. Our correct course is to see our inseparability from God as God’s, divine Truth’s, spiritual expression. Then we can see the difference between the Christ, Truth, speaking to our consciousness and erroneous mental suggestions misrepresenting Truth.  

What are erroneous mental suggestions? They are lies, which don’t line up with what God knows about us as His beloved spiritual ideas. These lies might come as fear, pain, suggestions of failure, reviewing history of past mistakes, or seeing no progress in our lives. But this is the work of the devil, and Christ Jesus told us the devil is “a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of devil includes, “Evil; a lie; error; neither corporeality nor mind; the opposite of Truth; a belief in sin, sickness, and death; animal magnetism or hypnotism; the lust of the flesh, which saith: ‘I am life and intelligence in matter’ ” (p. 584).

Despite severe trials, Christ Jesus didn’t yield to these lies, become defeated by discouragement, or condemn those who needed to be healed. He instructed people to go and be subject only to God, good, and to embrace the truth of their spiritual identity. He encouraged them to “be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27) and “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

One day, I got in my car, but my thought was on all the things I had to do that day, and so when I pressed on the gas the car did not move. I had left the car in park. I had left my thought in “park,” too. In other words, I was still sitting in the same place mentally and couldn’t make progress. 

Christ Jesus didn’t condemn those who needed to be healed. 

Self-condemnation and discouragement are like getting in your car and leaving it in park. This will never take you anywhere. We are kept sitting still, reviewing our list of past mistakes and failures, wondering if we are just going to continue making mistakes. 

Christ Jesus removed fear by doing the will of God. God’s will is good, and it is divine Love that casts out fear. What did Jesus say to the devil or fear? “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). Yes, Jesus worshiped only God. This oneness, this unity of his thought with God, gave him authority over all evil. Being in unity with Truth and Love, he showed us how to keep our thoughts pure with divine Love and to abide in health with divine Truth.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). When we are consciously committed to honoring God, then we find our character becoming more Godlike, and we experience better health.

I had a memorable victory over discouragement and self-condemnation years ago (see testimony by Kathryn Lynn Fish with contributions from T. Michael Fish in the April 3, 1978, Christian Science Sentinel). While working for the United States Navy, I took a trip to a certain city for a meeting. Then I came home, had a good weekend, and arrived at work the following Monday. I recall that I may have felt a little bit odd, but it didn’t seem like anything that would cause me to stay home from work.  

As soon as I walked into the office, one person after another stopped me and asked if I was feeling well. After several people asked me, I questioned why so many people were concerned about my health. They showed me the front page of several newspapers, which told of an illness called Legionnaires’ disease being discovered in the city I had traveled to. Many people had gotten ill, and some had already died. I read the article thoroughly, reviewing the listed symptoms of the illness.

Before the end of that day I had all of the symptoms. I kept to myself, so no one knew of this struggle, and I went home paralyzed with fear. I was so discouraged! I was trying to feel God’s presence but could only see what I had possibly done wrong. I condemned myself over and over regarding what I could have done differently: Why did I let myself get so wrapped up in those scary newspaper articles? And why did I decide to go on my trip anyway? Had I really needed to go?

When I arrived home, I was ill, afraid, and very discouraged. I called a Christian Science practitioner immediately to pray for me, because I felt I was going to die. After telling the practitioner what had just taken place, the practitioner spoke to me strongly of the infinite and eternal nature of Life, stating forcefully that “God is Life, and God is All. You are God’s reflection. You cannot die.” This took my thought straight to God, straight to the Christ, Truth, aligning my thought with my identity as the reflection of God, Spirit, not matter. There was no fear, no condemnation, no discouragement, but an affirmation of my oneness, my unity, with God. I could not be subject to fear, disease, discouragement, or self-condemnation, but only to God’s purity and perfection. I was doing what Christ Jesus said to do. I’d paid attention to “Be not afraid” and let go of clinging to lies about me, essentially obeying the command, “Go, and sin no more.” 

The practitioner had helped me realign my thought with God, just like angels had done for Moses and Elijah. My thought was back with the truth. I was subject only to God! By that evening every symptom dissolved to its “native nothingness,” as Science and Health puts it (p. 365); I was completely healed and returned to work the next day. One of my coworkers remarked that I was looking great, and they were all thrilled I was completely healthy. 

The practitioner had helped me take my thought out of “park,” and I started moving forward, driving up the proverbial mountain. As we take our thoughts out of park, kicking out discouragement and self-condemnation, we make spiritual progress and experience healing.

As we go to God and know we are never separated from God, Love, Life, Mind, we find God has never left our side. We witness God, Love, being the liberator for us just like for everyone, taking care of every need. Why? Because we are listening to God’s angel messages and recognizing our oneness with God. We are thinking only of that which is Godlike. This correct alignment of thought liberates us from fear and discouragement, because we are no longer looking at matter or condemning ourselves for not getting something done. In this way, we are doing as Science and Health instructs: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).

Going directly to God, Mind, with every thought, we experience less and less discouragement or self-condemnation. We see purity, health, and holiness as we journey along. In her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy states, “Immortal Mind is God; and this Mind is made manifest in all thoughts and desires that draw mankind toward purity, health, holiness, and the spiritual facts of being” (p. 37). Enjoy your drive.

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