It’s a common experience, when someone meets a new acquaintance, that they share where they’re from and what their occupations are. For me, a full-time Christian Science practitioner, this means that I often have opportunities to share information about Christian Science and about the public practice of Christian Science with others who are not familiar with it. Admittedly, I haven’t always been very graceful at it, and I continue to learn with each new opportunity.
One of my first opportunities to share that I’m a Christian Science practitioner came in my first year after graduating from college. I’d recently become a full-time practitioner, and around this time I was also introduced to the sport of triathlon. Through my participation in this sport, I met many new people.
During group bike rides, I sometimes had brief conversations with other riders. Ironically these conversations often happened when we were strenuously climbing uphill. When I was asked, “What do you do?” I stumbled to find the right words, between gasps for air, and gave an unsatisfying answer.
The idea that my profession was to pray with individuals for healing was a foreign concept to the riders I spoke with, so the conversations generally stopped at that point. Those I spoke with were not familiar with Christian Science, and I hadn't done a decent job of introducing them to it.
I recognized that I needed more confidence as well as a better understanding of how to share Christian Science with others and especially how to present the practice of Christian Science healing. I needed to be ready to share under any circumstance, including while riding a bike uphill!
As I prayed about this, it became clear to me that I had been more focused on convincing people that I held a worthy professional office, rather than on simply sharing the healing effect of Christianly scientific prayer. I realized I needed to let go of a desire to prove myself to others. If I was placing my worth as an individual and a contributing member of society in the hands of how others perceived my professional title of “Christian Science practitioner,” then egotism and pride were getting in my way.
I could see that my worth didn’t depend on how others viewed me. I knew that true worth—my own and everyone’s—comes from God, the one and only Cause and Creator of all that exists, and that includes each one of us. God is the source of all goodness and worthiness, and God’s goodness is actively expressed in the spiritual qualities that we all reflect in countless ways, including in our occupations—qualities such as stewardship and mastery of a discipline. As we reflect spiritual qualities through our daily activities, we demonstrate the goodness of God and our real worth as children of God.
Another realization that came to me in prayer was that I needed to shift my thought away from an unmerited assumption that others would be turned off to conversation about religion and spirituality. It’s natural to share with others what we care about most, and we can expect that others will be enriched by this sharing.
Through prayer, my thought about sharing Christian Science and the healing practice with others completely changed. I was much humbler and happier to talk about Christian Science, without hesitation, when opportunities arose. I have since had many conversations in which explaining my occupation as a Christian Science practitioner has resulted in enriching and healing experiences.
One such conversation came at an Independence Day celebration on the fourth of July in the United States. I knew only one other person at this celebration. In the middle of dinner, seated at a table with very accomplished professionals, I was asked to expand on what Christian Science is for the entire table of ten. I felt blessed to humbly share what is the love of my life with this group. Their response was one of sincere kindness. They recognized the inherent goodness and dignity of my profession and wished me well in my career. I walked away from that evening with a heart overflowing with gratitude for a wonderful opportunity to talk about God’s goodness.
I continue to be humbled with each opportunity to share what I understand about the Science of the Christ with others—encounters I now look forward to with great joy!
Eric D. Pagett is a Christian Science practitioner living in San Luis Obispo, California.
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