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Finding yourself, finding joy

From the April 2022 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Everywhere you look, all of creation is individual, distinct, with a specific identity and purpose. This alone gives one much food for thought and much to demonstrate in our own lives. This individuality comes from what Christian Science calls the divine Mind—the source of all creation, which consists of God’s spiritual ideas. Since Mind is individual—one God—it is fascinating to realize that Mind, and Mind alone, knows all there is to know about every individuality. Everything spiritual is individual, and individuality is God’s way of expressing His infinite uniqueness. Each idea has a specific, God-directed, God-inspired, God-empowered purpose and reason for being—a specific design, outline, form, color. To create, maintain, and preserve individuality is the prerogative and domain of divine Mind. Each of us, as God’s image, is complete and expresses individuality in the highest sense of the word.

As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: “The one Ego, the one Mind or Spirit called God, is infinite individuality, which supplies all form and comeliness and which reflects reality and divinity in individual spiritual man and things” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 281).

I was impelled to explore the topic of individuality during a dark time in my life. Near the end of graduate studies, I was confronted with a series of what seemed like insurmountable problems. I needed to understand who I was, what my purpose in life was, and where I belonged. It was a low point for me. When I look back, I see myself seldom laughing, although I managed to pursue my work and few people outside the family knew what I was dealing with. I even remember feeling as if I were looking at a different person in the mirror. That wasn’t me, I thought. But who was I? It took time to find a way out of this helplessness.

One moment of discovery occurred unexpectedly while watching an episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. In an episode called “The bonding,” the ship counselor Deana Troi speaks with Captain Picard about the best way to help a person overcome depression and grief. In this caring exchange, the counselor makes this compelling remark: “Over the years, I’ve discovered it’s in joy that the uniqueness of each individual is revealed.”

That is quite an observation. Our uniqueness is a “one-of-a-kind” individuality that God is responsible for. And this uniqueness is seen in joy. As a metaphysician, I acknowledge joy as the substance of being. Everything in the kingdom of heaven is made with joy and made of joy. In the textbook of Christian Science, we read: “The sinless joy,—the perfect harmony and immortality of Life, possessing unlimited divine beauty and goodness without a single bodily pleasure or pain,—constitutes the only veritable, indestructible man, whose being is spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 76).

What a revolutionary thought: Being is purely spiritual—and joyful! Reading this statement, I saw that joy is a spiritual gift, an essential building block of life, the sign that God and man are together and present. Joy is expressed in infinite ways—in infinitely individual ways.

It also later dawned on me that every individual has a reason for existing—a specific purpose in life. We discover it when we let go of the limited material concepts we have about ourselves and when we embrace unselfishness. Behind our individuality—and all unselfishness—lies the eternal, spiritual, absolute Principle, which the Bible calls Love. And man is connected to this Love, eternally. 

The darkness was gone, and it never returned.

This bond does not need to be created; this bond between God and man already exists and always will for all eternity. The Psalmist wrote: “You will show me the way of life. Being with You is to be full of joy. In Your right hand there is happiness forever” (Psalms 16:11, New Life Version). This “You” is God, Love. Since we are connected to Love with an eternal link and since we are truly Love’s expression, we are where Love is, in Love’s presence. And so the individuality of man is best expressed where joy is.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health: “Man’s spiritual individuality is never wrong. It is the likeness of man’s Maker” (p. 491). And the heading of the paragraph from which this quote is taken is “Man linked with Spirit.” It was a relief beyond words to gradually understand that my “spiritual individuality is never wrong.” It helped me see that I have a right to exist and that I don’t have to wait to become someone—that I am indeed, as we all are, the likeness of God: a spiritual image. 

This is when my adventure truly started: I gradually learned to get to know myself from the perspective of spiritual goodness—to start feeling a new (actually old or eternal) me. It depended (and continues to depend) on God alone. Individuality didn’t and doesn’t depend on education or processes, although the ways to this understanding might include them. Individuality is not a material personality. Individuality is the expression of God, and our grasping this depends on listening to God. I perceived that true listening is yielding to pure ideas that are filled with goodness; these ideas revealed my true, joyful individuality.

My life became happier, and I felt a sustained satisfaction that I had at times felt before this period in my life—and have felt ever since. The problems I was encountering before the depression were solved one after the other, almost effortlessly, and I knew what path to take. 

One day I caught myself humming while doing something around the house. The darkness was gone, and it never returned. I could finally, wholeheartedly accept this truth as stated in Unity of Good by Mary Baker Eddy: “All that is beautiful and good in your individual consciousness is permanent” (p. 8). Now I can see how having God at the center of my thought and feeling was filling me with everything I needed over the years. My love for God has been deepened and is being expressed in my love for what everyone and everything in God’s world truly is. There is an honest willingness to follow the lead of divine Mind and to acknowledge what I am. 

Before this revelation, individuality was a mystery to me. It seemed to be more the result of biography, development, education, choices made in the past. But when the eternal, unopposed facts of our joyful, holy being in God were accepted, I consciously identified myself as Mind’s expression. 

This wasn’t without serious commitment. The victory over a limited sense of a material personality is a stepping stone to seeing the spiritual reality of life, and it needs to be won daily. Day after day, I discovered that this truth of being had to be lived. 

We each have our own path in living up to our spiritual potential, resisting and putting off material character traits that we may think of as our personality. We each have our own adventure to discover who we are, and there is no greater joy and no other purpose in life than getting to know God—and God’s expression: man. In this exploration, we will find that our individuality is pure joy. If how we think of ourselves doesn’t bring us joy, then this view is not who we are. Isn’t that a valuable gauge for thought?

If you are in search of who you are, follow the trail of spiritual joy and embrace the everlasting truth that Mind knows and loves you specifically and directly—you—the joyful individual unlike any other in God’s grand universe of unspeakable wonders.

New Life Version, copyright © 1969 and 2003. Used by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc., Uhrichsville, OH 44683. All rights reserved.

More in this issue / April 2022


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