When confronted with a challenging or intimidating situation, I often think about the pep talk David gave his son Solomon when he was given the task of building a temple to the Lord. As recorded in First Chronicles, he said, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord” (28:20). Knowing that God is supporting us in doing whatever it is our duty to do has been so reassuring to me, especially during this past school year.
I very much wanted to share my presentation with my classmates.
I’m currently finishing my senior year of high school near my home outside of Paris. One of the classes I am taking is Spanish. Early in the school year, we studied a chapter in our Spanish textbook on the place of women in society. We spent almost a month on this chapter.
While deep in the chapter, each student was asked to prepare a brief oral presentation in Spanish on an important woman who had influenced her era. Our teacher told us we’d then have the opportunity to give our presentations in front of the class, but it was voluntary.
There are many notable women who have made a mark on history—for example, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, and Rosa Parks. Some of my classmates decided to do their presentations on these women. However, I wanted to give a presentation on an individual whose contribution to human progress was like none other: Mary Baker Eddy. The inspiration came to me immediately.
Until I began my research, all I really knew about her was that she was an American religious leader in the 19th century who discovered Christian Science and wrote the textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Since no one in my Spanish class knew anything about Mary Baker Eddy’s extraordinary life and accomplishments as the Leader of a major religious movement, it seemed logical that I would introduce her to them. I was also inspired by my gratitude for Mrs. Eddy, because without her discovery I would not have the privilege today of attending Sunday School and getting a practical spiritual education. In these Sunday School classes I have learned about who God is, and what we are as God’s child. Understanding this has enabled me to overcome many things, including shyness when it came time to give my presentation.
Our Spanish teacher had given us a week to prepare our oral presentations. As I began my research for the project, I found that the ideas just flowed. I had a gold mine of information at my disposal in Science and Health, as well as in the Christian Science periodicals—specifically, Le Héraut de la Science Chrétienne. And searching on the internet, I found the website of The Mary Baker Eddy Library, located in Boston, which had several articles about the Leader of the Christian Science movement in the context of American society at the time.
It felt good to express the courage that God has given every one of us.
I wanted to prepare a clear and concise presentation, so I simply highlighted the honors Mrs. Eddy received in her lifetime. For instance, in 1907 she was named an “Officer of the Academy,” an honorary decoration of the Order of Academic Palmes, by the education minister of France, Aristide Briand. This distinction can be awarded to anyone who makes an outstanding contribution to the enrichment of French education and culture. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in the United States. And in 2002, the United States Congress enacted a resolution commending Mary Baker Eddy for being “the first woman in the United States to found and lead a religion that became an international movement” and “for her outstanding achievements and contributions, particularly her contributions to the advancement of women’s rights as a public figure and role model in the early stages of the women’s rights movement.”
When the day for giving our presentations arrived, a Tuesday, I very much wanted to share my presentation with my classmates. But as the class was drawing to a close, I was too timid to speak up. Then the bell rang for the end of class.
Our next Spanish class wasn’t until Friday. In the meantime, I remembered something my Sunday School teacher had said—that God gives us the spiritual intuition that guides us when we think we are lost. Also, something Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health was very helpful to me: “One must fulfil one’s mission without timidity or dissimulation, for to be well done, the work must be done unselfishly” (p. 483). As I thought about this, I realized that I could fulfill my mission to give the presentation because fear has no place in thought, since it has no place in God, the one Mind. As God’s child I reflect all of the qualities of Mind, including peace and confidence.
So, at the next Spanish class I decided to jump in. Divine Mind inspired me to act, and I asked the teacher before the class began if I could give my oral presentation that day. My teacher agreed, and I introduced Mary Baker Eddy to the class in Spanish, beginning with a brief summary of the life of this important “reformadora religiosa” (religious reformer, in Spanish), who founded a religion called “Ciencia Cristiana” (Christian Science).
Before giving the presentation, I had once again thought about those beautiful words in the Bible, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it.” And I did it! I let the divine energy of Spirit, God, strengthen me, and the presentation went well. It felt good to express the courage that God has given every one of us, and to be able to share all that I had learned about such an extraordinary woman with my classmates.
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