A man concerned with the high price of eggs decided to raise his own chickens. He invested in a bale of chicken wire and some metal stakes, and began to build a pen in his back yard. He carefully measured off a rectangular space, pounded in the stakes, secured the chicken wire to them, and closed off the pen by overlapping the two ends of fencing and twisting the strands of wire firmly together with his pliers. Then he stepped back to admire his work, and realized a disconcerting fact: He was trapped inside the chicken pen! He had inadvertently built the fence around himself, and was a prisoner by his own hand.
In one way or another, don't we all fence ourselves in with limitations? ''I never could remember names''; ''I'm always saying something I'm sorry for afterwards''; ''I'm afraid to drive on the freeway''; ''I don't like to go out at night''; ''I'm too old to change my ways.''
No one really wants to be in bondage; and slavery, whatever its form, is unjust. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free.... All men should be free.''n1 Why aren't they? Often, because of self-imposed bondage, as the foregoing true story illustrates.
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 227.
In the case of the chicken-pen builder, his predicament wasn't serious. Embarrassing, but not enduring, and with the aid of his pliers he was soon free. Yet all self-imposed restrictions - those limiting labels we fasten on ourselves with the thought ''I can't help it'' - can be resolved. Mrs. Eddy says, ''If you believe in and practise wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right.''n2 We can do right by ourselves and begin asserting our God-given dominion over circumstances, acknowledging our heritage of good.
n2 Ibid., p. 253.
Christ Jesus taught that God is our Father and that God is good. Our creator doesn't restrict us. He hasn't made us subject to frustration. Man, in God's likeness, is always free, and this truth can be proved.
In a Wednesday evening testimony meeting in a Church of Christ, Scientist, an individual who had been healed of the smoking habit ended his testimony with these words: ''The me that used to be in bondage to cigarettes has given way to the me that is free.''
Addiction, fear, the habit of criticizing, self-depreciation, sensualism, or some other element of mortal thought may seem indissolubly welded to us, preventing anyone from seeing through to the ''me that is free,'' the only genuine ''me'' there is. Yet that freedom can be brought to light. Man's true identity is unlimited, unburdened, unfettered by sin, sickness, fear, or any false concept of identity. Identifying this real man as our own true selfhood helps break the mesmerism of limitation. The Apostle Paul's confident insistence ''I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me''n3 is far more freeing than the common negative admission ''I know my limitations.''
n3 Philippians 4:13.
Mrs. Eddy writes, ''The admission to one's self that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea.''n4 Of course, more is needed than just saying some words. We need to realize the truth of man and strive to live in harmony with it. Fortunately, we have Christ Jesus' example, and his promise ''Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.''n 5
n4 Science and Health, p. 90.
n5 John 8:32.
We prove our God-given freedom, then, through realizing in prayer what's true of man and through a heartfelt willingness to relinquish self-imposed limitations, whether they be physical, financial, academic, social. Such spiritually based efforts progressively bring to light the spiritual, perfect man of God's creating, our one and only real identity. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Where the Spirit if the Lord is, there is liberty. . . . We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:17,18