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Environment or heredity?

SOME friends were discussing whether environment or heredity has the most influence on a person's life. The discussion was interesting to me because as a child I had been adopted and lived away from my natural parents. Yet, through an unusual arrangement, I often visited my natural family on weekends or during summer vacations. Because of this, I couldn't help comparing the life my siblings were having to the life I was experiencing. Although we had the same parents, the same mannerisms, and even looked similar, our ways of doing things were not the same. I was told this was so because I lived in an entirely different environment. As I grew up, I became more and more confused, wondering who I was. Was I like my birth-parents or was I like the people who adopted me? Whom should I call Mom and Dad? And where did my loyalties lie?

This became particularly important to me during my teen years. Proud of my natural heritage, I delved into a study of my background and family tree. But I found little comfort or satisfaction in this quest. Then, while attending a Christian Science Sunday School, I was happy to discover that man's real heritage is of God. I learned the spiritual truths that God is our divine Parent, our Father-Mother, and that our true home is in God's government of our lives. No matter what the human circumstances appear to be, the absolute spiritual reality is that we live in Him, that we're always being cared for and watched over by our rightful Parent. This includes everyone.

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As I studied the Bible story of Christ Jesus, I was interested in his understanding of his parentage. When he was twelve years old, he stayed in Jerusalem to listen to and ask questions of the elders while his mother and Joseph went on without him, not knowing he had stayed behind. After they discovered Jesus was missing, they went back to look for him. When they found him, his mother asked why he had dealt that way with them because ``thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.'' Jesus answered, ``How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?''1 Jesus, knowing even then that God was his Father, would later become the example to all of us of our sonship with God.

The definition of Father given by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, reads: ``Eternal Life; the one Mind; the divine Principle, commonly called God.''2 And she defines Mother as ``God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love.''3

Learning this was a real comfort to me. It became quite clear that my true heritage was not to be found in a material selfhood but in Spirit, God. This realization had a far-reaching effect. Through this understanding I was able to appreciate more fully the love both sets of parents had for me and the love I had for all of them as children of God.

If we are separated from our immediate families for one reason or another, we can know that the love of our Father-Mother God is universal and impartial. It isn't bounded by time or circumstance, and it is manifested in our love for ourselves and others.

Our heritage, as children of God, is spiritual, and our real environment is also spiritual, untouched by material theories or conditions.

In truth, we are all of one family because God is the Father and Mother of us all. This understanding of everyone's real identity results in a fuller appreciation of our natural parents or adoptive parents because we can see that we are all God's children. And since God is good and all-loving, we have all the comfort and love we need. ``God is our Father and our Mother, our Minister and the great Physician: He is man's only real relative on earth and in heaven,''4 writes Mrs. Eddy. To realize that this is powerful, practical truth, and to prove it in our own lives to some degree, is to experience healing and to bless humanity.

1Luke 2:48, 49. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 586. 3Ibid., p. 592. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 151.

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You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Romans 8:16

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