'NO matter who you are or where you come from, the opportunity is there to become someone.'' The person who said these words had had to prove their truth. As the Lowell Sun reported, he had run away from home when he was in junior high school and gradually was drawn more deeply into the use of drugs, including cocaine and heroin. In his own words, his ''life had become a nightmare'' (June 3, 1995).
He was attempting to rob someone in order to get money to support his habit when his victim caught him in the act. Instead of prosecuting, the victim urged him to get help-and he did. That began a turnaround which led him eventually to college, marriage, and a successful life-free from drugs.
One of the most striking things he said was this observation on where he found meaning: ''I didn't know who I was. . . . That's why I was looking for meaning. I think it's within you. If you just let yourself be, you'll be all set.''
His words reminded me of something Christ Jesus said about the kingdom of God, and the good we gain from knowing God, divine Love. Jesus told the people, ''The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for the kingdom of God is within you'' (Luke 17:20, 21).
Sometimes, however, the goodness of this kingdom seems far away. Maybe family relationships are rocky, or we can't figure out what we should do with our lives. Or perhaps some other trouble seems to be dragging us down. At moments like this, the idea of being happy and peaceful could almost seem like a dream. But it isn't.
Because where we really live is God's kingdom, and because He truly loves each and every one of us, we can never be cut off from His love and His goodness. He is with us wherever we are, and we are full citizens of the kingdom of good. We need to know this and live it.
We find this kingdom when we are willing to accept into our own lives the government of God, divine Love. By letting Love guide us, we're more likely to experience good, because that's all that Love knows or wants for any of its children-that's you and me. And since divine Love is infinite-so big that you really can't measure it-God's love for us isn't ever going to run out. You don't need to worry that one of your friends will get more than you or that someone will take too much. God, Love, never r uns dry.
But to know and feel this love does require us to change how we think about ourselves. If we're hating ourselves, thinking we're stupid or ugly or from a bad family, we're not really thinking from the understanding of limitless Love, are we? Instead of acting like citizens of Love's kingdom, we're doing the exact opposite. The thing is, we don't need to keep thinking that way, even if being negative has become a habit.
Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered and founded Christian Science, tells us just what will help us turn things around. She says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.'' She then goes on to speak directly about the kingdom that is within us. She says, ''Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love-the kingdom of heaven-reign within us , and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear'' (p. 248).
We each can see how that idea works in our own lives right now! For instance, if you're feeling cross at someone, maybe this is a good time to show mercy and forgive that person. Being willing to let justice rule us means that we really are willing to play fair, even when it looks as if we might lose the advantage. If we've made bigger mistakes and seem to be in deeper trouble, we still can turn things around step by step. Right now, God's love is with you, empowering you to do good.
And even if progress seems slow, don't worry! The main thing is to make a start, knowing that in this way, you're exploring, and living in, God's loving and totally good kingdom-the place you're meant to be.