For two weeks one summer, I went to Boy Scout Camp. The whole time we lived in two-person pup tents. I didn't know the boy in my tent very well. He went to my school, but he was a couple of years older. It didn't matter, though, because we became friends and had a great time doing just about everything together the whole two weeks.
A year or so later, I was out fishing and he came walking by with some of his friends. For some reason, he started to crush and destroy the fish I'd caught. When I told him to stop, he started to punch me in the face. I knew that he was doing this because his friends were watching.
He was so much bigger I couldn't fight back. But I didn't want to fight. Behind those fists was my friend. I could tell then he didn't think he could be friends both with me and the guys he normally hung with. So he wanted to make it very clear that I wasn't part of his group.
If people don't think that you're good enough for their group, does it hurt you? It doesn't need to. Just because someone doesn't see your worth doesn't mean you don't have it. You're worthy no matter what, because you're the expression of God. God isn't a being who sometimes likes you and sometimes doesn't. God is Love. God's love isn't exactly the same as a person's love, although a person can express God's love very beautifully. God's love is powerful because it makes it clear that everyone is His own worthy expression.
Wherever you are, God is there, loving you. God doesn't separate people into groups. God loves and approves everyone equally. And we can let God's love show more in the way we think and act. Once Jesus said it this way: "You are like light for the whole world. A city built on the top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16).
Jesus wasn't accepted by everyone. He just did what expressed God best each moment. And some people didn't like that. Still, for 2000 years people everywhere have looked to his example and have been helped by the way he expressed God's love.
To God, we're all in the same group. We don't need to go through life trying to be clones of each other in order to fit in and be accepted. That kind of conformity would smother people's individuality. The world can't afford that. It needs everyone's individual expression of God. And living that way heals and makes peace.
Back to the guy who was hitting me in front of his friends. A couple of weeks later I saw him at school. Twice he told me he was sorry. He said he just wasn't being himself. I think he could see that I already knew that.
Sometimes you hear people say, "Just be yourself." Well, yes, be the self that God has made you to be. God always accepts you, and will help you and protect you. Let your light shine as brightly as ever.
The ideas in this article are explored more fully in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor