Ever tried to switch from using a nickname to using your full name? It's easier said than done. Remembering how to introduce yourself is hard enough; getting other people to think of you differently is even harder. And that's just a name change!
Imagine effecting a more substantial makeover – a change in attitude, disposition, or character. The prospect can feel almost too hard to tackle, even if the change is a much-desired step of progress. But approaching self-improvement from a spiritual perspective makes progress go more smoothly. Gaining a better understanding of the spiritual nature of creation is a good place to begin.
In her primary work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor's founder, explained the spiritual nature of creation. She wrote, "Infinite Mind creates and governs all, from the mental molecule to infinity" (p. 507). If infinite Mind is the Creator, creation must be mental, and it can never end because the infinite has no limits, no start or finish. Mrs. Eddy put it this way: "Creation is ever appearing, and must ever continue to appear from the nature of its inexhaustible source" (p. 507).
This eternal unfolding is possible because creation is spiritual, not material. Infinite Mind creates ideas, not things. Each of us is actually a perfect, spiritual idea, created and governed by divine Mind.
If a job, living situation, or relationship feels stagnant or stifling, that's a sure sign we need to see it – ourselves and everyone involved – as God's perfect spiritual creation. Divine ideas never languish or get stuck. Joy, peace, love, integrity, freedom, and beauty can't be cut off or confined.
The more we identify ourselves and others in terms of the spiritual ideas that constitute our true identity, the more we'll find ourselves expressing and experiencing them. And that spells progress – divinely impelled progress that shapes our lives in new and satisfying ways. In some cases, a shift in circumstances may be the result. In others, the setting looks the same but feels completely different; what once seemed stifling is now ripe with opportunities for advancement.
The best news of all is that God-inspired progress isn't a "take it or leave it" affair. We can try, as Jonah did, to avoid doing what's best for us and others, and have our own experience of spending time "in the belly of a whale" (see Jonah, chapters 1-3). But sooner or later, even if it takes such an experience to redirect us, we have no choice but to progress. Mrs. Eddy explained why: "[P]rogress is the law of God," she wrote, "whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil." And elsewhere: "... growth is the eternal mandate of Mind" (Science and Health, p. 233, 520).
With schools and colleges either back in session or starting soon, many think of this season as a mini-New Year, full of fresh starts for students and teachers alike. But we don't need a special occasion in order to move forward. Since "creation is ever appearing," progress is unstoppable, without beginning or end.
When we approach change with the understanding that God's creation is eternally unfolding, making progress doesn't seem so daunting. The demand to progress is divine, and so is the supply of qualities required to meet that demand. God gives us all we need to move forward. Knowing that, we can embrace with confidence whatever changes need to be made. Progress is our divine right.