Object of pity?
WHEN we hear reports of relatives or acquaintances struggling with some challenge, or when we ourselves are facing a severe trial, strong feelings of helpless pity may be evoked. While this may seem to be humane and caring, such pity does not cure these ills. What's needed is spiritually uplifting thinking and acting. During a time when I had many responsibilities and endured an oppressive work schedule and ill health, I visited the office of a manager connected with my work. She appeared very sympathetic with my problems, encouraging me to talk about them, and offered me a box of tissues to mop up my tears of self-pity. When I left her office, I stopped for a moment outside the building, feeling faint with pain because an old ailment came back with full force. Then I remembered a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Di scoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ``Human pity often brings pain.'' 1 I saw what my inward complaining and the discussion with the manager had been doing. Instead of helping me, they were bringing me more pain. I had always thought of myself, in harmony with Bible teaching, as the offspring of God--pure and whole, the image of His perfect being. So right there on the sidewalk I prayed, silently affirming that I was not truly a pitiful mortal but the blessed reflection of God. Even though we seem very definitely to be fleshly mortals, composed of a material body and mind, our actual selfhood is spiritual, because man is created by God, who is Spirit. He fashions us in His likeness. Turning around the concept of ourselves and others as tired, worn, limited mortals to the opposite, spiritual sense of man as reflecting the well-being and energy of divine Spirit, is a necessary process in our redemption from mortality with its ills. As the image of God, man isn't part material and part spiritual; he is totally spiritual. So I reversed what I had been believing, reasoning that since God is the only genuine Mind of man, there wasn't really a finite mind that could pity me, nor could I ap pear forlorn to anyone. Neither I, nor anyone else, could see evil as possessing me. Far from an abstraction, this is practical truth, based on a recognition of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God and of what man really is. Seeing the futility of discussing a problem unless discussion is necessary to produce a healing solution, I learned a lasting lesson. Instantly I was free of that painful condition and have been so in the years since then. Job was a Bible figure who endured many problems. Covered with boils, he suffered much mental and physical pain. He literally cursed the day he was born. ``Let the day perish wherein I was born,'' 2 he said. Job's limited sense of himself as a victimized mortal, created by a God that afflicted punishment on man, caused him much grief. Finally he realized that God is not a God of hate and vindictiveness. He said of God, ``I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.'' 3 We can bless ourselves and the human race by denouncing evil in our experience and seeing God as a God of love who does not consign His children to suffering. It wouldn't be the immortal justice of a wholly good creator to burden man with disease or hardship. The law of God is good; and man, as God's likeness, is good, and can only know what is truthful and intelligent. Seeing our actual selfhood as the spiritual, free manifestation of Life, of God Himself, is not shallow optimism. To look past the limited, material picture of ourselves means to be truly grateful for the constant presence of God, who cares for all needs abundantly. We can come, through prayer, to feel surrounded by Love, and to know that we are cherished by Love infinitely beyond anything human commiseration may have to offer us. Genuinely loving our fellowman does not, of course, mean we're to be indifferent to suffering. That's not what Christ Jesus taught. Rather, we need to let others feel our love through our clear recognition of what is spiritually true of man. This kind of help has a spiritual basis, and it is humanly felt. There is really just one cause--God; and no other, oppressive cause or effect governs man. To discern the Christly, spiritual selfhood in all is a permanent help. Mrs. Eddy says: ``The senses join issue with error, and pity what has no right either to be pitied or to exist, and what does not exist in Science. Destroy the thought of sin, sickness, death, and you destroy their existence.'' 4 1 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 102. 2 Job 3:3. 3 Job 42:5. 4 Mis., p. 105.