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Relabeling ourselves

Today’s column considers how a different, more spiritual way of identifying ourselves and others can have a healing impact.

My dad used to be in “the rag trade,” the clothing manufacturing business, and he would always put swing tags on the high-end fashion garments his business manufactured.

On the front of the label was the brand name, and on the reverse of it there would be the cloth content and washing instructions.

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But what if we each had a label? What would our label be?

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I thought of that when a friend said recently that we have only one label, referring to our real, spiritual identity as the sons and daughters of God, made in the image and likeness of divine Spirit, as the Bible says.

So maybe the front of our label would read, “Spiritual and innocent child of God.” And on the reverse side of this new spiritual label? It would read, “100% God-created” and “Maintained in permanent perfection by God.” Why? Because this is the unchanging spiritual identity Christ Jesus showed us that we all truly have, through his healing of others by spiritual means alone. Our true nature is as real and imperishable as the divine nature of God, who created us as His image, or reflection.

Of course, this isn’t the label we always recognize ourselves to have. We might often feel we have a label that says on the front, “Material and guilt-ridden loser.” And we might feel the reverse side of the label would say, “Vulnerable to sickness and bad decisions!” and “Damaged goods, beyond repair.”

One individual who found that this negative labeling wasn’t accurate was a woman with a chronic hemorrhage. She lived in a society that showed a cold shoulder to such sufferers – the time of Jesus – and she felt a conviction that if she could reach out and touch Jesus as he passed by, then she would be restored to health. “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole,” the Bible records her as saying (Matthew 9:21).

She did just that, and she was healed. But his was no magic garment with a label reading “miracle dispenser,” as Jesus himself pointed out (in rather different language!). He asked who had touched him, and when the woman came forward to identify herself, Jesus pointed to her faith – not his clothes – as opening the way for healing. Jesus consistently knew that our true being is spiritual and perfect. This understanding enabled him to heal those with receptive hearts, even without being told there was a need.

That garment of our perfect being that we all have – which is not actually an outer “garment” at all, but the whole of what we truly are! – needs no cleaning. But our day-to-day thoughts need a constant spiritual renewing in order to increasingly uncover the purely spiritual “cloth” from which we are all truly “cut” by our creator, the divine Mind, God. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “We need a clean body and a clean mind, – a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water” (p. 383). The material mentality that seems to be the cloth we are cut from – including fear, egotism, impatience, and similar traits – increasingly passes away as we understand and claim our real identity, our only true label, as God’s creation, in permanent, perfect oneness with all that is pure and beautiful.

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Animated by a hunger for holiness, like that of the woman who reached out to Jesus, we are enabled to remove any useless or fearful label that has been trying to affix itself to our consciousness, whether thoughts of anger, dread, or even symptoms of illness. Instead we can see that beautiful swing ticket reading, “son of God” or “daughter of God,” “100% pure and perfect,” and we can also (mentally) see this very same label to belong to everyone we encounter, because that’s exactly how all of us are created.