At the time I thought, “What a good idea.” But honestly, I soon forgot her counsel. As the years passed, preoccupied with my education, then a new career and young family, little by little I began to measure myself according to more materialistic standards of success, beauty and goodness. My weight and physical appearance, and the things that made daily life materially comfortable took up more and more space in my thought. Then when my daughter was still very young, joint problems developed in one of my hands. With the appearance of this problem, I became suddenly aware of a spiritual hunger in me that I had long neglected. I questioned whether that neglect had possibly led to this problem. As the condition worsened and my knuckles became disfigured, I feared that perhaps it was too late to stop the degenerating process that seemed to have taken root.
As a student of Christian Science, I knew the Bible to be a source of healing. I turned to the prophet Isaiah and found a comforting message of God’s power to meet our human need even when a situation seems beyond hope. Isaiah wrote, "He will not break off a damaged cattail. He will not even put out a smoking wick." (42:3)
Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.” Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, 246:20
I realized that while indulging in materialism may have led me to measure the good in my life by a limited standard, it could never change or erase the vigor, freshness and promise of my actual spiritual life, which is ever-discoverable by turning to God. This sparked in me an expectancy of healing. I prayed, asking Mind to show me how I am beautifully and spiritually made.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures explains, "The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age. The radiant sun of virtue and truth coexists with being. Manhood is its eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun." (ibid. 246) The sun, as a metaphor for God and His creation, is immovably fixed at its highest point, never advancing or declining. I understood that just as the sun only appears to rise and set, the appearance of growth and degeneration in man is a mistaken perspective of life. As God’s idea or creation, I am neither growing up to a perfect and eternal state, nor declining from my highest and best expression of God’s beauty and goodness. This is what it means to be the image and likeness of God, as explained in Genesis 1.
But I knew my perspective of myself was changing, so I was less afraid. I now understood better that spirituality is my God-given unchanging substance and permanent state, not just an aspect, phase, or product of human development. I could see how my true being was actually exempt from the possibility of decay. As I prayed about what it meant to be fully spiritual now, equipped to be and to do anything God prepared for me in life, the fear and ignorance simply fell away.
At one point I looked down at the disfigurement and said aloud to myself, "That has nothing to do with me." Nothing had changed physically, but that was irrelevant. My perspective of myself had shifted from a material to a spiritual base. When I looked at my hand it was as if I looked at a dark shadow made by the setting sun. Unafraid, I knew the shadow was without substance or power to harm, and would pass off me.
We are never too young to handle the problems of aging. Or too old either. Understanding God as the immortal Mind, the source and maintainer of us all, reveals what it means to be truly and fully spiritual as God's creation – including the beauty, grandeur, health and fullness of life that we have every right to enjoy.