Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Have you ever wished you could change your name?

I went through a phase when a new girl moved to our town. All the other kids in the class were long-time friends. Here was someone new and everyone wanted to be friends with her. I loved her name, Judith, and I decided I wanted to change my name. My mom laughed when I asked her about it, but then she saw I was serious and we had a long talk about what was behind that request.

As we talked I came to see that what I really wanted was a fresh start, to have people see me as the new girl and want to be my friends. Judith was getting to know me for the first time and I wanted her to think I was all things wonderful. She did not know my past history or have any idea of what I was like. It was a real opportunity to have a 'do over'.

I see now that I had accepted some things about myself, was thinking and behaving in ways, that I wanted to change. And I wanted others to get to know this new me. My name did not need to change, just how I was thinking about myself. I could and did express all the same qualities I was admiring about Judith and I could do that in a way that was unique to me. Just changing my name would not accomplish that.

So I paid attention, not only to Judith, but to the others in the class as well. I think I even made a list of the things I liked about them and it gave me a mission. Those same qualities belonged to me as well. Now, through my study of Christian Science, I have gained a clearer understanding of God and of myself, made in His very image and likeness. Everything true about the original must also be true about the reflection. And it was already true, I didn't have to grow into it. I just had to recognize and claim it as truth.

Judith and I did become friends and I was sad when her family moved away a few years later. This week's Bible Lesson brought her back to thought as I studied the story of Jacob and his wrestling match with the angel. Jacob was afraid that his brother hated him and would punish him for something Jacob had done years ago. He had run away then and was only returning home now because God had told him it was time. But he was afraid that he was going to be punished. What he did not see was that he was not the same person he had been. He had been growing as he learned more about God and his true identity as God's beloved son. I think Esau had also been doing some growing because when the brothers met it was a joyous reunion. All was forgiven. As a result of this spiritual wrestling Jacob's name was changed. He was no longer a deceiver but a prince who had prevailed over that earlier personality.

You do not lose your identity by turning to God, you find it. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Breaking away from the mutations of time and sense, you will neither lose the solid objects and ends of life nor you own identity."  In fact, as she writes, this blesses us with 'enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace'.

That's when you find your true name.

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