You and I are worth knowing

Mayal Tshiabuila
Reprinted from the February 20, 2006, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

To be someone, for many, means having an important ancestry. Wouldn’t some people feel better if their family line were traced back to a king or emperor? Maybe, but the Bible says, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

After giving readers of her autobiographical work, Retrospection and Introspection, an impressive account of her human ancestry, Mary Baker Eddy concluded: “… our material, mortal history is but the record of dreams, not of man’s real existence, and the dream has no place in the Science of being. It is ‘as a tale that is told,’ and ‘as the shadow when it declineth’ ” (p. 21).

The search for one’s God-given identity is a necessity. It means going beyond one’s human parents, past all ancestors, rich or poor, powerful or not, to our divine Father, the only Creator. Finding Him and getting acquainted with Him reveal our true nature and identity as His children.

In her book Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy shed light on this Father whom Jesus revealed to all humanity. She described God as “incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.”

To understand our identity as children of God, Spirit, would radically change our life prospects.

To understand our identity as children of God, Spirit, would radically change our life prospects. It would help eliminate racial conflict, for instance, and prove that no one race is the heir of the kingdom, to the exclusion of others.

It would also aid in establishing the innate equality of men and women. God being known to all as “Omnipotent,” “the Most High,” “the Almighty,” who would not be proud to introduce himself or herself as a son of God, or a daughter of the Almighty?

Self-worth is definitely a legitimate feeling and desire. However, it is not earned through material history. In some cultures, the amount of money in your bank account, the number of your garage doors, or your family name indicates your rank.

In other cultures, it could be the number of your children. Understanding our true identity as children of Spirit—in other words, understanding our nature as spiritual, not material—allows us to escape the trap of a limited material identity.

My family was poor.

While growing up, I had my share of such frustrations. My family was poor and could not offer me what I thought I needed—nice clothes, enough money for my expenses, and so on.

When I started school, my friends, who were children of shop owners, had nice clothes and pocket money, which made me feel inferior even though I was a good student. While attending high school, which was located 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) from home, my friends had a ride on a truck, while I often walked, and that added to the frustrations.

After I graduated from high school, the time came to go to college. My country did not have many colleges and universities then, so enrollment was a real challenge. Desiring to escape poverty, I wanted to study law or economics at the university, as graduates from those schools enjoyed high social status. To my dismay, however, I could only make it to the waiting list for the following year. Eventually, I attended a teachers’ training college.

Teachers were not accorded a very high standing in our society.

Teachers were not accorded a very high standing in our society, because the government, their employer, did not pay good salaries. So, no one was enthusiastic about becoming a teacher. Before my graduation, the social situation of teachers across the nation grew even worse. My spirits were very low, and I thought I was headed to become a “nobody.”

At that time, I ran across a copy of the French edition of The Herald of Christian Science, a monthly magazine published in several languages by The Christian Science Publishing Society. An article titled “To be someone” attracted my attention. It exposed the irrelevance of material possessions and human titles in light of our innate value as children of God.

The author shared many ideas while referring the reader to the source of those ideas—Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. As I studied this book later on, my whole outlook on life changed. I was beginning to grasp and live my real identity as “the expression of God’s being.”

On page 552 of that book, I found this statement: “Human experience in mortal life, which starts from an egg, corresponds with that of Job, when he says, ‘Man that is born of a woman is of a few days, and full of trouble.’ Mortals must emerge from this notion of material life as all-in-all. They must peck open their shells with Christian Science, and look outward and upward.”

I started to claim my inherent rights as a son of God.

So, pecking open my shell, I refused to identify myself with a life beset with confusion, and instead started to claim my inherent rights as a son of God—of divine Spirit, Truth, and Love. Slowly I lost my inferiority complex and timidity, and felt more secure in my worth and my work.

From then on, life took a new, happy turn. Today, I can see how ridiculous it is to think that my neighbor with a luxury car is more important than I am, or that I am more important than the young man my wife and I employ to help us with household chores.

I would not need to feel intimidated even if I were introduced to the great-grandchild of Chaka Zulu, the renowned African warrior. After all, we have the same Father, and the same worth to the Father of all.

Mayal Tshiabuila lives in Kinshasa, Congo, where he works for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

One Father of all:

Science and Health:
465:9 God
King James Bible:
Eccl. 1:2 vanity of

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