This article was published in the November 2009 issue of the The Christian Science Sentinel. It describes how I overcame feelings of inadequacey and shyness.
SOMETHING TO SAY
As I plunged into my first year of college I looked up to the Resident Assistants as strong, unselfish, and caring leaders of the community. It was during my freshman year that I decided I wanted to be an RA, too, someday!
I became an RA my junior year, but first, I had to complete almost ten weeks of training at the end of sophomore year. Twice a week the group of new RAs, the two Freshman Resident Counselors, and the Freshman Housing Director met for two hours to discuss topics like the metaphysical purpose of the college, leadership responsibilities of our job, and the ultimate cause of the Christian Science movement. I listened attentively to the inspiring and insightful ideas shared during these sessions, but I was also painfully aware that I had not contributed any comments of my own.
For all of high school and well into my college career I had struggled to speak up in class discussions. I always felt that I would look stupid if my thoughts were not fully developed and flawlessly expressed. I knew this shyness needed to be healed, but I never truly addressed it with prayer until after one of the RA training meetings. The directors made it clear that they needed to hear from everyone in the group. I felt like they were speaking directly to me, because this challenge had been heavily weighing on my mind.
I walked away from the meeting on the verge of tears. All I could think was that I failed — failed to be unselfish, confident, a role-model, a leader, and most of all failed to be a healer. However, there was no one to unleash my tears upon — my mom wasn’t answering her phone and friends were not to be found. This forced me to turn wholeheartedly to God. I spent hours that night in a quiet room studying the Christian Science Weekly Bible Lesson. One passage from the Bible particularly stood out to me: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away… Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:4-5). In that instant I understood that God always had me wrapped in His love and that the labels of shyness, insecurity, or failure I had placed upon myself were untrue. Human patterns of the past could never be a part of my true identity. I felt all the “former things” — limitations, fear, sadness, disappointment — passing away so that I could clearly identify myself with newness, freedom, and joy.
Though I went to bed that night feeling peaceful, the next RA meeting was still a week away. I began to fear that my inspiration would not last until then. However, the very next day, I found myself contributing more to discussions in all of my classes. I realized that I didn’t need to wait for a specific situation to show what I had learned. I could demonstrate my real identity in all my activities every day!
At the same time, I knew that to completely heal the false view of myself, I had to firmly acknowledge and understand my identity as a compound idea of God. So I kept studying. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines “Man” as “The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind” (p. 591). I realized that if this was the only label of identity I could have, then I had no choice but to fully express intelligence and grace in all aspects of my life because I represented divine Mind. Nothing could keep me from expressing all of my God-given thoughts with ease and confidence. I dedicated my nights to prayer until the next RA meeting came around. To be honest, I was a little nervous as the discussion began but suddenly I felt my hand shoot up and I spoke! As the session continued I became increasingly confident in the fact that all that I said and did came from God and could therefore have no flaw.
My healing affected more than just my participation in discussions; it also changed the way I interacted with others on a daily basis. I became more friendly and outgoing as I focused my attention outward rather than on myself. To show genuine love and joy toward others felt so natural as I solidified my understanding that I could never fail or possess a flaw.
With each day I continue to feel that the “former things have passed away.” This past spring, I was pretty certain I would not go to graduate school — at least not for a while — until a conversation I had with a dear friend. He felt that more people should consider grad school, since it helps people uncover their full academic potential. I confided that while I certainly wanted to realize my potential, I wasn’t planning on applying for grad school. When he asked why, all I could respond with was, “Well, it’s hard! And what if I’m not smart enough, or disciplined enough?” My friend hung his head in disbelief and assured me that I was very smart. His quickness to recognize my intelligence tore away yet another label I had placed on myself: that my intelligence was limited. I was reawakened to the fact that all of us represent the infinite intelligence that comes from God, Mind! The only reason I had written off grad school was because I feared failure.
However, as I had learned from my healing during RA training, none of us can ever fail because we are the image and likeness of God and represent divine Mind fully, not partially. God is always there to comfort us and wipe away every false label we could ever place on ourselves God creates us brand new each moment so nothing that occurred in the past can ever be a permanent part of our identity. I know now that all the activities, interactions, and events in which each of us participates are actually opportunities to express all the qualities God has given us. Success and harmony are divine laws — we can never fail!