Break free! Self-Government is an inalienable right
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
One of the most remarkable, freeing and helpful quotes is: “God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy 106:7-9) This idea of self-government being a right, has completely transformed my life. The power behind this prayer brings an understanding that can lift us out of any sense of bondage, or anything that is not in alignment with this law of God. Whether we feel we are in bondage for a reason or not, we can feel mentally free, right now… As we apply ideas from the Bible to our own lives.
Mary Baker Eddy the founder of Christian Science writes about what the Bible teaches. She mentions the words “self-government” twelve times in her writings and five times in her primary writing, Science and Health. After a lifetime of studying the Bible and healing others, it’s evident that this was of great importance, as she clearly put much thought on this topic.
I guess this is not really a surprise, as self-government is a theme threaded throughout the Bible. For instance, Moses left his Egyptian family’s lifestyle and leadership, to lead the children out of Israel. Ruth, stayed with her Mother-in-law leaving all conventional wisdom behind when she said, “Where you go, I will go… Your God shall be my God.” Christ Jesus left all rabbinical law behind, all to serve God and start his healing ministry. There are many more stories that have self-government as a focal point and pivotal lesson. This idea of our ability to self-govern brought forth some of the most well known stories in the world, for generations to share.
These stories teach us all about God’s governance over all. As we read them, they speak to us, and show us that we are capable of feeling the benefits of this understanding too, no matter where we are. It is our understanding in God’s governance over all, that allows us to then reflect this sense of government in our own lives-- In our self-government. The understanding of God, as governing all and everything, makes it natural to see oneself as God’s reflection, which always expresses the freedom of proper self-government.
It is this presiding sense of self-government that allows us to feel at peace, no matter what comes up in our daily experience. Our ability to self-govern is similar in its reverse... to govern-self. Even when a family member imposes an opinion unwelcomed, or when we may not agree with the governance and direction of politics, although we still care deeply, we can feel emotionally unphased and untouched. It is our sense of self-government that frees us from reaction, it also frees us from the fear of being controlled by others or a material substance. It frees us from the fear of what people think, and our thought is on what God thinks. The outcome of this prayer is a natural ‘letting go’ of feelings of resentment, fear, or imprisonment. One might call it, healing!
Growing up, I did a lot of dance. In one class, the teacher was verbally abusive. Although I was respectful and did my best, she commented publicly on what I should and should not be eating. If we stumbled on a combination, she’d turn the heat in the room to almost 50 degrees above room temperature. Screaming at the class was a common occurrence. I always felt on edge and stressed, dreading the thought of going to this class all week long. I felt it was impossible to leave the class for many reasons but one of which was that the teacher mentioned that if I didn’t take the class, I would be a quitter. Afraid of what others and my teacher would think of me, I remained in class with this teacher.
It was around this time, when I started working with a Christian Science Practitioner (someone that helps others find healing in their lives) about matters unrelated. I learned that as God’s loved idea, God’s child couldn’t be controlled by another person or even afraid of being controlled-- As God’s law precedes all. Applying this truth in prayer really benefits. I learned that my decisions and actions could actually be directed by God and God alone-- All I needed to do was be obedient. Divine Love always keeps us safe, secure. Love always has are best interest at heart, too.
While discipline and following through with commitments is a good thing, in this instance (with the scenario with the abusive teacher) I felt led in my prayer to continue until the recital and to not return. Although my teacher was upset with my decision, for the first time ever, it didn’t matter to me what other’s opinions were, because I could rely fully on God to give me direction. This sense of direction was verified, when I read the following, “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it.” (SH 452:14-15) These truths give us the ability and courage to stand up for what’s right, to be treated as God’s child would be treated, and to know God’s “... will be done,” not someone else’s will or influence. I kept dancing in later years, just not with this teacher.
When I saw the teacher again a year later, I was surprised to see that she was actually kind and pleasant. Seeing myself as capable of good, I could see that she was capable of good too. This lesson about my ability to allow God to govern my experience has set the groundwork for my entire life, and when I have to make bigger decisions, the principle remains true, and I continue to reap the freeing benefits of this understanding and cherished lesson. We all, each have the ability and right to make decisions and act solely based off of God’s direction. Christian Science teaches us that we are in reality spiritual, not material. Even though the circumstances in this situation changed for the better, something had to shift first-- That is, my thought. If fear seems to be controlling one’s circumstance, revoking one’s power to make their own decisions, the remedy is always to know that the feeling of being controlled is only mental fear. Mentally, in prayer, we can put this fear in our ‘mental trashcan’ and not be afraid of being controlled by anyone but divine Love. When the fear of others’ actions and control is exterminated, then our experience begins to shift. We see God as the only control, and so, reap the benefits. When a close friend of mine was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship, she felt stuck and unable to break free. Her then partner told her how to act, what to do, how to wear her hair, makeup, and clothes. This friend attempted to leave many times, but she felt she was subtly manipulated into thinking she must stay. When she had finally mustered up some strength, she attempted to leave the relationship. Her partner then threatened he would take his life, leaving her with no other choice but to stay with him. My friend felt it was necessary to call the police to control the situation, but she also felt like she could pray about this, too. Ultimately, he did not take his life but going forward, she realized that the permanent way out of this, was to rely on God and her proper sense of self-government.
As we both prayed individually about the situation, she learned more of the self-government she already and always possessed in God. She was finally let go of the relationship. In understanding God’s governance over all and her expression of this in her experience, she found the courage to stand up and walk away from an unhealthy relationship. She found strength in God to move forward, and to lean on God for direction. In addition to those in the Bible, I am grateful to Mrs. Eddy, who set this example for all by demonstrating and living this understanding. She set up the branch churches with “local self-government.” She also instructed those that study Christian Science to “Teach the children early self-government…” (Mis. 240:24-25) On another occasion, she wrote about how imperative and necessary this knowledge is... “The hour has struck for Christian Scientists to do their own work; to appreciate the signs of the times; to demonstrate self-knowledge and self-government; and to demonstrate, as this period demands, over all sin, disease, and death.” (Mis. 317:5-9) To me this means that we learn that self-government is not only applicable to relationships and our decisions, but it has a direct connection to our ability to heal physical issues, as well. When in highschool, I saw first hand the healing power that this understanding brings. My weight was noticeably up and down. Although never diagnosed, it was clear to me that I needed to gain a better view of my spiritual identity. I had done brand representation that involved some modeling, and seemed to fall into this hypnotising need to be very thin. I took diet pills, worked out excessively, ate significantly less than what would be considered wise/appropriate, and obsessively counted calories. In the months when a change was noticible, people wrote hateful cyber messages to me about my appearance, which made it worse. I worked with a Christian Science Practitioner and she so lovingly shared with me that I could cease filling a suggestion of emptiness with material food. She helped me see that my actions weren’t normal, and that the starving and binging needed to be corrected in thought. In the times when I was thinner, I couldn’t lose control and that I didn’t have to compromise my comfort for a surface-level desire to look a certain way. I had been trying to fix or change the body, no matter what I looked like, and this was mental bondage. I had been tricked into thinking parts of the body were “disarranged.” Mrs. Eddy compares disarrangement to derangement in Science and Health… “Derangement, or disarrangement, is a word which conveys the true definition of all human belief in ill-health, or disturbed harmony.” (SH 420:32-7) The issue was never in the body, at all but in my thinking. I could take control of my thought about identity, and know there is no deranged mind that had the power to control. I could view of who I truly was, an expression of God as Mind.
Simultaneously, I saw that thought doesn’t have to be on myself (in a conceited way) to properly self-govern my life. If thought is on God, then everything else follows naturally. There was great benefit in working with the Practitioner, attending Sunday School and reading Science and Health-- There was complete healing. For many years since, I’ve eaten reflecting a sense of balance, taking “no thought” of calories and with no fear. I stopped making a ‘god’ out of food by thinking about it 24/7 and instead allowed God (Good) to govern every decision I make, which is always in perfect balance. I’ve found God to be the only governance or power. There is a sense of consistency in knowing my spirituality, as I have been without ups and downs. When we learn that we each naturally reflect self-government, we are out of reach of and are not subjective to any mesmeric pull. We aren’t swayed by human opinion, or any other false god. We can go to God for all-guidance and direction. Mary Baker Eddy’s words encapsulate how it feels to gain a better understanding of our true government… “Ah! but Christ, Truth, the spirit of Life and the friend of Mortal Man, can open wide those prison doors and set the captive free.” (SH 433:31-1)