• Elaina Simpson, C.S.

Shutting the door on negative influences

Audio and original link By Elaina Simpson

From the November 2, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


One day, a stranger rang my doorbell and tried to sell me something. As it became apparent that this was a scam, it was pretty easy to say, “No, thank you,” and close the door. I walked back to my living room and sat down to relax.  Just then phone notifications displaying sensational news headlines started pinging me. Although I enjoy staying informed by reading the news on my phone, in this instance it felt intrusive, almost like an attack. Shutting my door on the notion of buying into a scam had been the obvious thing to do, but when I went back into the house and literally and mentally put my feet up, it felt more challenging to shut out the subtler disturbances.  Unlocking ideas from the Bible, Christian Science teaches the allness and goodness of God. It teaches that Life is God and cannot be divided into good and evil, for God made everything “very good” (see Genesis 1:31).  I’ve found that no matter how offensive a suggestion might be, and whether it comes as subtle or not, we can go to God in prayer to reveal the truth about Life. Here we find protection, peace, and clarity. Prayer provides relief, even healing, in the face of any suggestion that evil is as real, legitimate, and powerful as good. This is not about being uninformed or “living under a rock.” It’s about setting ourselves up for success so we aren’t blindsided by deceit or distractions but can overcome them by embracing spiritual reality.  One study says a cellphone in the United States can get an average of fifty notifications a day, not including posts or images seen while scrolling on news feeds. These mesmeric messages, combined with certain TV shows, streamed series, song lyrics, web searches, and video games, may feel at times like a barrage of intrusive and sometimes addictive suggestions promoting the view that life is a combination of good and evil. But by turning to God and letting the divine Mind govern our thinking and actions, we will be alert to whatever would weigh against our spiritual growth. Even if subtle suggestions have seemed to make themselves at home in our thinking, they can be addressed and eliminated through prayer.  Referring to prayer, Christ Jesus reminds us to go into our “closet” (see Matthew 6:6). But he doesn’t stop there. He tells us to shut the door. In the chapter “Prayer” in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa” (p. 15). Later in the same book, Mrs. Eddy also instructs readers to “stand porter at the door of thought” (p. 392).  When we shut our mental door on any belief that God isn’t all, negative messages don’t have the power to disturb us. It’s so important to watch which thoughts we are entertaining. We need to open the door of our mental home, or consciousness, to truthful and loving thoughts from God and close the door on destructive, divisive, distracting suggestions that there is no God or that life is hopeless and there are no solutions. In doing this, we are following Paul’s counsel, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5, New King James Version).   Sometimes it feels as if we can’t control the negative suggestions that knock insistently on the door of thought. Praying about this, I haven’t felt tempted to fix situations humanly. Instead, it is the Christ, the healing power of divine Love, the voice of God in human consciousness, that shows us the way to go. We can stay obedient and alert by turning to God throughout the day. Prayer leads us to feel our oneness with God as our only real Mind and Life. As we do this, we let God’s love fill our thought, forcing out any impurities.  This prayer doesn’t just benefit us, but blesses all. Motivated by love for humanity, prayer is action that ripples outward so the whole world feels it.  Allowing God to show me how to stand guard over my thinking has given me a feeling of dominion, rather than a feeling of being overrun with mortal problems. Sometimes I just ask myself, Is this uplifting me and others? It says in Science and Health, “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it” (p. 452). Not only has this helped me decide what to do and where to go, but also to check what I’m adding to the collective atmosphere of thought.  Although there were no TVs or smartphones in Mrs. Eddy’s day, she did make a comment that applies to the entertainment and sensational news of the time: “Novels, remarkable only for their exaggerated pictures, impossible ideals, and specimens of depravity, fill our young readers with wrong tastes and sentiments. Literary commercialism is lowering the intellectual standard to accommodate the purse and to meet a frivolous demand for amusement instead of for improvement. Incorrect views lower the standard of truth” (Science and Health, p. 195). Prioritizing “improvement” over “a frivolous demand for amusement” doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate technology or entertainment, or that we are self-righteously above or opinionated about certain activities. It’s about being inspired and developing our spiritual sense, which is what helps us understand God. When we shut our mental door securely on any belief that God, good, isn’t all, things such as notifications, text messages, negative song lyrics, certain pastimes, etc., do not have power to disturb us or to disrupt the harmony of our lives. We also naturally make more productive decisions. This is not about being naive, but about the opposite—remaining spiritually awake and alert.  No matter what is being thrown at us, we all can lean on God to show us what is true and what is not. God’s love for us reveals as untrue any suggestion that our life could be separated from God. As we go into our closet and open the door wide to the truth that God is the only reality, it becomes natural for false influences to appear more obvious and also to fall away. We may even find fewer and fewer negative suggestions knocking in the first place! As Mrs. Eddy writes, “Because God is Spirit, evil becomes more apparent and obnoxious proportionately as we advance spiritually, until it disappears from our lives” (Science and Health, p. 207). As we live in the consciousness of God, our only real home, it’s divinely natural to feel only the freedom, joy, peace, and dominion of knowing God’s allness. Elaina Simpson, C.S. ____________________ To get future alerts, subscribe here. Check out the Resources for spiritual study for more info about this study. Have an idea for a topic to cover? Send me a message.