ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME well knows how much I value childlikeness, innocence, purity, and joy. And I actively work on expressing these qualities each day, as well as seeing them expressed in others. But this wasn’t always the case.
When I was a teenager, I had a great desire to grow up and see and experience everything the world had to offer. I was raised in a Christian Science household, loved attending Christian Science summer camps, and had many physical healings through prayer. But with my emerging independence came this feeling that Christian Science would make me miss out on a lot and was somehow restricting what I could and couldn’t do. I didn’t realize then that Christian Science is based on provable spiritual laws, a Science and not an organization. Therefore, it is very broad—infinite, liberating in fact!
At that point, as a teenager, I felt being childlike wasn’t cool. Innocence and purity seemed naive, unrealistic, and not important. When it was time for college, I went out of state and, after a couple of years, transferred, moving overseas to travel and continue my education. I loved the career I was exploring in photography. And I thought I enjoyed learning about the ways of the world, too. I’d been investigating medicine, psychology, different religions, drugs, alcohol, astrology, and other paths. I also had new relationships and friendships, but many weren’t productive in supporting the higher spiritual goals in life.
When I had health and emotional challenges, I relied on medicine or herbal remedies, including acupuncture and chiropractic, but found only temporary relief, if any. Occasionally, when I would get sick, I would read the Christian Science Bible Lesson or have a family member pray for me to find healing, and I would feel better, but there was still the attraction to continue my exploration.
Looking back, I see these things were all an effort to find stable health, happiness, and wellness through matter–based solutions, and I made great efforts to sustain myself this way. I think, in some ways, Christian Science felt like my “fallback plan” if nothing else worked. And I’m grateful that I did know there was another way.
After a few years, though, the time came when I realized how insecure and fearful I felt. All the promises of the world were proving to be disappointing and not so liberating after all. What had happened to that innocence that had played a part in past healings?
About a year after graduating college in Australia and moving back home to the United States, I decided to reinvestigate Christian Science. I was really craving something permanent and higher. And the alcohol and other material things weren’t making me feel good as they once had.
So I read the four Gospels in the New Testament for the first time. It was inspiring to read about Jesus’ spiritual way of life and his complete freedom, fearlessness, and dominion over anything he was confronted with in the world. He taught we could be “as little children” in discovering our relationship to God. Nothing but God had power over him. And it was wonderful to read Science and Health, which states that the same healing and freedom is possible for us today, too. I was learning that we don’t have to live fearfully and can have a higher sense of security to rely on, waking up to the love that God gives and seeing our inherent purity as God’s children.
A desire for permanent healing of some lingering physical problems was a factor in leading me back to Christian Science. But I also wanted to change the way I was thinking and learn to develop true spirituality, breaking the monotonous cycle of thinking. I also decided to be sober and clearheaded.
My new focus led me to take Christian Science class instruction (a 12–day course), which gave me a clear spiritual understanding and revealed that I had a strong foundation in God. I became more confident about what Christian Science really is. And though I still had challenges to deal with, I gained much more dominion in terms of my health. I found that I wasn’t getting sick, and my relationships became much more substantial and meaningful.
Attending a TMC Youth Spiritual Activist Summit was also a big turning point for me. It presented a whole new “format” of learning about Christian Science, which I hadn’t experienced before. I loved the communication and interactions that everyone was having. Their ideas weren’t childish at all—they had depth and were open and honest. The discussions and lectures were incredibly practical to young people’s lives, and great questions were asked and answered.
I was having an entirely different relationship with Christian Science, really seeing and appreciating it for all that it is. Soon, I accepted a job that put me in contact with lots of young Christian Scientists. And I started having a lot more fun, too! The new friends I was making also enjoyed spirituality, and we had a great time together.
I felt like I was a kid again, right back in that place where I felt innocent and good. It became clear that there had never been a need to go down those other roads first. At the same time, I was beginning to see that the years of sorting out who I was didn’t define me or scar me. The childlikeness and purity that God gave me were all there ever really was.
Something I also noticed about these new friends, who valued their relationship to God, was that they seemed really happy and comfortable with themselves and others. I realized they hadn’t missed out on anything by refraining from all the experimenting.
The attraction to material things fell away. I was learning that childlikeness, innocence, and purity are really substantial. These qualities are the truth of who we are as God’s children. Since God is Spirit and we are Spirit’s image and likeness, we are naturally spiritual. Because of this, we are lighthearted, joyful, fun, and receptive to Truth. We don’t include anything material in our being. And when we cherish our childlikeness and our innocence, we have more meaningful friendships and relationships. We make better decisions, feel more confident, and are more successful in our work because we are always on the side of Truth, God.
I came to see that since God is Mind and we reflect Him, God’s thoughts are spiritual and good, and therefore my thoughts are, too. Any suggestion to do or think something unlike God wasn’t actually my thinking. It’s what the Apostle Paul referred to as the “carnal mind,” which tries to work against our spirituality and innocence. It tempts us into thinking that life is too complicated, that spirituality isn’t practical, or that we aren’t God’s tenderly cared for and beloved children. When I figured out those mocking ideas weren’t my thinking, I was easily able to dismiss them as an imposition trying to threaten my health, security, and wellness.
I’m so grateful for being awakened to see the real value and importance of childlikeness, and for learning to cherish and protect my innocence. It is a joy to see everyone’s identity as spiritual—childlike and receptive. And to know that the simplicity of life is what makes it beautiful.