In the storm of misunderstandings and criticism, in the stress of ingratitude and betrayal; constantly tried as by fire; at times, all but overwhelmed by the waters of malice, envy, and hate; beset by poverty, homelessness, and loneliness, this women pressed on. Healing cases her students failed to heal, pondering and communing with her heavenly Father, she meekly broke the bread of Truth with her fellow men. In the face of opposition greater than the world had known since the advent of Christianity, she would not be swayed from her God-appointed task. In the secret recesses of her heart Mary Baker Eddy guarded the truth God had revealed to her.
(Twelve years with Mary Baker Eddy – Rev. Irving Tomlinson, page 42)
Individuality And Filling One’s Niche
VIRGINIA E. ATHERTON
From the March 23, 1957 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
Our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, points out in her autobiography, “Retrospection and Introspection,” that no person can fill another’s place or fulfill another’s mission. She says (p. 70): “No person can take the individual place of the Virgin Mary. No person can compass or fulfil the individual mission of Jesus of Nazareth. No person can take the place of the author of Science and Health, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity.”
One dictionary definition of “niche” reads in part, “a place, condition of life or employment, position, or the like, suitable for the capabilities or merits of a person or qualities of a thing.” One’s niche may be thought of as one’s human occupation, be it in the home, in the office, on the farm, in the factory, or at school. To fill this niche successfully, one must be in the place where he can best glorify God.
The Apostle Paul said ( Eph. 4:7, 11, 12): “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. … And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
How can we fill our niche in eternity? In reality one does not have to find his place or niche in eternity, for he is there already, always has been, and always will be. He is “hid with Christ in God” ( Col. 3:3). His individuality is already intact and impregnable. However, at this present stage of our experience each one has the task of putting off the mortal so that immortality and perfection can become apparent.
Discipline of thought and action is required in order that the individual may see himself as God’s reflection. A Christian Scientist finds that he must constantly watch his thinking, test his motives, align himself with his highest sense of Principle. As he chooses the nearest right under the particular circumstances and as he understands and demonstrates the truth, his human self will be evangelized, and his spiritual selfhood will appear. He will find his own niche in eternity, where he really has been always.
In an illuminating discussion entitled “Science and the Senses” in her book “Miscellaneous Writings” Mrs. Eddy asks the question (p. 104), “How shall we reach our true selves?” She then answers: “Through Love. The Principle of Christian Science is Love, and its idea represents Love. This divine Principle and idea are demonstrated, in healing, to be God and the real man.” Then she continues: “Who wants to be mortal, or would not gain the true ideal of Life and recover his own individuality? I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error.”
Many footsteps need to be taken on the way to finding our true selves. One of these, Christian Science teaches, is to lay aside cherished false beliefs and ways. Such beliefs may have to do with heredity, for instance. Others may have to do with personal sense, such as love of popularity, pride of opinion, worship of position, prestige. If such errors are cherished in consciousness, they must be weeded out, for at their root is a latent belief in many contending minds, which belief breaks the First Commandment.
Nicodemus was one of those who was bound by pride and prestige and who, seeking Truth, came to Jesus by night because he was afraid of public opinion. Simon, the Pharisee, likewise was concerned about human opinion and wondered why the Master permitted the woman who was sinner sinner to touch him.
Are not we too often concerned about public opinion? Do we put our love of Truth first, or is it subservient to what our neighbor would think or say? If we are putting God first, we are on the way to finding and filling our “niche in time and eternity.”
Further enlightenment on the subject of individuality can be gained from the following passage in our Leader’s Message to The Mother Church for 1901, where she asks the rhetorical questions (p. 7): “Again, God being infinite Mind, He is the all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving Father-Mother, for God made man in His own image and likeness, and made them male and female as the Scriptures declare; then does not our heavenly Parent—the divine Mind—include within this Mind the thoughts that express the different mentalities of man and woman, whereby we may consistently say, ‘Our Father-Mother God’? And does not this heavenly Parent know and supply the differing needs of the individual mind even as the Scriptures declare He will?”
A student of Christian Science glimpsed the fact that God’s plan for His children could not possibly include even one misfit or malcontent, for Love is impartial. This Scientist saw that if one is really filling his niche, his work cannot be monotonous or tiresome. The Apostle Paul’s words ( Phil. 2:12), “Work out your own salvation,” had for this student new meaning: we must express our own individuality; we must find our own niche and fill it. No one can do this for us. We cannot do it for another; neither can we work out our own individuality by being a poor copy of another. We must be ourselves, individually reflecting God. We must express Him in our own individual way. “For,” as Paul further stated, “it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” As a beloved hymn puts it (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 82), “God is working His purpose out.”
Prayerfully dwelling on the thought of individuality, this student was led to take up work of an entirely different character from that which she had followed for many years. Arguments of age and inexperience in an untried field were given no room in her consciousness. They were replaced by joy and gratitude for fresh opportunities. This new work opened up new ways to serve her fellow men, and in addition it gave her more time for studying Christian Science.
We see then that it is not only desirable to reach our true selves but necessary and even inevitable. The true being of each of God’s ideas is Mind’s reflection, Love’s expression. And we are truly blessed when we find our niche and fulfill our divine destiny.