Ninth Commandment: Tear Off Those Labels

I mentioned in my previous post healings of people who had been given a label. Here are a few examples.

Our younger daughter was in tears because no one in our…

By Louisa Velnett Palmer with contributions from Patricia P. Sellars

From the January 15, 1990 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 younger daughter was in tears because no one in our family could understand what she was saying. We knew that she had lost something from her pocket—something that was precious to her. I prayed with a desire to help her, something our family needed to do often when communicating with this child. We longed to have her healed of a serious speech difficulty. In my prayers for her, I realized that everyone with challenging speech difficulties could experience freedom. It was comforting to have faith that one's inclusive prayers would bless our child and others.

Ever since she had begun to talk, most of the time we could only guess at what this daughter was saying. As a Christian Scientist, I knew that the beauty and perfection of God were expressed by our child in her true being, the spiritual image of God. This divine fact had to be proved through practice of the spiritual truths that the Bible and Christian Science teach.

As I prayed to help our daughter find what she had lost, I noticed a small book with a cover that portrayed a noted author and her daughter. The child in the portrait is embracing her mother. As I thought of our daughter's words that we could not fathom, the word hugging came to me. I then asked our daughter if she was telling us that she had lost a picture of a little girl hugging her mother. She happily nodded yes. Her tears changed to smiles when she finally received the longed-for answer and the picture.

At bedtime our two daughters prayed the following prayer for children in Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy:

Father-Mother God,
Loving me,—
Guard me when I sleep;

Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.

After our younger daughter listened to her sister say the prayer, she could only say in broken English, "I pray the same, God." We knew she longed to speak as well as her sister and the other little children.

I prayed for everyone, my family and the world. Such prayer for mankind has often been for me a gateway to healing, a prayer that one knows is answered because of a silent inner assurance as powerful and as convincing as spoken words.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy states, "Science declares that Mind, not matter, sees, hears, feels, speaks." I thought of these words of Christ Jesus' in the parable of the prodigal son: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke). It was inspiring to know that this inclusive spiritual fact promises all good for everyone.

As I remembered the healing power of a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal, I found these lines from the first verse helpful:

In Thy clear light of Truth I rise
And, listening for Thy voice,
I hear Thy promise old and new,
That bids all fear to cease:
My presence still shall go with thee
And I will give thee peace.

A statement from Science and Health is engraved on the wall of many branch churches: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." My family and I considered deeply and reverently this sacred promise with its power to heal.

My mother was coming to lunch one day when we were praying with strong trust that divine Love does "meet every human need." As my mother entered our house, she asked, "Can Patricia speak any better?" In a little while, as we gathered around the dining table, our younger daughter greatly pleased us as she said perfectly, "I can say God; I can say good; I can say Love; I can say anything at all." And she could! Our family was profoundly grateful for this beautiful healing of speech.

In kindergarten and first grade our younger daughter's school marks had been poor. In second grade, after her healing of defective speech, she received all A's. Her teacher wrote to my husband and me saying that in all her years of teaching she had never known such a remarkable improvement in a student's speech. She called the marvelous turnaround a miracle.

When this daughter was in high school, her school chose her to represent them in a television program in the state's largest city. The officials said they chose her because of her excellent speaking and confident manner. Later her school again chose her to take part in the state's assembly of gifted speech students. The girl whose family formerly could rarely understand her words was among those who received the highest honors in speech in their state.

Regarding the healing of speech, I recall this hymn in the Hymnal:

It was the voice of God that spake
In silence to thy silent heart,
And bade each worthier thought awake,
And every dream of earth depart.

Louisa Velnett Palmer
Kent, Ohio

I do not remember all of the details of the speech difficulty. I do vividly remember sitting with my family at lunch and amusing myself with an imaginary game of cowboys and Indians, when all of a sudden I was making the sounds of hard c's and g's—sounds I had been unable to make before. What a joy it was!

I am of course very grateful for my mother's diligence and firm conviction in God's healing power. And I am deeply grateful for Christian Science, which continues to bless me and my family. Today my profession, interestingly enough, is that of English teacher!

Patricia P. Sellars
Vienna, Austria





From the August 31, 2009 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 about a new school year—rightfully brimming with happy expectation as school supplies are readied, lunch boxes packed, classrooms prepared, dorm rooms decorated. School is about expanding horizons, pulling back limitations, and lifting labels. The very word school hints at infinite spiritual frontiers to explore, and to support effectively in prayer.

Unfortunately, as the media all too often report, schools can be the arena for harmful pigeonholing and intimidation. And the recent suicide of a high school boy in Illinois, who felt like an outsider bullied and taunted, is a dramatic reminder of the need for prayer that stretches out to heal the morale of individuals and society as a whole. back to school—taking off the labels

I've witnessed the healing effect of this principle. One of our daughters had had difficulty during most of her primary and secondary school years. Reading did not come easily, and since most of the rest of her schoolwork involved reading, all academics were a struggle. Because her self-confidence was so low, she sometimes came to me in tears when other kids would ask, "Why do you go to that special reading teacher?" or, "How come you're in the lowest reading group?"

Our family supported her progress in every way we could, including working with her on her reading and homework and giving her private reading instruction outside school. Even with my confidence in my own prayers, it wasn't easy for me to be unconcerned. So much in the news media told of children having "attention deficiencies" and other learning disorders—and the problems stemming from those labels. And yet, all through those years, I continued to pray.

The foundation of my prayers was to know God better. According to Science and Health, "We know no more of man as the true divine image and likeness, than we know of God" (p. 258). So I reasoned that a clearer understanding of the unlimited nature of God, good, would enable me to see my daughter's unlimited spiritual identity and lift the labels of "poor reader," "low self-esteem" right off.

I explored the nature of God by contemplating the seven synonyms for God, included in Science and Health (see p. 465). It was not so much an intellectual exercise, but more like listening for God to declare the qualities of His being to me—such as the spiritual qualities of Soul, of infinite Mind, of Love and Truth. This deep prayerful listening and yearning led me to feel a closer identification with God's knowing as my knowing—as a divine, reflective awareness.

One day inspiration came to me in a unique way: I thought of the English language sentence construction, particularly the subject (the person, place, thing, or idea that is doing or being something). It suddenly dawned on me that since every one of us is really the expression or image of God's being, then God is like the subject of the sentence of our lives—and we (including my daughter) then naturally express God in spiritual qualities. That which evidences God must be Godlike.

Stepping aside from being the subject of life and yielding to God as its source allows us to function in the way that we're made to function, to glorify God. And it allows us to see God as the source, the subject and only Do-er, in each child's life, in every classroom, on every school ground. Jesus reflected God's healing presence because he knew that he was the effect of God, saying, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). And each child is the effect of the same healing God.

As I diligently prayed along these lines, there were encouraging waymarks. My daughter began to keep up with her class from year to year. Her grades got better and better. She established happy, loving, and supportive friendships. She gained more confidence in her abilities.

And I had my own triumph. One day, very gently, just as a scale tips when the weight gets heavier on one side, my prayers shifted, and suddenly my tendency to look to the human situation to measure her progress, just dropped away.

God's assurances of the presence of spiritual perfection—the mirror image if you will—became the absolute evidence to me that progress was inevitable, as it proved to be.

This daughter just finished her sophomore year in college. Her enthusiasm for what she's learning bubbles over. She calls me frequently to say, "Mom, I just love what I'm learning!" She is sailing through with strong grades and having a good time doing so. Just this summer I've watched her plow through one unassigned reading book after another. But the most glorious thing to me is that this seems natural. What else could God's image, His reflection, experience?

While it may require great courage and steady practice to mentally challenge the claims of public surveys, medical labels, and media reports about limited intelligence and learning disorders, there is great hopefulness in accepting the fact that God knows no such limitations for anyone.

There's no doubt, whether we have children in school this year or not, the need to cherish in prayer the right of each student and every school to be safe, full of growth and progress. And joy. Doing so has the beautiful effect of breaking limits and lifting labels right off, making progress expected and natural.

Science and Health affirms that everyone is "the expression of God's being" (p. 470). This fact invites us all to explore the infinite spiritual frontier and claim in our own prayers every child's, teacher's, and school's exemption from false labels.




Education—without labels


From the August 18, 1980 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Parents should be aware that children are sometimes subjected to certain psychological theories that would stereotype them and their school experiences. These theories, which ultimately infringe on a child's well-being, run the gamut and use such labels as: "slow learner," "middle child," "inner-city child," "an only child," and even "the gifted child."

Christian Science, the Science of real Mind, can help us annul psychological beliefs, beliefs that would manipulate a child's educational development with the slapping on of a label. The truth is that God is Mind, the only Mind, and that man is the expression of this Mind. Man is not a struggling mortal with a limited brain and a limited amount of intelligence. His intelligence does not depend on genetic factors or "cultural conditioning." God is the Mind of man.

Our ability to think, reason, and learn stems from our true identity as Mind's manifestation. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love."1

We can realize that nothing can dispossess man of his God-given heritage of intelligence, creativity, and joy. Psychological theories and labels should rightfully be classified as powerless and without influence on us or our children.

At one time I worked daily with young schoolchildren from a variety of ethnic groups and economic backgrounds. Many of these children came from broken homes—a situation paralleling mine at their age. In fact, overhearing a remark about such a child jolted my thinking, which had been pretty apathetic. I suddenly realized that I had accepted the false notion that coming from a broken home had affected my education. And I was accepting the same belief about these children.

I knew it was time for me to expose the "broken home" label as a fraud. Prayer led me to this powerful passage in Science and Health by our Leader, Mrs. Eddy: "Let us accept Science, relinquish all theories based on sense-testimony, give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so let us have one God, one Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of excellence."2

The Science of Mind teaches us to give up, step by step, any belief that says we are mortal or separated from God. I realized that if I continued to believe the "broken home" label, then I hadn't really accepted what Science was telling me, nor was I relinquishing "all theories based on sense-testimony." Was I ready to accept more of what God knows of man, His beloved child? Was I ready to relinquish some phase of the belief that says man is separated from his Father-Mother Mind?

Yes, I was. I realized that behind the "broken home" label was the false assumption that God's child was unloved and unappreciated. I replaced this error with the fact that all God's children are embraced in His love and fully appreciated. And I further knew that this divine fact was to be witnessed right here—right in my classroom.

Beautiful healings resulted from this prayer. My work with these children improved greatly, as we discovered new ways to include each one in meaningful activity. Not only that; my own education found fresh direction. My whole outlook on life was more well-rounded, and at last I felt free of a label that had tried for many years to stereotype my existence.

No child's education needs to be influenced by psychological beliefs or labels. Parents, teachers, and all those concerned with the schooling of youngsters can apply the truths of Christian Science to remove this imposition. As we do this, we will help bring about a more harmonious, progressive education for all.