Compared to you, I’m…

You can read my latest article for the CS Monitor from February 5th here….


Compared to you, I’m…

Sometimes I wonder if “Thou shalt not compare yourself to others” should be the 11th Commandment, though I’m sure it’s probably covered by at least one of the original 10 – worshipping false idols, bearing false witness, or coveting, for example. We may think, she’s smarter than I am, or he has more friends, or she’s more athletic, or he’s better looking, or she’s more successful.

There’s certainly value in appreciating others’ successes and being alert to the need for self-improvement. But when comparisons go hand in hand with pridefulness, self-justification, envy, or self-condemnation, those are unhelpful characteristics.

I have certainly been guilty of this at times. There was a period when I found myself incessantly comparing myself to a particular individual, and I never felt like I measured up. It made me feel pretty insecure, and I found myself wishing I could not only be more like this person, but even just be them altogether!

A friend called me out on it, told me this mindset was keeping me from realizing my potential, and offered this idea: that I could find freedom from this envy and unhelpful picture of myself through turning my thought to a more spiritual perspective.

I pondered the idea that this could be healed, that I could be free of the negative thoughts about both myself and the other person. Christian Science, based on the Bible, teaches that each and every one of us has a unique God-created purpose, which is very much needed. Our fundamental role is to live the good qualities that God expresses in each of His children. We are uniquely qualified to fulfill this purpose.

The first chapter of the Bible talks about how we are created in the image and likeness of God. The Bible also refers to God as Love. This means we were created in the image of infinite Love itself. We are all made to reflect divine Love in uniquely beautiful ways. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, states in “Retrospection and Introspection,” “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (p. 70). Just as a sunflower and a lily, or an autumn aspen and a maple tree, are each beautiful in different ways, we each have uniquely beautiful ways to express God’s love and goodness toward others and in all that we do. This is our true purpose in life.

As I thought about this, I had some classical music playing in the background, and a song came on that is one of my mom’s favorites. It made me think of her and how much I love her. I began thinking about how she instilled in me a love and appreciation for classical music and supported my artistic endeavors over the years. And then I began to mentally walk through my whole life.

As various memories came to thought I became overwhelmed with gratitude for all the good in my life – for opportunities to feel and express God’s love through amazing people and experiences. I was even grateful for the tough experiences because I could see clearly the lessons learned and how they brought me closer to God, and led to the next step in life.

In all of this gratitude and reflection, I also thought of the person I’d been comparing myself to and their family. I felt so grateful for them and all of their incredible expressions of God’s love. I thought about all of humanity, and how God has created each one of us with love and for a purpose. I became so grateful to God for all of it, I felt a swell of love, peace, and utter joy. And the unhelpful comparison thoughts never returned.

It says in the Bible, “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, English Standard Version). We are all called to live our God-given purpose and to appreciate others’ unique God-given purpose, too. When we do this rather than comparing ourselves with others, we find that good and joy result.

“Home” for the holidays

It can be challenging to be far away from family and familiar friends during the holidays, but we can each find that sense of “home”… that deeper, spiritual sense of comfort, peace and joy, no matter where we are. Check out my recent article on how I discovered this a year ago when living on the road and was away from family and old friends for the start of the holiday season.

Finding our home away from home

By Kim Hedge 

From the October 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Who doesn’t have a strong desire for home and community? The longing for them can be heightened when we’re unable to be out and about with other people, or we find ourselves alone at the holidays. 

As a frequent traveler I’ve spent a good many weeks away from home, which is why the hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal that begins, “Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee” (Peter Maurice, adapt., No. 278, © CSBD), has always meant a great deal to me. It’s a potent reminder, as it was for me one particular holiday season, that we can never truly be separated from home and community, and the good we associate with them, such as happiness and companionship.

I had been on the road for several months, away from family and familiar friends. During the week of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, I was housesitting at a friend’s cottage on a lake in a small East Coast town that was home to summer vacationers, but not many year-round residents. It was a beautiful and peaceful place to spend time quietly praying and meditating, as well as reading and studying the Christian Science pastor—the Bible, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I had made some wonderful new friends in the area but spent a lot of time alone. I got used to the solitude and began to actually enjoy the quiet time. 

However, as one who grew up in a city, I found the isolation challenging sometimes. The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving I was especially missing my family and old friends. As I was praying to God to feel less alone, I felt the impulsion to call in that night to the testimony meeting at my home church, which anyone has an option to join by conference call. These meetings include readings chosen from the Bible and Science and Health on timely topics and testimonies of healing from the congregation.

The readings that night reminded me to trust God with all my cares and that He would satisfy every need. The meeting closed with the very hymn that has been such a support to me through the years: 

Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee, 
Heir of the ages and child of the day. 
Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected, 
Walk thou with courage each step of the way. 

During my trip I had demonstrated time and again that “home and heaven” truly are within us. In the instances when companionship and love seemed lacking, my prayers to feel God’s tender presence were answered. This was evidence to me of the kingdom of God that Christ Jesus said is within us: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Since this kingdom is within us, we cannot be deprived of, or separated from, all the good this kingdom of heaven includes. 

As I listened to the hymn that Wednesday night, the assurance that I was “cared for, watched over, beloved and protected” felt like a giant hug. I felt so comforted, like a child wrapped in God’s mothering love. I was so grateful for that sweet reminder that divine Love is our constant companion since we are inseparable from God as His reflection.

In that moment, I thought of all the others who might be feeling alone on the eve of this beloved holiday, whether they were homeless, or stationed elsewhere in the world for their job, or without family with which to celebrate. As these scenarios came to thought, I included everyone in my prayers with the truth that no one is outside of, or beyond, God’s love, and when we open our thought and our hearts to this ever-present, all-powerful Love, we can’t help but feel its embrace of all mankind.

When companionship and love seemed lacking, my prayers to feel God’s tender presence were answered.

The next morning, when I attended the Thanksgiving church service at a small local Church of Christ, Scientist, in a neighboring town, I initially felt a familiar twinge of loss at not being able to attend my larger branch church among friends. But soon I felt home and heaven right there in that sweet little church. And during the time in the Thanksgiving service when Christian Scientists have an opportunity to share their gratitude for God’s goodness, nearly everyone spoke up, including me. There was the warmest, sweetest feeling of family, community, and home I could have asked for. 

Afterward, I chatted with a few members, who checked to be sure I had plans for a meal and wouldn’t be alone. Their kindness, as well as the companionship of some new friends with whom I shared dinner that day, was yet another proof to me of God’s mothering presence. Wherever we are, wherever we go, we are in divine Love’s embrace and can have that sweet sense of home and community that each one of us deserves.

Prayer as poetry

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, but it’s been a lovely time to reflect. And most of my writing has gone into articles for the Christian Science Monitor, which you can find here.

This morning my prayer took the form of a poem… which even rhymes… It’s been long time since I wrote poetry so it may be a bit clumsy… but it’s inspired and brought me joy to write it… so I hope it brings you a bit of joy today as well!!

Love your childlike self, and your neighbor

I’ve heard it said a number of times – to “love your neighbor as yourself” you must first love yourself.  I’ve often struggled with this idea of loving myself in a way that doesn’t feel conceited or egotistical.  The other day when I was pondering this, a new way of looking at it came to me…

When I was a little kid, my family and friends called me Kimi (well, they all spelled it differently at the time – some Kimmy, others Kimmie – but I like this spelling so I’m going to stick to it). 

I’ve recently been helping out a family friend who knew me when I was little and apparently refers to me as Kimi to her friends that I’ve also been helping , are so now they are all calling me Kimi… and it got me thinking about my childhood self… little Kimi Hedge.

What if I thought about just loving little Kimi… the little kid that was pretty smart (though really had to work at the good grades sometimes), athletic, good at art… and yet really awkward at times.  She was never one of the popular or cool kids … and spent years vacillating between wanting to be like everyone else and fit in, and then wanting not to be like everyone else and stand out.  I thought about how this kid loved summer camp and was full of life there, and wanted everyone else to love it just as much.  This kid was daring and brave and creative… and klutzy… and often had terrible haircuts.  

I just started to love this little kid in all her adorableness and awkwardness (and great outfits) and all the rest.  And I began to see her as God sees each one of us – as Her beloved child… innocent, joyful, free… and to love her just as God loves her.  

Well then I decided maybe it’s not bad to be called Kimi again… to remind me of that great, awkward, funny little kid… and to embrace my natural childlikeness even now… my innocence, purity, childlike joy and freedom.  

And then, when I go to love my neighbor as myself… I can love the little child they were and truly still are… the child of God.  And I can apply this even to people I don’t agree with or have much in common with… because we were all innocent little kids once.  And we are all God’s children – always.  So how can you see yourself and others as God’s child and love them as yourself?

True source of joy and peace

Sometimes in life it can seem like everything is good and going well and the next minute or hour or day, that is a distant memory and doubt or fear or frustration or other negative thinking creeps in and takes over.  I remember this happening once when I was feeling down and talking to a friend, whom I had spoken too just hours before when things were great and he said, “Seriously – what changed??”  

What he meant was that if we know that God, Good, Love is the source of all good and the true, constant and permanent source of our joy and peace – what could change?  I know God to be the source of joy and peace and that those are qualities we inherently possess, because we were created in God’s image and likeness (according to Genesis 1).  So they are a part of us and must be constant and permanent because those are also qualities of God that we reflect. I thought of his comment about “what changed” one morning as I was trying to figure out how the day before I went from having a great day to a lousy evening.

That day, I was so sure of my source of good and joy and felt totally at peace when I started my day, and that carried throughout my day of service work.  But then in the evening I chatted with a different friend who said some things that really bothered and frustrated me, and then I got mad and down on myself for being so bothered and frustrated… and in all this my thought was definitely not very focused on God, my true source of good.  

So while reflecting back on this, I came across this statement from Mary Baker Eddy which appeared in that week’s Bible lesson:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus xx. 3.) The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science. It inculcates the tri-unity of God, Spirit, Mind; it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind. The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340

I thought about the first commandment in a different way… what was it that I making another god?  Was I saying that this friend who had said those things was my source of joy or peace (and they failed)?  Wouldn’t that be attributing power, cause, source to something other than the one all-powerful, all-loving God?  

When I realized that, I started to feel more peaceful and more joyful.  I realized that this person had no control over my happiness.  And the more I focused on God, as the true source of joy, the more I felt closer to God and more at peace.  So now I’m on the lookout for what I might be making false gods – friends, sleep, money, home… basically anything that at any moment I give power to or think of as my source of some quality – love, energy, supply, peace… and turning it around to realize that God is our ultimate source of all good.

What are you making a false god?