"DO YOU WANT A DRINK?" my friend asked me one night last summer in the basement of his house. Two girls were there, and I didn't want to seem like a loser. I had known that my friend was bound to ask me that question eventually, and my thoughts began darting around at light speed.
At the prep school I attend, popularity is determined by several factors: most significantly, if and how much you drink, how many "cool" parties you attend, and if you've had sex. When my friend offered the drink, I felt I had a fairly firm understanding of why I didn't need it. For one. I don't want to have to lean on external sources like alcohol to make me popular or to feel relaxed. But the only thing I could think about was how I'd appear if I said no. The fear of doing the unpopular thing began to cloud my thoughts.
I quickly remembered a favorite passage from Science and Health that I'd learned in Sunday School: "Clad in the panoply of love, human hatred cannot reach you" (p. 571). I've always taken this to mean that we live in God's—divine Love's—presence, where criticism and hatred can't hurt us. That meant it wasn't possible for my friends to hate or dislike me for making an unpopular decision. They could see me only as the image of God's love and perfection, and I realized that they had the spiritual sense to know that they, too, were the reflection of God. We didn't need to add anything to our selves, like alcohol, to be happy or relaxed.
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