I had gotten married for the second time, and while I embraced this step with enthusiasm and loved my husband very much, adjusting to all the details of my new situation proved to be very challenging. I felt completely overwhelmed at times and was forced to address issues associated with family, identity, personal “history,” friends, home, purpose, etc. I felt I did this with a fair amount of success.
One particular challenge, however, proved to be difficult. It was a persistent and very uncomfortable strain in my relationship with my husband’s son. It seemed that he had no interest in getting to know me. He and my husband were very close and had shared many experiences and fond memories. This was of course very natural and appropriate, but it had the unfortunate effect of making me feel like an outsider. I felt dismissed, marginalized, disrespected, and hurt. Not only did I begin harboring resentment toward him, but I also unfairly resented my husband, for “putting” me in this position. It was quite a quandary. I realized that this was something that needed to be healed.
I prayed for inspiration and guidance, and the humility to listen to God. I examined my thought and mentally wrestled with the meaning of unselfed love, unconditional love, true brotherhood, forgiveness, and charitableness. I looked up words in the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, and the Christian Science Hymnal related to universal love, family, personal sense, motives, pride, ego, and studied many wonderful articles archived on JSH-Online.com on these topics, which provided helpful ideas.
While I made some progress, basically this problem seemed stubborn and I felt stuck. The inspiration that finally broke the stalemate came from a thorough immersion into “A Rule for Motives and Acts” from the Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy. The content of that Rule, which demands sincere effort from the Christian Scientist, became the working centerpiece of this experience. It says: “Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientist reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously” (p. 40).
I prayed and I worked with this Rule—line by line, and moment by moment. I took every word and made it mine and agreed to live it. I acknowledged vigorously that I am a Christian Scientist and insisted that I could only reflect Love, in “rebuking sin” (in this case my resentment), and that I did express and feel “true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness.” I began to see the unselfish nature of divine Love and to see myself, and all of God’s ideas, as Love’s reflection. I checked often to see if there was anything growing in my thoughts that was not complying with every aspect of the Rule.
It was not an easy journey. I had low points when I was riled up with hurt feelings, resentment, bruised ego, fear, and self-justification. Yet each time I turned to this Rule, and to the best of my ability conformed my thought to be in obedience to all its demands, there was relief. A related admonition in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy reminded me just how important this work was. It reads: “In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,—self-will, self-justification, and self-love,—which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death” (p. 242). I thought, “Well, I certainly don’t want to be enforcing ‘the law of sin and death’!”
I also took comfort in the fact brought out in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 by Mary Baker Eddy, that “God is our Father and our Mother, our Minister and the great Physician: He is man’s only real relative on earth and in heaven” (p. 151). The fact that God is my only real relative encouraged me to look beyond the limited human sense of family and relatives (mere personal attachment) and to better understand the meaning of universal family (reflecting the sweet amenities of Love).
I persisted in the prayerful work for well over a year without seeing any real evidence of outward progress—at least that I was willing to acknowledge. It seemed at times like a slow uphill slog, but I continued to pray.
Then one day, out of the blue, I got an invitation by text from my husband’s son. The idea had come to him that it might be fun for the two of us (just us) to go spend a couple days together. I was absolutely stunned—brought to my knees and awed by this gesture of pure love! While this plan felt somewhat intimidating to me, I agreed, and we decided to meet in a nearby city and spend two days together.
As I took the train trip to the city, I turned everything over to God, and with all my heart trusted that God’s plan would harmoniously unfold for us. Indeed, when I met this dear guy, it was like nothing negative had ever taken place. The discomfort and strain were simply absent, totally gone. We spent the most wonderful and happy two days together like good, good friends. It was just wonderful. If I hadn’t experienced this, I wouldn’t have believed it to be possible. Our relationship has remained on solid ground.
I now recognize that the truth I had been working so hard to understand and live over the course of those many months had been leavening my thoughts and feelings; that love, respect, and compassion were slowly overtaking bad feelings, discomfort, and resentment. I was shown that obedience to “A Rule for Motives and Acts” can obliterate the strain of selfishness, willfulness, pride and ego, hatred, and all the baggage of personal sense and replace them with harmony, unity, and peace. I am simply awed by divine Love and its harmonizing and happifying power.