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The power of compromise

From the January 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Compromising can have both positive and negative connotations, depending on a given situation. Sometimes compromising may not be appropriate, but many times, when founded on prayer, compromising can be incredibly healing.

In the Bible, in Ephesians, we read that Christ “is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (2:14). Praying with this idea can help lead to compromises in difficult business transactions, strained marital relationships, and even the political arena. It doesn’t matter what our affiliations are, for the Apostle Paul exhorts us to know that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

A precious sense of oneness with others is the natural outcome of any genuine compromise. Compromising actually has a biblical basis in Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves, as well as to love our enemies. It helps to behold consistently our brother and sister as having the same mind that was in Christ Jesus—to recognize that there is really only one Mind, God, not many personal minds or selfish agendas.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells us: “Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. 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” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 242). When there is a need for compromise, it is helpful to remember that it is “the adamant of error”—not persons, either ourselves or others—that needs to be overcome and dissolved.

For instance, if we allow ourselves to give voice to or be swayed by strong personal opinions and arguments, expressing self-will, self-justification, and self-love, then we may be adding to a sense of divisiveness and separation from others who may not share those opinions, and, thereby, to a sense of separation from God. In our prayers we can refuse to let divisiveness (fueled by hatred, fear, prejudice, polarization, or partisanship) influence us in whatever situation.

Compromising means being willing to listen honestly and humbly to others’ points of view and to acknowledge our oneness with divine Mind, with the ultimate outcome of unity and healing.

We can then begin to see that the “middle wall of partition between us” looms only in thought, a wall which can be leveled in prayer through the unifying action of the Christ. The Christ is the divine idea of God that Jesus so perfectly expressed, and if we can see that all men have the Mind of Christ, the Mind which is God, then we can begin to observe the unifying action this brings. We can see pride and ego melt into humility and brotherly love.

As we work together, we bring down that middle wall of partition, and we find resolutions to urgent challenges and solutions that might have been hidden to us before. This is true compromise, which does not have to mean giving up one’s morals, standards, or values; rather, it means finding common ground for the common good. Eddy says, “Mutual compromises will often maintain a compact which might otherwise become unbearable” (Science and Health, p. 59). Compromising means being willing to listen honestly and humbly to others’ points of view and to acknowledge our oneness with divine Mind, with the ultimate outcome of unity and healing.

Here’s an example from my own experience. My husband and I were getting ready to build a home. I was eight months pregnant. We were on the lot, and the neighbor whose property abutted ours came over and said, “If you build on this lot, I will sue you for every penny you’re worth!”

I felt like I had just been attacked! I managed to maintain my composure, but because I was taken aback and upset, I thought it best for my neighbor to speak with my husband instead of me. They spoke briefly while I walked to the car, praying to see what needed to be revealed to us. The animosity that had just been expressed toward me made me feel there was some error in thought that needed to be uncovered and corrected. I knew from experience that once error is uncovered, the natural harmony of God is revealed.

I learned from my husband that, because our neighbor’s house was at a considerably lower level than ours, he was worried that building our house would bring flooding to his home in a rainstorm. My prayer that error be uncovered had been answered: The confrontation was rooted in fear. My husband and I wanted to build the house, but we certainly didn’t want our neighbor’s house to be flooded.

I called for prayerful support from my Christian Science teacher. She encouraged me to pray with a By-Law in the Manual of The Mother Church titled “A Rule for Motives and Acts.” The first part reads: “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” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 40).

That was just what I needed. I realized it was neither the animosity that had been expressed nor the personal attachment to our houses that determined our happiness and well-being. I saw instead that divine Love alone governed us and was causing us to express only “the sweet amenities of Love.”

Within a few days a healing compromise was reached. We asked the neighbor, a retired civil engineer, to come up with a plan that would provide us what we needed, while at the same time protecting his property. We agreed to split the cost of the new plan. It wasn’t long before all of us (with the new baby in the stroller) sat in our neighbor’s driveway, enjoying grilled hot dogs, while watching flood prevention work commence on our lot. I was in awe of the resolution that had been revealed.

Prayer such as this can be just as effective in the world at large. The Bible assures us: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). In Ecclesiastes we are told of one wise man who delivered an entire city from an invading king (see 9:14, 15). And Eddy reiterates the power of one individual prayer: “You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle.… ‘one on God’s side is a majority’ ” (Pulpit and Press, p. 4).

Being willing to give up rigid views, to turn from self-will, self-justification, and self-love, and to trust God, divine Mind, infinite Love, enables us to pray far more effectively about the challenges in our lives and the world. The result of compromises that bless all is always the breaking down of the middle wall of partition between us. Impasses are dissolved and solutions revealed.

Patricia Gantt-Reiman is a Christian Science practitioner from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

More in this issue / January 2014


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