One’s thoughts of others most certainly effect the harmony of his or her own experience. All too often I’ve found myself passing judgment on others, both people I know and even strangers. It’s probably easier to pass judgment on strangers because it’s easier not to feel guilty for doing so.
Last year, I was heading back to school from a weekend trip and I found myself judging others. I was acknowledging what I saw to be deficiencies in the people around me in the security line at the airport. I was judging the Transportation Security Administration officer who was diligently doing his job; mentally making fun of the woman behind me who was impatient; and labeling with limitations physically handicapped elderly people. As I passed judgment on these strangers, I was making myself feel better by being grateful that I wasn’t like them and was somehow better then them.
Soon after having these self-justifying thoughts, I found myself not feeling well. My thoughts were consumed with worry about the work that I had waiting for me back at school, I felt unhappy, and my stomach was bothering me. I saw that I needed to fix my thought and see these people as God created them. As I went into the bathroom to put some water on my face, the gentleman walking in front of me had an issue of Time in his pocket. I realized I was making assumptions about an individual’s lifestyle by the way that they dressed, the way they communicated with others, or even the kind of magazine they read. I started to question the basis on which I judged and evaluated others: Did I see others with material and corporeal labels, or with spiritual qualities? I made a conscious decision that in my thoughts I was going to begin seeing spiritual qualities in each individual I came across the rest of the day.
As I stood in line to board the plane, I found myself glorifying the presence of Love expressed by the gate agent and the qualities of Principle evidenced by a mother standing in line with her child. Before I knew it, I felt better. The change in my thought elevated my consciousness to a level at which healing could happen. As I lifted my thought to a more spiritual level of healing my body followed suit and I was able to sleep like a baby on the flight. I returned to school feeling well rested and was able to get my work done with great enthusiasm and a fresh perspective.
In hindsight, I also realized that the negative judgments that I was passing on the strangers I encountered were making me feel better about myself by claiming others to be less than perfect. Over the years, I’ve learned that error takes on many guises. In this instance, it was judging others on material conditions, whether it was an ailment that appeared to the physical senses or a social limitation. It became easy to overcome this mental error as soon as I opened my thought to the spiritual reality of every individual.
If a flashlight is trimmed so that it has a narrow focus, it illuminates only part of the room, revealing the truth behind the darkness only in a particular corner of the room. Does this mean that the truth about the darkness in the rest of the room is nonexistent? Of course not! And so, when we broaden the lens of consciousness to reveal the spiritual truth in every corner of God’s kingdom, we see every individual in God’s kingdom has an identity and individuality preserved by God. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men” (Science and Health, p. 550). When we widen the lens of our spiritual flashlight, we recognize that the only identity that God preserves for each one of us is as a child of God.
The experience in the airport has helped me to love unconditionally each and every individual around me. To me, unconditional love means that everyone is worthy of my love and compassion and that all children of God will be filled with the richness of divine Love in their hearts.
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