Not long ago I noticed that a sore had developed on my lip. It was painful, and for months it did not heal. During this time I was praying, listening, for an answer from God. The thought came not to let things irritate me or get under my skin, and that I couldn’t irritate others or be irritated by another’s mind-set or actions.
This thought seemed relevant to a situation a year earlier. I had been bothered by an individual’s actions, which kept bubbling up in my thought. I’d felt helpless to respond to the situation that resulted from these actions; it seemed that no matter how I might do so, it would backfire.
As I thought about it, many helpful healing ideas came from the weekly Christian Science Bible Lessons. For instance, the following from Second Peter: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (1:5–7)-—“charity” meaning spiritual love.
I’ve learned in Christian Science that the demand of God is to love. Christ Jesus taught us to love everyone—to love those with whom we disagree or whose actions we disapprove, and also our enemies. He said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Even so, I felt that I would rather do anything than love this person.
Furthermore, rather than leave the situation to God, I wanted to see it resolved in the way I had outlined. But when I read in the Bible, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), I saw that it wasn’t I who was going to set this situation straight, but the truth that would do it. My job was to trust in the truth and let it unfold the peace of mind, harmony, and healing that sets us free.
Still, I wondered, how do you muster the honest desire to love? Mary Baker Eddy says, “Evil is neither quality nor quantity: it is not intelligence, a person or a principle, a man or a woman, a place or a thing, and God never made it” (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, pp. 12–13). Separating the person from the act that seemed so wrong was very helpful to me in finding the strength and desire to love.
As I prayed, I saw several areas in my life where I had controversial relationships with those who I felt expressed incompetence, insecurity, and a gate-keeper mentality that obstructed progress. This pattern of controversy had repeated itself before, and now I could see that it wasn’t a particular person but a type of thinking that rankled me, and that it was this tendency to repeatedly react to it that needed correction.
Another helpful idea came from an article titled “Taking Offense”: “To punish ourselves for others’ faults, is superlative folly. The mental arrow shot from another’s bow is practically harmless, unless our own thought barbs it. It is our pride that makes another’s criticism rankle, our self-will that makes another’s deed offensive, our egotism that feels hurt by another’s self-assertion. Well may we feel wounded by our own faults; but we can hardly afford to be miserable for the faults of others” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 223–224).
The idea that personal sense—my own self-will or self-justification—had been the barb in this case took some humility to accept. But I had to do it. Mary Baker Eddy’s own life, her loving and courageous response to unjust situations and malice, was an example of humility and an inspiration to me.
The sore persisted, but my prayers did too. I found encouragement and progress in uncovering each “barb” of personal sense that I had allowed to arm my thoughts about this person and situation.
Finally one day I prayed, “God, I know that You know what is in my heart. (‘O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off’ [Psalms 139:1, 2].) Even if I can’t seem to get there right now (to love this person), it is in my heart to love Your creation, and You know that that desire is pure and true.”
That week was the turning point. I could see signs that healing was taking place. During the next couple of weeks, there was no anxiety whenever this person or situation came to mind. I had turned it over to truth to set me free. I felt at peace and willing to think good thoughts, understand the good qualities that characterized this individual’s real individuality, and see the evidence of these qualities in this person. I knew that God was governing everyone involved and that His law was always in action.
The occasional emails or phone calls that needed to be made to this person were genuine and free of resentment or emotion. The sore reduced and became less painful. In a short time, the sore closed up completely; there was no sign of it.
Love led me along the way. Truth freed me from wrong feelings about others and myself. And God’s law, divine Science, restored my well-being. I am grateful for Christian Science.
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