When you'd rather not be there

Have you ever been in a group where, no matter how hard you try to be nice, tempers consistently flare and feelings are wounded? Perhaps at routine business meetings or family gatherings pride swells and self-justification can't be silenced. Things get said without thinking, and wounds deepen.

I faced a potential situation of this kind. But a better understanding of God changed things and brought healing.

I was getting ready for a holiday meal with a particular group. The thought came: ''Be wise. Don't say very much tonight because this is the type of situation where hatred has often been expressed.''

As helpful as this warning was, it was not divine - it was not from God - and I knew it. Christian Science is teaching me that God does not include or impart both good andm evil. The Bible reveals God as supremely good, as unfailing Love, tender and ever-present Spirit. God is all-governing and the creator of all that is true. Man, as God's offspring, expresses the divine nature. Our actual selfhood, then, is without blame, without hatred, without self-justification.

Right then and there, while getting ready for dinner, I prayed, yielding to these truths of God and man. I became humble enough to begin putting off the sinful thoughts that would separate one person's interests from everyone's interests. I realized that God was guiding me and each person attending the gathering.

As soon as I began to include all of us in my prayer, the fear lifted, and a deep sense of peace came. The truth that God, divine Mind, was the only genuine intelligence of each one; that God, divine Life, alone could motivate man; and that God, divine Love, cared for and watched over each of us, filled my heart.

The meal was harmonious. And everyone in the group was actually happy, enjoying the others' company, not just trying to ''get along,'' which had usually been the case. There was more gentleness and good humor exchanged than ever before. The few inflammatory statements that were made were just naturally brushed aside without anyone's being offended. The Christliness of man's true identity was much in evidence.

How grateful I was for this! But there was more to the healing. Earlier in the day my tongue had become inflamed and painful. As is my custom, I turned to the Bible for comfort and healing. This passage from the book of James came to thought: ''The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.'' n1 James continues, explaining that one's conversations are usually filled with blessing God and cursing others.

n1 James 3:5, 6.

Why is this so? Does God create us capable of both good andm evil? ''Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?'' n2 No! When we speak kindly to some and maliciously to others, we are not being governed by God. But if we worship God sincerely, the truth of His creation as spiritual, good, and universal fills our thought, and we speak without partiality and hypocrisy.

n2 James 3:11.

I had a choice. I could either believe in two gods - good and evil - and feel the hatred and hypocrisy this included, or I could be honest and worship and obey the one true God, which would heal that fiery tongue. My prayer was to have the one God supreme in my affections.

By the end of that evening, the healing was well on its way. And by the following day there was no more pain or inflammation.

I had proved, to some small degree, the truth of a statement by Mary Baker Eddy n3 in the Christian Science textbook. She writes, ''When the Science of being is universally understood, every man will be his own physician, and Truth will be the universal panacea.'' n4

n3 Mary Baker Eddy is the Discovere and Founder of Christian Science.

n4 Science and Health with Key to the scriptures, p. 144.

We often face experiences with others we would just as soon avoid. But rather than turn away, we can allow God's love to turn us, to make us more Godlike. This brings the needed healing and peace. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love. Romans 12:10

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