RECENTLY a friend exploded at me. I was shocked. I hadn't even realized I had done something wrong. It seemed like a misunderstanding to me, but it was much more to my friend. Following this unpleasant experience I was tempted to hide behind the safe walls of self-imposed isolation. You've heard the reasoning: ``If I don't get close, I can't get hurt.'' It hit me that this was a replay of a feeling I had had many years ago. That time was much harsher. My husband and I had been married about eight years when he began having an affair. The tempestuous six months in which this continued was rife with emotions. Love and hate seemed to battle in us both. When he finally filed for divorce, I didn't contest. An immense struggle for survival followed in its wake. I built these wonderful invisible walls around me and hid safely behind them, getting close to no one and allowing no one close to me. I was never going to get hurt again.
Well, what happened was that a coworker who possessed infinite patience and a generous, loving nature showed me, without even realizing it, how to eliminate those walls. I learned that God truly is the source of goodness and joy. I could trust Him. I didn't have to pin my hopes on people, who might or might not come through. God always comes through with His love, because He is eternal Love itself. It's up to us to recognize His infinite nature, His constant care for His creation. Joy isn't given to man and then snatched away from him. Joy and love in their truest sense are spiritual, enduring qualities.
Gradually, over a year or so, I learned to bask in the goodness of God's love. I learned that joy and love are essential elements of man's nature--that is, of man created in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible teaches; man who is spiritual, unflawed, without evil, complete. This is the true identity I sought to see for myself, and I sought to see it in others. God is expressing His love in infinite ways; we just have to open our eyes. It was my patient friend who led me to the light, but I had to allow it in.
So what about this recent outburst? I squelched that temptation to hide. The thing that kept going through my thought was Jacob's words ``I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God....''1 He was speaking to his brother Esau, whom he had wronged many years earlier. And Esau met Jacob not with anger or revenge but with grace. God's grace was felt by them both. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``In this eternal harmony of Science, man is not fallen: he is governed in the same rhythm that the Scripture describes, when `the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.'''2
Do we conjure up racial or cultural prejudices? Instead why not see the divine nature--``the face of God''--being expressed right there, whatever the outward appearance. Compassion, intelligence, kindness--all the God-derived qualities--are present to be discerned.
Do we build walls to separate us from the pariahs of society? Instead of mentally fastening evil on someone, we have the opportunity to uplift, to realize the freedom of man, the God-given dominion that is bestowed on each individual offspring of God. Isn't this what Christ Jesus did? He didn't ignore evil, but he maintained a true spiritual view of man. This was the basis of his healing works. Anger isn't part of our true nature, but tenderness and understanding certainly are. Nor is rejection or fear part of our makeup. We see this to be true if we accept God as the only creator of man, if we accept man's nature to be the reflection of God. Harmony is a law of God, and this law can be seen to govern every relationship.
So the experience challenged me to take a stand, to grow in God's grace, to learn to see ``the face of God.'' It has certainly widened my vision to see other kinds of relationships in a more spiritual light. I'm much more alert to other kinds of situations where I can help eliminate walls. And the beautiful friendship between my friend and me continues to grow.
We certainly can't see clearly or completely if we're timidly peering over a wall. And if we happen to run into others' walls, God can lift us up and over. Let's keep our vision of God and man pure. The result can only be healing.
1Genesis 33:10. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 259. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Keep yourselves in the love of God . . . Jude 1:21