IT was the third morning in a row that I had been annoyed with my husband. I knew better. I had learned in my study of Christian Science that no matter how long we may have excused a quick temper or an easily ruffled disposition as just an understandable human failing, we shouldn't be fooled. Far from being something minor, touchy feelings are responsible for too many clouded-over days to be simply put up with -- much less accepted as an ingrained character trait that we and our loved ones must live with. We can squelch these feelings at the onset and replace them with spiritual grace and dominion. Sound difficult? Well, sometimes it is. But it can be done. Heartfelt prayer, through which we humbly listen to the voice of God, Truth and Love, inevitably results in harmony. And if we faithfully persist in such prayer, it helps us attain that wonderful sense of tenderness and well-being that loving brings to our lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: ``The effects of Christian Science are not so much seen as felt. It is the `still, small voice' of Truth uttering itself. We are either turning away from this utterance, or we are listening to it and going up higher. Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, -- this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.''1
On that third day that I had been so cross with my husband I turned wholeheartedly to God, asking Him to help me leave this old attitude for the loving, spiritualized disposition that would bring harmony. I had learned in Christian Science that love is the natural expression of man's true being as the spiritual image of God. And that was my true being as well as everyone else's.
My prayers led me to the Bible, to where Paul talks to the Corinthians about love.2 And then I remembered Henry Drummond's wonderful sermon based on this chapter, in which he comments specifically on each of what he calls the ``ingredients'' of love. The one that shone for me, of course, was ``Good Temper.'' ``Love is not easily provoked,'' he says, quoting from the Bible verse (substituting love -- the meaning of the original Greek word -- for charity, used in the King James Version). And then he goes on to say: ``We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness....And yet here, right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place....
``The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character.''3 Was that me, suffering from the ``vice of the virtuous''? Well, it had seemed so. But that day was the beginning of a major shift in my nature. It didn't happen overnight. In fact it's still going on. But at least now I recognize -- and don't excuse -- the evil in getting ruffled over nothing (or even over something).
I'm helped these days, whenever the ruffledness threatens to take over, by asking myself what Jesus would do. Would he react with annoyance to every little foible of a loved one? Of course not. His innate lovingkindness brought healing wherever he went.
We can bring healing and joy to our lives too by being the ``little child'' Mrs. Eddy speaks about, willing to leave the false landmark of a touchy disposition for what St. Paul termed ``the new man,'' for a greater expression of our true selfhood in God's likeness.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 323-324. 2See I Corinthians, chap. 13. 3Henry Drummond, ``The Greatest Thing in the World,'' p. 21.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1