The Freedom to Love

I WAS not looking forward to making the telephone call. I thought the person I had to talk to was rude and ungrateful. But she was the only person with the information I needed now, so I had to get past my feelings.

Praying to know how I could love more, I was surprised by the thought: "This woman is as wonderful as you are. This had to be God's answer to my prayer because quite frankly my criticism of her was based squarely on the premise that I would never act as badly as she did. As I continued to pray, I began to realize that it was my behavior, not hers, that I could change. After all this time, my feelings were still hurt because she had, I felt, slighted me previously in a challenging situation. I asked God t o help me love more freely.

I knew that God loves His creation unconditionally. His love transforms and redeems our lives. Prayer has the effect of bringing to the surface hidden errors and helps us correct the mistakes that have been uncovered. With great clarity I saw that the air of superiority I had attributed to her was no more a part of her than wounded pride was part of my real identity, which is spiritual. Both of us were, in reality, the child of God's creating. I eventually was able to make the call with an eagerness to s peak with her. The conversation was full of good humor and mutual support.

In other cases, of course, resolving relationship problems may take many patient months and years. But no matter how hard the struggle, we can turn in prayer to the spiritual resources that help us persist. When we feel alienated from our neighbors, friends, family, or co-workers, what we really need to do is quietly, thoughtfully reexamine our own relationship to God.

We may feel others have taken something away from us or are depriving us of something we need or want. But, in fact, everything we've ever had that's good--and every good thing we've ever needed--has its source in God. Although the people we love may confirm God's goodness, they never are the source of good. The source of good remains God, divine Love, who gives man all the intelligence, joy, opportunity, and satisfaction he needs in order to be happy. And what God gives, no one can take away.

Understanding this spiritual reality gives us the perspective of God as divine Love creating His children--creating us--both loving and lovable. As we read in I John: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

When I've struggled to overcome any ill will toward someone, it has been humbling for me to remember how Christ Jesus faced hatred and to be reminded of how he continued to love and to heal even those who thought they were his enemies.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures of the opposition Christ Jesus met: "The opposite and false views of the people hid from their sense Christ's sonship with God. They could not discern his spiritual existence.

Those we're trying to love may not, at least at first, seem worthy of love. Yet the freedom to love, because it has a spiritual basis, isn't contingent upon our perception of other people's worthiness to be loved. Our freedom to love is dependent on God's expression of life throughout His creation, including us. The only way we can love more consistently is to draw on resources deeper than the human intellect and human willpower. Only divine Love, God, moves our thought and hearts beyond pride, resentmen t, and apathy to the spiritual love that wholeheartedly supports our fellowman. To our character weaknesses and mistakes, this same love brings healing and regeneration.

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