IT was dinnertime, and our two-year-old was again avoiding her vegetables. I asked her to eat her beans, but she refused and asked for a cookie instead.
``No beans, no dessert,'' I said. She complained and started to get upset. But I remained unmoved, determined that she finish her dinner. Soon she had worked herself into an uproar. I decided that I needed to leave the room and pray for a solution.
Our tug of wills had produced nothing but unhappiness and animosity. And as I prayed I began to wonder if it was so important for her to eat her beans tonight after all. Wouldn't it be simpler to forget the whole incident and give her a cookie?
I could see now that the real issue was not what she ate, but learning how to work with each other. We had been pulling in two opposite directions. I thought she should eat the vegetables, and she didn't. We needed to find common ground.
I knew from my study of Christian Science that there is only one Mind--one God. Man doesn't exist in a world of his own with a mind of his own. He is the offspring of God and is accountable to God. He is part of one grand whole in which all works together in harmony.
My daughter and I, I realized, are both children of the one Mind, God. Instead of thinking I knew what was right and she needed to learn from me, her father, I could appreciate her ability to hear and follow God's directions. This didn't break down my parental authority, however, but strengthened it by putting us both under the authority of God, our divine Parent. I decided to listen more to God for what we needed to do and less to myself.
I remembered that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science had described Mind in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. One phrase, in particular, stood out to me: ``Deity, which outlines but is not outlined'' (p. 591). I saw that I could depend upon God to outline my daughter's actions correctly. I needed to resist the temptation to step in and try to do the work for Him.
In willfully attempting to make my daughter do things my way, I had erred. I could confidently rely on the all-knowing Mind to lead and inspire her gently to do what was right. And I could put aside my willfulness and trust the outcome to God.
I put the whole beans/cookie incident into the hands of God. I didn't have to feel personally responsible for my daughter's eating habits. Turning to the Lord's Prayer, which Christ Jesus gave us, I prayed ``Thy will be done'' (Matthew 6:10). Peacefulness swept over me.
Absorbed in prayer, I hadn't noticed my daughter enter the room. Standing at my side, still crying, she was making a request: ``Beans please.'' I wasn't sure I was hearing correctly, and for a moment my heart sank. I had already thrown the beans out. Then I took out some frozen beans, cooked them in the microwave, and gave them to her. Smiling and nodding approval, tears gone, she ate them like ice cream.
All unhappiness and resentment had vanished. She was totally delighted to have been given the opportunity to finish her meal. With this healing, the whole string of similar episodes came to an end.
I was so happy to give her a cookie. And I have learned my lesson that obeying God is right for everyone.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.