NO matter how many times I tried to explain the right thing to do in a particular situation, our foster child could not seem to learn it. And he had just done the wrong thing again. I was exasperated. Was it laziness? Anger? Or ignorance?
In this confusion I began yelling. Loudly. But I saw he was not grasping my message. Volume had no strength to get the right point across. I felt ashamed of my behavior and became quiet. Even more humbling was the fact that the child immediately forgave me for yelling at him.
Wrong needs to be made right. The proper, decent action still needed to be understood. But my human approach of threats and rewards was proving futile. Before saying anything more to the child, I turned to my pastor--the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy--for direction.
I read this statement in Science and Health: ``Divine Love corrects and governs man'' (p. 6). This helped me see that I could trust God as our disciplinarian.
I began to pray, affirming divine Love, God, to be the one Parent of all. This spiritual fact gave me a legitimate basis for refusing to admit that the past human upbringing of this child had the power to damage him. I did not have to make the child good, but to witness and nurture God's goodness expressed by him. The goodness of God has nothing to do with physicality. It is not in a mortal body and can't even be seen by the material senses. It is spiritual sense that knows the goodness of God.
Through spiritual sense I discerned that the unconditional forgiveness the boy had expressed when I was yelling pointed to his true selfhood as the child, or image, of God, good. On my part, to stop yelling and asserting self was a step in the right direction in demonstrating man's true nature; and I knew I could continue to witness man governed by Love as I turned to God more fully.
It was encouraging to remember that man, as the image of Love, is incapable of being obstinate. And I knew Love didn't create or condone disobedience in order to make me a better person. Discord is simply the result of the false belief that man could be governed by a power other than divine Love. Self-righteousness and exasperation bring friction; whereas, yielding to the allness of Love and recognizing man as Love's expression result in harmony, joy, and peace.
The power of God was becoming more apparent to me. This was evidence of the Christ--the true idea of God--operating in consciousness. Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated this true idea of God--with wonderful healing as the outcome. He knew God is divine Love. And he showed us that we must express God's love to one another in forgiveness, tenderness, and appropriate behavior. Utilizing these qualities as inherently ours as the children of God is letting Love, God, communicate and direct our action. And our God-impelled action helps those who may have strayed or done something wrong. Jesus' words recorded in the Gospel of Matthew illustrate this forgiving, saving love of God: ``If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish'' (18:12-14).
Receiving the Christ message of an intelligent, loving creator who governs man, I felt uplifted and knew the situation would be resolved. After all, the child evidenced spiritual attributes when doing other activities. And God's creation is whole, not fragmented, so there could not truly be an absence of correct behavior anywhere. Man's true nature--the genuine selfhood of the child and of myself--is wholly controlled by divine Love.
The circumstance came up again. In a normal tone I reminded the boy that he knew the right thing to do. My voice was strong, not with volume, but with confidence of his God-given dominion and capacity to express considerate judgment. I felt complete trust in divine Love as the only power and motivator. The child understood what was correct and did it.
Happy? You can believe we were happy! But I didn't feel prideful, as if I had just accomplished some huge feat. He hadn't succumbed to human opinion or to a tyrant but had responded in a natural, normal way to the guidance of his heavenly Parent, who loved him dearly.
Divine Love disciplines us all perfectly. Man is not only created in Love's exact likeness, but is forever governed by Love.
As a man chasteneth his son,
so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
Therefore thou shalt keep
the commandments of the Lord thy God,
to walk in his ways,
and to fear him.
For the Lord thy God
bringeth thee into a good land,
a land of brooks of water,
of fountains and depths
that spring out of valleys and hills . . . .
When thou hast eaten and art full,
then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God
for the good land
which he hath given thee.
Deuteronomy 8:5-7, 10