THERE'S nothing quite like those days when everything goes wrong. You forget your homework, your chemistry teacher decides to give a surprise quiz, and the kids you thought were your friends do something horrible to you.
I had a day like that a few weeks ago, and when my roommate and I got home, I was feeling terribly discouraged. A group of people that I really liked-and that I thought liked me-had behaved in a very hateful way. I couldn't understand why, and I felt frustrated and hurt. Since I rely on prayer for help in good times and bad, I prayed to God in order to know what to do.
Things were pretty quiet for a while. Then my friend said, ''What's that noise?'' Nearby I had been keeping the chrysalis of a luna moth, waiting for it to hatch. A chrysalis is the cocoon that the caterpillar spins when it is ready to change from a worm into a butterfly-or in this case a large and beautiful moth. The sound my friend heard was the sound of the moth emerging from its cocoon!
We both expected something beautiful to come out. Instead, we saw what looked like a big, fat, striped caterpillar with tiny, deformed wings on its back. Our first reaction was ''Yuck!'' It seemed cruel that the moth should also be having a crummy day, so I called the place where I had gotten the chrysalis and asked what to do.
The man said to wait-and to keep watching-because in about twenty minutes the whole creature would be transformed. As I watched the transformation in progress, I also thought about the hateful behavior I had experienced earlier that day.
I recalled something Mary Baker Eddy says in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science writes: ''Faith is higher and more spiritual than belief. It is a chrysalis state of human thought, in which spiritual evidence, contradicting the testimony of material sense, begins to appear, and Truth, the ever-present, is becoming understood'' (p. 297). I realized that I believed the man at the butterfly place when he told me everything would work out, because I had ''faith'' in his experience. And in a short time-just as he'd said-the moth's transformation was complete. Its large, beautiful wings were the pale green of new spring leaves. Its feathery antennae tested the air. What a thrill it was to release this lovely creature that evening!
On a much larger scale and in a deeper way, I could trust God's direction in connection with the awful events earlier that day. From the many times God had helped me in the past, I knew that I could rely on His love and His power. I knew that I needed His help if I were to overcome my fear and anger about how meanly the people had acted.
Something Christ Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew's Gospel, gave me a real incentive to find healing. Jesus told his listeners, ''Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God'' (5:9). I knew that Jesus taught us to know ourselves as God's spiritual children. This meant, of course, that we are to be good and loving to each other. And we need to recognize that unkindness is no part of God's children-is no part of us, is no part of ''the other person.'' We are all children of God, and our nature must be good and spiritual.
As I prayed in this way, I began to see more clearly how the trouble had begun and what steps were needed to prevent it from happening again. I also realized that even at the time I could have done more to avoid what had happened. That made it easier for me to work toward peace, and it also encouraged me to go to the individuals involved and reestablish our friendship. Praying to know what to say and how to say it took a few days, but peace with my friends was restored, to everyone's joy. Now, when I think of that day, I remember what I learned of God's goodness as I watched the moth's transformation. Even a day that starts out like a fat caterpillar with tiny wings can turn-through prayer-into something beautiful and special.