Affection that heals
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I woke up feeling draggy and down. I was sad about the loss of the shuttle Columbia. The news on Iraq wasn't good. And then I heard that North Korea might be going nuclear. It started feeling like a constant barrage.
Add all that bad news to struggles in my own life. I didn't want to spend my day feeling this way. So, as I'm used to doing when I'm disturbed about anything, I prayed to God for an answer. I asked God to please help me overcome the gloominess - to show me what I needed to see or do to move forward.
My answer came in an unexpected way.
I went downstairs to pick up the morning newspaper, and I saw one of my neighbors, who is a journalist. He was about to leave for Kuwait. I had really wanted to wish him well before he left, and it was important to me that the well-wishing be not just perfunctory, but heartfelt. So I was happy with this last-minute opportunity. We had a quick but sweet exchange, and he was on his way to the airport.
On my way back upstairs, I started feeling happy again; all of the heaviness had disappeared. What had happened? Affection for my neighbor and my willingness to express it were the answer to my prayer.
"Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers," wrote Mary Baker Eddy in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 15).
That small experience has given me a new understanding of how love and affection propel us forward and bring healing. Jesus' life certainly illustrates the healing power of God's love and the importance of expressing that love and affection to others. Jesus' closeness to God, Love, didn't make him cold or aloof. It didn't make him unaware of people's needs. In fact, Jesus' unity with Love made him more aware of others' needs.
One time Jesus had been preaching for three days to a huge crowd. He said to his disciples: "I hurt for these people. For three days now they've been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can't send them away without a meal ...." So Jesus took the seven loaves and two fishes he had and gave thanks to God. He divided up the food, and the Bible says that "over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal" (Eugene Peterson, "The Message," Matt. 15:32-38).
Another time, there were two blind men sitting along the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Master, have mercy on us!" Then the Bible says, "The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder .... They said, 'Master, we want our eyes opened....' Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant ..." (The Message, Matt. 20:30-34).
Mrs. Eddy wrote the following about Jesus: "Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love" (Science and Health, pg. 54). I find Jesus' example of affection and love instructive in my own ministry of healing as a Christian Science practitioner.
At one time, a woman asked me to pray with her about a difficult problem. I prayed faithfully, but I wasn't seeing any progress or willingness on her part to move forward. I longed to help her find answers, but I was getting frustrated in the process.
As I listened for God's direction, I became convinced that God, Love, was providing a solution. She would hear it directly from God, at exactly the right time. I stopped feeling frustrated, because I felt so sure that Love was caring for her. And I started feeling a deep affection and compassion for her. In a very short time, she not only found the direction she needed but also the courage to take the appropriate steps.
The reason we're able to express God's love is that we are God-created, not self-created. Love and affection are not something we generate ourselves - rather they are part of the kingdom of heaven within us that God has made. This means that everyone has the opportunity to express unselfish love and feel the satisfaction and joy that brings.
Caring more about another rather than focusing only on ourselves is evidence of God working in us.
I'm learning there is no situation in which our willingness to express God-given affection and love does not have power to change things for the better. Expressing pure affection for another is a powerful prayer that brings healing.