I was taught to treat people with love and respect, and I thought that would result in others responding in kind. But that doesn't always happen. And this sometimes feels unfair.
Then comes the inclination to try to "fix" the way they think of me. I want to correct any misconceptions or feelings of being wronged.
The other day I walked into the local coffeehouse for a hot chocolate and was delighted to see a young man whom I've known since he was a boy. I greeted him with "Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you!" Yet my greeting was met with unmistakable disdain and dismissal. I was so baffled that I forgot to order my drink.
I thought about every possible thing that I could have said or done to deserve that kind of treatment. Soon I realized that I was viewing him with the same lack of charity that I felt I had received from him earlier.
This was a critical moment for me. I knew I had to find a different starting point when facing unkindness.
There's a book I turn to, along with the Bible, that gives me practical guidance in my life. Its author, and the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind..." (p. 275).
I realized that what I needed to understand was that my peace doesn't come from assurances that everyone likes me or approves of my decisions. My peace must come from somewhere much deeper. It has to come from somewhere unmoveable, grounded, and unshakable. It has to come from God.
So I adjusted my perspective on trying to figure out the reasons why others might treat me in ways that I felt were undeserved. I didn't need to wonder why or what if, because I knew what is! God, good, is omnipresent, supreme good, operating without fail in each of us. I don't always have to know what another is thinking, has thought, or may have been inclined to think about me. What I do need to know is that God is the only Mind taking thought for both of us. That's my secure starting point. If more needs to be known about another's view of me, then God will care for that in His own way, in His own time.
We all exist within the embrace of divine Love. This embrace shifts our focus away from winning one another's hearts or affections. Instead we win the war against those suggestions that would have us doubt one another's motives, question one another's responses, or think that there could ever be anyone outside that circle needing to be drawn in. We are all "under the control of the one Mind, even God," as "Science and Health" states (p. 544).
It's time to learn to let go of those uncomfortable, questionable moments at the start ... with the right starting point.
Noted civil rights activist and speaker Melba Beals once said when addressing a youth conference: "What you think of me is none of my business." What is most important, she explained, is how we think of others. I'm with Melba on this. All that really counts in my practice of Christianity is how I am thinking about, and treating, others.
I think I'm ready for that hot chocolate now, please...
Study to shew thyself
approved unto God,
a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed,
the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15