One of my college student friends made an interesting comment in Sunday School. He mentioned a situation with his girlfriend that week. She had pointed out to him a disconnect in communication, and he could see why it had happened. But in light of all that was going on in his life, he felt that the lapse was more than understandable.
As he wrote her an e-mail justifying his situation, he stopped and realized that all he was doing was writing about himself. He wasn't talking about "them" and what would build their relationship. In order for them to grow together, he had to find a way to talk about the "us" of their love for each other instead of the "me" of his singlehood. He erased the e-mail and started over. Their relationship took a step forward as a result.
The ability to think beyond ourselves is one of the essential means of knowing people.
Yet when things get bad, we pull back into self-pity and self-justification, which do little to engage us with others. How can we keep reaching out and maintain the more unselfish viewpoint?
Something I've learned recently about relationships is that they are God-given gifts to be honored, and they deserve our respect. Our bond with our Creator includes a harmonious relationship with all creation.
When Mary Baker Eddy discovered the Science of Christianity, she discovered the Science of relationships. The premise is that our nature as the child of God is preeminently spiritual and Christlike. With all the fluctuation in human experience and especially in relating to others, this can seem startling. But through the example of Christ Jesus, God preserves in His creation the excellence of His own image and likeness, and this reality operates as Science to save us from a false sense of ourselves and others.
In her primary text, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy wrote, "... God, the Soul of man and of all existence, being perpetual in His own individuality, harmony, and immortality, imparts and perpetuates these qualities in man, – through Mind, not matter" (p. 280).
Implied is a foundation of individuality that doesn't disconnect us from others, but engages us on the basis of God's endowment for each one. Instead of reacting to others, we find ourselves wanting to respond to the things that help support one another.
This gives me hope for all the families that will be coming together over the holidays. When you don't see one another often, the weaknesses of past encounters can loom so large that you miss the opportunity at hand to move forward. The perspective of the Science of Christ enables you to move past the psychological complexities of personality, experience, and intent.
Recognizing that God is expressing in each of us the best of what He has made in us, we look for the gift of goodness we have to offer one another. Where that gift may be clouded by the worst of human nature, through the saving power of Christ, the baser yields to the best.
When there's a problem with a relative, rather than assigning blame and reinforcing the problem, it helps to see that what we're dealing with is an evil influence that would try to disconnect the children of God's family. But we don't have to let it. In fact, it's inherent in us, instead, to find the natural God-given connection that will help us move forward together.
I like to think of us as geese flying in formation. If a gun goes off while geese are flying, they don't look at one another to see who has the rifle. Instead, together they fly higher, where it's safer. We can do the same. Whatever "shot" we feel may be aimed at us, we don't have to assign blame. When we admit that we want to honor the God-given gift of knowing another child of God, thought will yield to God's shaping of the blessing.
As people gather over the holidays, the harmony of God's creation cannot be hidden.