Have you ever had a conversation with someone where the truth you wanted to convey just couldn't be heard? Whether those conversations go on between loved ones – parents and children, spouses, friends – or in casual social situations, they can leave a person feeling frustrated. What's the obstruction to effective communication? And what can be done about it?
It's uncomfortable to "lose your cool" or sputter helplessly when you most want to be understood, when you feel most fervently about a subject. But there's something to be learned from such experiences, and prayer can reveal it. We don't have to suffer frustration and helplessness when trying to share ideas with others – or sorrow and regret over unpleasant past conversations. There is an answer, and love can lead us to it.
A mother who was having arguments with her young daughter over just about everything told her little girl in the middle of one of them, "We don't seem to be getting anywhere arguing about this. Let's just love each other." The tension dissolved in smiles as they hugged each other. Maybe the disagreement wasn't resolved right then, but love certainly prepared the way for better communication at a later time. In that moment of need, divine Love communicated itself and proved that dissension doesn't have the power to override harmony.
Truth is important to all of us. Understanding what is true is foundational to how we live. But communicating truth to others requires "the spirit of our blessed Master," as Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, said of Christ Jesus ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 571). Our motives must be pure. We can't be trying to put people in their place or prove our superiority.
Approaching someone in this loving spirit doesn't hide truth, nor does it ignore wrong behavior. But genuine truth-telling can be done with love. If it isn't done that way, it misses the mark. It's like the Boy Scout who did his good deed for the day by helping a woman cross the street – when she didn't want to go. Science and Health states: "In mental practice you must not forget that erring human opinions, conflicting selfish motives, and ignorant attempts to do good may render you incapable of knowing or judging accurately the need of your fellow-men" (p. 447).
Pride of opinion is never the vehicle for communicating anything effectively. It is self-serving, not the "spirit of our blessed Master," who "beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals" (Science and Health, pp. 476–477). What greater love can be communicated than holding this vision of God's creation? Spiritual sense reveals the man, including male and female, whom Jesus beheld. A mortal, who seems to be intractable, hard-hearted (or hard-headed), is a distortion of God's creation. Love sees through this picture. The seer and the seen are lovely when viewed through inspired spiritual understanding. Accepting this spiritual fact and acting on it corrects the false view. Illusory mortal beliefs have no power to negate what is real, nor even to obfuscate an awareness of reality, any more than a belief in a flat earth was able to alter its roundness or prevent the earth from being fully explored.
God, infinite Love, does not discriminate in His communication with His children, and the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him how to pray, is a fit preparation for our effective communication with one another. Underlining the tenderness of our relationship to our Maker, it begins with the sweet words, "Our Father." That tenderness can grace with love all our communications.
Let no corrupt communication proceed
out of your mouth, but that which is good
to the use of edifying, that it may minister
grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29