A Christian Science perspective: What we learn from domestic peace.
Making peace can feel like hard, if not impossible, work especially if there have been tensions, hurts, and strife for extended periods of time. On an individual level, I experienced this with another parent when our daughters were competing against each other on the national tennis circuit. He was a tennis coach and felt that he had good reasons for the grievances he held against us. I felt the same. The perceived moments of unfairness and injustice were documented in my head. We would pass by on the same sidewalk, heads down or straight forward, not making eye contact. When I did make attempts to be gracious, he refused to acknowledge me. He had spoken negatively about my daughter to other coaches, players, and parents. It was clear. We were enemies, and the emotions ran deep.
This was not a major, life threatening global issue, but it was a microcosm of world tensions and their mental elements. There was fear, pride, distrust, self justification, will, jealousy, hostility, and yes – pettiness. Seven years of negative history had been built up in our minds.
As a follower of Jesus, I knew he taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). How was it that Jesus was able to walk, completely untouched emotionally or physically, through a vicious crowd who wanted to bring harm to him (see Luke 4:28-30)? Just how did he, and how can we, have the strength, spiritual poise, and grace to walk undisturbed by hate?
The situation felt pretty miserable, so I prayed for resolution. It was in the collection called “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, that I found some clarity. She speaks of the totality of God, divine Love, and writes, “Divine Love knows no hate; for hate, or the hater, is nothing: God never made it, and He made all that was made” (p. 122). In that same collection is also this instruction: “The mental arrow shot from another’s bow is practically harmless, unless our own thought barbs it. It is our pride that makes another’s criticism rankle, our self-will that makes another’s deed offensive, our egotism that feels hurt by another’s self-assertion” (pp. 223-224).
This was hard to hear – that the purification that needed to happen was in my own thinking. I was also stirred by Mrs. Eddy’s questions: “Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation? Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception? What is it that harms you? Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good, – that blesses infinitely one and all?” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8).
I am not going to tell you that this was easy. I had to let go of an egocentric, selfish perspective in order to make room for a spiritual sense that gave me the ability to understand the truth of God and His creation. If we are all made in the image and likeness of God – omnipresent good – then we could not express discord, could we? It was important for me to yield to the truth that each of us is the likeness of God, spiritual, and expressing divine Mind’s oneness and harmony. Self justification had to give way to my recognition of divine Love’s impartial approval for each of His children, made in His image and motivated by Love.
Just declaring these truths was a first step. Understanding more clearly the real God-given nature of all of us, I soon began to see evidences of the goodness, the Godliness, expressed by the coach and to think of him with respect and warmth. I was no longer afraid of him. It was as though the Holy Ghost, the spirit of Truth, had moved my thought to feel love for this fellow parent.
Then early one misty Georgia morning, our daughters needed to share the same warm up court. I was observing when the dad turned and confronted me. I was able to calmly share with him my perspective. He said, “I understand.” We stood there in silence for a moment, and then he said, “We are going to dinner tonight and I hope that you can join our family.” Our daughters were astounded when they came off the court and saw their parents in pleasant conversation. That night, before we ate, the dad offered a prayer that included a blessing for us. I was so grateful the healing Christ had answered my prayers. All tensions evaporated. Since that time, we have been genuinely cordial when our paths cross.
We may not be international diplomats, but we can pray for that childlike humility to make peace in our own lives. Even if we make blunders, Love is here to help us, and the ripple healing effect will bless all of us, some day, holding hands around the globe to declare, “We are at peace.”