To love beyond ourselves

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

A young mom was sitting in a grocery store parking lot late at night, wondering if she had the mental stability to go in and get what was needed for the boys' school lunches in the morning. The intensity of her single motherhood was overwhelming her yet again, and she didn't know how she would have the courage to keep going.

Sitting behind the wheel, she felt that her prayers were telling her that the blessing of going into the store would be greater than sitting in the car, so once again God gave her composure.

And then in the second aisle, she found the unknown friend who would teach her the lesson in love she needed. The new friend was a very short woman who couldn't reach the shelf that held the cans of large black olives. Instinctively, the troubled mom picked up the four cans, and they both acknowledged how good it was that they were on sale.

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Then, the woman turned to the mother with such sincere love in her eyes and said, "Thank you so much." And without hesitation she added, "This is how I will honor your good deed: I'm going to look for a way to help someone else, and when I'm helping them, I'm going to remember this moment when you did this kind thing for me."

The young mom had to turn away quickly to hide the sudden tears that were warm on her cheeks. Somehow this stranger's generous grace had broken the spell of the loneliness and fear. The inspiration she'd received in the car was true: The blessing of making the effort to go into the store had proved to be greater than sitting in the car, because being in the store had given her a natural way to love and be loved.

The next morning, making the lunches seemed easier than before. There was a lightness and gratitude for the opportunity to be with her children. She didn't marry again until several years after they'd left home, but those years together were some of their happiest.

The lesson in love that speaks through that experience is that love is an overflow. Yes, the warmth, support, inspiration, and joy of being with others is a beautiful thing. But such love is most satisfying when it confirms something within.

Writing of the spiritual growth that characterizes our relationship with God, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "We must learn that God is infinitely more than a person, or finite form, can contain; that God is a divine Whole, and All, an all-pervading intelligence and Love, a divine, infinite Principle..." ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 16). This echoes the Bible's proclamation that God is Love (see I John 4:8).

Love isn't primarily something we get from others. It is the indwelling knowledge of being known to, and loved by, God. The fresh dynamic of this relationship is that every day offers opportunities to be faithful to divine Love by using God's love to love others.

This is the Principle of Love that renews marriages, keeps friendships expansive and family relationships supportive, and that unfolds ever-new opportunities to love and bless others. The great usefulness of close, committed relationships is that they expand hearts into practicing a greater unselfishness, steadfastness, and trust in the reality of being loved.

It is tricky the way the human heart always longs for what it doesn't have. But to live without the fear of losing love, or the fear of never being loved, is to accept the all-encompassing Love that is God. What silences the discontent is the wholehearted engagement with the opportunities to love given each hour.

The human mind can scarcely consider that love has an infinite source. But it is because Love is the divine Principle of the universe that we can love freely, safely, and within the context of moral law. Herein is the key to finding peace, individuality, and right relationship with others.

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