MOST everyone knows what ``people-rubs'' feel like. Unresolved disagreements and irritations can cloud relationships among family members or work associates. What helps soothe such irritations? Better attitudes? Clearer communication? A cheery outlook, in spite of it all?
No doubt all these stepped-up personal ingredients can help. But at times, soothing an irritation can amount to nursing it. Wouldn't it be nice to see such wounds disappear entirely?
Consider the life of Christ Jesus. He fulfilled his unparalleled mission with gentleness, authority, and a deep spiritual love for those he healed. Still, his marvelous healing works drew intense expressions of anger and jealousy from some of those watching.
The gospel record is clear, however, that Jesus triumphed over ill feeling. When an angry mob, ``filled with wrath,'' would have killed him, we're told in Luke's Gospel that ``he passing through the midst of them went his way . . . .'' 1
Not one of us, of course, faces the depth of conflict that Jesus faced. It's no wonder, then, that his example and his gracious teachings of God and man can help us when we face conflict.
In my own experience three simple but powerful qualities drawn from Jesus' preaching have solved relationship problems. These three -- humility, meekness, and forgiveness -- have served as instant aids when ``people-rubs'' have developed.
When we express qualities such as these in the face of conflict, we open wide the door to a clearer recognition of the truth of man as created by God, a reality that Jesus clearly illustrated. The man of God's creating -- our actual selfhood -- is the immortal, flawless expression of God. While it may seem that the world is full of mortal personalities in conflict with one another, the truth lies in God's spiritual creation, His harmonious, immortal family. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded
Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The universe of Spirit is peopled with spiritual beings, and its government is divine Science.'' 2
Meekness, humility, and forgiveness -- among other moral qualities -- heal, because they help bring us into step with God's government. And they heal because, as God-derived qualities, they carry with them divine power. Thus, Jesus counseled his followers to wash one another's feet in humility; he taught us to pray ``Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors''; 3 and he spoke those profound words ``Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.'' 4
Humility has helped me know the real source of my thoughts, abilities, and energy. This source is truly God. Good ideas aren't our own selfish possessions. If we humbly remember this, our abilities won't shrivel up before the completion of a project. And they won't offend others.
That brings us to meekness. Meekness can so govern our contacts with others that care and mutual respect, even in trying circumstances, typify our relationships. Just as we need humbly to recognize our individual status as God's able servant, so in meekness we should appreciate God-derived abilities in others.
Of course, meekness is not weakness. While it is often quiet -- a daily recognizing and appreciating of others -- it does not make us a doormat. On the contrary, meekness becomes the path through which God's gracious love heals and enriches our relationships. All the will and discussion and confrontation in the world is often not enough to heal some rifts. Yet meekness can win the day.
Forgiveness is the third of the three strengths that have helped me. Jesus' parable of the prodigal son tells of the instant forgiveness this young man's father had for his son when he returned home after squandering much money with squalid living. ``Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him,'' 5 said the father. There was no hesitation, no period of stewing and demanding apologies. Similarly, with God there is only that perfect love which knows of each one's blamelessness and perfection.
Forgiveness can be a simple recognition of this spiritual fact. And we can practice it every day. Under the balm of forgiveness, the sting in people-to-people irritations disappears.
So, we don't need to feel that cheerfully enduring another day of unpleasant interaction with someone at home or at work is our only hope. We can be meek. We can be forgiving. And we can act with humility. Most important, though, we can rejoice in the truth of being -- that we and those around us belong to God's perfect, harmonious family. This truth heals ``people-rubs.'' 1 Luke 4:28, 30. 2 Science and Health, pp. 264-265. 3 Matthew 6:12. 4 Matthew 5:5. 5 Luke 15:22.