Mental Brown-Bagging

IF troubles bombard us, do we chew on them, carry them to work, ruminate all day, add some more, and brown-bag the whole lot home again? We've got to nourish thought with wholesome ideas in order to live healthy and useful lives. The Bible gives us the perfect ``menu'' for this: ``The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.''1 If we would value this spiritual fruit and partake of it during the day, it would permeate not only our thoughts but everything we do. Inspired, spiritually based thought transforms the quality of life -- relationships, work, health, and so forth.

One time I had a misunderstanding with someone that quickly escalated out of control. Hurtful things were said, and the parting was on an angry note. Over the next few days I found myself going over and over what was said, even adding what I thought should or could have been said and justifying my point of view. I was hurt, resentful, and totally miserable over the episode.

Eventually I realized that I had to change the direction of my thought, no matter what my friend had done or was doing. I began to pray, not asking God to change my friend but striving to get a truer view of him. Paul wrote to the Philippians: ``Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.''2 Yet I had been doing just the opposite. Now I began to dwell on these strong qualities, and I saw that man's true nature as the son of God, as His spiritual image, must in some way express these Godlike attributes.

My efforts weren't, however, simply a question of positive thinking; they weren't merely a shift of attitude from bad to good. Healing in the deepest, truest sense comes through an understanding of the oneness and goodness of God, which rule out the legitimacy of anything unlike Himself. Healing comes through an understanding of what man really is as the outcome of God. If my thinking had reflected this understanding in regard to my relationships, that quarrel would never have taken place, because I would have been seeing only what was good -- not ignoring evil but acting from a higher sense of God and man.

Now I saw that the conflict was all a mistake, nothing more. I went to my friend with joy and was welcomed with hospitality.

Recently, a flare-up occurred again. But quickly the temptation to justify my position faded with the realization of the need to yield to God's direction, which is totally good. I knew that I needed to balance prayer with my behavior, living whatsoever things are true, honest, pure, lovely. In the words of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ``It is wise to be willing to wait on God, and to be wiser than serpents; to hate no man, to love one's enemies, and to square accounts with each passing hour.''3 The quarrel dissipated. Since then we have been able to work together effectively.

After the morning meal shared by the risen Jesus with his disciples, the Master said to Peter, ``Feed my sheep.''4 Many in this world are hungry for the love we can impart. To express the love that comes from God by entertaining a higher, spiritual sense of man and by keeping our thought filled with what is good and pure is to partake of the first and foremost ``fruit of the Spirit.''

1Galatians 5:22. 2Philippians 4:8. 3Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17. 4John 21:16.

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