HOT summer weather had just begun and my husband had turned on the air-conditioning -- but it wasn't until the middle of the night, when I woke to the sound of our child's coughing, that I realized how chilly it had become. I adjusted the thermostat as I went to our child's room to rock her and to pray. As a Christian Scientist, I had experienced many healings through prayer, and I knew that God is ever present. I reached out to God's love to help and heal our child in this situation. But even as I endeavored to pray I was mentally scolding my husband for his carelessness in setting the temperature so low. Finally I realized that I was trying to see that God's love and care for our child were continuous, while at the same time believing that my husband could have been careless, even unloving! Forgiveness was really what was needed first.
It took me about half an hour of prayer before I stopped thinking self-righteously that I wanted to let my husband know what a thoughtless thing he'd done. But my desire to express more of God's love myself finally won out, and I was honestly able to feel the warmth of forgiveness flood my thoughts. I had known right along that my husband would never knowingly hurt our child, but now I also felt it. And I saw that no carelessness, no lack of love, and no coldness of temperature could interfere with God's perfect protection of His children. By this time our daughter was sleeping normally and peacefully. I put her in her crib and went back to sleep myself. In the morning there was no sign of any cough or congestion.
It is often through forgiving just such minor irritations and resentments, especially with our family members or those we work closely with, that we can more fully experience God's radical healing power in the daily affairs of our lives. This may not always seem easy, but we can receive encouragement from the example of the Master, Christ Jesus. Clearly Jesus' ability to forgive was divinely supported. We, too, have this spiritual aid as we learn to reject self-pity -- and self-righteousness, pride, fear, anger -- and strive to forgive those we feel have wronged us.
Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered and founded Christian Science, says: ``Brethren, even as Jesus forgave, forgive thou. I say it with joy, -- no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive. Meekness is the armor of a Christian, his shield and his buckler.''1
Once I heard a father tell of a healing that brought a new perspective to me on this idea of forgiving first. His daughter came crying to him that her brother had closed a door on her finger. The father was silent a few moments, praying, and then said to his daughter: ``Well, dear, you must make a choice. You can either get your brother in trouble or you can have a healing -- which one do you want?'' This helped the daughter to grasp that she needed to see her brother as loving, too, in order to understand that an all-loving God had never let her fall from His care. The daughter quickly chose to have a healing, and she was able genuinely to forgive her brother, as well.
We can choose to forgive first and know that in doing so we are being obedient to the Lord's Prayer: ``And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.''2 Mrs. Eddy interprets this succinctly to mean ``And Love is reflected in love.''3 God, divine Love, is reflected in our experience every time we truly love. This is the reward of forgiveness first.
1Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19. 2Matthew 6:12. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 17.