IT isn't ever easy raising children, but when one is a single parent, special challenges often present themselves. Trying to be both father and mother can leave one wondering if one's children are missing the balance and unity provided by fathering and mothering. I found myself with just such concerns when I was raising two daughters on my own. With no men around, we tended heavily toward feminine interests. A family friend gently teased that the girls were growing up to be sissies. But instead of rushing out to buy baseball equipment in an effort to forestall prissiness or timidity, I turned to God in prayer.
Through my study of Christian Science I had learned that God is the only Father and Mother of man. Since God is indivisible, I reasoned that God's fathering and mothering are not separate functions but are perfectly blended with each other.
I based my prayers on the spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, which Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Of the first line of the Lord's Prayer, ``Our Father which art in heaven,'' she writes, ``Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious....''
Along with numerous references to God as a strong, protecting, defending father, the Scriptures contain a considerable number of references to God as a tender, comforting, nurturing mother. Mrs. Eddy concluded that God's nature is the balanced, complete, indivisible, perfect, whole expression of what might be termed male and female qualities. She also concluded that a Father-Mother God must create a child who expresses this completeness of the masculine and feminine qualities as well.
Mortal experience seems to divide these qualities into male and female bodies, and then endeavors to gain balance or completeness by uniting men and women in sexual relationships and reproduction. But this would leave individuals subject to incompleteness if they were ever left without a partner, and would leave children at the mercy of incomplete parenting.
When I prayed for my daughters, I could see that since God is Father-Mother and He is indivisible, it would be impossible for God's motherhood and fatherhood to be separated from each other and impossible for man, God's reflection, to be separated from this united, balanced expression of strength and love. I felt assured that God was forever expressing in my daughters, in me, and in everyone, the perfect blend of spiritual qualities. None of us could be ``too masculine'' or ``too feminine.''
The next summer the friend who had teased me about the girls was at a summer camp with them. At the end of the session she came running up to me to say, ``They're not sissies anymore; they're wonderful!'' I rejoiced in the evidence that God was indeed nurturing His children with the perfect, undivided qualities of their Father-Mother.
Through this small experience I was able to glimpse a larger truth more clearly and to see how it applies to all the children of the world. Whether it be third world children with no human parents and little hope of adoption, children split between divorced parents, or just children who don't seem to be getting adequate attention from their parents, God is eternally their Father-Mother who never ceases to love and care for them. Christ Jesus pointed clearly to our divine Parent when he said, as Matthew's Gospel records, ``Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.''
Our prayers to recognize this fact whenever we hear of children without needed nurturing help to bring this powerful truth to bear on the human scene, and will reveal human ways we can help as well.
With an increased understanding of God, divine Love, as our Father-Mother, we see more clearly that all of God's beloved children are harmonious or ``in heaven,'' as the Lord's Prayer assures us, and this spiritual unity can bring practical care to every child in need of Father-Mother Love.
You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
BIBLE VERSE In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.... And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them.... And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Genesis 1:1, 26-28, 31