IT'S not always easy welcoming new relatives into the family. It sometimes seems as if the old fable of fighting in-laws has to be true--as if it's inevitable that there will be an uncomfortable waiting period for sizing up and getting to know an addition to the family before the new member is fully embraced. When a family enlarges or changes shape, adjustments on all sides are the order of the day. But we make these changes more easily--and more quickly--when we remember that in reality we are all child ren of God, and that each child of God is equally loved and cared for by God.
What do we do, then, when a son- or daughter-in-law doesn't meet the new parents' expectations? Or when children can't seem to accept a new sibling? It's situations like these that require us to gain a better spiritual understanding of God's man. God made man in His own image and likeness, the Bible tells us. He created man good, loving, joyful. Through prayer these can be the qualities that we see and express as our family grows.
Man's true, spiritual identity is established by and reflected from God. Man, as God's image, expresses only Godlike qualities. This spiritual identity is the identity we can all embrace as the reality of our being. And we can pray to live more fully what we understand of spiritual reality.
It seems, however, that people can often be difficult to get along with or unloving in their behavior. Sometimes, even though we're beginning to see that God didn't create these unhappy situations, it's hard to see that others also reflect God! While we never have to love hatred or ugly, unloving thoughts and actions in either ourselves or others, we do need to love the spiritual identity of God's man. This accurate, spiritual perspective enables us to perceive the good that is always expressed in man, G od's creation. Spiritually viewing goodness as God-given doesn't ignore the awful thoughts and actions, but rather heals them by helping us to understanding more fully the reality of God and His wholly good creation. Prayerfully recognizing good and its manifestations as God-sustained opens new channels of communication and shuts the door on egotistical criticism. Prayer enriches our experience and frees our thought from limitation and condemnation.
The Bible offers an example, in the book of Ruth, of how in-laws can get along well. After Ruth's husband died she chose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, although Naomi encouraged her to return to her own people and the gods they worshiped. I like to think that Ruth must have learned something of the allness of God, for she replied: "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my p eople, and thy God my God. And isn't this unity--as all children of the one God, divine Love--the soundest basis for happy family relations anywhere?
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. As we pray to pour forth our affection and care we will find our family experience enriched, enlarged, and purified. We'll be less likely to condemn or criticize others.
Christ Jesus taught his followers the great need to love mankind. And his teachings can be the basis of our everyday lives; His example a map of salvation as we spiritually progress. It doesn't matter how much our family grows. As we prayerfully acknowledge man's spiritual identity we come to see that God is truly the Father of all!