EVERYWHERE you look, a discrepancy is apparent: some children are blessed with loving, supportive parents, while others grow up amid unhappiness and even violence. Those in the second group-including children who are raised in what are termed dysfunctional families-not only appear to suffer in childhood, but often bear lifelong scars that make normal relationships difficult or impossible for them.
Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, shows that permanent healing of emotional damage is possible, and this is because God is completely good. The very word God means, in its essence, good. God is not only the Father but also the Mother of man, as the Bible indicates. God is our true and only parent. So any one of us, whether he or she has grown up in a "wonderful" family or in a "nightmarish" one, has only one actual parent.
We inherit qualities only from this Parent. We never need accept the manifestation of negative family traits as inevitable or irreversible, be they violence, instability, addiction, or codependence. We express from God such good qualities as lovingkindness, stability, self-control, and independent thought. These reveal our spiritual nature. Nothing in human life can blind anyone to that reality or keep us from claiming and cultivating these qualities as our own.
Dysfunctional families are not new. We find them even in the Bible. Jacob and Esau, for example, had a mother who favored one son, Jacob, and a father who favored the other, Esau. These twins were pitted against each other until there was a rift. Reconciliation was finally achieved, the Bible shows, only when these individuals grew in expressing humility and genuine, unselfish love for each other.
In a world in which matter is trusted more readily than Spirit, even those who grow up in happy families must learn to put their ultimate trust in the goodness of God. He loves each of us. He created us exactly as He intended us to be-spiritual and perfect. The Bible states in the first chapter of Genesis, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (verse 31). Like Father, like son. Like Mother, like daughter. Like Parent, like child.
Understanding the perfection of God and His child is the basis on which Christ Jesus, the son of God, healed. Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea,-perfect God and perfect man,-as the basis of thought and demonstration" (p. 259). Each of us is beloved and precious in the sight of God. We can see and accept this as fact. Then we can trust it. And consequently, our lives can become more happy and more fulfilled. We do have access to genuine healing of family troubles, no matter what the individual circumstances.
"That's all easy for you to say," you may be thinking. Actually, it isn't. I myself grew up in a so-called dysfunctional family where emotional violence and cruelty were the order of each day.
Yet, all my life, I had the compelling need to know and understand God, and I felt intuitively that God must be good. So I investigated many religious teachings, and my search led me eventually to Christian Science.
Through my growing awareness that God is a source of consistent goodness for me that I can rely upon, much in my life has been redeemed. I have a very happy and healthy marriage, based upon mutual respect and love for God. My husband and I have raised a happy and stable son, who himself naturally trusts God. Even my relationship with my parents, while not close, is now harmonious. More precious, perhaps, than any of these is a mental peace I've found by increasingly coming to accept my inherent goodness as God's daughter.
More and more I understand God in a way that guides my footsteps. I know that I can, indeed, open my heart to a goodness that really does surround me. I know that I can, indeed, trust God. And so can you.
You can find other articles about Christian Science in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.