I love to watch an Olympic gold medalist win an event and then share with the whole world the victorious moment when his or her country's flag flies above the medalists' platform. One day I found myself admiring the tenacity and determination shown by champions, but also quietly lamenting that I would never have an opportunity to make these kinds of achievements.
Then, as bright as the Olympic flame itself, I saw that we each have an opportunity to bring an Olympic standard to the relationships in our lives. To bring unity, love, tolerance, and harmony into every relationship I had would be quite a feat. At first it sounded a little hokey, until I realized, on further thought, that what was required of the athlete in any event was in a way required of me in daily living. To bring my relationships up to a gold medal performance would require diligent and devoted prayer. The parallels started to make sense.
For example, an Olympian has to be willing to take instruction and follow rules. From what I've learned in studying Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, living a Christian life involves obeying God and following His rules. From the teachings of Jesus Christ, who showed how to obey God, we are told to heed the commandment God had given Moses and the Hebrew people: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39).
It is much easier to bring a standard of patient, unconditional love to human relationships when we understand that God is all-powerful Love. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy says, "Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love" (p. 340). Because you reflect God's love, you cannot include evil elements or selfish motives. In God there is nothing such as angry reaction, jealousy, gossip, or underlying tension to harm relationships. This knowledge destroys the fear so often lying behind hurt feelings, frustration, anger, and hatred.
An Olympian must be willing to commit to daily training. Dimitry Moceanu, a former Romanian gymnast and the father of Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu, said, "The key to success is to work 100% each day and to do it right once rather than 10 times wrong" (Southern Living, July 1996, p. 78). To maintain such a high standard in dealing with others, we must express God's qualities. Meekness, purity, and kindness, exercised "100% each day" in the "arenas" of home and work, will bring better friendships, marriages, and family relationships. It is not just an occasional effort, when we feel like it or when we already enjoy good relations, that lives up to this standard. It is moment-by-moment training to put aside human will and to trust God's will for the benefit of all. This involves discerning and magnifying the good in others, and insisting on seeing their spiritual perfection.
An Olympian must make sacrifices. Those seeking "Olympic" relationships have to sacrifice pride and egotism. These can be replaced with genuine, unselfish caring for others.
An Olympian has to be willing to go through trials. Likewise, we should not be surprised to find ourselves tested. In the face of a personal affront, the test is to hold fast to the unchanging fact that God loves and approves of all His children. We can feel so secure in the power of Love that we will not be offended. In the face of gossip, the trial is not to participate in the sport of criticism. In the face of another's success, the challenge is to destroy jealousy with the knowledge that God has enough good for all of us. During trial runs there may be mistakes, disappointments, and failures. But keeping a goal of good relations in mind will bring new happiness.
St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (3:14). Spiritual thinking, brought to relationships, will elevate the standard for others. It is wonderfully inspiring to see the prizes of a truly successful marriage; a sincere love established with an in-law; an enduring friendship; true brotherhood and sisterhood; and lasting peace.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.