Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Often divorce doesn't solve much. My neighbor divorced his wife many years ago, but to talk with him you'd think it happened yesterday. They continue to take each other to court over child custody issues. Their feelings toward each other seem as bitter as ever.
No wonder Christ Jesus taught, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). It takes grace to be truly effective in making peace. This Beatitude can be taken to mean, "Blessed are those who make peace within themselves." That is, those who are able to rid themselves of anger, bitterness, betrayal, and revenge know what it is to be God's and to feel love within.
At some point we need to stop letting getting even or being a victim drive our lives. We should yearn to feel the peace of the cleansing love of God. People don't really want to be driven by anger, but often they don't know how to stop. And too often a spouse or boy-
friend or girlfriend knows just how to push the buttons that set his or her partner off.
The thing to do is to disconnect the buttons. Impatience, anger, nastiness, snide digs, unwillingness to forgive, can all be unwired. We can recover our nature to be above all that and to weather all kinds of provocation through God's love. Wouldn't life be different if we could echo St. Paul's words "None of these things move me"? (Acts 20:24) Well, we can.
Peace is the sense of unity with God. It is the natural fruit of knowing who He is. Look at how this sense of unity transformed the disciple of Jesus named John, for example. He is often thought of as the disciple whom Jesus loved; as one most conscious of the fact that God is Love; as one who persistently urged people to love one another. Yet according to the Bible, Jesus called John and his brother James "The sons of thunder," suggesting fiery temperament (Mark 3:17). This suggests that the power of Christ brought about a transformation of character for John.
The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, was written by Mary Baker Eddy to convey the full power of Jesus' messages in terms of a healing Science. Here we read, "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,-self-will, self-justification, and self-love,-which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death" (p. 242). Those three "self" qualities-self-will, self-justification, and self-love-provoke conflict. The challenge is to learn how to apply that "universal solvent of Love." Expressing tenderness and kindness and giving up our own desires go a long way. But it's also helpful to consider that the power behind that expression is God Himself. God has control over everyone.
A peacemaker is one who is more and more convinced that all is under the control of God, of divine Love. Peacemakers have learned that their lives, their children's lives, their spouse's lives, are in His hands. Peacemakers have grown in the recognition that God's power can be trusted to govern human affairs effectively and fairly. If they are right on some contested point, they can trust God to make that evident in His way. And if they have mistaken their way, they're glad, as peacemakers, for His correction.
When ill will has become a habit, it may seem like it must take gallons and gallons of that "universal solvent of Love" to free people fully from destructive behavior. But the virtue of a universal solvent is that nothing can withstand it. If someone regrets his or her bad behavior, strives to do better, and stumbles along the way, there is encouragement in these words from Science and Health: "Waking to Christ's demand, mortals experience suffering. This causes them, even as drowning men, to make vigorous efforts to save themselves; and through Christ's precious love these efforts are crowned with success" (p. 22).
Spiritual growth can save a relationship. But even if divorce or breaking up has left one angry and bitter, it's not too late to become a peacemaker, find freedom from destructive habits, and bring into view Jesus' promised blessing of peace.