After 35 years of marriage and raising a family, she became a widow. All her children were grown, and within a year the last of them had left the family home. For the next 30 years, my mother lived alone. Yet she did it with such remarkable grace that she was an inspiration to everyone who knew her.
Mom enjoyed making a lovely home for herself, and she enjoyed living in it. If you were to drop in on her unexpectedly, you would find her attractively groomed and dressed; her apartment would be in order; and she would be cheerfully engaged in meaningful, constructive activity. If it were mealtime - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - you would find her preparing a colorful, well-balanced meal and seating herself at a beautifully set place to eat it.
One time when I asked Mom about the way of thinking that was behind her obviously successful approach to living on her own, she said she didn't allow herself to entertain thoughts of being alone. And she said, "I treat myself as I would treat a guest." She recognized that there was someone living in her home, someone who deserved her respect - herself. This attitude proved to be good not only for her morale but for her health.
Even if we're living on our own, we each do have someone to care for - ourselves. And there is good reason to regard that someone with respect, for each of us is God's child, created in His image to express His love. Certainly, then, we should treat ourselves with the same caring hospitality with which we treat others. This is apparent in the last two words of Christ Jesus' command to his followers "Love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:39).
To care for ourselves, we can start by realizing that we are never alone. Whether or not we are physically present with one another, we are all together - with God. We are all living together in God's house, the heavenly consciousness of infinite, ever-present divine Love. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy, tells us we are God's guests: "Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God" (Pg. 254). And God is an excellent host. The divine consciousness, which is our home, is constantly filled with and expressing His entirely good and caring thoughts - thoughts that ensure our health, comfort, and safety. That's what makes our true home heaven.
God, the divine Mind in which we dwell, eternally maintains our real status of wholeness and joy. And He is revealing it to us moment by moment. As "the guest of God," we each have full access to the pure, beautiful thoughts He is always imparting. These thoughts are wonderful companions that bring substantial, practical evidence of good into our lives. With them, we are never alone.
To live with God's thoughts concerning ourselves and others - and no contrary thoughts - is natural for us because God, our creator, is our only true Mind. If we're living alone, we can take genuine pleasure in making lovely homes for ourselves, and enjoy living in them, as we entertain the thoughts God gives us. We each can give ourselves the same gracious care and attention we would give a loved and respected guest. In other words, we can love ourselves as God loves us.
Treating yourself with the same solicitude with which God treats you helps you realize that you are never actually alone. It also makes daily living not only enjoyable, but healthy and safe. And you'll be an inspiration to others, as well as to yourself, just as my mom was.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art
the God of my salvation; on thee
do I wait all the day. What man
is he that feareth the Lord?
him shall he teach in the way
that he shall choose. His soul
shall dwell at ease.
Psalms 25:4, 5, 12, 13