My dad was gone from home a lot. But I didn't mind, because when he was home, there was so much arguing. I didn't know what to do. I was really afraid of trouble - criticism, hurt feelings, and crying. I wanted to hide a lot of the time.
In my mind, I had an ideal family that I desperately wanted to have for my own. But I did not know how to get it.
If you've ever felt like this, you might want to know what finally happened to me. I found out who God is. I found out that I could pray about anything that wasn't right - and it could be healed. This gave me hope. Then things began to change.
One important thing I learned was that God was really my Father, and my Mother. In fact, God was the Father and the Mother of my whole family. Even when it didn't look like it, God was in charge of all of us.
Jesus said to a bunch of people one time, "Don't call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven" (Matt. 23:9, Contemporary English Version). And I found out that because God was also our Mother, She was expressing Her love to us all and providing what we needed. Giving each of us the quiet and the happiness and the love that were right for us, Her family, to have.
When I realized that this really was the truth, I knew that I could see it in my family.
When Jesus prayed, healing happened. Stories in the Bible showed me that Jesus had to deal with every kind of problem you can imagine. And he always made things better. Jesus knew God, and said God was totally good. He was so sure that anything bad just couldn't be God's work.
I prayed, too. I remembered that everyone in my family was really loved by God. That God's love was protecting us from hurting each other or being hurt.
Then I read something that showed me I needed to act the way I wanted my family to: "We must 'pray without ceasing.' Such prayer is answered, in so far as we put our desires into practice" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 15).
I made a list of things I thought a perfect family member does. It included things like: building up each other, helping each other out, appreciating each other's good points, respecting each other's rights. You can probably add to that kind of list.
I kept on praying, and I also tried being the way I wanted my family to be. Here are two examples of how I did this.
In one case, I heard something pretty awful about a friend, and I was going to tell it to everyone. Then I remembered that the right way was to try to heal - not to blab someone else's faults. So instead, I thought about how my friend was God's child, and how that made her an excellent person. And then I didn't tell anyone what I'd heard about her.
The other situation was tougher. I really didn't like someone I had to be with a lot. But I prayed. I saw he was God's child, too. He had his right to see and do things differently than I did. We each had a place, and were needed in God's family, and that meant we could not interfere with each other. After a while, I wasn't just trying to care about him; I really did love and care for him.
Know what? The most awesome thing happened. Not all at once, but step by step, our family times became happier. There was gentleness and caring that hadn't been there before. We found that we liked being together. We never went back to the old ways. I can't tell you how happy I was! And I was grateful for the change in me. I learned so much about God.
You can pray about your family, too. Ask God to show you what you need to know about Her/His care for all of you. God will show you how to pray. And your prayers will help you and your family.
You can find other articles for kids in a magazine that comes out each week, the Christian Science Sentinel.