Flood, earthquake, election results? During these dramatic events, I'm riveted to the news. I'll often channel-surf for the most reliable coverage. I choose newspapers in the same way - to gain a greater perspective. I don't just want a sound bite or man-on-the-street opinion poll; I want the whole story.
Yet it often occurs to me that even the most thorough press coverage is giving me only a partial view. It takes a degree of spiritual sense to understand what's really happening.
For example, when the prophet Elijah was under attack from his opponents, his prayers directed him to go to a mountain and stand before the Lord (see I Kings 19). A strong wind came up, breaking up mountains around him. An earthquake followed, and then a fire. Elijah saw all of this with his eyes and heard it with his ears, but somehow he knew that the message from God was not in all this commotion. When things settled down, God communicated to Elijah in a "still small voice."
This story helped me when I received a call from my daughter's guidance counselor. "No, nothing is wrong," she told me. "It's just that your daughter has an attitude problem. She questions or challenges her teachers in class." I didn't dispute her report. I didn't want to be one of those mothers who closes her eyes to her children's faults. It hurt, though; I wanted my daughter to be as loved and lovable to everyone as she was to me. Initially, I wanted to prove them wrong, to make them eat their words. But that certainly wasn't in the spirit of open-minded fairness. So I was just quiet and listened for direction.
My prayer led me to consider my daughter's innocence. As a baby, and for many years afterward, people oohed and aahed at her. With a little bandanna around her head, she was a perfect complement to my overalls and sneakers. She was my ticket of admission to a world that loved little children. Now, I couldn't do less than pray to know her innocence was intact. I didn't try to deny that her attitude could use some adjustment, but I refused to believe that she'd lost her lovableness.
I saw that there was nothing wrong with defending how God made her: perfect, innocent, loved. And since God is her Father-Mother, she didn't have a problem Parent, either. God loved her and me and everyone unconditionally. And God's children couldn't misjudge or misunderstand each other.
That night I spoke to my daughter about the phone call. She knew I wasn't excusing negative behavior. But she asked if I believed the report. Did I believe she had a bad attitude? "No, no, no," I was able to say. "You are learning to express who you are. But it's important to be aware of how others are seeing you."
Later I realized that, in a way, I had turned on a different news channel to find out what was going on. My channel, the "God channel," told me my daughter was a wonderful child of God. That didn't mean I didn't need to be aware of what the other channels were saying. But the God channel gave me information the others couldn't. It revealed my daughter's spiritual source and her innocence that couldn't be lost, even temporarily, in what people might excuse as the difficult teen years.
Shortly after this, I attended a parent-teacher day at her school. Teacher after teacher related what a delight it was to have someone in the class who took an interest in participating. They no longer perceived her as a disruptive student but as a leader in examining and learning.
This little episode wouldn't make the evening news, but it shows me the potential we have to affect situations for the better by going to the highest source for information.
The God channel shows a spiritual reality capable of correcting a negative picture. God is the most accurate source of information about His children.
For right reasoning
there should be but one fact
before the thought, namely, spiritual existence.
Mary Baker Eddy
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society