You don't have to hate back

A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people

When Jessica was going into seventh grade, she went away to boarding school. There were 12 new girls in her dorm. One of the girls said mean things to her, like, "I hate you, for a lot of reasons." The girl never said why she didn't like Jessica. These insults went on for about five months. Jessica told me she had no clue why the girl acted that way.

You can imagine that this wasn't easy. In fact, the problem was on Jessica's mind a lot, and so she was quieter than usual and often kept to herself.

She knew she could pray and find an answer to this problem. This is what she told me: "I prayed from the beginning. Every day after school, I came back to my room and read the Bible and a book called 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures' by Mary Baker Eddy." She said she got lots of comfort from this and found some good ideas to pray with.

For instance, she read that God is the creator of all of us. We're really God's children. The Bible says that God made us like Himself - all good. So even if people don't seem perfect, everyone must have a perfect self, being God's likeness. Jessica read in Science and Health that being like God, who is divine Spirit, is being spiritual. Our spiritual self is what is perfect. Anything mean or ugly or hurtful isn't like God, and so it can be corrected and changed. Knowing that helped her a lot.

Jessica said she didn't feel sorry for herself, and she didn't react to the bad things that the girl said about her. She knew the words couldn't affect her, because they weren't true. And they weren't coming from God, so they couldn't be coming from God's child either. Everyone really is God's child and can only do good things. These thoughts were prayers, and Jessica knew her prayers would improve things.

Another idea she found that especially helped was from a hymn that talks about grace, and how you can find it everywhere. Jessica thought that she could express grace, or love, to this girl and the girl would love her back. The hymn also says that we can take what we're most concerned about to God in any situation and that He will answer every prayer.

Jessica was praying every day to see the girl the way God sees her, as His perfect child. She prayed that she would see the girl expressing God's qualities, acting with kindness and friendship. And Jessica trusted that God would answer her prayer. She didn't give up.

Then one night in January, both girls had to set the table for dinner, so they had to work together. Right then the girl apologized for the way she had been acting! She told Jessica, "I don't know why I was acting that way. It impressed me that you never said anything back to me." Right away the girls were good friends. "She came to me for advice," Jessica said, "and we'd talk together about her family. She asked me for help, and I'd share ideas with her." The two girls even signed up to be roommates for the next term.

The hatred disappeared, and there were no hurt feelings. They both had found a new friend.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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