"You have to wonder," she said, "what kind of holes people have in their lives that they end up committing acts like this."
A friend and I were talking about the tragic abduction and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia - the widely publicized Florida case that has been drawing national attention.
The story sickened me. Another tale of male aggression and violence, of a helpless child (and female) - and of a heartbreaking outcome. I agreed with my friend; but it felt futile to go down that road.
Lately, I've been looking for answers - answers that will move me out of sadness and rage every time I hear stories like Carlie's to something immediately productive. Something healing.
So I asked God to help me. I figured the first thing that needed treatment was my view of men.
This victim/victimizer thing has been bugging me for a while. It's not that I see all men in this light. But all too often, it seems as though the news gets me trapped in this notion of a power imbalance - that men are the perpetrators, the aggressors, and that women are the vulnerable ones, the victims. Neither stereotype has gotten me anywhere.
As I prayed, I remembered a passage from the Bible that radically altered my viewpoint. "I will give them an heart to know me," it says, "that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God" (Jer. 24:7).
A heart to know God.
What a different world it would be if we all went around with the knowledge that we each possess an innate desire to discern the nature of our divine Father-Mother.
Imagine that impulsion, beating at the very center of who each of us is. Wouldn't we approach life differently if we realized that we each have the capacity to feel God so palpably that only His goodness, His love, His tender care, could be the guiding, motivating factors in our days?
The power of this Bible passage is that it reveals a fundamental truth of being: that each of God's children, His reflection, is "programmed," so to speak, to know the whole of his Maker. A heart to know God is not a heart limited by gender. It possesses a full understanding of the manhood and womanhood of God - the strength and the tenderness; the courage and the compassion; the gentleness, mercy, wisdom, and love that constitute a complete God, who is both Principle and Love.
I loved this idea of reflected wholeness, especially in light of my friend's comment. What God was telling me was this: that because He made us with a heart to know Him - that because She made us with a heart to know Her - there could be no voids, no missing links, no one lacking a capacity for mother-love, no one without the authority of true manhood.
God's gift of a heart to know His nature is more than just a promise. It's a law we can avail ourselves of. It's a law of wholeness that brings God's children into line with the completeness of their natures. It's a law of Love that excludes deviation - loving us, instead, into being the children God made us to be.
Thinker and author Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, "The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 151). Wouldn't giving each of His sons and daughters a heart to know Him be one of the ways God "maintains His own image and likeness"? Likewise, this giving would allow God's children to see as He sees. Mind sees nothing but its own image and likeness. As Mind's expression, what else that is real could we be capable of seeing?
What I see now is this: that my own "heart to know God" not only will provide me with new views of my identity and what I'm capable of, but can also lift me out of a limited and limiting view of my fellow man. I've seen the impact of this kind of Mind's-eye perspective before: relationships restored, unseen goodness brought to light. My own nature has been changed.
Mary Baker Eddy asked this of thinkers everywhere, that we "let the 'male and female' of God's creating appear" (Science and Health, page 249). This is my prayer for the world: that the union of masculine and feminine qualities be revealed in each individual's nature.
We have hearts to see nothing less.