Slamming doors, throwing dishes, fighting - I've known it all. I came to realize early on that violence and fury cannot achieve anything good, nor can they convince others to change their behavior.
As a child, I was prone to anger when I felt that I or someone else had been treated unfairly. But I didn't want to be angry. I'd learned in Sunday School that God is Love and that He created me in His image and likeness. I longed for His love, and wanted to be good.
A turnaround came in my early teens. A boy was being mean to smaller children. When I asked him to leave them alone, he refused and turned on me. Although he was bigger and stronger than I, I grabbed him and beat on him until I suddenly had a big bunch of his hair in my hand. Shocked by what my fury had caused, I let go of him.
I made up my mind never to get violent again. What helped me lessen angry outbursts was my study of Christian Science. From then on, before school every morning I read the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly. So I started every day in harmony with God and His all-powerful, ever-present love. I realized that since Love is omnipotent and omnipresent, there couldn't be another power, outside of this Love, controlling me.
My parents helped pray for me. I learned I didn't have to be the one to make justice prevail, but I could trust that God is always just. The more I turned to God with any difficulty, the more I found solutions without getting angry. I was happier and felt more appreciated.
Fast-forward about 15 years. I had two small children. My father had passed away suddenly, leaving a big hole in my life. He had been a strong support all those years. We had just moved into a bigger apartment with a garden, which was beautiful but brought much extra work. I felt burdened and tired.
I was impatient with my children, yelling if they left their room in a mess or wouldn't eat what I'd prepared or got into mischief. I would work myself into a rage, while realizing how ugly these outbursts were. I was ashamed of them and hated myself. But the more I hated myself, the more angry I was. This cycle went on for months.
One day, in desperation, I fell on my knees and prayed with all my heart. "Please, God, my Father-Mother, if You are the only power, the power of good, help me see it!"
"You and the Christ are one!" was the startling answer I received.
No way. Wasn't Jesus the Christ? He had sacrificed his life for us. He was calm, loving, and compassionate. He could walk on water, raise the dead, and quiet storms. But me? One with the Christ? I started trembling and crying. But very gently, the words formed in my mouth, "I and the Christ are one." Then again, and again. This message became my light in darkness. I held on to it like a drowning person, feeling weak and miserable. But soon I knew I was on solid ground. And a great peace and calm came over me.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy explained, "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (p. 332). I had experienced this Christ, this "divine message," at work in my consciousness.
To identify myself, at this moment of self-hatred, with the Christ - God's pure, perfect idea of who I was - was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. But the healing that followed proved permanent and irreversible. I felt newborn!
By acknowledging the Christ in myself, I learned to love myself, and self-hatred and anger melted away. I gained an inner peace and great staying power and patience.
These Christlike qualities of patience and peace stayed with me over the years. My kids are teenagers now, and I can gratefully say I don't get so worked up over things anymore. Divine Love has become a tangible presence in my life. It's my rock in the surf, my ever-present strength and power, my anchor of peace and stability.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.