A "Backstory" article that ran in the Monitor recently, "A Town of Foreign Marriages," described a phenomenon in Taiwan where rapid cultural changes challenging age-old concepts of marriage are leading to "mail-order" brides and arranged marriages (July 20).
It brought to mind a time when I was in my early 20s and frustrated with dating. While I loved the idea of home and family, I hadn't met anyone I wanted to marry. I knew, however, that no aspect of human life was beyond God's reach. I could appeal to Him for help with the anxiousness I was feeling. I realized I needed to trust God more, not just about marriage, but with every aspect of my life.
Christian Science has taught me that God is a practical, determinate influence in our lives. God is not removed or hard to access. The Bible describes the coming Christ as "Immanuel," which literally means, "with us is God" (Isa. 7:14, Strong's Concordance). God is not only in our lives, God is Life itself.
As I prayed to understand more clearly that God, divine Life, rather than chance or circumstances, governs me and everyone, I began to feel less pressure and self-interest. Through prayer my deepest desire emerged: to live in accord with my Father-Mother God's design, whether I was married or not. I asked myself, What does God's design for me include?
I got a glimpse of the answer later when I found this statement in the textbook of Christian Science: "As a material, theoretical life-basis is found to be a misapprehension of existence, the spiritual and divine Principle of man dawns upon human thought, and leads it to 'where the young child was,' – even to the birth of a new-old idea, to the spiritual sense of being and of what Life includes" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 191). The phrase "what Life includes" became a constant filter for my thinking.
I began to focus on the spiritual qualities included in God – peace, harmony, joy, gladness, generosity, and happiness. Since these are included in Life, and our being is the expression of Life, we all include these qualities. We companion God's nature and are inseparable from it. Trust, anticipation of good, and completeness are what God's children include.
It also became obvious what is not included in God as Life and consequently not included in His creation: uneasiness, doubt, fear, even dreary days or nights.
Life is not chancy or unknown, chaotic or dissatisfactory. The existence of each one of us is determined by divine Love, what I've come to know as the loving governance of God.
Everyone enjoys spiritual and eternal union with good. This is the permanent condition of man, God's idea, including male and female.
A stanza in a hymn reminds me of the God-determined existence we enjoy:
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from us now the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
(John Greenleaf Whittier, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 49)
Feeling receptive to this divinely ordered life quieted the anxiousness in my heart about my future. I let the anxiety go and enjoyed the good I felt united to.
Shortly afterward, I met the man I married. We both felt God's direction in finding each other as lifelong companions, and the marriage has blessed us for more than 32 years. But for me the happiness has never been in the marriage itself. It's been in the ongoing admission that life includes good and is divinely ordered by a loving God.