It was one gloomy headline after another: "Husband murders wife," "Boyfriend suspect in girlfriend's beating." My first response was outrage: What's wrong with some men that they're so animalistic? Anger I can understand, but killing?
After the outrage came a feeling of helplessness. I knew that I couldn't live with either the outrage or the helplessness. And I knew deep down that letting these dark feelings overwhelm me wasn't contributing anything positive. There was something missing in my response. What was missing was prayer.
Prayer helps me love more. That's because when I pray, I draw closer to God, divine Love, and listen for His messages of love for myself and others. And even though it didn't seem that it was possible to insist on love in this situation, I knew that that was where my prayer was leading me.
I had a choice: I could indulge in anger, or I could honestly appreciate the good. I chose to focus on the good. So instead of just glossing over the newspaper articles, I read every word of them. The loving comments by sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and friends helped me value the substance of these people's lives.
But how could I deal with the anger I felt toward the men who'd committed these crimes?
I looked to Jesus' life as my model. He always challenged whatever was wrong by turning to God, feeling His love and authority over anything that God didn't create. He calmed the storm when out in a ship with the disciples; he instantly healed Peter's mother-in-law of a fever; he fed 5,000 men with five loaves and two fish.
Jesus refused to believe that any situation was beyond the reach of God's healing power. He always sided with the goodness of God. Mary Baker Eddy described Jesus' prayers as "deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 12).
I think Jesus' protests of Truth sprang from his great love for God, good, and for others. That's the way I wanted to love.
And that desire to love is what told me I could side with God's goodness. I resolved to make my own prayers those "deep and conscientious protests of Truth" that insist on man's likeness to God, despite how bleak the picture looked.
I reasoned that man's true nature is not animalistic, aggressive, or hateful, because he is created by God in His image and likeness. So it's his nature to express the qualities of his Creator – love, respect, helpfulness. I had to remind myself many times that I knew from experience that holding to God's view of things – trusting it – always makes a difference, contributing to progress and healing.
While there's still a lot to be learned about the true nature of man, every glimmer of light gives me hope. And I got such a glimmer at my car mechanic's shop, just after praying about this issue. I took my car in, and as I talked with my mechanic, I realized once again how I always appreciate the way he and his employees treat their customers. So I thanked him.
He said that he makes a conscious effort to train his mechanics to respect women – to treat them with care and respect as they would their sister or mother – and also not to treat them condescendingly, especially when explaining mechanical details. I remembered the times when he's showed me a part from my car that was replaced, so I could see that it indeed needed replacing.
I was grateful to have recognized this respect. Even after those headlines, my eyes were opened to see a reason for hope. Those true, right, good qualities of manhood are being expressed. And no amount of darkness can hide them.