Our local Sunday newspaper recently reported an increase in serious crime of more than 60 percent since 2001 in some communities, with a 39 percent increase not being unusual.
As a single woman living alone in the city, hearing of the death of someone I knew and reading about other violent crimes scared me. I felt I was a potential target, easy prey for anyone wanting to steal or harm. I found myself staying at home more often than usual and not feeling comfortable venturing outside after dark.
But this was certainly not the way I wanted to live my life. And this fear was inconsistent with what I'd learned about God's care in the Bible and in my study of Christian Science.
So I turned once again to the Bible and to the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.
One idea that made a big impact on me was something that the Apostle Paul said as recorded in the book of Acts – that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26).
I thought about the essential characteristics of a loving God who had made all of us – "all nations of men" – brothers and sisters. There isn't room in that picture for a victim or a victimizer. God, divine Love, ever present with His creation, would surely protect and guide each one.
I wanted to understand more about this picture of creation, rather than the one that seemed so fearful. So I set about thinking specifically about the characteristics that a loving God would instill in His creation.
Each morning as I prayed, I tried to get a clear picture of one aspect of divine Love that I could focus on for the day. One day I thought about joy, and as I went through the events of the day, I made an effort to see and express joy. Another day it was gentle guidance, and again, I made an effort to see small instances of that in my life. The concept of brotherhood, too, was important to bring to the fore of my thinking.
I noticed after only a short time of doing this that I was more and more comfortable looking people on the street in the eye, actively acknowledging their true character as the creation of divine Love, and acknowledging that everyone I saw was – in an essential, fundamental way – my brother or sister.
This made a big difference in my whole outlook. I received a lot of smiles and pleasant responses from passersby. I began to see and feel more of what I was learning about the divine picture – the one God had created and maintains.
After a time, I realized I wasn't feeling the debilitating, isolating fear that had hampered my sense of security when I was at home or when I went out. I felt safe and peaceful and had a forward-looking view as I began and went through each day. If I came home late, I noticed I wasn't fearfully looking around to see if anyone was lurking nearby. The evenings seemed serene rather than potentially dangerous.
Truly, as Paul noted, I was feeling more and more the reality that we "live, and move, and have our being" in God, for "we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:28). Paul, I realized, had referred to all people as God's sons and daughters when he spoke all those centuries ago, and I'm realizing increasingly, it's a truth we can count on today.
Have we not all one father?
hath not one God created us?
why do we deal treacherously
every man against his brother,
by profaning the covenant
of our fathers?