Watching a recap of the World Figure Skating Championships held recently in Tokyo, I was particularly struck by the ice dancers. The pairs skated as one, exhibiting strength, fluidity, and grace.
As the commentators remarked on how the couples had improved and where more work was needed, I saw my life as like skating. I am constantly practicing what I already know as well as working for improvement.
I've had ample opportunity over the years to do this.
At age 19 I married, thinking that was the path to happily ever after. But my marriage was like two skaters with different visions. When my husband decided to leave, I was devastated.
The Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy became my practice book, coach, and choreographer. They helped me stay the course and develop a new repertoire as a single parent.
This became my daily goal: "Attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings…. Keep thy heart with all diligence.… Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee" (Prov. 4:20, 23, 24).
And this injunction coached me to do my best and never give up: "Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 3).
Mary Baker Eddy spent years in deep Bible study, consecrated prayer, and faithful practice. She could truthfully advise, "Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear/ No ill, – since God is good, and loss is gain" ("Poems," p. 4).
I strove to put away anger, resentment, and jealousy. I prayed, "What can I do to improve?" I saw that my goal wasn't to get someone else to change but for me to love more, as the poem counsels.
Developing the understanding of our indestructible relation to God and learning to express it takes time, energy, patience, and practice. There have been plenty of times when I've slipped and fallen or missed a jump, but I've found that longing to love more and daily practicing loving more results in life flowing more smoothly, fluidly, and gracefully.
Gradually, I felt loved. I saw that God's great goodness was already in place and available for me to use in all my interactions – with my children, friends, and neighbors.
As I cherished all that was good in my life, in my children, and yes, even in the man who had left me, I was able to find satisfaction, honor, and companionship.
My girls and I developed close bonds and interacted as fluidly as ice dancers. A wonderful friendship blossomed to fill the need for adult companionship. And I completed my undergraduate degree.
Mrs. Eddy wrote, "The song of Christian Science is, 'Work – work – work – watch and pray' " ("Message to The Mother Church for 1900," p. 2). Truly, a harmonious, graceful life is obtainable as we learn to move in sync with God as beautifully as ice dancers.
Hear, O Lord,
and have mercy upon me:
Lord, be thou my helper.
Thou hast turned for me
my mourning into dancing:
thou hast put off my sackcloth,
and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory
may sing praise to thee,
and not be silent.
O Lord my God,
I will give thanks
unto thee for ever.