A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
My husband and I divorced shortly before he passed on suddenly. As a result, his entire estate – much larger than I had been led to believe when I'd accepted a preliminary settlement – was left in trust for our two little boys, to be handed over to them at age 21. Although there was some insurance, it was inadequate to meet our needs, and the estate's trustee refused to provide financial support even though the boys were only 2 and 3 at the time.
Prior to his passing, my husband told me he would be willing to review the financial arrangements related to the divorce and take into account my contributions to the household. But his untimely death prevented that. I didn't even get the settlement I'd been promised.
We had a roof over our heads, because we moved in with my mother. And I got a job so we'd have some income. But two things continued to trouble me. First, with their father's passing, I was the only parent the boys had left, and I wanted to witness and to support their growing up years. Also, I felt unjustly treated because I'd contributed to the household income but wasn't getting any recompense for those efforts. That money would enable me to be home with the boys.
So I took the Bible's counsel to heart, to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17). I'd prayed my way through the need for housing and employment, and I knew God would help me now. I just needed to understand what His will for me was. "Father, what shall I do?" I asked. "Am I just being willful, or is there a just solution to this problem?"
While I was waiting for God's answer, I made a practice of rejoicing hourly in God's loving presence in our lives. But the more I did this, the more unjust the situation seemed.
Eventually I talked to a lawyer about it, and he agreed that if I filed a lawsuit against my husband's estate, the settlement might be made more evenhanded. But, he pointed out, such an action could be seen as a mercenary attack on my own children.
At first this brought me up short. Then I read a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, that showed me I wasn't dealing with money at all but with principle, with what is intrinsically right. She wrote, "The right way wins the right of way, even the way of Truth and Love whereby all our debts are paid, mankind blessed, and God glorified" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 232).
As I pondered this statement, I asked myself, "To whom, exactly, am I indebted?" Certainly to my children, to bring them up in the best way possible. And also (which came as a sweet surprise one day as I was praying), to their father, to make up with the fullness of my motherhood what I had lacked as a wife.
So we brought the lawsuit. And in his opening statement, the defense lawyer behaved as my attorney had predicted: "She doesn't love her children," he said. "All she wants is their money." That was a lie. But how could we prove that I did love them, with all my heart?
Suddenly, my lawyer had an inspired thought: "Bring them to court! Nobody could get a good look at those children, and not know their mother loved them." So the next day their grandmother sat with them in full sight of the judge. The atmosphere completely changed.
Instead of punishment and rancor, there was grace and loving kindness. Nobody said another word about my not loving the children. The boys were there for less than an hour, just that one morning. The trial went on for another week, and the judge took the case under advisement.
To our joy, the outcome was just. The right way, the way of principle and love, led to the complete restoration of my assets.