It was a normal workday until I crossed someone accidentally. Suddenly I found myself in what felt like a maelstrom of vicious anger, misunderstanding, and hurt as he lashed out at me publicly and vociferously. I was so upset, it was hard to pray, but one perfect thought came to me, which I kept repeating over and over: "Love is our refuge.…"
This statement is part of a poem called "The Mother's Evening Prayer" written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science. The whole verse reads:
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall: His habitation high is here, and nigh, His arm encircles me, and mine, and all. ("Poems," p. 4)
The one line was all I was able to pray with in that moment. But as I prayed, I knew God, Love, was not only my refuge, but the refuge of the person who was angry with me. One definition of "refuge" is "shelter or protection from danger or distress … a stronghold which protects by its strength." I knew that, no matter what appeared to the contrary, both my co-worker and I were safe in God's love.
As I prayed over the next few days about this situation, I found another thought very comforting. It's a line from Hymn 278 in the "Christian Science Hymnal," which reads in part, "Healed is thy hardness, His love hath dissolved it…." I reasoned that the hardness expressed by both parties – my indignation and my co-worker's anger – was already dissolved by God's ever-present, unfailing love.
I loved thinking about the word "dissolving" because it conveys something so effortless. God's law, His love, was dissolving the hardness evident throughout this situation; it wasn't dissolving because of any effort (or lack of effort) on my part or my co-worker's part. I knew that God loved us both equally, and unconditionally, and that I could trust Him to show me what needed to be done.
While I was comforted by these prayers, I kept hitting a stumbling-block when I thought about how wronged I'd been. I'd been embarrassed and hurt – and, I thought, treated unfairly. I was having a hard time letting go of this resentment. I wanted this person to apologize, but he was ignoring me.
Several nights after the incident, I lay in bed listening to a CD of hymns. One in particular spoke perfectly to this situation. It's No. 360 from the "Christian Science Hymnal." The first verse reads in part:
Is thy burden hard and heavy? Do thy steps drag wearily? Help to bear thy brother's burden, God will bear both it and thee. (Elizabeth Charles)
As I listened, I felt a rush of compassion for this man who'd wronged me. He'd probably had a really hard day that day, too. He hadn't planned to hurt my feelings or embarrass me – and, for all I knew, he might also have been embarrassed or hurt. I'd been so busy with my own hurt feelings that I hadn't stopped to consider his. And all of a sudden the resentment and anger left completely. In their place I felt true compassion and peace.
The next day, I apologized to the individual again – sincerely – and he and I had a nice talk and parted friends. While I'm grateful the situation was resolved, I'm more grateful for the tremendous spiritual lesson. I learned to let go of resentment and instead express compassion, understanding, and kindness. If I'd stayed angry and hurt, it wouldn't have done me (or my co-worker) any good at all. But by trusting God, and seeking a love-derived answer, I was able to resolve the situation amicably, and restore a happy working relationship.