'Oh, he'll never change.'
A Christian Science perspective.
“Oh, he’ll never change,” I heard myself say to a friend. The sentence had a familiar ring to it, and I realized I had said it a number of times before when referring to this family member. Imagine my surprise when my friend lovingly pointed out that, by repeating this statement, I myself was stuck in the same never-change pattern!
Constantly repeating shortcomings, our own or another’s, doesn’t benefit them or us. Repetition simply reinforces them. And, actually, isn’t it easier to think the other person is the one who needs to make the change? Sometimes to admit one’s own lapses requires more humility than we may feel we can muster.
A first step toward giving up this kind of negative reinforcement could be to make a concerted effort to stop thinking or making these kinds of pronouncements. This decision, supported by a prayer-based desire to give up judging or limiting others, is perhaps the easiest step. Nevertheless, it was a significant milestone for me in gaining dominion over the urge to rehearse another’s shortcomings.
Through prayer I gained a clearer concept of who we actually are – God’s ever-unfolding, changelessly spiritual ideas. What impedes us from seeing this is the belief that we are mortals with personal proclivities, habits, tendencies. To the degree that we see ourselves as spiritual, with all the wonderful qualities of Spirit (joy, beauty, flexibility, and childlikeness, to name a few), we will be able to give up those old bad habits of rigidity and smugness, and experience new views of ourselves as God has made us to be.
Isn’t this a more constructive approach than resorting to critical comments that don’t encourage progress? Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote, “If you believe in and practise wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 253). The sincere God-impelled desire to align ourselves with clearer, higher views of others – views that exclude passing judgment – will bear fruit as we persist in this cleansing approach.
Christ Jesus took this higher view when he was confronted by some scribes and Pharisees who wanted him to agree that a woman accused of adultery should be stoned. Instead of going along with them, he said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). He condemned no one, freeing the woman of her sin and her accusers of their justification. It could be said that he saw each individual as embodying and expressing his or her divine nature bestowed by God.
This Christliness that permeated all Jesus said and did resulted from his recognition of his relationship with the Father, a relationship unique to him, but also one that gives us an example of our own relationship to God.
What better place to begin than by acknowledging that touch of the divine grace embodied in compassion and forgiveness toward others, as well as ourselves.
A changed approach to charged relationships can’t help but bring a changed experience – calming the atmosphere and smoothing the way for loving exchanges, free from condemnation and rancor. Our own peace of mind enables us to hear the spiritual intuitions that not only nudge us into responses that heal rather than hurt, but also quell a personal sense of responsibility for someone else’s behavior.
When we’re willing to do this, all involved will be blessed, as I was, by the gift of God’s grace. This same gift is present to be claimed by everyone, bringing healing to ruptured relationships and peace to the home.