Recently, my husband and I had a rare opportunity to spend a day with Nate, who is in the eighth grade. His folks were going to be out of town, and we were asked to watch him from Sunday after church until Monday school time. Now, I’ve known Nate since he was in the third grade and have always enjoyed his company, but I’d never spent 24 hours with Nate without his folks or other family members around. So I have to admit, I was wondering how this was going to go. Would he not like the fun things we had planned to do together? Would he resist and just want to go to his room and entertain himself on the computer?
It was natural for me to pray about even this small concern as I have learned to do through my study of Christian Science. It has taught me how turning to God in prayer brings about healing in our daily lives because it opens our thought to God’s absolute mandate of harmony and goodness. I prayed to challenge any negative expectations that I was holding in thought. Why would I expect anything less than good from this interchange? After all, the Bible teaches us that we are all God’s children, and if God delights in His children and we are God’s reflection, then that must mean we too delight in each other. We have our connection to one another in God, in divine Love, and divine Love is inherently joyous. As Christian Science Discoverer and Founder Mary Baker Eddy puts in a line of one of her poems, “Father, where Thine own children are, I love to be” (“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 253).
I decided to commit this activity with Nate to cherishing the Christly qualities expressed by him, my husband, and me. Knowing that we all come from God, good, and reflect God’s qualities is what brings us into harmony with the spiritual reality of being, the truth of God and God’s creation. With this prayerful thought, our day turned out even better than I had expected. As we drove home the next morning, I was marveling at how fun our interchange had been when then I thought, “Well, what did you expect?”
In the days since our time with Nate, I’ve been thinking more and more about expectations. The Bible tells us, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him” (Psalms 62:5). Sometimes it is tempting to let expectations be personal and based on the merely material view of ourselves and others. We line up people according to personality type, age, gender, race, nationality, and so forth, and then we expect certain behaviors accordingly. But the Bible verse just quoted makes it plain that we should be looking only to God for what we expect of others.
What an amazing approach to relationships this would be! What if we gave up all the expectations we have developed about others and instead asked God to show us how She sees her children – Her ideas of Herself? Wouldn’t the preconceived notions drop away? God can see Her children only as spiritual ideas – pure, perfect, harmonious, loving, joyous, ageless, and complete. And this view does not rule out our uniqueness either. God’s infinite individuality is manifested in each one’s unique spiritual attributes, reflecting all the facets of God’s nature, and without any negative or limited qualities. So we are not combinations of strengths and weaknesses, which react positively and negatively through chemistry with each other. We are divine ideas that are held in the fulfillment of harmony.
It’s amazing how relatively small experiences can teach us so much! What a joy it is to realize that God has never seen any of us as less than perfect, and I pray to be sure my expectations are always from Her! As I do that, I can expect these false expectations to be corrected as readily as they were with Nate, and the results to be right and harmonious.