A gift from the holidays
A Christian Science perspective: On the blessings of God-inspired giving.
Moving 2,000 miles away from my parents didn’t seem like too much of a problem for me, my husband, or our 3-year-old son until the holidays came around. We had always spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with my family. Now we were alone. Pulling at my heart was an empty loneliness. I longed to have someone ask us to share Thanksgiving dinner with them. I waited until it became obvious that the invitation I was hoping for was not to come about.
As I often do when faced with a troubling situation, I turned to God, knowing I would receive an answer. My prayers have always been rewarded when I’ve put aside human outlining and recognized God, who loves each of us, is in control. This time, the golden rule came to mind: “Do for others what you would like them to do for you” (Matthew 7:12, New Living Translation).
It suddenly made perfect sense why these particular words of Christ Jesus had popped into thought. As I applied the golden rule to this situation, I began to go on a treasure hunt, looking for those who were alone for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. The search was not difficult. There were lots of people who had no place to go.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness...” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1902,” p. 17). Each of us, as God’s spiritual creation (see Genesis 1:26, 27), reflects the nature of God, who is infinite Love itself.
As I realized this, the excitement and joy of being able to give selflessly ended my sadness and inspired us to celebrate Thanksgiving in a whole new way. I felt within me a wellspring of unselfed love, ready to be shared. Our family began to expand its horizons. We adopted other families for the holidays; we organized a food drive and gave a party for those living in a nearby shelter; we visited nursing homes to sing Christmas carols.
Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and succumbing to the temptation to feel depressed and unloved, prayer lifted us up and opened the way. We stopped thinking that all of our problems could be solved by what other people should do for us. It was just the opposite. God is providing all of His spiritual children with infinite love and joy at every moment.
This shift in thinking increased and multiplied our sense of family. Our lives have been fulfilled with the love God has given us to share. Through the years our family has grown to see that we are part of the one universal family of God. Everyone, everywhere, can turn to God for a deeper sense of companionship, love, and peace. No one is ever without God’s abundant good.
Praying to acknowledge God’s ever-present, unlimited love has given our life new meaning. And being a witness to it has been an incredible blessing.
There may be times when our financial circumstances tempt us to feel burdened with the fear that we can’t afford to do much. But Christ Jesus has shown us that recognizing God as the source of all good brings inspiration that meets our needs. Jesus’ compassion for others is an example of how we might live. He demonstrated God’s infinite capacity to meet human needs in practical ways. He fed the multitudes by the thousands. He healed people from every walk of life and brought them closer to God. As our prayers and deeds express the selfless, God-derived love that Jesus demonstrated, we help others experience God’s care for all.
We have grown to think of the holiday season as a time to give and to bless others. But divine Love has no on or off seasons. It sets a high standard to love at all times. As we do this, we will experience a comforting peace that comes from God-inspired loving and giving to others. Seeing this has been my greatest gift.
This article was adapted from an article in the Nov. 21, 2016, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.