A ‘friend like me’

A Christian Science perspective: Understanding God as Love heals loneliness and sadness.

My children grew up loving the Disney-animated movie “Aladdin.” One of their favorite parts was when the genie sings the song “Friend Like Me.” The lyrics include the words, “You ain’t never had a friend like me.” Indeed, the two certainly had a unique relationship.

These days, especially when life often seems so hectic, unstable, and stressful, it can seem easy to feel alone and lonely. A clinical therapist I once interviewed commented that often people turn to drugs and alcohol, mistakenly thinking these may alleviate loneliness. Sadly, he stated, this often leads to far worse problems instead.

So is there a pathway to solutions that lead to a more constructive experience? Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, highlighted the unconditional love of God, divine Love. Quoting Scripture, “God is Love,” she added, “More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 6).

She wrote this having found it to be true in her life. As a young woman, Mrs. Eddy lost her brother, mother, and husband to sickness, all within just a few years. Shortly after, her only child was taken from her because her family felt she was too ill to care for the little boy.

But throughout all of this, Eddy leaned on the love of God. She found divine Love truly to be an unconditional Friend. God’s love gave her comfort, strength, courage, and inspiration until an ongoing quest to discover a systematic spiritual approach to healing finally turned her life around. Through a deep study of the Bible, she had sought the divine Principle behind Christ Jesus’ healing works. And despite spending much time alone studying the Scriptures, seeking a deeper understanding of divine Love’s healing presence and power, she found this search to be “sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing,” as she later wrote (Science and Health, p. 109).

We can each find that this everlasting Love is with all of us, always, no matter where we are, no matter what we have done. The Scriptures state: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). God knows and forever loves each one of us only as His infinitely cherished, spiritual creation.

When the world seems dark or we feel lonely, these are precisely the times to acknowledge the presence of God, infinite and ever-present good. That’s a beginning. It leads to a greater understanding of our relation to God, the all-loving power that brings deliverance from terror, fear, and depression. As we do, we will be able to hear in the deepest part of our hearts, “You ain’t never had a friend like Me (divine Love)!”

A version of this article ran in the Jan. 30 issue of the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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