Lessons of holiday sweetness

A Christian Science perspective: God is unchanging Love, and we can expect this Love to show itself in practical and sometimes unexpected ways.

One Christmas Eve several years ago, I was feeling sorry for myself.

I’d just been through a relationship breakup and was feeling very lonely and unloved. At the time I owned a beauty salon. Many of our patrons arrived with holiday gifts of flowers and chocolates. Being particularly fond of chocolate, I’d always feel hopeful there might be a gift for me, but each time, the patrons would give gifts to their specific stylist and never to the salon in general. Although I found it sort of funny, this actually intensified my feelings of being undervalued and excluded.

As I’ve often found helpful, I turned to God for help. My prayers led me to focus on love – the love I had for God, Christ Jesus, Christmas, and, as Jesus emphasized in his ministry, my “neighbor.” I realized I couldn’t truly be left out of all the love expressed around me. Christian Science is about the pure love of God – infinite Love itself – loving each of us, and how we reflect God’s love. I had come to believe I could be a blessing to others, and this self-centered “what about me?” thinking didn’t fit with that.

On page 1 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy says, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.”

I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to express unselfed love! Desiring to spread joy, I got the idea to visit my neighbors in all the other shops in the plaza to wish them merry Christmas or happy holidays. I began to feel better right away, and I marveled how it took only a few minutes for mental heaviness to yield to hope. In fact, after the very first shop visit, all the sadness went away entirely, and I continued on with joy.

One of the shops was a lamp store. I’d long admired a beautiful lamp in its window, although I felt I couldn’t afford it. Immediately I noticed the lamp was gone, and I was told it had been sold. However, gratefully, this news didn’t diminish my joy, and I was even able to joke with the owner about selling “my lamp.”

My last stop was to an outpatient medical center, and after an exchange of greetings, as I turned to leave, they called out, “Do you like candy?” Amazed at the question, I confirmed I did, and they insisted I take 15 boxes of chocolates off their hands, as they were all on diets. I laughed in awe at this delightful unexpected turn of events, and of course I was happy to share the candy!

Later that evening I went to a family Christmas celebration feeling full of gratitude. I shared those boxes of chocolates, and then, guess what, I opened a gift from my mom to find the beautiful lamp I’d admired for so long from the window of my neighbor’s store! And yet I was keenly aware that my happiness had been restored before the loving gifts of candy and the lamp.

I’d gained freedom from the belief that a person or a thing is the source of love. God is unchanging Love; and I realized I could expect this Love to show itself in practical and sometimes unexpected ways. I’ve never forgotten the immediate healing effect of correcting self-centered thinking with love – and how sadness was completely lifted by the simple act of loving my neighbor.

Adapted from an article in the Dec. 18, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

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.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Lessons of holiday sweetness
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/A-Christian-Science-Perspective/2017/1222/Lessons-of-holiday-sweetness
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe