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.