What if the crime is unforgivable?

In today’s column, a woman shares how she was led to see that all – including our seeming 'enemies' – have an innate ability to live up to their true nature as divine Love’s reflection.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
Loading the player...

One morning I had the flu and was feeling miserable, so I stayed home from work. I’ve always found it helpful to start my day with prayer, so that’s what I did. Then I opened the Bible at random. That’s when my eyes fell on a command to pray for our enemies.

There was only one person I considered an enemy. That was a man who had attacked my sister, my very best friend, and I definitely didn’t want to pray for him. He was convicted of being a serial rapist and is now serving a 120-year prison sentence, and I had been in the courtroom during the trial when woman after woman testified against him.

So here I was years later, with my Bible open to a passage commanding me to pray for my enemies. I knew it held a message for me about this experience. But I felt I just couldn’t pray for him. The same thing happened the next day, too – I opened to a passage instructing us to pray for our enemies, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

The third day – still feeling sick – I again prayed, opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on yet another verse commanding us to pray for our enemies.

I closed my Bible, but this time with a slightly more humble heart. I was tired of feeling sick, and I had a hunch that this message was going to continue coming my way until I learned whatever I needed to learn from it.

So I gave this idea of praying for my enemy some thought. I had no idea how to even begin to pray honestly for this individual. Then I remembered a phrase by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy: “Desire is prayer” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 1). I asked myself what I honestly desired for this man and realized I truly wanted him to find reformation of character, and knew that was possible even while serving a prison term. So I wholeheartedly prayed that he experience progress in his life. My prayers acknowledged that this is possible for everyone.

This may seem naive or even far-fetched when someone has committed atrocious crimes. But through studying and practicing Christian Science I’d increasingly come to understand that everyone’s true identity is spiritual, therefore good and loving, the very reflection of God, or divine Love. That’s not to say that our every thought or act is consistent with this spiritual reality. Clearly this man’s hadn’t been. But we all have the innate ability to understand and live in line with our true nature, to let God’s redeeming love lead us out of darkness into more upright thoughts and actions. Acknowledging this doesn’t mean excusing or tolerating wrongdoing, but rather opens the door for spiritual growth and reformation, which benefits all whose lives we touch, as well as ourselves. In this experience I felt reformed as I learned to pray for someone who I considered to be an enemy, even before I finally felt forgiveness for him.

Do I have more to learn about forgiveness? Oh yes! But I trust that my prayer blessed this man in some small way as it certainly blessed me. I was immediately healed of the flu.

Other versions of this article aired on the Jan. 11, 2018, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast and appeared in the July 1, 2013, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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 What if the crime is unforgivable?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today