From cynicism and animosity to peace
In today’s Perspective, a woman shares how a difficult situation at work was resolved through the power of prayer, and how she felt her own anger and self-justification vanish.
—“No surprise,” I muttered to myself. “Of course she’s saying that, and of course he’s doing that. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
I felt stymied, frustrated, and resentful. Mostly, I felt cynical. It seemed decisionmakers around me were motivated by self-interest and giving little thought or importance to logic or integrity. Why shouldn’t I feel skeptical and disillusioned?
Phew – we can find ourselves in a downward spiral of self-pity and pessimism if we’re not careful. But we do not have to go down this path. The way we think about a situation matters, and I’ve come to see that starting from a spiritual perspective can bring calm and harmony.
One idea I’ve found especially helpful is what Christian Science teaches about God as the only source and cause of all activity, as the creator of the true, spiritual individuality of us all. And I’ve found that a desire to understand and insist that God, good, alone is in charge of His creation enables us to see more of the harmony that is actually natural to all of us as God’s spiritual children.
The biblical man Moses experienced this. God had directed him to lead the Hebrew people in their escape from Egypt, where they had been held as slaves and had a life of misery and hard labor. But once the group’s journey across the desert was under way, food became scarce. The people became very cynical and jeered at Moses that they would have been better off just staying in Egypt, where at least they wouldn’t be starving to death (see Exodus chap. 16).
The Bible recounts that God heard the cry of the children of Israel and assured Moses there would be needed rations. Moses was to tell the people that every evening they would have meat, and every morning bread. Sure enough, that’s what happened, and it continued as long as needed. Moses’ trust in the care of the one all-powerful and ever-present God prevailed over an undercurrent of doubt, blame, resignation, and cynicism.
So, you may be wondering what I was referring to at the beginning of this article. Well, clearly it wasn’t anything on the scale of the deliverance of the children of Israel, but it did help me see how we can put these ideas into practice in our own lives. Once when I was in a teaching role, I encountered a parent who did not agree with some of my teaching techniques. She spoke about it with the superintendent, and I was told to discontinue some activities. The parent’s position seemed petty, ungrateful, and naive to me. I was ready to stand up for what I thought was right!
There was a meeting coming up with the superintendent and the other teachers, and I was sure this situation would be discussed. I prayed briefly about how to handle it, but I also spent plenty of time preparing the self-righteous speech I planned to give.
But the superintendent, who was also a Christian Scientist, told me later that he was praying, too, based on a similar understanding of God as the source of all activity. Since God is the divine Mind, the true source of all thought, he was praying to know that harmony alone was the natural state of things – not a parent and a teacher at odds with each other, but rather a cooperative spirit.
When we’re willing to let go of personal opinions and let that divine Mind guide us, needed solutions are revealed. Well, the most amazing thing happened. When the meeting started and I had an opportunity to speak, the anger, annoyance, and cynicism I had been feeling were simply not there. I kept quiet, and the issue did not come up. I couldn’t believe it. I literally felt no animosity toward anyone who had been involved. I sat there in silent wonder. And I also soon found other ways to teach my students that were satisfying and effective.
Now, I realize there are more consequential things than teaching techniques to consider in life, but we can apply these spiritual lessons to larger challenges, too. When speaking of the power of God to cleanse and elevate motives, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896”: “By purifying human thought, this state of mind permeates with increased harmony all the minutiæ of human affairs. It brings with it wonderful foresight, wisdom, and power; it unselfs the mortal purpose, gives steadiness to resolve, and success to endeavor” (p. 204). Whenever we are tempted to feel powerless and cynical, we can turn to God, divine Mind, for inspiration that brings a sense of peace and fair, intelligent, and lasting solutions.