I so clearly remember first meeting our adopted baby, Sean (not his real name). He eagerly watched our every movement. To us, he was perfect.
As he grew, however, we noticed that he was constantly ready to do battle with the world. For instance, if someone accidentally bumped into him, he often lashed out. Afterward, he would have little recollection of what happened. And when we would lovingly correct him, he took it very sensitively, feeling that we had turned against him. Academics were difficult for him as well, making him feel even more self-conscious and unsure. It broke my heart to hear him ask why he didn’t have any friends or was never invited to a birthday party.
I’ve found it so helpful to pray for all my kids on a regular basis, but I found I especially needed to be spiritually grounded when caring for Sean. One idea that meant a lot to me was the concept of God as the divine Parent of everyone.
There are numerous references to God as “Father” in the Bible. And Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, refers to God as both Father and Mother in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” I often prayed to this divine Parent to help me know how to reach Sean – and how to be more patient when I didn’t feel I had any patience left.
When I was truly listening, I felt God’s love and peace enfolding everyone in the family and helping me know what to do and say in a given situation. But sometimes I had to pray harder. One day, I found myself feeling particularly helpless and hopeless.
Amid my tears of frustration, a question popped into my head: “Whose child is he?”
This made me stop in my tracks. I realized that while I wasn’t certain about the birth mother’s background, I had clung to the idea that drug addiction before the birth might be the cause of Sean’s behavior. This question prompted me to dig deeper – to see his true, spiritual origin.
Science and Health explains, “Because man is the reflection of his Maker, he is not subject to birth, growth, maturity, decay” (p. 305). This is based on the biblical idea that we are made in the image of God, Spirit, Love, Truth – of good. Our origin is in God; and so we must be spiritual and perfect, like Him. Neither God nor His children can be subject to material conditions. Referring to man – to everyone – Science and Health says, “The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry” (p. 63).
I saw that the short answer to the question that had come to me was this: Sean was God’s, divine Love’s, child, the unfoldment of good, innocence, peace. Every one of us is filled with God’s light and goodness – ready to shine and bless all those around us. None of us is devoid of that light and might.
I thought of the many ways Sean expressed qualities of the divine Mind, such as intelligence, and it suddenly hit me that no one is limited to expressing only some of God’s qualities. The strength of Spirit, the blessedness of infinite Love, the activity of limitless Life, the orderliness of the divine Principle, the graciousness of divine Soul – all of these qualities are present in everyone’s true nature.
These were extremely freeing ideas. I wrote them down and continued to pray with them, especially when things were particularly challenging.
Soon, and so naturally I almost didn’t realize it was happening, days went by without an incident. Days flowed into weeks. Weeks into months. Sean’s teacher contacted us about good things Sean was doing in school. He started getting together with friends. His grades improved. Now, more than a year later, he continues to be a happy, self-assured, kind boy. When Sean and I climbed into the car to go to a classmate’s birthday party for the first time, I smiled and said a quiet, heartfelt “Thank you” to our divine Father-Mother.
I know this is not the end. Parenting is an ongoing adventure of love. But I am grateful for the growing understanding of whose child we all really are.