Getting along with each other

When an ongoing disagreement threatened to undermine a friendship, a newfound sense of what it means that we are all sisters and brothers in God turned things around completely.

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Some years ago I had an experience that reminds me of the kind of back-and-forth sniping that appears very common in political discussions today. Too often it seems as though neither side is willing to give ground or to find points to agree on and through which they can go forward together.

In my case, a friend and I seemed to be in a perpetual argument about something I can’t even remember now. At the time, however, it seemed crucial for me to win that argument – and it seemed equally vital to her that she win it. Up to this point we had been good friends who really liked each other and usually agreed, so the situation was quite distressing.

My friend and I had each experienced the value of prayer in resolving inharmonious situations, so we were both praying about this disagreement. In my case, I found a particular account from the Bible really helpful. It’s the story of two men named Lot and Abram (later renamed Abraham).

As the book of Genesis describes it, even though Lot and Abram were relatives, there was competition and actual conflict, or strife, between the men who took care of their flocks. There didn’t seem to be room for both on the land.

Abram is noted as being a man who strove to live in harmony with God, to follow God’s guidance. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he made an effort to restore peace. He said to Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8). To me, he was reminding himself and Lot that they needed to express brotherly love to each other and to rise above the things that were driving them apart.

Reading this account in the Bible helped me see that my friend and I were “brethren” (or, rather, sisters) too – in the sense of being the children of God and thus equal in God’s love. Christ Jesus emphasized that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. What I began to realize was that this is doable because goodness and peace are within everyone’s real nature as God’s spiritual offspring, the very expressions of divine Love. It is natural for each of us to feel God’s love and to respect one another as children of God.

What was so interesting was that as the way I was looking at things changed, our friendship stabilized. I didn’t even need to ask for a change from my friend. It just happened. Harmony was restored for both of us in what became a lifelong friendship.

I realize that this was a relatively modest situation compared with current scenes between those on opposite sides of a political issue, but the powerful ideas I learned about the unifying power of our relation to God and to each other have encouraged me that these larger divisions can be healed, too.

Christian Science explains that God is the source of all intelligence and wisdom and that we can think of Him as divine Mind. Each of us can pray to lift our thoughts above willful personal opinions and to accept guidance from this Mind, which aids us in all our interactions, just as I was helped with my friend.

Do I find this easy to do? Not always, for sure. But I’ve discovered that the sooner I wake up to the idea of loving my neighbor and remember the unifying power of the one divine Mind, the sooner I find peace and solutions to conflicts with others.

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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.”

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