My toddler was really getting the hang of her balance bike as she glided down the street. But as she veered toward the middle of the road, I asked her to move to the sidewalk.
“No!” she shouted. When I asked her again, her “no” got louder. And as I insisted once more, she screamed for all to hear: “No! I hate you! You’re not my best friend!”
Earlier that week, she had held my hand, looked up, and told me with a smile, “Mommy, you’re my best friend.” I had felt my heart melt. But hearing those words on the street, I wondered whether my heart might break.
I was surprised to find that it didn’t.
Instead, as I paused, I found myself moved – by love – to say: “You don’t have to be my best friend, but I am your mother. I am here to care for you and keep you safe. And no matter what, I will always love you.”
I felt at peace and was able to calmly bring her to the sidewalk. At that very moment a car came careening around the corner, and I was relieved we were safe.
Years later, I’ve thought back to that experience, because it’s helped me learn more about what elevates us and protects us today. It brought to mind where Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, said in her “Message to The Mother Church for 1902”: “When loving, we learn that ‘God is Love;’ ... No person can heal or reform mankind unless he is actuated by love and good will towards men” (p. 8).
Being “actuated by love” was a good way to describe what happened. I felt this unstoppable love that went beyond any sort of personal mothering trait. It confirmed for me the power the Bible describes as the Love that is God, the divine Mother of all.
This love isn’t exclusive to mothers. As children of God, we all naturally reflect God’s mothering love. And as we learn more about God by loving – by letting God’s love guide us – we find that we are able to rise above anything unlike Love.
These words by St. John put it poetically: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:7, 8).
I’ve found it so helpful to learn through Christian Science that this divine Love is also Spirit, another way to describe God. The qualities of divine Love are spiritual and therefore unlimited, not held by one person and not another, because all of us as children of God express this same Spirit and are actually spiritual. As we feel and act on this spirit of Love, we begin to see and experience the tender, loving protection that comes from God, who holds all of Her precious children safe in Her care.
That day on the street, I could see past my daughter’s outburst because I didn’t see it as part of her naturally loving, spiritual nature. This more spiritual view showed me to some degree that anything unlike God, Love, has no legitimate power, which is why I didn’t feel hurt. Instead, I felt an overwhelming love welling up within me that I realized must have come from divine Love. This love allowed me to accomplish what I needed to do to protect my daughter – it moved me to care more tenderly, interact more patiently, and love more deeply.
All of us, as parents or otherwise, can be “actuated by love” in defense of, and for the protection of, those around us. Discovering more of the love of God and learning to follow Love’s impulses, we feel the power that enables us to be constructive, productive, and healing.